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Community College Research Center Gets New Director

Dr. Thomas Brock, a leader in research for the U.S. Department of Education, will be in a position to  continue to grow his experience as a higher education influencer as the next director of the Community College Research Center (CCRC).

Dr. Thomas BrockDr. Thomas Brock

In existence for more than 20 years, CCRC strategically assesses the problems and performance of community colleges in order to contribute to the development of practice and policy that expand access to higher education and promote success for all students.

Brock’s prior involvement in research regarding higher education prompted him to work closely in partnerships with CCRC. Through this, he was able to make connections with colleagues and advance his association with the center.

“For the past five years or s0 I’ve been here in Washington at the Department of Education, and the opportunity I’ve had here has allowed me to really see the national landscape, to understand who else is working in this field, given me a broader understanding of the varying needs and questions and issues that are of concern around the country.” said Brock. “So all of this, I guess, has helped prepare me for the job that I’m about to assume.”

Brock will succeed Thomas Bailey, the founding director of CCRC, who has been named the next president of Teachers College, Columbia University. Bailey assumes the presidency of the college on July 1 and will continue to lead CCRC until Brock begins as its new director in September.

After 25 years of working as a researcher, Brock plans to contribute to the evolution of one of the research center’s main projects, Guided Pathways.  The project will work with community colleges to try to implement and study the effectiveness of the community college program and ensure that it is more structured and well supported to help students move through a degree program as rapidly as possible.

“It requires reform in how the community college courses are offered and the kind of advising that students receive when they enter community college as students for the first time,” said Brock. “CCRC is also doing some work around education, technology and ways to improve student advising through computerized tools, applications on your phone or electronic communication that can be issued from the college.”

Although this is one of the many projects Brock will contribute to, he said he is enthusiastic about studying the role community colleges play within the larger system of higher education and how policies and programs can be shaped to better support transfer and degree completion across two- and four-year institutions.

“We are delighted that Tom will join CCRC as its new director,” said Bailey. “His background and interests are ideal for this role. Tom’s deep experience in research and research management have afforded him the technical and executive skills to lead the organization. He is widely respected among researchers and research organizations across the nation. And he has many years of involvement working specifically with community colleges, so he is well known in the community college world. We could not think of a more qualified candidate for leading the center and for guiding the future direction of its agenda.”

Dominique Burns can be reached at [email protected].

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