52 | COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL AACC.NCHE.EDU
You have all heard me talk about our colleges being
laser-focused on student success initiatives and
progress. Efforts to increase student success have
been a hallmark in the recent history of the com-
munity college and should be widely commended.
Specifically, these efforts are focused on programs
of study that provide the education and skills
students need to enter the workforce and earn
a family sustaining wage.
At AACC, we have worked with you to design,
implement and advocate for critical program
resources in support of these success efforts. We have
led sustained efforts in building the AACC Pathways
network and are embarking upon significant work
to increase the number of apprentices in the nation
in the next three years by almost 20,000. We have
worked to develop partnerships with key agencies
and legislators to advance the work of the community
college and will continue to do so despite politics and
party lines. The programs and services in place at
your colleges each and every day support the efforts
of the 12 million students working to achieve their
goals and we are proud to share in your efforts.
Yet, despite these national, regional and local
efforts, achievement gaps remain and we have to
ask ourselves the difficult question of why. We
have to inquire if the efforts to increase student
completion rates and success measures are truly
working if only certain types of students succeed.
It’s a subject I have thought a lot about and heard
a lot about from you.
I thought about access. Our colleges are the gateway to the middle class and provide educational
opportunities to those that can benefit. In fact, one
of the primary tenets that arches across our multiple missions is access. In my thoughts, I wondered
that if certain students are not achieving their
goals, then is it true access that we provide?
So, now what?
These achievement gaps represent what we are
calling Unfinished Business. Unfinished Business
will be a major focus for AACC and the community college sector in the coming years. Unfinished
Business is both simple and complex.
Simply put, Unfinished Business will look
at the achievement gaps and try to identify the
equity issues that continue to impede completion
goals. As you well know, these issues are complex,
multi-faceted and very personal.
Equity issues plague our colleges in different
ways, but their DNA is similar. These gaps may not
look the same across the country but they do share
a fundamental part of keeping some students
from achieving their educational goals. AACC’s
Unfinished Business will not identify each issue
faced by our students, but it will strive to identify
how equity issues impact success and completion.
At the heart of AACC’s Unfinished Business
is a moral imperative for fairness and inclusion.
Unfinished Business will not simply identify barriers, but will seek out stellar practices and create
tools that will help transform how we think and
create solutions for all of our students. I hope that
you will join us in these efforts so that together we
can realize the power of true access for all of our
students now and in the future.
Walter G. Bumphus is president and CEO of the American Association of
Taking care of
By Walter G. Bumphus
“At the heart of AACC’s Unfinished Business is a moral imperative
for fairness and inclusion.”