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Executive Director Polls Students, Promotes Postsecondary Education

Scott+Bright%2C+Camila+Monroe%2C+Dr.+Diana+Doyle%2C+Samantha+Mendoza-Gann%2C+Dr.+Kim+Reed%2C+Becca+Long%2C+Chaim+Belinsky+and+Michael+Schindlbeck+gather+to+discuss+the+opportunities+and+barriers+to+students%27+success+on+Wednesday%2C+Oct.+25%2C+2017+in+Littleton%2C+Colo.
Scott Bright, Camila Monroe, Dr. Diana Doyle, Samantha Mendoza-Gann, Dr. Kim Reed, Becca Long, Chaim Belinsky and Michael Schindlbeck gather to discuss the opportunities and barriers to students' success on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017 in Littleton, Colo.

Scott Bright, Camila Monroe, Dr. Diana Doyle, Samantha Mendoza-Gann, Dr. Kim Reed, Becca Long, Chaim Belinsky and Michael Schindlbeck gather to discuss the opportunities and barriers to students' success on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017 in Littleton, Colo.

Image via Joe Portnoy

Image via Joe Portnoy

Scott Bright, Camila Monroe, Dr. Diana Doyle, Samantha Mendoza-Gann, Dr. Kim Reed, Becca Long, Chaim Belinsky and Michael Schindlbeck gather to discuss the opportunities and barriers to students' success on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017 in Littleton, Colo.

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“You can’t understand the challenges and opportunities in higher ed in Colorado until you walk the campuses and speak with the students,” says Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE).

Reed visited the Littleton campus of Arapahoe Community College (ACC) on Wednesday, Oct. 25. To be effective in the advocacy and policy work of the CDHE, Reed believes it’s important that she hears students’ experiences, college presidents’ objectives and the barriers to success they both encounter.

Reed and the CDHE work to make sure higher education in Colorado is affordable, accessible, equitable and obtainable. “Whether you start in technical college, a community college, or four-year, we need you on a path because the high school diploma is now the floor not the ceiling in this knowledge economy,” says Reed.

Currently, almost fifty-five percent of the adult population in Colorado has a degree or certificate beyond a high school diploma reports the Lumina Foundation. This is known as a postsecondary credential. Colorado has one of the highest postsecondary credential attainment rates in the country. However, research by Georgetown University suggests that by 2020 about seventy-five percent of the state’s jobs will require education beyond high school.

In 2012, the Colorado Commission of Higher Education (CCHE) and the CDHE developed a plan to meet this demand. The document Colorado Rises: Advancing Education and Talent Development outlines their goals. By increasing the completion of credentials, erasing equity gaps, improving student success, and investing in affordability and innovation, the CCHE and the CDHE intend to increase the percentage of the adults in the state with post-secondary credentials to sixty-six percent by 2025. This goal is designed to meet the needs of the state’s skill-based economy.

Dr. Diana Doyle, president of ACC, started Reed’s visit with a walking tour of the Littleton campus that chilly morning. Their excursion included a visit to the automotive technology area, the art and design center, and the construction of the third-floor science labs.

Image via Rachel Lorenz
Dr. Kim Reed and Dr. Diana Doyle listen to students Samantha Mendoza-Gann and Michael Schindlbeck detail their academic paths on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, in Littleton, Colo.

A meeting with half a dozen ACC students followed the campus tour. After introductions, Reed asked the students how they selected both ACC and their academic paths. The answers were varied but cost came up three times as a reason why ACC was chosen over other schools. Students also cited factors such as location, childcare, teachers, and atmosphere.

Reed also asked what students felt the state’s office needed to know to effectively support them in today’s environment. Students discussed campus climate issues, frustrations with financial aid, the limitations of the ACC’s daycare and restrictions within the work-study program. During the discussion, Reed spoke a little but mostly listened to students and took notes.

Image via Rachel Lorenz
Scott Bright, Chaim Bellinsky, and Becca Long talk about issues that affect campus climate on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, in Littleton, Colo. The students joined Dr. Kim Reed and Dr. Diana Doyle for a discussion about their experiences at Arapahoe Community College.

Although Reed has been in her current position just eight months, she has already visited 24 of the 31 public higher-education intuitions in Colorado. Campus visits always include time for engaging with students, says Reed, because their lived experiences are important to the success of the department’s work. “Understanding your challenges, your opportunities…your hopes and dreams…make us all better administrators.”

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The student news site of Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Parker and Castle Rock
Executive Director Polls Students, Promotes Postsecondary Education