Defining Excellence in Community Colleges is Focus of Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy Event

The Obama administration has put the spotlight on community colleges, which serve nearly half the college population of the United States.  These institutions have been seen historically as “engines of opportunity,” yet in the aggregate evidence shows disappointing retention and completion rates.

On April 29th, the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy hosted, ‘Defining Excellence in Community Colleges’ with Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and author of What Excellent Community Colleges Do: Preparing All Students for Success.

Ann Marcus, director of the Steinhardt Institute of Higher Education Policy, introduced Wyner, who addressed a distinguished group of college presidents, policy leaders, funders, and members of the NYU Steinhardt community.

Martha Kanter, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Higher Education at Steinhardt and former Under-Secretary of Education in the Obama administration, moderated the event.

The discussion addressed the instructional and administrative strategies that lead to success for community college students, what community colleges can do better, and the importance of using data to gain understanding of both achievements and weaknesses.

According to Wyner, exceptional colleges have a distinct set of characteristics:  strong leadership and vision; comprehensive student support systems; intentional focus on teaching and learning; strategic use of data; and integrated structures with external partners to benefit students.

“Josh Wyner’s work highlights the importance of intense focus on academic achievement which includes academic leadership by college presidents,”  Kanter said.

(Photos:  Sue-Yeon Song)