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The recommendations have been laid out and now it’s time to roll up sleeves and discuss ways that community colleges can redesign, reinvent and reset themselves to serve the needs of students today and in the decade to come.
In September, members of the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) 21st-Century Initiative implementation teams will begin to develop strategies regarding how two-year colleges can integrate the recommendations featured in AACC’s Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future. The report, released in April by a blue-ribbon commission, includes seven recommendations, from improving college readiness, to strategically targeting public and private investments.
Seminole State College of Florida President E. Ann McGee, co-chair of the steering committee that will oversee the nine implementation teams, said the 21st-Century report outlines areas where community colleges are very successful and some where they are coming up short.
“The steering committee’s primary responsibility will be to construct a road map—with a variety of streets, avenues and lanes—that colleges can adopt as they seek to enhance student success and create the pathway to success for their students,” she said.
The work of the teams and steering committee is crucial to help not only individual colleges but the community college movement as a whole, added Rey Garcia, president of the Texas Association of Community Colleges who will also serve as co-chair of the steering committee.
“The 21st-Century report laid out a substantial challenge to all community college leaders across the country,” Garcia said. “It’s our opportunity to take charge.”
McGee noted that since community colleges now enroll nearly half of all students in higher education in the U.S., the major challenge facing the teams will be the scope of the effort.
“The roadblocks that our students have to overcome just to be students have only increased,” she said. “With limited resources and a growing population who needs us, we must be incredibly creative to devise student success measures that can be easily—and cost-effectively—adopted and implemented.”
Download "Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation's Future"
The implementation teams will address designated recommendations and forward strategies to the steering committee, which will then synthesize them and present a final report to AACC President and CEO Walter Bumphus, who will chair the committee. Garcia said that there will be some areas of crossover among the teams, as the seven recommendations often link with each other.
Garcia added that the teams and steering committee will need to avoid looking for a “magic bullet” to address the issues outlined in the report, noting that “what might work at one college might not work at another.” Participating leaders should approach their task as developing a toolkit that will include multiple strategies for each of the recommendations, he said.
The 21st-Century Initiative Steering Committee chair and co-chairs are:
The following individuals will serve on the implementation teams:
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