American Community Colleges Feature at CCA July Conference

Deep insights from the frontlines of American community colleges will feature at CCA’s Annual Conference – themed “Community Education: Investing in Our Future” – in Melbourne in July.

Two American community college experts from Michigan will speak on regional economic development and American community colleges: Dr Roberta Teahen, Associate Provost & Director of the Doctorate in Community College Leadership, Ferris State University; and Dr Laurie Chesley, Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Grand Rapids Community College.

American community colleges are in the news: the June 12 Australian edition of Time magazine includes a feature article entitled, “The Case for Community College: Why It’s More Vital – and Vulnerable – Than Ever”.

“The lessons from American community colleges are more important for Australia than ever,” said Dr Don Perlgut, CEO of Community Colleges Australia. “Like Australian community colleges, the American colleges provide education for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged students.”

The Time magazine article reports that American community colleges attract “more women, minorities and lower-income students and tend to be concentrated in small cities and rural towns”. The article discusses creative approaches taken by US community colleges, including the Austin (Texas) Community College, which “recently redesigned an old shopping mall to become a high-tech learning lab with more than 600 computer stations.”

Dr Roberta Teahen comments about the Time article and her CCA presentation with Dr Chesley:

American community colleges are being challenged both to redesign themselves and to become more effective. While continuing to serve their long-embraced transfer mission, an increasing number also recognise the vital role they play in community economic development. Their success, in part because they are so locally based, is dependent upon the success of the community – and part of the success of that community will depend upon the college’s capability to develop a workforce that meets the community’s needs. This local focus is resulting in increasingly distinctive colleges with a diverging array of programs, such as those characteristic of Northwestern Michigan College that offers maritime, aviation, and water studies, among many others. Strong local partnerships and tight connections to employers are vital.  

Dr Teahen and Dr Chesley first worked together at Northwestern Michigan College. Together they bring many years of community college strategic leadership experience and commitment to their CCA presentation on 26 July 2017.

The CCA Annual Conference runs in Melbourne from 25 to 27 July 2017, and registrations are now open. Regional economic development is only one of many Conference themes, which also include models that work – converting what we do well into new ways of transforming lives; regulation and government policy; youth skilling and engagement; and future-proofing through capacity, quality and forecasting.

For details of the the presentation by Dr Teahen and Dr Chesley, click here.

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