Posts Tagged ‘community colleges’

“Community” Colleges – What a Misnomer!

Wake Technical Community College in my county is North Carolina’s largest community college, serving more than 70,000 students annually with five campuses,  The North Raleigh Campus is the closest one to my home.

Wake Technical Community College in my county is North Carolina’s largest community college, serving more than 70,000 students annually with five campuses, The North Raleigh Campus is the closest one to my home.

Note 2 additional resource links at the bottom of the blog!

Every time I get together with my former IBM colleague and global Human Resources / Diversity expert Sheila Forte-Trammell (see my 2-part blog interview with Sheila), we always have an intellectually stimulating lively conversation.

One of Sheila’s many activities is serving as a resource to the American Association of Community Colleges including speaking at their most recent conference. Her areas of expertise in global leadership, diversity, succession planning and more are very useful and pertinent to community colleges. (Please see the additional information and link on Sheila’s exciting workshop at the bottom of the blog.)

One thing we discussed is the name “community colleges” as a misnomer. One definition of a misnomer is “an inaccurate use of a name or a term.” A definition I like even better is “a word or term that suggests a meaning that is known to be wrong.” Yes, even though community colleges are located in communities throughout the United States and normally serve a constituency of people within driving distance (i.e. in the community), they really are and need to be about education future global business people and leaders.

In today’s inter-connected world, virtually any business today can be global. Even the smallest entrepreneur can reach out internationally to sell their goods and services, and utilize a global supply chain to get the parts and services required to build their products and offerings. In addition, almost all local communities now have diverse populations that include people from all corners of the world. Even in working in one’s community, a person needs to be well versed in how to effectively communicate with people from many different countries, cultures and religions.

The American Association of Community Colleges to which a huge majority of community colleges belong, provides some important statistics. In 2013, there were 1,123 community colleges across the US with 7.4 million students enrolled in credit programs. The enrollment is also very diverse with 50% of the attendees being white, with the other 50% being Hispanic, Black, Asian, mixed-race, etc. And 36% of attendees are the first generation in their families to attend college, which represents growth in economic opportunities for these families.

The AACC’s 2015 fact sheets cites key initiatives including partnering with industry for workforce training, leading in scientific research and providing tools for community colleges to prepare their students for the 21st century. Certainly then global training must be a key component of these programs.

Perhaps community colleges should consider rebranding themselves as “communi-global!”

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During the Mentor-Connect Pre-conference workshop consultant Sheila Forte-Trammel shared the leadership development process she used at IBM and other clients during a Mentor-Connect workshop. She urged both workshop participants to look at their own careers as small businesses. Link to an AACC article about Sheila’s program.

Link to my short paper published as part of the Workforce Diversity Network’s “Expert Forum,” Connecting the Realities of Leadership with the Diverse Global Economy.

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