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Strengthening Community Colleges Through Institutional Collaborations

Michael J. Roggow


Number 165 • Spring 2014


San Francisco

Editor's Notes

Among centers of higher education, community colleges are often at the vanguard of institutional collaboration. With so many agendas—responding to needs of local communities, preparing students for the workplace, soliciting funds to strengthen resources, and preparing students for the transition to four-year colleges and universities and the pursuit of their baccalaureate degrees—institutional success is often a function of organized, long-range, and cooperative relationships within and among these institutions.

Presidential visions, economic conditions, community needs, and student demographics can shape collaboration among community colleges. Designed to strengthen educational pipelines, academic departments at two-year institutions often work interdependently to bridge secondary education, associate, and baccalaureate programs. These cross-sector collaborations address issues on a vertical as well as horizontal level.

Continuously changing student demographics, technology, global economic demands, and business models have forced community colleges to develop partnerships never before conceived. These partnerships have been shown to correlate with improved student performance outcomes, retention, and financial stability.

Authored by community college leaders and researchers who continue to shape their institutional successes through research and collaborative practice, this proposed volume of New Directions for Community Colleges provides insight into the wide array of collaborations.

The journal is divided into four parts. The first part (Chapters 1–4) highlights partnerships that bring together secondary and postsecondary institutions, collaborations among college divisions and departments, and grant-supported methods for teaching and engaging students from underrepresented backgrounds. The second part focuses on ways institutional technology partners with academic and student affairs departments to improve student satisfaction and teaching and learning, and student retention. Part three explores the critical need for students to become more globally aware, and the inter- and intrainstitutional partnerships required to make this a priority. Finally, the fourth part describes how a state education department works with individual community colleges in the state.

Inspiring high school students to earn a college degree can be difficult, especially for minority and other underrepresented students. Partnerships between middle schools, high schools, and community colleges, as well as support from communities, can often work together to motivate students to attend college. The first two chapters focus on providing venues for underrepresented students, including women, to attend college in rural areas of the Midwest and South. In the first chapter, Lisa G. Stephenson illustrates the impact two grant-funded, dual-enrollment programs in Kentucky have on high school students by enabling them to take college-level courses at local community colleges. In Chapter 2, Soko S. Starobin and Glennda M. Bivens illustrate the impact one Latina counselor has on exposing rural Latina students to pre-engineering programs. It also shares new insights about how intersections of race, gender, and language can strengthen institutional collaborations to increase participation among Latinas in engineering.

In Chapter 3, I tell the story of how an urban community college and a four-year college in New York City received a large federal grant award to increase college graduation and transfer rates for minority students. A new criminal justice program at the community college provides a venue for experimenting with new tools and methods for effective teaching, advising, and tutoring. Federal grant funds paved the way for this project, which was organized by several faculty committed to working together. This chapter shares several recommendations for securing grant funding to implement new methods for program development, improving student learning and performance outcomes, and advising for a range of first-generation college students.

In Chapter 4, Tom DePaola provides critical evidence about how a service learning program at an urban community college helps students reflect and synthesize internship experiences with academic knowledge and skills, while helping them understand the importance of civic engagement. He highlights the stories of two students from diverse backgrounds whose internship experiences helped them integrate both action and reflection through service learning pedagogy. He provides unique insights about how developing partnerships between community colleges and local internship sites are an important responsibility of community colleges, as they encourage students to better understand social issues that impact their communities and help them make informed decisions about their career paths.

Certain departments on community college campuses—for example, the institutional research office—do not typically come to mind when we think about college life, but they are among the most important. Institutional Research and Planning is one of them, and as Handan Hizmetli illustrates in Chapter 5, an effective institutional research office not only collects data for institutional analysis but also provides knowledge in usable and understandable ways to help administrators and faculty make informed strategic decisions that critically impact their institutions. Hizmetli points out the urgency for a certain urban community college to improve its student performance outcomes, which it did by piloting an innovative freshman year seminar. Early on, the seminar yielded promising results, improving student grades and retention rates. This initiative would not have been successful without collaboration among nearly all divisions across the campus and the sharing of valuable information through a knowledge management model. Hizmetli shares valuable insights and recommendations for building a knowledge-management-oriented campus environment.

In an era of declining student enrollments and competition among colleges, Peter Reyes Barbatis meets the needs of digitally savvy students by introducing ways to improve student satisfaction and retention rates using effective technologically based tools that require partnership between enrollment management and information technology. In Chapter 6, Barbatis discusses how the use of these tools increases student satisfaction, particularly for new students who often run the risk of getting lost in the admissions process. He introduces best practices and future initiatives, including the admissions pipeline, smart-device applications, customized educational planning, and financial aid program compliance—all of which can help colleges more effectively plan to accommodate new students.

