Saturday, October 10, 2009

2009 ACCT Leadership Conference: Budig Urges Community College Leaders to Take Advantage of ‘Vote of Confidence’

Professor and Senior Presidential Adviser of The College Board Gene A. Budig urged 2009 ACCT Leadership Conference attendees Saturday to take advantage of the “vote of confidence” community college leaders have received from the Obama Administration.

Budig pointed to remarks made by Education Under Secretary Martha J. Kanter as “reason to have faith that good things are forthcoming.” Calling Education Secretary Arne Duncan “a community college convert,” Budig stressed that “the President shares our belief in the fundamental importance of community colleges and the central role they must play in any true and lasting economic recovery,” he said. “What a vote of confidence you have received.’

Pointing to the ambitious goals of the $12 billion American Graduation Initiative, he urged community college leaders to “be positive and of the mind that yes, we can do it,” he said. He urged community college leaders to address “inadequate accountability systems and the inadequate tracking of student outcomes.”

“Losing half our students before graduation is simply unacceptable,” Budig said. “We can do better. President Obama knows it, and everyone in this room knows it.”

At the same time, Budig added that success “depends on equitable funding and institutional commitment... Governments must step up with their checkbooks.”

Budig told Congress attendees that throughout his wide-ranging academic and professional career, including a stint as president of the American League, he has always been aided by the “simple but profound values” he learned as a student at McCook Community College in Nebraska, and reminded trustees that the one diploma hanging on the wall in his office at the College Board is his A.A. degree from McCook.

The College Board funded a report by the National Commission on Community Colleges that helped elevate community colleges during the most recent presidential race. It is also is launching a pilot plan for an initiative between two- and four-year colleges to help address the “crushing need” for general practice physicians, Budig said.

“Community colleges are committed, creative, determined and strategically located to be successful,” Budig said. “They are, ladies and gentlemen, the future... Please remember the clock is ticking, and the chance to soar is unprecedented... Let us build on our strengths and address our deficiencies. I stand with you and your noble cause.”

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