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Community College Innovation Exemplars Honored at the Community College Futures Assembly

Rose M. Martinez

To be identified as a bellwether among community colleges is no small feat, but that is precisely why the Community College Futures Assembly continues to draw high-performing teams annually to compete for the Bellwether and Legacy Awards. The Bellwether College Consortium issued a call for program submissions last summer, and 38 finalists representing 21 states and 34 community colleges scored highest above their respective competitors to vie for either award.

Hudson County Community College (New Jersey) won the Legacy Award, the consortium’s highest honor. Eligible community colleges were past Bellwether award winners who demonstrated five or more years of evidence-based success, scalability, and replication. Hudson Scholars, an innovative student support model, focuses on retention and improving student outcomes by scaling successful elements of national best-practice models, providing high-touch advisement, financial stipends, and early academic intervention.

Rose M. MartinezRose M. MartinezDr. Jingjing Liu received the Outstanding Dissertation Award for her study, titled Faculty Matter: A Case Study of Rural Community College Faculty Involvement in Vertical Transfer. Dr. Liu is a graduate of William & Mary.

Reading Area Community College (Pennsylvania), St. Louis Community College (Missouri), and Lakeshore Technical College (Wisconsin) were winners of the prestigious Bellwether Award.

Reading Area Community College won in the category of Instructional Programs and Services, which honors programs or activities designed and successfully implemented to foster or support teaching and learning in the community college. The college program session, titled Nurturing Growth in the Teacher Pipeline: A Transformative Success Pathway, detailed a replicable, equitable solution to the critical shortage of early educators. By using Universal Design for Learning and restructuring the pathway into stackable credentials with acceleration options and strong student support, it increased student enrollment and completion.

St. Louis Community College won in the Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development. The college program session, Show-Me Synergy: Growing the Healthcare Workforce in St. Louis, shared a multi-year strategic plan that met the ongoing healthcare workforce needs. The success of this program led to an increase in student enrollment and additional resources for the college, strengthening their relationship with clinical partners. “We consider being selected as an award winner a significant accomplishment and national recognition for our innovative approach to developing workforce in the healthcare professions,” shared Jeff Pittman, chancellor of St. Louis Community College.

Lakeshore Technical College won in the Planning, Governance, and Finance category, which recognizes programs or activities that improve efficiency and effectiveness in the community college. Their program session, titled “Hiring, Onboarding Investments are Critical to Success,” recognizes the importance of improving efficiency to bring new talent to their college.

The consortium celebrated its 30th anniversary of the Futures Assembly by honoring Dr. Dale F. Campbell, founder of the consortium and assembly. He was greeted with high praise and deserved accolades from higher education leaders at the event’s award ceremony. Dale’s vision to create a national competition centered on honoring and promoting the replication of successful programs deserving of our attention has stood the test of time. He single-handedly created a platform in 1995 for innovative community colleges when none existed. It was wonderful to honor and thank him for his indelible contributions to higher education.

Dr. Rose M. Martinez serves as director of the Bellwether College Consortium.

The Roueche Center Forum is co-edited by Drs. John E. Roueche and Margaretta B. Mathis of the John E. Roueche Center for Community College Leadership, Department of Educational Leadership, College of Education, Kansas State University.

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