The 2017 Annual Convention program will focus on seven tracks. The selection of these tracks supports the continued advancement of improving student access, success and completion.
- College Readiness and Completion: Two-year colleges have reached the midpoint toward President Obama’s goal of increasing completion rates by 50% by 2020. Since 2009, community colleges have had a strong focus on improving K-12 relationships and implementing initiatives to ensure college readiness, redesigning and accelerating developmental education, focusing on aligning programs to the competencies required in the workforce, and ensuring that comprehensive wrap-around services are available to students in support of them achieving their academic goals. Proposals in this track should focus on successful strategies that colleges have employed to improve college readiness and ensure completion of a credential or degree. Lastly, this category includes advances in OER, learning management systems, or other emerging technologies designed to improve learning outcomes.
- Faculty Engagement: Community colleges are “laser-focused” on student success. This work cannot be done without strong faculty leadership. Proposals in this track will focus on (1) ways to engage faculty (full and part-time) in designing strategies to support student success (2) highlight impactful, scalable practices in the classroom, including the redesign of pedagogy and course content, and (3) showcase faculty professional development programs including onboarding and that provide support throughout employment that leads to improved learning outcomes and success for a diverse student population.
- The American Skills Gap: Training must be closely aligned to the needs of business or industry to ensure gainful employment. It is not an option to continue offering programs with extremely low enrollment that produce no graduates. Community colleges must sit at the table with business and industry and truly understand what competencies are required for employability, which also includes soft skills. This track focuses on career pathways, credentialing, business and industry relationships that have led to the redesign of student experiences to incorporate more work-based, hands-on, and technology-enriched learning, and to actively ensure that programs such as competency-based education support credential attainment.
- Organizational Strategy: In some cases, the college must undertake redesign efforts in order to achieve the overall goal of supporting students. Proposals submitted in the organizational strategy track should focus on improvements to student services, focus on the utilization of technology to actively communicate with students, envisioning the traditional model of how courses are offered, realignment of staff based upon new educational strategies, and creation, revision, or elimination of policies that serve as barriers to student access and success. Another area of focus is on the importance of using data to support the redesign of courses, programs, departments or the college.
- Public and Private Investments: Community colleges cannot increase college completion rates alone. With dwindling state funding and policies that may not clearly align to how college’s deliver services today, investment in education is critical. This track will focus on strategies for engaging in policy discussions that ensure affordability, promote college completion, that strengthen transparency and accountability, build coalitions that promote transitions across educational sectors, and ultimately connect education to jobs. This track also includes a focus on fundraising through direct financial gifts or through grants from foundations, and the development of effective partnerships that advance student success.
- Public Policy and Governance: This track addresses how to advocate at the local, state, and federal level on significant issues that impact student access and success. Proposals in this area may focus on strategies to gain buy-in from elected officials, local and/or national think-tanks and other stakeholders on specific policy matters. Public Policy and Governance proposals may also focus on current trends and issues in higher education that have the potential to have major impact on the sector. This track also includes a focus on governance in higher education. In particular, there may be lessons learned that can be shared with new leaders in managing the board/CEO relationship, and what opportunities exist to provide trustees with useful information to advance high-level discussions around college completion.
- Leadership and High Performance Culture: With the leadership transitions taking place at all levels of the organization, colleges must invest more in leadership and professional development and support opportunities so that these new leaders are launched into their roles on solid footing. Because some of these new leaders lack significant experience in their new roles, professional development opportunities to educate them in dealing with the complexities of the community college are very important to their success. Proposals in this strand will focus leadership development opportunities with a track record of success. Professional development is also important to the development of a high-performance organizational culture. The culture inspires people to go the extra mile: to make and execute good decisions even when nobody's looking. Share promising practices that have led to increased productivity, cultural change, and overall high performance by members of your college. Programs and services implemented to improve job performance can also be included in this strand.
Diversity, inclusion, and equity are themes that should be embedded into the culture of an institution, and as such are a part of each convention track listed.