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Officials: Community college council will help districts speak as one

PHOENIX — Gov. Janet Napolitano has created an Arizona Community College Council that leaders say will allow districts to coordinate more effectively and help achieve the governor’s goal of doubling bachelor’s degrees awarded by 2020.

“It will be a great thing for the state of Arizona that community colleges have a singular voice,” said Fred Boice, president of the Arizona Board of Regents. “They can provide Arizona with a larger and better-trained work force.”

However, Boice said the council has a difficult job because of the disparity between the sizes and locations of the state’s community colleges.

The council will be made up of members from all 10 community college districts, as well as the Navajo Nation’s Dine College and the Tohono O’Odham Nation’s Tohono O’odham Community College.

Napolitano’s executive order, issued Thursday, calls for the council to support the expansion of dual-enrollment programs, propose revisions to higher-education funding mechanisms and establish standards for the exchange of data, among other things.

Mike Kearns, chancellor of Mohave Community College, said Arizona’s community colleges serve as a vital stepping stone between high schools and universities.

“We need to have a strong understanding in how to service that mission,” Kearns said.

Kearns said most community college districts once participated in the Arizona Community College Association, but he said his district pulled out 18 month ago because the group didn’t speak as one.

James Horton, president of Yavapai College and a former president of the Arizona Community College Association, said that group fell apart because it wasn’t meeting the districts’ needs. He said the new council will give districts a voice with the governor.

“I think this will give us an organized way to communicated a unified front for the role community colleges play across the state in education and the work force,” Horton said.

The governor appoints members of the council, which will include CEOs from the 10 districts, Dine College and Tohono O’odham Community College. It also will include one member from a community college district board serving a county with a population of 500,000 or more and one member from a board serving a county with less than 500,000 residents.

Horton said a key challenge for the council will be helping students move toward bachelor’s degrees because community college students generally are older and tied to their communities.

“It’s hard to pick up and move to one of the state universities located a few hours away when they have a family,” Horton said.

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Here are districts that will be part of the Arizona Community College† Council created by Gov. Janet Napolitano, along with the colleges operated by each:

Cochise County

Institution: Cochise College

Coconino County

Institution: Coconino Community College

Graham County

Institution: Eastern Arizona College

Maricopa County (Maricopa Community Colleges)

Institutions: Chandler-Gilbert Community College; Estrella Mountain Community College; Gateway Community College; Glendale Community College; Mesa Community College; Paradise Valley Community College; Phoenix College; Rio Salado College; Scottsdale Community College; South Mountain Community College.

Mohave County

Institution: Mohave Community College

Navajo County

Institution: Northland Pioneer College

Pima County

Institution: Pima Community College

Pinal County

Institution: Central Arizona College

Yavapai County

Institution: Yavapai College

Yuma/La Paz Counties

Institution: Arizona Western College

Navajo Nation

Institution: Dine College

Tohono O’Odham Nation

Institution: Tohono O’odham Community College

Sources: Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education; Arizona Governor’s Office.

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On the Web

Arizona Governor’s Office:

www.azgovernor.gov

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