George Boggs agreed that if America is to meet the challenges of the future, policy makers must support colleges and universities as well as their students. States have cut funding to public higher education, including community colleges, despite a surge of enrollments. As a result, hundreds of thousands of students are being turned away because of inadequate resources. Boggs also observed that although part-time or adjunct faculty can do a great job in the classroom, a core of full-time faculty is essential to make policy changes and to work with colleagues at four-year institutions.
Mark Hubley from Prince Georgeâ€™s Community College in Maryland pointed out that when he started at the community college in 2002 his department had 15 full-time faculty. Today, the enrollments in his department are twice what they were—and the department has 16 full-time faculty. The faculty in the department teach at four locations in the county, the college has a program on the campus that enrolls high school students, and the department teaches dual-enrollment classes at five high schools in the county. He said, “As excited as I get about things that we hear in meetings like this, it also makes me feel overwhelmed.” In the future, said Hubley, the college will continue to need to do more with less, commenting that “anything you can do to help the faculty at community colleges will be most helpful.”
Funding priorities can be a force for change. As Karl Pister, former chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a member of the organizing committee observed, community colleges face the simultaneous challenge of educating potential transfer students, adults coming back to school, students taking developmental courses, and students interested in technical programs. In contrast, many four-year institutions have a “very monolithic culture” organized around conducting research. Research universities in their modern form were created when the federal government began making large investments in research in higher education following World War II. The same sort of change is required to spur major changes at the community college level, said Pister. “It is an application of the Golden Rule,” he said. “People change their culture when the people with the gold change the rules.” For example, federal agencies need to insist in their grant making that transfer be substantially increased. In Pisterâ€™s view, “Without that kind of incentivizing, I donâ€™t think we are going to see much in the way of change.”
Malvika Talwar from Northern Virginia Community College talked about the changes that targeted funding could make in the ranks of community college faculty. If community college careers were more palatable or exciting for students who are in graduate school, more PhDs would be interested in going this route. “When we are in graduate school, we donâ€™t really know much about community colleges,” she said. One possibility