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From the Editor
Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.
In a January 2014 posting to AAC&U’s LEAP Challenge blog, Donna Heiland, who was then vice president and special assistant to the president, Emerson College, wrote, “Why collaborate? Because it’s a way of using resources—financial, material, human—more effectively. Because it’s a way of learning from each other. Collaboration is surely the way of the future, a way of working that has the potential to integrate teaching, learning, and research across institutions even as institutions are intentionally integrating these things on their own campuses. It’s hard to do at the beginning: logistics can get in the way of starting, and working together can seem cumbersome. But the more you do it, the more the benefits emerge: costs can be contained; resources are shared; staff, faculty, and students benefit. And the world gets bigger—campuses look outward, horizons broaden.”
While establishing partnerships for student success is important for all institutions, it is key for community colleges because the academic fate of more than seven million students—nearly half of all US undergraduates—is in their keeping. These students’ pathways into and through college are often circuitous and cross many institutional boundaries. Collaboration, therefore, is absolutely essential in this sector. In this context, AAC&U’s Advancing Roadmaps for Community College Leadership to Improve Student Learning and Success project, under the leadership of Tia Brown McNair, AAC&U vice president for diversity, equity, and student success, seeks to disseminate and to advance the knowledge and insights from AAC&U’s continuing work with nineteen community colleges participating in the LEAP Developing a Community College Student Roadmap project, originally funded by MetLife Foundation. Led by a set of experienced community college leaders, Roadmap schools have applied AAC&U’s LEAP practices and principles to efforts that advance community college student learning and engagement. Advancing Roadmaps will scale these strategies to support guided learning pathways for all students and build national, regional, and state partnerships among organizations committed to improving student learning and success. The project is supported by a grant from The Kresge Foundation.
Last year, the Advancing Roadmaps project held a Community College Leadership Summit to deliberate about the increasingly critical role that two-year institutions hold in achieving our nation’s goals for equitable access to and success in higher education. In attendance were leaders from several national organizations, including the American Association of Community Colleges, Achieving the Dream, Jobs for the Future, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, the Community College Research Center, as well as numerous campus leaders. At that gathering, more than one hundred participants shared promising strategies and identified opportunities for collaboration in order to make excellence inclusive through cross-institutional scaling of effective practices and policies all targeted toward community college student success.
Produced in partnership with The Kresge Foundation, this issue of Peer Review features a range of collaborative efforts that support successful outcomes for all community college students. The articles portray diverse types of collaborations, written by authors in both multi-institutional and campus–community partnerships. In all instances, their narratives involve working together to set goals, share resources, and implement reforms that advance success for all students.
“Divided We Fail” was the message of one of the Community College Leadership Summit sessions. Conversely, through intentional collaboration we can make great strides toward providing successful learning outcomes for all students. By sharing the lessons learned from the Advancing Roadmaps project, including those in this journal and those soon to be available on the AAC&U website in an open source electronic resource hub to scale the use of evidence-based LEAP practices at community colleges, we hope to motivate those at two- and four-year institutions to look within and outside of their campus gates for partnerships that will benefit and guide students toward successful learning pathways.
About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, community development and our place-based efforts in Detroit. Kresge’s Education Program works to promote postsecondary access and success for low-income, first generation and underrepresented students. Please visit Kresge.org or follow @kresgedu to learn more.