General Session Keynote
Wednesday, March 2
8:00 - 9:00 AM Pacific; 9:00 - 10:00 AM Mountain; 10:00 - 11:00 AM Central; 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Eastern
Orkand Endowed Chair and Senior Advisor to the President, University of Maryland Global Campus
Bridging the Gap Between Learning and Work
The pandemic, coupled with disruptive technology, has put community colleges at the center of the future for learning and work. We now see more clearly than ever the fact and the costs of the opportunity gap that exists in America. At the same time, learning and work are becoming lifelong activities, and we know that emerging occupations which have technical components also require 21st century skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and respect for diversity.
As local, trusted, open access institutions, community colleges, working closely with employers, are perfectly positioned to rethink the future of learning and work. Having said that, even with these advantages, the one thing that community colleges cannot do is . . . nothing. Christiansen’s theory of disruption says that, as the marketplace changes around the institution, the institution’s traditional strengths become a weakness and source of decline. So, as learning becomes more technologically enhanced, use patterns of campuses become more diverse, the workplace becomes a learnplace, and just-in-time learning for all throughout life becomes a core value, community colleges must adapt and respond. While the roles of faculty and support staff will evolve and change, they will be more important than ever in serving the 60 million adults in America who have yet to receive the benefits of postsecondary education. And blending the values of the liberal arts with the practical reality of occupational education will provide social, civic, and economic results for the students of the future.
Peter Smith, Ed.D., whose distinguished career in higher education includes serving as founding President of California State University Monterey Bay and the Community College of Vermont, currently holds a five-year term as the Orkand Endowed Chair and Senior Advisor to the President at the University of Maryland Global Campus. Smith also served as Assistant Director General for Education for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in Paris, France, and as state senator (1980-1982), Lt. Governor (1982-1986), and Congressman (1989-1990) for Vermont.
His latest book, Stories From the Educational Underground: The New Frontier for Learning and Work (Kendall Hunt, 2021), addresses directly the need to recognize and affirm the talent of millions of Americans that is ignored by most higher education institutions and many employers.