Reporter’s notebook

Photo: Matthew Dembicki
  • Kvaal passes Senate ed committee
  • Massachusetts community colleges: No vaccine mandates
  • MDC, IBM team to diversify tech field
  • Toyota to invest $1.7M to help diversify engineering workforce in Kentucky

Kvaal passes Senate ed committee

James Kvaal is a step closer to becoming U.S. education under secretary.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced his nominations Wednesday by a 19-to-3 vote. The position oversees higher education policies, procedures and programs at the U.S. Education Department (ED).

The committee held a hearing on Kvaal’s nomination last week, during which he urged states to contribute more toward public higher education to help contain college costs for students. He also said he supports more federal funding for community colleges and to give more emphasis to career and technical education at the postsecondary education level.

Kvaal previously served at ED, the Obama Domestic Policy Council and most recently as president of the Institute for College Access and Success.

Massachusetts community colleges: No vaccine mandates

The presidents of all 15 community colleges in Massachusetts said this week that their colleges won’t require students, faculty and staff to receive a Covid vaccination before returning to campus for in-person classes, although vaccinations will be strongly encouraged.

“Now that all Massachusetts residents 16+ are eligible to access appointments, we strongly urge our students, employees, and all in our college communities to receive a Covid-19 vaccination as soon as they are able,” the presidents said in a statement through the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges.

MDC, IBM team to diversify tech field

Miami Dade College (MDC) and IBM are partnering to diversify the local technology workforce by providing students from diverse backgrounds and experiences the opportunity to develop strategic skills – which comes with a $10 million investment.

“MDC and IBM will collaborate on building unique workforce enablement offerings that serve MDC students, as well as faculty and the community at large,” the Florida college said in a release. “New offerings will build on and expand MDC’s already successful programs by training faculty and offering digital courses in key areas, including artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and quantum computing.”

IBM Global University Programs will donate more than $10 million in assets over the next three years, including guest lectures, curriculum content, digital badges, software and faculty training as part of the MDC/IBM Skills Academy Academic Initiative.

Toyota to invest $1.7M to help diversify engineering workforce in Kentucky

Toyota has announced a $1.7 million investment in a partnership with three higher education institutions in Kentucky to increase opportunities for underrepresented students and assist them in earning engineering degrees.

The program will provide full-tuition scholarships to female and minority students, along with needed resources to earn an engineering degree from either the University of Kentucky or University of Louisville. Bluegrass Community & Technical College is part of the collaboration, with students first acquiring a two-year associate degree before enrolling in an engineering program in the state.

Beginning this fall, Toyota will select 35 students over five years for full-tuition scholarships. Toyota engineers will mentor the students, who will participate in a paid co-op opportunity with the company earning $17 to $21 an hour. Additionally, students will complete two to three co-op rotations that will provide critical hands-on experience in multiple areas of the field.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.