Making hard choices in the beginning makes programs more sustainable in the end (even if harder to create)
DC created a community college, to help the University of the District of Columbia better focus on job training type programs vs. traditional four year degree programs and graduate education. This was suggested in a 2009 report published by the Brookings Institution and was followed up by an op-ed and other coverage in the Washington Post.
While Options 2 and 3 both result in independence for CCDC, they differ primarily in the strategy by which they reach scale. The project team considered political realities, financial limitations, legal requirements, employer needs, community wishes, effects on UDC, and organizational interests to determine the best way forward to achieve the stated goals. The project team is also aware that, due to the rapid pace of change at UDC/CCDC, some of the details in the report may be out of date by the time the report is released but that the overall recommendations will remain valid.
This report concludes that the District should support CCDC's intention to separate from the flagship university, and encourage it to take the fast track to becoming an independently-accredited, autonomous community college with its own Board of Trustees and budget. The report also concludes that CCDC's move toward independence would be significantly advanced by developing appropriate partnerships with one or more of the DC area's three suburban community colleges (Northern Virginia Community College, Montgomery College, and Prince George's Community College) to take advantage of these institutions' resources and reputations and quickly expand CCDC's capacity. Such partnerships could be the start of a regional consortium of community colleges in the DC area. Accordingly, the report recommends that CCDC pursue Option 3, which we call the "Independence Plus Partnership Option."
Since UDC launched a community college two years ago, enrollment has soared: More than 2,500 students attend two-year academic and job training programs at multiple locations in the city. But UDC officials say they have been forced to spend more than $18 million to get the community college off the ground, nearly depleting the flagship four-year college in Northwest of its reserve funds.
"We want people to know there is no more money in this piggy bank," said Allen L. Sessoms, president of UDC. "If they want to keep this going, we need money, and it's going to cost money."
For all its aspirations, DC isn't all that big. While a community college is vitally important to workforce development, rushing forward without fully thinking the project through is proving to be problematic. Most of the campuses are satisficed, and the college doesn't have the resources it truly needs to scale up, not to mention it's duplicative.