Ironically, as community colleges emerge from the pandemic, experts, according to an article in the Community College Daily, are counseling that we do so slowly, recommending that we “focus on small realistic changes that can make the biggest impact.” However, having come through a pandemic during which our college community exercised resilience and commitment to remain fully open during those tough pandemic years, CCBC—along with others in the community college sphere—is not about to timidly effect to recapture the college we were before March 2020.
We are coming out of this pandemic with both strength and vision. We are reframing the conversation, investing in our future and leading with equity. Our college is focused squarely on serving the needs of the students sitting in our classrooms today, rather than those of yesterday. We are bringing an equity lens to everything we do, looking at policies, practices and procedures across the college to remove barriers for students and provide them with the support and services that they need, both in and outside of the classroom.
CCBC has become an academic powerhouse in our region and our state. No other sector of higher education can do what community colleges do. Believing that education is the great leveler and great lifter, we proudly serve the most vulnerable populations, giving them access to a degree or workplace credential. CCBC serves as a gateway to opportunity for many who would otherwise be denied; we will keep our “open door” firmly ajar.
While managing the pandemic has been fraught with institutional challenge, we recognize that it has also presented us with the best opportunity in decades for transformative change. More than ever we are focused on the “future of work,” strategically identifying the education and training needs of our business partners and our communities, retooling and refitting our programs and curriculum to fit today’s jobs rather than those of yesterday.
I have challenged our college community to use this moment not just to rebuild CCBC to recapture who we were in March of 2020, but to reimagine and reinvent the institution to become the college we must be today. We cannot emerge as Rip Van Winkle, slowly rubbing our eyes after a long sleep. Instead we will step forward with a renewed spirit, ready to forge a new day to finally become a 21st century college for 21st century students for 21st century jobs.