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Community Colleges

Two-year students typically work more hours than four-year students and may have families to provide for

A 46,000-square-foot abandoned furniture warehouse has been given new life as the continuing education and industrial center at Randolph Community College in Asheboro, N.C.

Challenge

As with many community colleges, Randolph was in need of expansion due to large enrollment growth. Overflowing parking lots as well as classrooms in the machining program at the school led to an overhaul of the old Klaussner Furniture warehouse, located adjacent to the campus’ Health & Science Center and to Randolph Early College High School.

Maintaining healthy town/gown relations enhances campus life and generally makes the institutional mission easier to achieve. In recent years, however, community college officials are finding that efforts must go beyond providing cultural venues that locals can access.

It had been predicted for years and now it looks like it is finally coming to pass. No, not the Mayan calendar apocalypse. After years of steep increases, higher education enrollments are slowing, almost across the board. In its “Projections of Education Statistics to 2021” report, the Department of Education predicts that overall higher education enrollment will rise only about 15 percent from 2010 to 2021, after witnessing a 46 percent increase from 1996 to 2010.

While community colleges are supposed to be two-year institutions, many students take longer than that to graduate. Some four-year institutions, meanwhile, allow ambitious students to earn a bachelor’s degree in three years. Pima Community College (Ariz.) has come up with a new twist to the accelerated degree trend, giving East Campus students enrolling in the Sprint Schedule pilot program the chance to be done in just one. 

The Westphalia Training Center, a new Prince George's Community  College extension site, establishes construction industry partnerships to provide training in several trade areas.

Employers believe their employees must be committed to continuing education to remain on top of their industries and their jobs, according to research commissioned by Destiny Solutions in October 2011.

“The Voice of the Employer on the Effects and Opportunities of Professional Development,” based on a study of 200 employers across North America, reveals that  70 percent of employers feel their employees need continuous training just to keep up with their jobs. Ninety-five percent of employers financially support employee continuing education.

The recession hit Michigan, home of the nation’s automotive industry, hard in 2008 and 2009. For Autocam Corp. in Grand Rapids, this meant taking drastic action to protect its business and 1,500-employee workforce. As the precision manufacturer of automotive components for equipment manufacturers and suppliers saw its business dwindle, it cut back its machinists’ standard 50-hour work week to 45 hours, then 40 hours, says Jim Woczynski, Autocam’s human resource director. Even then, some layoffs had to be made.

In 2011, four community college system chancellors began discussing how community colleges help build a stronger, more competitive workforce and, therefore, a strong middle class. “What we were seeing was increased recognition of the role of community colleges in terms of solving a number of problems being faced by individuals, employers, and states, but along with that recognition were increased expectations,” says Joe D. May, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

  • The Maine Community College System has lost an integral part of its community. Charles M. Lyons, president of York County Community College, 68, died of cancer August 22. He was president of YCCC from 2006 until the time of his death and previously served as president of the University of Maine at Augusta from 2001 to 2006 and president of the University of Maine at Fort Kent from 1996 to 2001. He was also vice chancellor of the University of Maine System for three years.

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