Deans from dozens of California’s 114 community colleges joined together at College of the Canyons (COC) Friday to learn about the relationship between guided pathways, Career Technical Education (CTE) and transfer into the workforce.
“We follow what the labor market needs, it results in better outcomes for our students,” keynote speaker and Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development Van Ton-Quinlivan said. “They are able to better complete and enter the workforce, they are better able to break out of poverty and achieve above the minimum wage.”
The lessons were part of the 2018 California Deans Symposium titled “Providing Social and Economic Mobility for California” and hosted by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) Division of Workforce and Economic Development.
The symposium’s goal was to help participants develop leadership skills to better align workforce needs with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office new statewide Vision for Success goals.
“With some big ambitious goals, we need some creative ways of getting to these benchmarks,” keynote speaker and Executive Vice Chancellor of Education Services and Support Laura Hope told the crowd. “Our success is going to require time, persistence and vision and all of you are the moderators of those things.”
The Chancellor’s Office hope the colleges work together to complete these Vision for Success goals that include: increasing the number of students transferring by 35 percent, reducing the achievement gap by 40 percent and increasing the number of students who earn associate degrees, credentials or certificates by 20 percent, among others.
“We surrounded you with key talent to help you achieve your goals,” Van Ton-Quinlivan said of the educational “ecosystems” the Chancellor’s Office is creating. “We are working to bring down silos between community colleges and between education systems… We must talk to each other and figure out where the assets are.”
A major focus of the opening, keynote discussions was this push to eliminate each college’s leadership silos and focus on cross-institutional collaboration and planning.
“I always say we are prisoners of our own structures… It’s about collaborating, getting out of your silo and not being afraid to let others lead and take responsibility,” COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook said. “We do really great planning here [at COC]. I think that’s one of your roles is to make sure your planning is integrated. If you don’t plan the work and then work the plan you’ll still be talking about what you want to do two years down the road.”
Hope noted that this is the first time in a long time that the Chancellor’s Office as well as individual community colleges are working to reform their organizational structures.
“We’re going through the exact same changes you guys are going through,” Hope said. “We helped build those silos, we can un-build them so a lot of our work… is about making sure we’re supporting your work in a way that’s more integrated, more intentional and more coordinated.”
Strong Workforce, Guided Pathways
Another focus of the keynote discussion was the focus on the college’s Strong Workforce initiative and Guided Pathways program.
“It’s about what the labor market needs and getting students to understand there is great career potential in those areas,” Van Ton-Quinlivan said.
With additional funding, restructured programs and visualized data, the Strong Workforce program is working to revamp its structure, reward colleges that get results and highlight success in the California workforce.
Through Guided Pathways, the Chancellor’s Office hopes to engage its students to quickly complete degree or certificate programs and enter well-paid careers.
“Guided Pathways is actually the reason I took the job at the Chancellor’s Office. To me, it is the most engaging element we can participate in,” Hope said. “We want to help students in their exploration of their talents, strengths and interests.”
Overall, the Dean Symposium’s goal was to motivate and prepare community colleges deans to pursue the Chancellor’s Office Vision for Success.
“We all have the options to do all of our own planning within the Chancellor’s Office Initiative snd Vision and the accountability for carrying forward that initiative,” Van Hook said. “In the spring, I will be taking to the Board of Trustees a recommendation to make the Chancellor’s Office Vision our college mission.”
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