Written by Phil Cerroni
President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Dr. Walter G. Bumphus addressed the faculty and staff of North Lake College on Aug. 21. Sharing wisdom from his 38 years of experience as a leader in the educational community, Bumphus’ speech “Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future,” opened North Lake’s 35th anniversary year.
“It’s because of your work,” Bumphus told the audience, “we are being recognized by the White House, Administration, Congress…” Mentioned numerous times in the President Obama’sState of the Union address, community colleges like North Lake act as career centers for the community. In fact, 46 percent of U.S. undergraduates enter community colleges, making these institutions the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education.
“It’s no wonder we are often referred to as the on-ramp for the middle class,” Bumphus said.
President Obama believes community colleges will help nurture the economy; proposing the Community College to Career Fund last February. An $8 billion investment in his Fiscal Year 2012 Budget, the fund would call on community colleges to train two million workers for good-paying jobs in high-demand industries.
“Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers,” Obama told Congress, “places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high tech manufacturing.”
Despite the sector’s growth, however, community colleges nationwide continue to strive for improvement. North Lake’s area of focus: student completion. With AACC as its mouthpiece, NLC pledged to increase student completion rates by 50 percent by 2020. Bumphus’ speech offered several recommendations to this end.
“We’ve got to support and nourish our faculty,” Bumphus said. “The same thing goes for leadership development.” Bumphus also cited creative solutions such as reverse transfer, automatic graduation and eliminating graduation fees.
The luncheon marked the beginning of North Lake College’s 35th anniversary year. From its small start of 2,835 credit students, to a four-campus college with the highest number of graduates within the DCCCD, North Lake’s fall enrollment has already exceeded9,600 students.
Source: North Lake College