ERIC Number: ED338270
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Oct
Institutions on the Edge: America's Community Colleges.
Vaughan, George B.
To understand the elusive nature of the community college, one must understand the process of assimilation that constantly reshapes its mission. Assimilation refers to the process of identifying educational solutions to ever-emerging, broad-based social issues and problems and incorporating these solutions into the community college's mission as new programs and courses. The community college's commitment to open access and curricular comprehensiveness, working in concert with the process of assimilation, provides the reason for and the means by which the community college constantly move to the edge of its mission. This movement is critical, for it is at the edge of the mission that the college intersects with the larger society, discovering new constituents with new needs. However, it is stability at the educational core of the institution that offers the community college the luxury of decentralizing its mission by constantly discovering new challenges and opportunities on the periphery. The tension generated from the dual focus of the mission on the core (e.g., transfer and vocational education) and the edge (e.g., developmental education and ties with business/industry) can become quite intense when community colleges do not know where their efforts should be placed. There are dangers and benefits associated with operating on the edge. Among the dangers are the potential for devoting too many resources to the periphery to the detriment of the educational core, the college's concept of its own mission, and the community college's place within traditional higher education. The most important benefits from operating on the edge are the vibrancy resulting from always discovering new worlds to conquer, the ability to respond to identified needs with few delays, and the flexibility to experiment. The most successful colleges will operate from a relatively stable core and from the edge of their mission, recognizing that the community college is an educational institution uniquely qualified to offer educational solutions to society's complex problems. (AYC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A