Reflections on the New Academic Year By Presidents & Experts
Leave No Community
Community colleges are hardly a new concept—indeed, they first opened their doors in the early 1900s, and by the early 1960s there were nearly 500 throughout the nation. But as we approach the second decade of the 21st century, community colleges have taken on new importance—and grown into a vital presence on America’s social and economic landscape. Yet federal and private sector funding of these indispensable institutions remains largely inadequate.
Consider: there are more than 1,200 community colleges across the country today. In New York State, community colleges account for fully half of SUNY’s total student enrollment. Still closer to home, BMCC has evolved into CUNY’s largest community college, with more than 21,000 degree-students and a growing reputation for academic excellence and achievement.
These are impressive numbers, even if they are born, in part, out of difficult times. As rising prices, falling wages and a faltering economy take their toll, more and more families of college-bound children are viewing community colleges as a cost-efficient—and necessary—alternative to four-year schools.
But economic uncertainty isn’t the only factor. Positive forces are also at work. More than ever before, community colleges are places where individuals can return to acquire and update the skills they need to function and thrive in a rapidly changing world.
This is a role to which community colleges in general—and BMCC in particular—have always been totally committed. Through BMCC’s Continuing Education and Workforce Development Division we enable individuals to upgrade their job skills, earn general equivalency diplomas and go on to college.
But whether or not they go on to pursue baccalaureate degrees, graduates know that they have taken an important first step toward making a valuable contribution to the economic growth and vitality of their communities. At a time when community colleges account for nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates, the prudent course is to increase funding—not cut it back. Nothing less than the economic future of our communities—and the world—is at stake.#