Twenty-five community colleges have been named finalists for the Awards of Excellence sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges. Awards will be given in five categories: Emerging Leadership, Student Success, Exemplary CEO or Board, Advancing Diversity and Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership.
The finalists and winners will be honored April 23 during the closing brunch of the 2013 AACC Convention in San Francisco.
Community colleges are doing more with less, writes Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, in Community College Week. But there are limits to what the hard-pressed system can do well.
The fundamental question in analyzing the ever-evolving mission of the community college is, “where do we draw the line?” Prepare students for transfer? Check. Deliver a skilled workforce? Check. Provide lifelong learning and community service? Count on the community’s college. Now some states are making our colleges the linchpin in plans to deliver more baccalaureate completers — the $10,000 proposition that governors in Texas and Florida are making political hay by promoting.
But does that mission need to be redefined? One of the key recommendations in a report by the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of the Community College was to “refocus the community college mission and redefine institutional roles to meet 21st-century education and employment needs.”
In sum, the commissioners stressed the need to add the word “no,” as in “no longer,” to the community college vocabulary and to put energies and resources into only those activities that will reinvent the learning experience.
Community colleges also need to develop new leaders for the future, writes Bumphus. It’s estimated 70 percent of community college presidents will retire in the next 10 years.
All 12 Connecticut community college presidents have been offered buyouts, if they resign by Oct. 31, according to Gena Glickman, president of Manchester Community College. After a state meeting, president were told that those who reject buyouts may be terminated in one year with a less-generous package, Glickman said.
Michael Meotti, the state college system’s executive vice president, said Glickman’s account was inaccurate, reports the Connecticut Mirror. Presidents were offered an “expedited separation process,” if “they could not carry out the directions of the [remedial education] law and the board,” he told the board of regents.
In his email Tuesday to the regents, Meotti said the proposal was put forward because several presidents are resisting implementation of the new state law limiting when students can be forced to take noncredit remedial courses. It is known as SB-40.
However, Barbara Douglass of Northwestern Community College, told the Mirror that all 12 presidents “have been offered a buyout,” and it was “made clear we’re on the chopping block if we don’t accept.”
”President Glickman’s account of the meeting was accurate,” said Douglass. “The other presidents are not coming forward because of fear and intimidation. I am coming forward because I feel one of my colleagues is being held out to dry.”
Steven Weinberger, the director of human resources for the regents, did not bring up the remedial education law when he offered buyouts to the 12 presidents, Douglass said. “All that was mentioned was the need for change in leadership.”
Students who never made it through high school usually don’t make it through community college. But Florida’s Santa Fe College is improving the odds through a mentoring program for GED students called Pathways to Persistence.
Fifty-five percent of GED students drop out of community college in their first year, Pathways founder Angela Long tells Community College Times.
Pathways offers support through hand-picked mentors—Long chooses a match based on initial scholar interviews—who range from professors to administrators or other college staff, plus a crew of volunteer peers from college organizations for tutoring assistance.
. . . “The goal is to make GED students feel so special that they have an impact on the country and to give them a voice to tell us what is working in education, what has failed them, and how we can make it better,” Long says.
. . . Mentors meet with assigned mentees at least once a week the first month of the program, and every other week thereafter, following assigned topics that include how to pick classes and talk about financial assistance. Mentees also attend a weekly 3-credit course in the fall semester and attend leadership seminars and luncheons with key SFC members.
Thirty students started in last fall and another 20 joined in spring 2012. More than half earned a 3.0 GPA or higher.
Plagued by weak leadership and budget deficits, California’s largest community college, City College of San Francisco, may lose accreditation and face closure in eight months, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The “show cause” order by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools is more serious than probation. Without accreditation, City College’s 90,000 students wouldn’t be eligible for federal financial aid, causing the nine-campus college to fold.
College leaders vow to stay open, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. But they’ll have to balance the budget — the college has been running deficits for three years — in a year of high financial uncertainty. While many blame state budget cuts for the CCSF’s problems, only two other community colleges in the state face similar financial troubles, the commission said.
The accrediting team said the college’s problems were structural: failing to live within its means, ignoring a growing retiree health obligation, and paring administration to skeletal levels.
To improve budgeting and planning, City College needs more administrators, the commission found. With only 39 administrators and more than 1,800 faculty members, City College finds it hard to make decisions.
“There exists a veil of distrust among governance groups that manifests itself as an indirect resistance to board and administrative decision-making authority,” says the report, which points to a confusing structure in which everyone – chancellor, vice chancellors, faculty, staff and students – has a say.
“The team did not find evidence of clearly delineated roles and authority for decision making, thereby hindering timely communication, decisions and results,” the report said.
City College’s “shared governance” system includes faculty, administrators, staff and students in advisory roles, reports the Chronicle.
“Let’s say I have an idea to change the grading system,” said math instructor Hal Huntsman, former president of the Faculty Senate. “I have to start four or five levels down from where the decision gets made. The authority is at the Board of Trustees. But down from that, there are councils. Down from that, there are committees. Then subcommittees.”
City College “is probably too big to fail,” predicts Inside Higher Ed. “Most of those students would have no other local option, and the rest of the state’s community colleges could hardly absorb them, anyhow, given that the system will turn away an estimated 200,000 students this year because of financial shortfalls.”
But nobody’s sure the trustees will remain in charge if they can’t turn around the college by next spring.
Playing Buzzword Bingo at a community-college faculty meeting reveals what leaders really think of their faculty, writes Rob Jenkins.
For example, some administrators see the faculty as a “team.”
If we are a team, does that mean the leader is our coach? And if so, are we, therefore, utterly accountable to him or her alone? What if one individual doesn’t go along with the team? Might he or she be cut? After all, there is no “I” in “team.”
. . . teams are almost always dictatorships. Benevolent, perhaps, but dictatorships nonetheless. The coach always has the last word, and divergence from the team concept is punished swiftly and surely.
Even worse is the word “family,” Jenkins writes. “If we’re a family, then who is the parent? And what happens to us if we’re bad?”
When a college leader calls himself a “change agent,” it means “change for the sake of change,” Jenkin writes. “Beginning with the assumption that nobody knew what they were doing before you showed up is a slap in the face to all those who preceded you, including faculty.”
What’s your least favorite buzzword?
Somalia’s new prime minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, taught leadership skills and conflict resolution at Erie Community College in Buffalo, reports the New York Times.
He’ll need leadership and conflict resolution skills.
(Mohamed) will take over the Western-backed transitional government, which controls just a few blocks of the capital and is struggling for survival amid a sea of Islamist insurgents.
A financial analyst in the Somali Embassy in Washington, Mohamed sought asylum in the U.S. in 1988. He earned a master’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and became a community college instructor. Now a U.S. citizen, Mohamed returned to Somalia only last month.