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Community Colleges

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.

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.
      Through careful scheduling, leaders at Howard Community College have ensured more classes are offered throughout the day so that buildings don't stand empty.

      A hallmark of community colleges is being nimble enough in their class offerings to respond quickly to the changing needs of their students. Additional faculty can be hired to teach the new courses, but classroom space is often a fixed resource that isn’t so easily added. “We would not turn down a new classroom building,” says Tony Honeycutt, provost of Somerset Community College (Ky.) with a laugh, “but we can meet our needs for classroom space through better scheduling.”

      Mel Shiavelli

      Mel Shiavelli has been named executive vice president at Northern Virginia Community College. The former president and CEO of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (Pa.) since 2002 and a charter member of the Manufacturing Institute’s Education Council, Shiavelli started in his new role July 1.

      Recognizing that IT students at two-year Lake Land College (Ill.) had no nearby transfer option, officials partnered with Eastern Illinois University to allow for transfer of credits toward a four-year degree in Management Information Systems.

      A hallmark of community colleges is that they are actually in the communities they serve, close to where their students live and work. But sometimes they aren’t in enough places at once.

      Ten years ago, the presidents of Prince George’s Community College and Howard Community College realized that neither of their institutions reached the Maryland town of Laurel.

      Here’s some seemingly daunting news for community colleges: South Dakota is the only state with a two-year college completion rate over 40 percent. That stat is from a new report released by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW), an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. North Dakota comes in second for two-year college completion rates, with 38 percent.