Tag Archives: President Obama

HSI Week

We are pleased to join President Obama in recognizing National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week. The President issued a proclamation Sept. 9 designating this week to honor our nation’s Hispanic-serving colleges and universities, including Pima Community College.

The President said Hispanic-serving institutions “have given more Hispanics access to the resources and opportunities they need to compete in our economy. More than half of America’s Hispanic undergraduates attend HSIs, which have played a critical role in increasing access to a college education and have worked to bolster enrollment, retention and graduation rates.”

The proclamation was timely for PCC. Just last week I had the honor of accepting The Edith Sayre Auslander Outstanding Support of Hispanic Issues in Higher Education Award from The Victoria Foundation on behalf of PCC. The Foundation was created to honor Hispanics in higher education as well as those working hard to support Hispanic higher education.

PCC was recognized for renewing its commitment to open access and student success for all students.  Forty-two percent of all PCC students are Hispanic/Latino, many first-generation college students.

Also, exciting, Hispanic/Latino students earning both certificate and associate degrees is up by more than 16 percent from just last year.

In 1992, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) led the effort to convince Congress to formally recognize campuses with high Hispanic enrollment as federally designated HSIs.  To be recognized, colleges must be not-for-profit with a full-time equivalent undergraduate student enrollment that is at least 25 percent Hispanic. National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week is part of awareness and celebration efforts.

A chance to graduate ready for the new economy

Anyone who works or studies at a community college had to stand a little taller after listening to President Obama’s State of the Union address last night. The president made clear the important role that community colleges can and should play in the lives of those seeking a foothold in the middle class.

He related the story of a young couple, battered by the recession, who got back on their feet through hard work, sacrifice and the wife starting on a new career after retraining at a community college. The president also restated his proposal to lower the cost of community college to zero because “in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more” to educate America’s workforce.

Like my fellow community college leaders, I am awaiting the release on Feb. 2 of the president’s budget, when the details of the proposal will be revealed. But the realities underpinning his proposal are clear today. Forty percent of U.S. undergraduates attend a community college.

By the end of the decade, it’s estimated that two of three jobs will require some postsecondary education. And while community colleges such as PCC are a very affordable educational option, for many the cost of attending college is substantial.

One of the best aspects of the plan is that it rewards achievement. Students would qualify as long as they maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average. Another commendable part of the proposal is that students of all ages will benefit, not only recent high school graduates. This is especially relevant for PCC, where the average age of our students is 27.

Clearly, debate over the proposal is going to be spirited and likely will spark many competing approaches aimed at having more students attend and complete some form of postsecondary education and training. However, the mere fact that we will have a robust conversation is a significant step forward. I stand with all those who serve at community colleges to assure decision-makers that the investment in our students, and our nation’s future economic vitality, is well worth it.

To read a letter sent to the members of Congress by American Association of Community Colleges’ President/CEO Dr. Walter Bumphus and other higher education leaders: Community Colleges Leaders to Congress 1 21 15

The president’s bold proposal

I’m excited by President Obama’s proposal last week to make the first two years of a community college education free for in-state students.

Many Pima Community College students are of modest means, as are their fellow students across the U.S. President Obama’s proposal boldly addresses the issue of college affordability for our students and recognizes the critical importance of community colleges to growing our 21st century economy.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has called education the ultimate bipartisan issue. The president’s proposal will put that proposition to the test. However, given that training and education are going to be essential for our nation to advance on the path to success, any effort to help put people on that path should be taken seriously.