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ECC Extras: ECC working to address challenges to higher education

Colleges and universities are facing challenging times.

We are asked to do more with less, while new technologies and the changing learning demands of our students continue to put pressure on the traditional delivery model for higher education.

Recently, George Mehaffy of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities came to Elgin Community College to talk about these issues.

He said higher education as it is currently configured is not equipped to handle the growing number of students who demand greater outcomes at lower costs.

In Mehaffy’s opinion, today’s higher education institutions may not exist in the near future if we do not examine how to keep college worthwhile and affordable.

While I share Mehaffy’s concerns, I am pleased to tell you that the faculty, administrators and staff at ECC are working together to identify new approaches and solutions to address these issues.

Many of our best programs, such as the Alliance for College Readiness, the 20-in-1 program and our financial literacy efforts, are cutting-edge initiatives designed to help District 509 students and their families achieve their academic goals now and in the future.

The alliance continues to lead the work of area educators on college readiness while improving the percentage of college-ready students at ECC.

The 20-in-1 awareness campaign is helping to sharpen students’ focus around the significant research indicating that completing 20 credits in year one makes a student five times more likely to succeed.

The college’s nationally recognized financial literacy program has successfully counseled students to borrow less while giving them knowledge to maintain financial health during college.

As part of Achieving the Dream, cross-functional teams of faculty, staff and administrators are collaborating in task forces and teams to address the barriers impeding completion and student success.

They are working on a variety of topics, including developmental education curriculum, student retention and high school and college readiness.

Their efforts have already improved the college’s results in areas such as
success rates in college-level, developmental and gateway courses; retention rates; and graduation rates.

But we will need more than just these programs to keep moving ECC forward while anticipating and responding to the challenges ahead.

Just as we relied on – and were grateful for – your support in 2009, we will need your knowledge, expertise and continued support of your community college.

ECC is lucky to have a district of intelligent residents who are skilled professionals and business owners in every field.

Your ideas will be instrumental as we create the future of higher education at ECC.

• Dr. David Sam is president of Elgin Community College. The “ECC Extras” column will run the first Thursday of each month. Contact Sam at

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