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3,000 Pledge to Complete in Iowa

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DES MOINES—Three thousand Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society students, community college leaders and policymakers signed the completion pledge leading up to a gathering at Iowa's state Capitol to demonstrate and garner support for the Community College Completion Corps (C4) on March 5.

Representative Dave Dawson of Iowa House District 14 visits with Dr. Risley and Phi Theta Kappa members from Western Iowa Tech Community College.

Phi Theta Kappa Executive Director and CEO Dr. Rod Risley addressed more than 250 community college students and leaders along with Iowa’s legislators, highlighting the history and success of C4 in assisting students to complete their college credentials. He explained that statistics show the surest way for anyone to land a job in their chosen field is to earn a degree or certificate. Those statistics also show completing a degree or certificate program can increase lifetime earnings by up to $500,000 and lead to living a healthier life.

“A key to increasing community college completion is for the Legislature to enact a statewide articulation agreement between Iowa community colleges and senior colleges," Dr. Risley said at the Capitol. "College-to-college articulation agreements often are ineffective and poorly administered.  A statewide articulation system would ensure that all credits for an associate degree would be accepted.”

He encouraged policymakers to “move away from a philosophy of a right to fail, and support the right to succeed.”

The C4 initiative calls on each Phi Theta Kappa member and all community college students to pledge to complete their own as well as to support another student in the completion of their community college credential. Iowa community college leaders, trustees, administrators, faculty and staff have also taken the C4 pledge to assist students in completing their credentials. Iowa policymakers were also asked to show their support of completion by signing the C4 Banner.

"In just the past year, all 15 of Iowa's community colleges, their Phi Theta Kappa chapters, faculty, staff and even non-Phi Theta Kappa students have pledged to support C4," said Mick Starcevich, Kirkwood Community College President and chair of the Iowa Association of Community College Presidents. "This personal commitment from these helping hands can make all the difference to students given the daily challenges some face. We encourage them to stick with this program, and we promise to never give up."

A number of the legislators also signed the C4 banner indicating their support, including Senate Education Committee Chairman Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, who noted that Iowa State University, where he teaches, already has articulation agreements with each of the 15 community colleges.

“There is a strong recognition that we need to work together,” Quirmbach said. “Community colleges are the right start for a lot of students.”

“Earning a community college certificate or degree is a life-changing event for a student, making a difference in his or her lifetime earnings and quality of life," said Jerry Smith, Southwestern Community College Trustee and board chair of the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees. "Having worked in job training and placement throughout my entire career, I know the value of education when obtaining employment.

"Those of us who serve on the board of one of Iowa’s community colleges share a passion for improving the lives of students. C4 supports this passion by offering a helping hand as a student works toward his or her determined goal, and that in turn, benefits the student, his or her family, and the community.”

Read full coverage of the event at the C4 News site.

Iowa’s Phi Theta Kappa Region was founded in 1999 and this year has nearly 2,800 Community College honor students in Iowa’s 15 Community Colleges. Iowa has been recognized by the Society as a Distinguished Region, and Iowa chapters consistently rank among the Top 100 in Phi Theta Kappa.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses across the U.S., Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, Peru, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates and U.S. territorial possessions. Nearly 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 131,000 students inducted annually. Learn more at www.ptk.org.