Last weekend I drove from my home near Washington D.C. to the Tidewater Area of Virginia.
Because that was the weekend before deadline for the edition you are now reading, I had in hand a printout of Paul Bradley’s cover story. I considered it an important story – the showpiece of Community College Week’s first edition of its twentieth year.
As we neared Tidewater, I noted the highway signs marking the exits to several Tidewater Community College campuses. Though this is a familiar drive for me, I couldn’t recall whether I had noticed the signs before.
Much has changed in the two decades since I first took the road toward Tidewater and Virginia Beach. All over the United States, community colleges have established multiple campuses to serve larger, evermore diverse populations, reflecting the face of America today.
Thus the start of the 2007-08 academic year is a good time to reflect on the past 20 years of this newspaper and look toward the future.
Twenty years ago, a handful of community college leaders and presidents who wanted an independent voice for community college professionals conceived the idea of Community College Week. With a devoted readership, but not financially self-sustaining, it found a publishing home at Cox, Matthews, & Associates. There it benefited from the talents of some dedicated writers and editors.
Tens years into the effort, editor Scott Wright would be thrilled if we managed even three display ads in support of his editorial efforts. He knew that financial survival depended on advertising, and that financial survival was essential to the editorial mission. Wright would be very pleased to see the advertising pages today as we begin publishing in our twentieth year.
Community College Week has changed much since those first days. Today, we have more stories covering more colleges, carry more color, more ads and our voice reaches a larger, more demanding audience. Similarly, the colleges we cover serve many more students with more programs and are more diverse than ever before.
Re-reading Bradley’s story about the Lumina Foundation’s efforts to help community colleges serve the needs of minority and financially disadvantaged students reminded me of how much Community College Week has changed. It starts out, "Altering customs, shedding mores, adopting new practices and dropping old ones is demanding work.”
Indeed it is.
Like the colleges themselves, Community College Week has been challenged to become more independent and creative to meet the needs of its diverse readership. But it is a challenge we welcome. We believe we have evolved and improved, but we remain a work in progress. In this our twentieth school year, we look forward to taking even more strides in serving and growing our readership.
Pamela Barrett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org