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​Contact: Ann Hatch
214-378-1819; ahatch@dcccd.edu

For immediate release — Aug. 7, 2015

(DALLAS) — The role that community colleges play in economic development, workforce training and higher education brings traditional and nontraditional students to campuses across the country, where they are earning college credentials — associate degrees and professional certificates — that help fill the skills gap seen across the United States today.

Providing access to a community college education, as well as removing barriers — including cost, is part of the White House proposal titled America’s College Promise.

On May 29 and 30, Texas was well-represented in Washington, D.C. Dr. Joe May, chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, was asked to coordinate Texas Community College Day at the White House. Every community college/system sent representatives who were engaged in a day of discussion that focused on how to localize conversations about the state’s community colleges in order to increase access for all students.

May said, “I was honored to coordinate Texas Community College Day at the White House. This event brought together community college leaders, businesses, CEOs, community organizations and other experts to provide input about policies at the federal level. We brainstormed ways that DCCCD and other Texas community colleges can partner with their communities to improve economic and workforce development.”

He added, “Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined us as we also explored how to help community college students graduate debt-free. Although approximately 40,000 of our own DCCCD students are able to do just that, we want to find more ways to help all of our students reduce their out-of-pocket costs.”

May said, “We have criteria in place and a record of success to help students graduate debt-free. Our longstanding Rising Star program is an excellent example of that success, but we can do more. And our work with local chambers, community organizations and area businesses gives students access to higher education and better lives through DCCCD.”

DCCCD was well-represented at the White House. Trustees Diana Flores and Wesley Jamison also attended, along with several college presidents from the district: Dr. Christa Slejko, North Lake College; Dr. Kay Eggleston, Richland College; Dr. Jennifer Wimbish, Cedar Valley College; and Dr. Jean Conway, Eastfield College. Eastfield College student Rameez Sohail, who serves as president of the Texas Junior College Student Government Association, and Dr. Justin Lonon, DCCCD executive vice chancellor and chief of staff, also participated.

To date, Texas is one of seven states that have been invited to the White House to discuss America’s College Promise.

A day later, May also participated in the White House Innovation and Quality Symposium. Ted Mitchell, under secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, issued the invitation to leaders in higher education, representing colleges and universities across the country.

The event focused on discussions about innovation and quality approaches to higher education, from MOOCs to boot camps to hybrid programs and more. Those conversions have become part of the groundwork for continued action.

“This event brought together the top innovators in the country,” explained DCCCD’s chancellor. “Only two representatives from public higher education were invited to participate — a fact that tells us where colleges and universities typically rank as innovators. I am excited to see DCCCD is involved in these type of discussions.”

The program was hosted by the White House Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council and the U.S. Department of Education.

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