... IN THIS ISSUE
A pple co-founder Steve Jobs once described the quest for excellence as the “yardstick of quality.” It’s a simple metaphor and one that governed his life’s philosophy. “Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected,” observed Jobs. Community colleges today operate in a similar environment. Expectations for institutional performance and student outcomes have
never been higher. Across the country, the stakes have been raised. This is one of
the essential truths of the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community
Colleges 2012 report, “Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the
Since its release at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)
Annual Convention last April, leaders of AACC member colleges have sought practi-
cal and actionable ways to implement the recommendations in the Commission’s
report. It’s an exhilarating, sometimes anxious journey to bridge old and new—one
that asks community college leaders to reimagine their institutions, not as they are,
but as they should be.
EXECU TIVE EDITOR Norma Kent
MANAGING EDITOR Corey Murray
ART DIREC TOR Brian Rees
PROJEC T MANAGER Amy Stephenson Fabbri
CONTRIBUTING Marie Foster Gnage
WRITERS Tabitha Whissemore
DESIGN/PRODUCTION McMurry/TMG, LLC
Reason for Optimism
As community college leaders gather in San Francisco April 20–23 for AACC’s 93rd
Annual Convention, this issue of the Journal explores that journey and considers
what thought leaders at many levels have to say about the ongoing pursuit of excellence in community college education.
In “Bridge to Excellence” (p. 30), AACC President and CEO Walter G. Bumphus
and members of the 21st-Century Commission’s implementation steering committee
discuss their vision for change and the progress they’ve made in a year and offer a
timeline for implementing the reforms recommended in the report. (Want to learn
more? Don’t miss our Super Spotlight session at this year’s Convention.)
At the heart of these changes is a national imperative to improve the number of
college completers who enter and exit our institutions. In “The Road to Completion”
(p. 40), education writer Stacy Collett considers the strides community colleges have
made to double college completion rates by 2020 and asks what our institutions can
do to sustain that momentum.
Keeping with our transit analogy, Kay McClenney, director of the Center for
Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, and
co-authors and colleagues Donna Dare and Susan Thomason limn their model for
building better academic pathways to student success in the first article of a three-part series (“Premise and Promise,” p. 56).
Also in this issue, writer Emili Vesilind offers solutions for colleges that struggle to
meet the unique needs of veterans returning home from war. (“Serving Those Who
Serve,” p. 48.)
Two very special interviews round out our coverage. Khan Academy founder
Salman Khan, who will give the keynote address at the Convention’s opening session,
answers questions about the explosive growth of massive open online courses, or
so-called MOOCs, in higher education (“ 7 Questions with Sal Khan,” p. 64). And Capt.
Mark Kelly, who with his wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords,
has launched a high-profile public crusade against gun violence, talks from personal
experience about the urgency of reining in the unfettered availability of guns and the
societal consequences of inaction (“Taking a Stand Against Gun Violence,” p. 18).
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Volume 83, Issue 5.