Insight on the Role of Faculty in AACC Report
By Dr. René Diaz-Lefebvre, GCC Psychology Faculty
The much anticipated report, Empowering Community Colleges To Build the Nation’s Future: An Implementation Guide, was introduced and the focus of much attention at the American Association of Community Colleges 94th Annual Convention, Great Expectations: Implementing a 21st Century Student Success Agenda, at Washington, D.C., April 5-8, 2014. The report represents the efforts of 112 of the country’s leading experts on community colleges, who over a three-year period worked on providing bold and daring recommendations to create change in meeting college completion goals. Dr. Díaz-Lefebvre, was one of two faculty appointed by Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, President & CEO, AACC. to serve on the initiative.
The main emphasis of the report is to challenge institutions to reimagine what they need to become to meet the needs of the ever changing community college student. The goal of increasing completion of community college credentials (certificates and associate degrees) by 50% by 2020, while maintaining access, is no doubt challenging and will take the effort of the entire college community, including students, faculty, administrators, and business communities that will partner with and support them.
According to Dr. Bumphus, “Community colleges cannot be strong by staying the same. Certain values remain constant: opportunity, equity, academic excellence. Taking on bold ideas and dramatic change is the only way to meet college completion goals.”
Serving on the Implementation Team focusing on Faculty Engagement & Leadership was a very rewarding yet, at times daunting experience. As a seasoned faculty member, Díaz-Lefebvre, provided insight on the critical and crucial role faculty will play in effectively implementing the recommendations in the report. “I would often challenge and remind fellow team members to seek out and include as many faculty as possible in the transformation of their institutions. After all, we are the academic gatekeepers of the integrity and high standards of the learning experience.” He also provided insight and recommendations on the needs of the growing Latino student population.
Dr. Bumphus was appreciative and complimentary in acknowledging the key role Dr. Díaz-Lefebvre played in representing the voice of the nation’s faculty, “We were pleased that you were able to participate. Your insights from the faculty perspective have been invaluable to us as we have worked to develop strategies and actionable plans for implementing the 21st Century Commission recommendations. Without significant level of faculty engagement in the process, colleges cannot be successful in implementing a student success agenda. Again, thank you for your service.”
Empowering Community Colleges to Build the Nation’s Future: An Implementation Guide is available at aacc.org. AACC 21st-Century Center is an on-line repository of information that supports the work described in the report.