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2018 May 26 - 11:52 am

Partnership Scholarships Can Develop Future Leaders


According to the Institute for Higher Education Policy, college tuition costs have risen 538 percent since 1985; medical costs have increased only 286 percent in the same period. Across the U. S. in public, private, and proprietary colleges and universities tuition has been rising at an alarming rate. The College Board reports that rising tuition outpaces gains in family income at a time when federal support for education has plateaued. From 2007-08 to 2012-13 state appropriations for higher education fell nearly 20 percent.

The cost of tuition is as varied among institutions of higher education as the methods used to calculate tuition and related costs. In 2014, The College Board reported that the average tuition for private colleges and universities was $30,090, the average for public out-ofstate students was $22,230, and the average for public in-state was $8,893. Special programs, doctoral programs, and elite universities can cost as much as $50,000 a year or more. Students are caught in a trap graduating with loans of $25,000 or more that will take most of their lives to repay. Parents take out insurance and mortgages on their homes to pay college tuition. The increasing cost of a college education has become a national disaster and may soon torpedo the American dream that has promised an equal education for every citizen.

The federal government, foundations, and colleges and universities are exploring options for reducing tuition costs or at least containing costs, but there are no good options. Given the economic and social conditions now prevalent in the U. S., it does not appear likely there will be an influx of funds for tuition from the federal and state governments, nor will colleges and universities be able to reduce tuition rates because an increase in tuition has become the only reliable source to sustain their operations. We are stuck with the current rates of tuition which are destined to increase in the future, and we need to figure out a way to deal with this reality.

At the Roueche Graduate Center of National American University (NAU), we have been especially concerned about tuition costs of a new program we are launching. Tuition for doctoral programs in the nation’s universities is much higher than for bachelor and master’s degrees and higher still for doctoral programs of substantive quality. We have been exploring creative ways to make this new program accessible to more aspiring leaders, but first a brief review of the program components.

A New Model

The Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) at NAU’s Roueche Graduate Center is in early stages of development and has already been approved by the Higher Learning Commission in the shortest approval process seasoned accreditors and NAU leaders have ever seen. The core elements of the program are modeled on the nationally-recognized CCLP at The University of Texas created by John E. Roueche, who heads this new program. The Texas program graduated more community college presidents and vice presidents than almost all other programs combined and has been recognized for its commitment to women and minority leaders. Those values and program elements will provide the basis for this NAU program and include the following:

• The curriculum, created by national experts with vast experience in the community college, focuses exclusively on community college history, philosophy, issues, organization, programs, and policy. This is the first doctoral program ever created in which all courses are designed specifically for the community college.

• More than 60 faculty members with extensive experience in and knowledge of the community college serve as faculty. Most existing community college doctoral programs are staffed with only one or two professors with experience in and knowledge of the community college.

• The program is offered in a cohort model of about 25 students to encourage collaborative learning and networking. In addition to professors who meet on the local community college campus for the blended classes, a local cohort coordinator provides logistical support and assistance with class assignments and dissertations. There are currently 10 cohorts in Kansas, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, California, and Texas. As of March 2018, there are 48 graduates from the NAU program.

• To encourage active and practical learning the local community college hosting the cohort participates as a learning laboratory with real-life issues serving as some of the content. In this way, the cohorts will also serve as campus catalysts to explore and implement change and action.

• The professors come to the students for much of the face-to-face learning thus making this program highly accessible to working adults. A few courses are online, but the majority are taught face-to-face.

• The program places high priority on recruiting women and minorities to ensure that future leaders reflect the demographics of community colleges.

The program has been created under the leadership of Roueche and other leaders with advice from a National Community College Advisory Board chaired by Terry O’Banion. National American University has provided significant support for this program beyond the support any university has ever provided such programs. The NAU board and its top leaders have made it a priority to provide program support to make this the flagship CCLP in the nation.

