Faculty Voices: An Invitation to Community College Faculty

Cynthia Wilson

What issues surrounding student success and completion are important to community college faculty? What concerns do these faculty members have about the national focus on completion? As a community college faculty member, do you see any benefits to the so-called Completion Agenda, and if so, what are those benefits? These are some of the questions the Faculty Voices initiative seeks to answer by engaging community college faculty, full-time and adjunct, in the national conversation about student success and completion.Why faculty voices? When President Obama launched the American Graduation Initiative in 2009, government agencies, private foundations, and national education organizations were quick to express support. The League for Innovation in the Community College, along with other national community college associations, signed a Call to Action for Democracy’s Colleges, affirming “the need for a dramatic increase in the number of Americans with postsecondary degrees and certifications to fulfill critical state and national goals” and asserting that “community colleges have an obligation to meet the challenge while holding firmly to traditional values of access, opportunity, and quality.”Indeed, the Completion Agenda has many champions among executive and administrative leaders at community colleges. Paradoxically, those who perform the fundamental work of teaching and learning – the faculty – have remained largely absent from the national completion conversation. Although numerous projects and initiatives have been launched to develop strategies and tools to improve student learning, retention, and completion, these resources risk limited use unless faculty are intentionally and respectfully engaged in the local and national conversations about student success and completion. Without the support of faculty – who arguably have the most immediate, sustained contact with students – the Completion Agenda has little chance of success.

To help ensure that community college faculty are included in this important national conversation, the League, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched its Faculty Voices Initiative earlier this year. Our overall aim is to identify and report issues and concerns community college faculty have regarding the Completion Agenda. We also seek to increase individual and institutional implementation of effective practices in teaching and learning that lead to improved student learning, retention, and completion. Throughout the project, findings from Faculty Voices research will be reported not only to community college faculty, staff, and administrators, but to all stakeholders and participants in the national conversation about student success and completion.

The Faculty Voices team is engaging faculty in the national conversation through a variety of methods, including social media, focus groups, stakeholder conversations and workshops, surveys, presentations, and publications, and we want to hear from you. You can like Faculty Voices on Facebook, follow the initiative on Twitter, join the League Faculty Voices group on LinkedIn, and hear the voices of faculty on YouTube. You can share your successful practices in teaching and learning through League publications, Learning AbstractsInnovation Showcase, and Leadership Abstracts.

And you can participate in the Faculty Voices blog right here. I’m writing this initial post and my colleagues and I will use the blog to provide additional information, share resources, and report on the initiative, but we’re eager to turn the keyboard and the conversation over to you. So, register with the blog – it’s easy and free – and then submit your comments, perhaps answering one or two of the questions posed at the beginning of this post, or maybe asking a different question about student success, retention, and completion. We’re also seeking community college faculty to serve as guest bloggers. If you are interested, please contact me at wilson@league.org.

On behalf of the League and the Faculty Voices team, I am honored to invite you to join the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Cynthia Wilson, Vice President, Learning & Research, Director, Faculty Voices Initiative, League for Innovation in the Community College

Originally published as a Faculty Voices Project blog post on March 18, 2015.