THE EARLY MONTHS OF 2007 have been a bit treacherous for community colleges. Several reports have concluded that while these institutions must be admired for making higher ed accessible, they aren't ensuring that enough students graduate or transfer.
The world has changed dramatically in the last decade and business is now more global than ever before. Just pick up the phone at work to call tech support, and the person on the other end of the line might be from India. Join a U.S. firm and it will likely have offices overseas, requiring employees to not only communicate but establish trusting relationships with international workers.
Mention "susceptibility testing on staphylococcus epidermidis," and community colleges don't quickly come to mind. The same goes for "hydrogen fueling," "protein crystallization," or academic journals about the teaching of English.
In North Carolina, two-year colleges have taken in a vast number of laid-off workers in the last decade. The number of unemployed students in North Carolina's 58 community colleges rose from 40,000 in 1999 to 109,917 in 2004-nearly 175 percent. As the state's manufacturing jobs have dwindled, community colleges have provided much-needed next stops for many people.
In 1992, a two-year institution then known as Utah Valley Community College set out to launch degree programs at the baccalaureate level. The college already offered many paths to associate's degrees, but Utah County had exactly zero public four-year institutions to which students could transfer.
This month, University Business kicks off this bimonthly column focusing on the realm of community colleges. Like other parts of the magazine, the column will offer advice and comments from college leaders, data, and real-world examples on issues and solutions of interest to any IHE decision-maker.