Moving in the right direction

March 10th, 2015
Erik Skinner

Written by: California Community Colleges Deputy Chancellor Erik Skinner

The California Community Colleges continued in the 2013-14 academic year to recover from the damage sustained in the Great Recession. As our recently issued 2014 State of the System report highlights, colleges made progress both in restoring student access that had been lost during the budget downturn and in improving completion outcomes.

Student enrollment trended upward for the first time in years, course offerings were restored, student programs and services were expanded, and a record number of degrees and certificates were awarded, in part due to the soaring popularity of our streamlined student transfer program with the California State University. The college system also saw completion rates for remedial math, English, and English as a Second Language trend upward, and success rates for credit courses continued to rise.

According to the report, the California Community Colleges were forced to turn away nearly 600,000 students between academic years 2008-09 and 2012-13 after funding for higher education eroded due to the recession. In 2013-14, the hemorrhaging of students was staunched: total enrollment edged upward by 15,351 students and stood at 2,094,910 in 2013-14.

California community colleges conferred 190,314 certificates and degrees in the most recent academic year, up more than 20,000 from the previous year.

Other highlights include:

The college system has announced a goal to increase student completions by nearly a quarter of a million over the next 10 freshman classes. This action by the Board of Governors represents the most ambitious student outcomes goal-setting effort undertaken by the college system and establishes clear markers for measuring the effectiveness of the Student Success Initiative.

In another groundbreaking development, we were assigned an exciting mission by the state government to establish community college baccalaureate programs for the first time in California’s history under a pilot program made possible by legislation authored by Senator Marty Block and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The degrees will be in fast-growing fields like respiratory therapy, dental hygiene, and bio-manufacturing, and should cost a student around $10,000 to earn. The college system has made rapid progress in implementing the law, and it is hoped that many of the college districts will be able to begin enrolling students into their baccalaureate programs in fall 2015.

The encouraging trends in California community colleges are attributable to dedicated faculty and staff at our 112 colleges, the leadership of the Board of Governors and locally elected governing boards and by a close alignment of system priorities with the priorities of the Legislature and the governor.

About the Author:

Erik Skinner is the Deputy Chancellor for the California Community Colleges.

To read his complete bio, click here.