Partnership Scholarships

At National American University (NAU) we are experimenting with an idea we call “Partnership Scholarships,” using our Community College Leadership Program as the laboratory to address the challenges of tuition. The idea is based on the principle that “Everyone who benefits from a student completing a degree should contribute to the cost of that degree.” Applying that principle to the students enrolled in the CCLP, many partners could participate.

• The student who aspires to be a community college leader (president, vice-president, dean, director, or faculty leader) and who completes an Ed. D. benefits directly from an increase in opportunity and responsibility, an increase in salary and benefits, an increase in personal and professional impact, and an increase in personal accomplishment. The student, who in this case is already a professional working adult, should pay a proportion of the cost of tuition.

• The community college that sponsors the students also benefits by better prepared leaders who can assume increased responsibility for contributing to the betterment of the college.

• National American University is also a major stakeholder in the student’s success and becomes a partner by providing matching funds to the college’s contribution as another way to create incentives—for the student and for the college.

• Faculty and staff working in the Community College Leadership Program believe so strongly in the quality of the program a number have created special scholarships to support doctoral students.

• The nation has a very important stake in the development of future community college leaders since the community college is viewed by national leaders and many members of Congress as aprimary source of workforce training. The U. S. cannot remain globally competitive nor meet its obligations to the underprepared and disenfranchised without the community college.

Colleges have been willing to provide substantial support for the CCLP because of the benefits to the college which include:

• Participants learn special leadership skills that can be applied immediately in the college.

• A cohort of aspiring college leaders works collaboratively within the college and models for other staff the value of collaboration.

• The cohort can become a force for change and transformation by taking on special projects identified by college leaders.

• The program allows for trustees and the president to map out steps in succession planning.

• Participants expand and improve the goals of the college by creating programs, projects, internships, surveys, practicums, papers, dissertations, etc. as part of class assignments.

• College leaders can identify special issues and problems in the college they would like to see addressed by participants.

• The program allows college leaders an opportunity to identify and ensure that the participants will meet the diversity goals of the college.

Alex Johnson, president of Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, where a second cohort has just been established, is a strong supporter:

“As part of our succession planning, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) has made a significant commitment to developing a cadre of faculty and staff who are educated, experienced, and prepared for leadership positions that become available at the college. For example, we are already reaping the rewards of our partnership with the CCLP through the increased knowledge and skill levels of our participating employees, and their close examination of Tri-C student success data and issues in their coursework. With the college's focus on closing achievement gaps, persistence, and completion, this program is bringing significant benefits and dividends to the institution.”

Eloy Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, and superintendent-president emeritus, Long Beach City College, also cites the advantages of bringing such a program to the campus:

“Community College leadership is a key ingredient in California’s student success agenda.

Programs like CCLP provide a focus on contemporary community college issues that will add to the leadership capacity in California. The college will benefit for many years to come from this cohort of community college leaders who will be armed with one of the best leadership educations in the nation.”

The idea of the Partnership Scholarship is not new. When a student receives a scholarship from whatever source a partnership begins to emerge between the donor and the student. We are building on this basic practice to expand the idea of partnerships based on the principle that all who benefit contribute. We make the case that there are numerous beneficiaries who should join in the effort, and we are experimenting with our new Community College Leadership Program as an example of collaborative support from some of the key beneficiaries. The Partnership Scholarship is an idea worth exploring by college leaders who want to invest in the future of their college.


John E. Roueche is president of the Roueche Graduate Center.

He served for 41 years as the Sid W. Richardson Chair and Director, Community College Leadership Program at The University of Texas at Austin.

Terry U. O’Banion is the president emeritus of the League for Innovation in the Community College and Chair of the Graduate Faculty, National American University. He serves as Chair of NAU’s National Community College Advisory Board.

This article is the continuation of a series authored by principals involved in the Roueche Graduate Center, National American University, and other national experts identified by the center. John E. Roueche and Margaretta B. Mathis serve as editors of the monthly column, a partnership between the Roueche Graduate Center and Community College Week. For additional information send emails to mbmathis@national.edu or, call 512-813-2300.


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