Reporter’s notebook


  • In Ohio, student success efforts are paying off
  • Training installers as part of broadband plan
  • Lack of diversity among insurance companies
  • A place for Appalachian Heritage

In Ohio, student success efforts are paying off

In Ohio, efforts among community colleges over the past decade have helped to increase student achievement, in particular, two-year college graduation rates have nearly doubled, according to the Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC).

OACC says the colleges’ collaboration has been facilitated by its Success Center for Ohio Community Colleges, created 10 years ago as a first-in-the-nation effort to develop strategies for helping more students complete degree and certificate programs.

Highlights of the center’s decade of work include:

  • Improving degree completion: 162,000 associate degrees have been awarded, with a 16% increase in 2021 compared to 2013.
  • Increasing job-focused credentials: 33,7000 long-term certificates have been awarded, with a 34% increase in 2021 compared to 2013.
  • Closing equity gaps: The total number of total credentials awarded annually to African-American students has increased by 40% since 2013.

The Success Center has hosted nearly 20 Student Success Leadership Institutes and more than 40 additional workshops and webinars to help drive student success at the colleges, according to OACC. Its efforts have included:

  • Implementing a “pathways coach” and additional professional development supports at all 23 community colleges to help college leaders with student-focused reforms.
  • A system-wide cultural change to use data more in decision-making, including reports on student progress and momentum, funding models, labor market outcomes and student financial wellness.
  • A statewide hub for leadership development focusing on student success for college faculty, staff and cabinet-level leaders.

Training installers as part of broadband plan

The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) has announced that Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) in Louisiana will soon offer the FBA Optical Telecom Installer Certification Path (OpTIC Path) program, with its first course to begin this fall.

The college will be among the first to offer the OpTIC Path program, which aims to develop the technical workforce needed to support the significant increase in fiber network builds as a result of the federal government’s massive investments in the nation’s infrastructure, including broadband. The ultimate goal is to close the digital divide in Louisiana and across the U.S.

“We’re in the middle of a tremendous, historic opportunity to transform our state’s digital equity,” BPCC Chancellor Rick Bateman said in a release. “At BPCC, we build workforces and right now there is no greater need than training folks that can realize the investment in broadband infrastructure. In 20 to 30 years, I think people will say that we really got this right.”

Louisiana’s ConnectLA Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity had a major role in connecting BPCC to FBA’s program.

“BPCC is one of many early adopters of the OpTIC Path program, and we’ve encouraged the college to provide us with feedback so that we can keep the program responsive and evolving to needs of the industry,” said Deborah Kish, FBA’s vice president of research and workforce development.

On Tuesday, FBA announced that Northeast Mississippi Community College would also provide the training. The college expects to offer its first OpTIC Path course in early 2023.

Lack of diversity among insurance companies

The largest insurance companies in the U.S. lack diversity in their workforce, from staff right up to the CEO and board, according to a new report from the House Financial Services Committee. But community colleges can help change that.

In 2021 the largest insurance companies had a lower percentage of employees of color (30.5%) compared to the largest banks (42%) and the largest investment firms (40.6%), said the report, which was released Monday. The report also noted that women comprise an average of about one-third of executives. CEOs at the largest firms were overwhelming white males (88.9%).

Among the report’s recommendations to increase diversity in the workforce: Insurance companies should partner with community colleges, minority-serving institutions and historically Black colleges and universities to build their talent pipelines.

A place for Appalachian Heritage

A new campus library at Pellissippi State Community College will serve as a repository for regional literature, history and folklore.

The Appalachian Heritage Project, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, opened this month at the Tennessee college’s new Strawberry Plains Campus Library.

“We expect that the Appalachian Heritage Project will be one of the most unique educational settings in Tennessee,” said Aneisa Rolen, executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation, which raised $400,000 to match the $400,000 federal grant the college received in 2018.

The project also provides Pellissippi State with opportunities to expand partnerships in the region and enhance community outreach via exhibits, lectures and workshops.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.