Op-Ed - Community colleges: Improving lives and your community’s economic vitality

The following is an excerpt from an op-ed by Harper College President Dr. Avis Proctor that appeared in Community College Daily:

The community’s college.

It’s a phrase I think about often and share when I speak to our students and employees as well as in the community. To me, it means improving lives and the economic vitality of our community through education generation after generation and being responsive to current needs and proactive in preparing for the future.

Harper College, located in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs, is our community’s college and throughout the pandemic, we have sharpened our focus on serving our students and community members during this challenging time. When we transitioned to fully online learning last spring, we knew it wasn’t enough to just shift all of our courses to remote learning. We knew we needed to support our students by making Chromebooks, WiFi hot spots and graphing calculators available to address those technology gaps. We also increased our tuition relief and emergency supports for students, especially those with food, housing and other financial insecurities.

We created a scholarship program for short-term training programs to help those affected by job loss to get back on their feet as quickly as possible and enhanced our counseling services to support our students’ mental well-being. Additionally, we have held tuition steady for two years and reduced or eliminated student fees to keep college affordable and accessible despite the other economic hardships our students are facing. We also cultivated space for our students and employees to strengthen their awareness and capacity to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion, fully recognizing that we are on a journey to inclusive excellence.

To read the rest of Dr. Proctor's op-ed, visit Community College Daily.