The Community's College: The Pursuit of Democracy, Economic Development, and Success

By Robert L. Pura and Tara L. Parker

The Community's College: The Pursuit of Democracy, Economic Development, and Success
“The diverse narratives captured in The Community’s College demonstrate the ways in which community colleges continue to serve as powerful catalysts for social and economic mobility, not only for the students whose stories are told here, but for their families and the communities in which they are located. Equally important, the analysis offered by Dr. Pura and Dr. Parker unveils how community colleges—distinctively American institutions—are more essential than ever to fulfilling our nation’s historic mission of educating for democracy.”

from the Foreword by Lynn Pasquerella

While community colleges promote American ideals of democracy, opportunity, and social mobility; provide a vital accessible and affordable education for nearly 12 million first-generation, economically-disadvantaged, and minoritized students; are engines of local workforce and economic development; and enroll nearly half of all students who go on to complete a four-year degree; they remain the least resourced and the least funded institutions in the United States.

Offering the insights of the former president of Greenfield Community College—located in Massachusetts’s poorest rural county—who was a national leader in community college and higher education organizations as well as closely involved with local businesses and organizations; and commentary and background data provided by Professor of Higher Education and Chair of the Department of Leadership in Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston, this book addresses the challenges that community colleges face as they strive to achieve their complex missions in a changing world.

By providing vivid accounts of the diversity of students that community colleges serve, the complexity of their missions—from dual enrollment with high schools, to vocational training, adult education, and transfer to four-year colleges—and the role they play in supporting and responding to the needs of local business, as well in regional economic development, the authors make the case for increased investment, while at the same time making apparent to all stakeholders—from policy makers and trustees to college leaders, faculty and staff—how they can contribute to the vital development of human capacities.

Community colleges are open-access, train nearly 80% of all first responders, graduate more than half of new nurses and health-care workers, and have a history of nimbleness and responsiveness to community needs, and can play a vital role in training for tomorrow’s jobs, over 60% of which will, in the next decade, require some college education.

The first four chapters set the scene, demonstrating the key foundational linkage between education, community and democracy, presenting a history of the community college movement, illustrating what’s involved in building strong and reciprocal community relationships, and covering a whole panoply of leadership issues such as governance, institutional culture, facilities planning, resource development, accreditation, and crisis management.

The second part of the book presents Bob Pura’s accounts of his visits to five community colleges, each representing different geographic regions, institutional size, urban and rural locations, and how they respond to the varied racial and ethnic populations from they draw their students and establish themselves as anchors in their communities.

As well as offering an important message to state and federal policy makers, this book serves as a roadmap for aspiring leaders of community colleges as well as a text for leadership and higher education courses. College leaders may find it useful for internal training and learning community groups.

This book is co-published by AAC&U and Routledge. AAC&U members receive a 40% discount on books co-published by AAC&U and Routledge, and a 20% discount on all other Routledge books. To take advantage of this exclusive member benefit, first log into your account to obtain your discount code, then visit the Routledge site.

Print Edition

  • $31.96 (AAC&U Members)
  • $39.95 (Nonmembers)

Digital Edition

  • $23.97 (AAC&U Members)
  • $29.96 (Nonmembers)

Publication Details

  • Date Published: 2022
  • ISBN: 9781642674255 (paperback), 9781642674279 (digital)
  • Pages: 216