City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) is breaking new ground by bringing together administrators, faculty, staff and students around the common goal of boosting access to deliver degrees of economic value to students, whether they seek a certificate, an associate’s degree, advancement in their career or to go on to a four-year degree.
Reinvention is grounded in the ambitions of our students and their families but also the overwhelming commitment of those of us who teach them and prepare them for academic and financial success
It is in this spirit that Reinvention was launched to improve every aspect of our colleges, including program offerings, student support services, and our approach to remediation, faculty and staff development, capital investments, and the use of technology.
In fact, we marked City Colleges's centennial with a rally to break the cycle of underachievement by taking big, bold steps to secure the City's future with the work of Reinvention.
The challenges were well known, so Reinvention set its sights not only on cataloguing problems but on developing solutions. But we cannot hide from the issues we are tackling. Our common commitment to student-centered educational reforms began by owning up to an unacceptable record: Only 16 percent of CCC students transfer to a four-year institution, and less than half of those students go on to earn a bachelor’s degree. City Colleges loses more than half of its degree-seeking students before completion of their first 15 credit hours. For too long, as an educational institution and, more broadly as a society, we have used some of the daunting obstacles many of our students face as excuses for woeful performance. Each challenging life story, each need for remediation and each instance of low confidence is a call for us as educators and neighbors to reach even deeper to deliver on the century-old promise of City Colleges of Chicago: to give each and every Chicagoan the chance to secure knowledge and financial security.
For the past year, several dozen faculty, staff and
students have come every day to a dedicated Reinvention space at the
corner of Jackson and Franklin to channel the hopes and aspirations of
their colleagues and fellow students, but also of thousands of
Chicagoans whom they have never met but whose future they are helping
shape. They do not work in a vacuum but in constant consultation with
the rest of the institution. The result is a set of initial
recommendations grounded in common sense and the everyday experiences of
people who are on the front lines of education. These recommendations
range from aligning programs offered with job market demands to
strengthening student advising, and from instituting performance-driven
evaluations to creating vehicles for best-practice sharing.
City Colleges of Chicago is beginning to deliver on the
promise of student-centered reforms grounded in real-world
recommendations formulated by faculty,
staff and students from our unified seven-college system.
Among the highlights are:
- Completion and enrollment growth:
- The total number of completers crossed the 10,000 mark for the first time in FY2013. The number of degrees awarded crossed 4,000 in FY2014, compared to an average of 2,000 annually before the Reinvention initiative.
- The graduation rate has doubled since the launch of Reinvention, reaching 14 percent in FY2014, the highest in more than a decade.
- Overall credit enrollment is up by nearly 9,000 students, or 15 percent, since the launch of Reinvention. New credit student enrollment has increased by 14 percent.
- 4-year partnerships: CCC has robust transfer agreements with 58 four-year institutions, including at Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, DePaul University and Lewis University.
- Adult education overhaul: City Colleges has realigned its adult education (ESL, GED, adult basic education) off-site locations to better serve community need per 2010 census trends. In FY2014, transitions to credit courses had oubled since the launch of Reinvention.
- Strong financial profile: Under Chancellor Hyman’s leadership, City Colleges’ budget has been balanced with no increase in property taxes and CCC has saved $66 million in operation costs that are being redirected to the classroom.
Our transformation of one of the nation's largest urban community college systems in the 21st century is dependent on student success. Given that, students are not off the hook for driving their own success.
Our contract with them is that we will work for them, but that we will not do the work for them. Reinvention will only succeed when everyone at City Colleges of Chicago pushes beyond the familiar and comfortable to realize our potential.
With the CCC community and the residents of Chicago we have outlined a way forward and have begun the journey. We must now stay the course, together.