Community colleges must adapt or die

If community colleges cling to the “mini-university model,” they’ll fail, warns Bruce Leslie, chancellor of the Alamo Colleges in San Antonio, in the Huffington Post.

Community colleges serve almost half of higher education’s students today but face funding cuts, cost-sensitive customers and aggressive competitors, writes Leslie. Community colleges’ image is confusing and overly broad. The sector’s “traditions make any change ponderously slow.”

Meanwhile, for-profit colleges are competing for students. Key strategies include :

Customer Focus – in all things
Agile – able to respond quickly to the market
Placement – graduates matched to the market
Focus – niche driven to maximize enrollments and revenues
Marketing – sophisticated, continuous
Personal Service – the student/customer feels welcomed
Student Financial support – no lines, easy payment
Collective Mission – all employees focused on the customer
Scheduling – meets customers’ needs, not employees
Access – delivers where and when customer requires
Performance based – outcomes defined, applied/contextual learning with measured results
Streamlined – minimal credit hours to achieve certification

Community colleges need to adapt or die, writes Leslie. “We must stop functioning like mini-universities and fulfill the founding promise of a student centered, market responsive, academically innovative organization.”

Noshing is colleges’ best practice (satire)

Community colleges will be accredited based on food, writes Jeffrey Ross in a Cronk of Higher Education satire. Colleges will be required to demonstrate how food fits into their “strategic visions, core values, mission statements, assessment plans, curricula and feedback loops.”

Research shows the importance of potlucks, said Dr. Tusk Manger, a reviewer and taste-tester for the Highbrow Learn-ed Commission.

. . . community college staff spend about 65 percent of their salaried work day preparing for potlucks, grazing, sharing recipes, emailing notifications about dessert needs at division meetings, chatting over hummus or quiche in the faculty lounge, planning bake sale fund raisers for partnering organizations and orchestrating classroom “cultural” studies which mandate at-risk eating activities. . . .  hard-core paper plate beanie-weenie concoctions and crockpot food–especially at division meeting potlucks–may represent a significantly overlooked part of every community college’s curricula. Eating is the best practice at all community colleges.

“Potluck” appears in 41 percent of all email subject headings at one community college in western Phoenix, according to a study by Dr. Jeffrey Roz, Hamilton State University, and Dr. Jann M Kontento, Copperfield Community College.

. . .  37 percent of all the benchmarking college emails contain some reference to pies, cheesecake, left-over mushroom pizza, bagels, garbanzo beans, COM 209 ethnic awareness potlucks, donuts in the dean’s office or “almost-gone” sliced summer sausage and cheese snacks remaining from a governing board meeting.

Ross and Jann Contento are the authors of College Leadership Crisis: The Phillip Dolly Affair, a comic novel about the fictional Copperfield Community College.

Community colleges in the 21st century

The 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges will rethink the mission of the nation’s largest and fastest growing higher education sector.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) named three co-chairs to guide the 36-member commission: San Diego Community College District Chancellor Emeritus Augustine Gallego, Cuyahoga Community College President Jerry Sue Thornton, and Dr. Kay McClenney, director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement.

In addition to college and university leaders, the commission includes Kati Haycock of the Education Trust, Mark Milliron of the Gates Foundation, Diana Oblinger of EDUCAUSE and James T. Ryan of W.W. Grainger, Inc.

“We have very intentionally selected commissioners who bring diverse viewpoints and backgrounds,” said AACC President Walter G. Bumphus. “That includes a few friendly critics who have consistently challenged community colleges to increase accountability and improve student outcomes.”

The first commission meeting will be held Aug. 12 in Washington, DC.

“We will focus the collective intellect of the commission on such issues as use of disruptive technologies to speed learning and the redesign of structures, calendars and processes to better match the needs of our increasingly diverse student population,” Bumphus said. “We will also not shy from criticism, such as our perceived need to be all things to all people.”

Community colleges are trying to cope with rising demand for education and job training and declining state funding. President Obama wants community colleges to graduate an additional 5 million students with degrees and certificates by 2020.