Higher education, business, policy and philanthropy leaders on the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, including Phi Theta Kappa Executive Director Dr. Rod Risley, are moving forward in their exploration of the community college mission and how it fits into the current world.
Phi Theta Kappa Executive Director Dr. Rod Risley, right, at the second convening of the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. From left are Commission members Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Grainger International, and John Roueche, Director of the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas-Austin.
The 36-member blue-ribbon commission, appointed in April, has begun to compile preliminary recommendations for its final report, which will map future priorities of community colleges. Commissioners may present a draft of recommendations at the annual American Association of Community Colleges convention in April.
“The issues facing community colleges are incredibly complex and inextricably linked to all levels of education as we grapple with equipping Americans with 21st-century skills and knowledge to compete in a global economy,” said Dr. Risley.
“The urgency for change is clear,” he continued. “The Commission’s recommendations and call to action will profoundly impact the future of our nation’s economy, social structures and public policy. We have heard from numerous experts in many areas as we begin to craft what hopefully will be bold plans for reform.”
Dr. Risley’s focus areas on the Commission include College Completion, College Readiness, Transitions (K-12-Community College-University), and Community College Financing. At their Washington, D.C., meetings, commissioners have heard a number of experts address these concerns as well as such issues as workforce leadership, equity and diversity, technology and resources.
Commissioners agree that community colleges must be clearer stating and adhering to their missions, identifying the populations they serve, and optimizing allocation of resources.
The fastest growing segment in higher education, community colleges have been in the spotlight following President Obama’s charge to graduate an additional 5 million students with degrees, certificates or other credentials by 2020. Dr. Risley and leaders of key community college associations signed a Call to Action to promote completion in April 2010, resulting in the student-centered Community College Completion Corps, led by Phi Theta Kappa.