Jefferson City, Missouri – February 4, 2013. Amid the flurry of activity in Missouri’s Capitol last week, the Missouri Community College Association presented legislators with a strong message about the role of community colleges and the importance of funding for higher education. On January 30, Debbie Goodall, chair of MCCA Presidents/Chancellors Council and president of Metropolitan Community College’s Business & Technology Campus, and Wilbur Thornton, chair of MCCA’s Trustee Council and a trustee at Three Rivers College, testified before the House Education Appropriations Committee to make the case for additional investment in community colleges.
Mr. Thornton provided committee members with information about community colleges’ governance. “Each of our state’s 12 community colleges is governed by a locally elected board of trustees. Trustees provide a direct link between the college and the community. We make sure that our schools are truly meeting local need for all the different kinds of programs that community colleges offer – from dual enrollment for high school students to customized training programs for businesses setting up shop in our part of the state,” Thornton said.
Ms. Goodall told the 12-member body about the strong return on investment community colleges provide for students and the state. She said that those who hold associate degrees earn an average of $11,000 more per year than those with no degree, but added that often, short-term certificate programs offered by community colleges allow Missourians to enter the workforce earning significantly higher wages. She cited as examples networking, where graduates can earn as much as $70,000 a year; electric utility line technicians, who make over $60,000 a year; and drafting and design, and engineering technology, environmental health and safety, and heating, cooling, and refrigeration, where certificate-holders earn about $45,000 a year. Goodall said, “These kinds of jobs, these kinds of wages – they truly have the ability to change peoples’ lives.”
Goodall also touted community college enrollment, which is about 106,000 students in for-credit programs. That figure is a 36 percent increase over 2006. She added that community colleges produce about a third of the degrees and certificates issued to undergrads at Missouri’s public colleges and universities and provide 27,000 Missourians with training through Customized Training programs.
From this first step in the legislative budget process, House Education Appropriations Committee members will make recommendations that the House Budget Committee may take into consideration when they introduce the bills that will eventually become the state budget.
The Missouri Community College Association is a statewide organization through which Missouri’s community colleges work together to advance common agendas. MCCA provides advocacy, education, information, and networking opportunities in service of the state’s 5,700 community college faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees.
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