Promoting global perspectives across curricula and expanding students' awareness about international topics are critical to any curricula in higher education. Student recognition of and appreciation for global learning are often included in community college general education-based proficiencies and are often acknowledged by outside reviewers when academic programs undergo assessment. Funding these programs can be challenging for many institutions, but the national agenda to promote global learning is here to stay. In Chapter 7, Ronald D. Opp and Penny Poplin Gosetti argue that a range of key administrators and faculty should be involved in helping to generate student interest in study abroad and in infusing global perspectives across community college curricula. Resources should also be used to support international students and to socially integrate domestic and international students. To develop a culture of internationalization, the authors suggest that boards of trustees and the president should become personally involved, alongside administrators, faculty, and students.

In Chapter 8, Rosalind Latiner Raby, Donald R. Culton, and Edward J. Valeau further advance the international education agenda by describing collaboration through the lens of using a nonprofit consortium, the California Colleges for International Education (CCIE), to promote international education. CCIE facilitates faculty internationalization of classroom instruction and expands education abroad and international student programming. This organization provides practitioners with examples of collaboration involving personal communication and networking, and pooling human and financial resources, to accelerate knowledge among college students about global topics.

In an era of diminishing resources and a growing demand for accountability, Elizabeth Cox Brand introduces us, in Chapter 9, to the ingredients of successful partnerships between a greatly centralized state-level department and local community colleges in Oregon that exist under it. The author argues for strong leadership, communication, trust, and shared vision as foundations for sustaining productive partnerships that fuel state funding to local campuses and recommends strategies for successful collaboration in highly politicized educational environments.

Michael J. Roggow




  2. Michael J. Roggow is director of the Criminal Justice Program at City University of New York's Bronx Community College. He is also an adjunct assistant professor of psychology.


Kevin E. Drumm

In an era of declining student enrollments, state budget cuts, and shifting student demographics, successful institutional partnerships are timely and necessary. College presidents often initiate them, and faculty and administrators build and sustain them. Healthy, productive efforts to partner often yield immediate benefits for students, and longer range collaborative planning has strengthened and will continue to strengthen institutions for years. This volume of New Directions for Community Colleges paints a lively portrait of partnerships that fuel student learning and advance the growth of a range of rural and urban community colleges. As the president of the State University of New York's Broome Community College (SUNY Broome), I am delighted to introduce this volume capturing examples of well-orchestrated institutional collaborations.

In recent years, I have seen many community colleges across the United States and abroad work together in creative and sustainable ways in support of innovative pedagogy and student services. At my own college in the last few years, we have built local, regional, statewide, and global partnerships, which have already shown significant and measurable outcomes. Successful partnerships are doable and necessary. My own college is located in an area of New York State where shrinking demographics signifies challenges we face every day. At one point, our revenue base was mostly student enrollment driven. As this is no longer the case, we must constantly think about ways to forge regional, national, and international partnerships to promote an educated and talented workforce.

Once thought of as primarily serving the communities where they're located, community colleges now must think more broadly about their scope of service. We now rely on them to address a broader range of economic needs outside those in their immediate locales. This is especially true in areas of the United States where once prosperous manufacturing communities have gradually declined or disappeared. The economy of Binghamton, New York, where my institution is located, for example, continues to contract, especially after two major companies that fueled our local economy were forced to downsize due to U.S. and international economic market conditions.

The collection of chapters in this volume represents the work of various faculty, administrators, and other professionals who discovered ways to successfully advance their institutions using collaborative approaches. Their topics will generate awareness about student trends and issues, which are intended to help us reach for ways to sustain and enhance college operating budgets during these precarious economic times. They help us think strategically about securing grant funds to address institutional challenges; retaining students through good teaching and student support services; and capitalizing on dual enrollment, STEM, and study abroad programs. They illustrate effective collaborations with institutional research and ways for enrollment management and institutional technology to work together to improve student satisfaction, especially among new students.

This volume also offers insights about how community colleges can work effectively with state education departments toward meeting shared goals. As I familiarize myself with them, I am reminded of some similar kinds of partnerships that now exist on my own campus, details of which I will share. As you move through these chapters, new tools for progress may catch your eye. They include ways to collaborate to strengthen educational pipelines, fuel local and statewide industry, secure outside funding to advance teaching and student services, and promote global education and workforce development. This collection of readings begins by examining academic programs designed to recruit and encourage high school students to attend college.




  2. Kevin E. Drumm is the president of SUNY Broome Community College in Binghamton, NY.