February 16, 2018
Commission Update

Sharing how PA's community colleges are responsive to the needs of the local communities they serve.

News from Pennsylvania's community colleges

Pennsylvania's  governor unveiled his budget proposal on Feb 6, which includes an increase of $1 billion and directs more taxpayer dollars to prisons than colleges. The Reading Eagle's assistant managing editor responded to Gov. Tom Wolf's wish list. In particular, the Eagle editorial notes colleges such as  Reading Area Community College  and 13 other community colleges in the Commonwealth receive flat funding for the upcoming year, while the state's public four-year colleges are seeing increases in appropriations. The editor remarks community colleges offer affordable and accessible programs that equip students with skills to earn better jobs. Higher education, and specifically, community colleges should be one investment the state should prioritize. The February 13 Reading Eagle opinion column is available via the link for subscription or one-day pass.  
American Airlines recently awarded a $25,000 grant to support the growth of the Community College of Beaver County's Aviation High School Academy. In doing so, American Airlines recognized the college as a top 10 innovation aviation organization. The grant was awarded during an event in Dallas.
"CCBC's Aviation Academy is providing Western Pennsylvania's high school students with transformational education and career-related experiences that will prepare them for future  success," CCBC President Dr. Chris Reber said. "We thank American Airlines for their partnership and support, which enhance CCBC's efforts to increase awareness of the critical need for a future source of professional pilots who are ready to take flight."
Quality advising on the college level undoubtedly leads to more engaged students. In fact, a new report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement shows that effective advising may have a significant impact on returning students and affect colleges' persistence and graduation rates. In 2016, the  Community College of Philadelphia started a new advising model that's led to a fall-to-fall increase in persistence rates with new college students
The college's new advising model shifted from using part-time faculty advisers to hiring nine (and soon to be 10) full-time advisors who are assigned to students. "We moved toward the guided pathways model and I feel strongly that, in order for that to work, you need advisers working on particular structures to ensure students have a guidepost and a clear sense of where they're going," CCP President Dr. Donald Generals said. "We look at it as an investment. When students stay, not only are they more likely to succeed, but the investment comes when they do stay long enough to complete."
Each year, the University of Florida's College of Education presents Bellwether Awards to recognize outstanding and innovative programs and practices that are successfully leading community colleges into the future.  Montgomery County Community College 's Gateway to College program was selected as a national finalist.
The program, launched in 2013, provides high school students who are not on track to graduate with a pathway to complete their high school requirements, receive their diplomas and continue taking college courses. In March, the program was one of only eight programs nationwide to receive the Excellence Award from the Gateway to College national network.  MCCC and the  Community College of Philadelphia are the only two schools in Pennsylvania to offer the program.  

  PA community college success by the numbers

National higher education news roundup