Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gates Foundation, ACCT, AACC Address Community Colleges at Ed. Dept.

Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) President and CEO J. Noah Brown represented the nation's community college trustees this morning at a Department of Education briefing in Washington, D.C. "Community colleges have never been more needed than they are now," Brown said, "but they've never been as hampered as they are now, due to economic constraints." Nevertheless, Brown said, "We are poised to make a difference."

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Senior Program Officer Diane Troyer joined Brown and American Association of Community Colleges President and CEO George Boggs on the panel, "Community Colleges: Unlocking Higher Education to Build Tomorrow's Workforce." Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) Assistant Secretary Glenn Cummings moderated the panel.

Boggs delineated the most pressing issues confronting community colleges, which include the economy, sustainability, student success, education alignment, inclusion, globalization, serving returning veterans, leadership and accountability, among others.

Troyer stressed the Gates Foundation's goals of improving graduation rates, noting that, "We prioritize keeping the door open for access to all students...but once they're in the door, we need to focus on keeping them." Troyer also spoke about the importance of streamlining K-16 education systems to encourages greater portability of credits and credentials.

Cummings said that the Secretary of Education "sees that as the economy changes, we are very much dependent on community colleges" for quality, affordable education and job-training programs.

The purpose of the briefing was to provide an overview of some of the most pressing issues facing community colleges as they try to expand their services. Audience members had the opportunity to ask questions and learn about an array of community college initiatives funded by OVAE.

Community college intiatives currently underway at OVAE include:

Click here to go to the OVAE community college page, which offers more information about upcoming meetings and events, funding opportunities, projects, speeches and presentations, and more, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's keynote address at the 2009 Community College National Legislative Summit.

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