LBCC’s Oakley Selected to Serve on 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges

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National Commission to Help Reshape the Future of Community Colleges

Long Beach City College President Eloy Ortiz Oakley

For only the third time in their 110-year history, community colleges are preparing to take a holistic look at their broad and continuously evolving mission with the naming this week of the landmark 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges.

Long Beach City College President Eloy Ortiz Oakley was selected to serve on the commission.

The commission was appointed by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and comprises 36 individuals who represent a broad array of constituencies and expertise from education, business, policy and communications. The group will work to examine the challenges and opportunities confronting the nation’s largest and fastest growing higher education sector.

“For Community Colleges to succeed in this new century, we must innovate and challenge the status quo,” said Oakley. “I am honored to have been selected for this Commission, and to help reshape the future of our Community Colleges.”

Over the next 10 months, the 21st-Century Commission will meet in person and virtually to examine the community college mission in light of current economic realities. President Obama has challenged community colleges to educate an additional 5 million students with degrees, certificates or other credentials by 2020, at a time when beleaguered state budgets have resulted in drastic cuts in state funding to the colleges. The first commission meeting will be held Aug. 12 in Washington, DC.

Community colleges currently enroll close to half of all U.S. undergraduates. Enrollments have surged by double digits over the last 2-3 years, reflecting a deep and lingering U.S. recession and persistently high unemployment rate that has caused families to seek lower cost college alternatives and workers to throng to the classroom for new skills or careers.

The Commission will also look at trends and opportunities for students of color, and first generation college students.

“Community colleges are the gateway to higher education for a majority of Americans,” said Oakley. “ For our country to succeed, we must significantly increase the number of students who complete their education goals, in particular students of color.”

The new commission marks the third such effort to realign the community college mission to reflect national needs and changing times. The Truman Commission (1947) challenged higher education to provide universal access based on its belief that then-junior colleges could broaden and further democratize their mission by becoming community colleges. Four decades later, the AACC Futures Commission (1988) set forward a reform agenda designed to strengthen the comprehensive mission the Truman Commission originally proposed.

The American Association of Community Colleges is a national organization representing the nation’s close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges and their more than 12 million students (credit and non-credit). Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education.

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