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Grove: Change at community colleges is crucial, at Morton, it defines us

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 5:46 p.m. CST
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Dr. Dana Grove is the president of Morton College

This July 24 and 25, Morton College hosted the summer meeting of the National Alliance of Community and Technical Colleges (NACTC), an organization of 40 select colleges across the country, of which Morton College is a member. 

The theme for this conference was “Renewing the Community College Mission for a Dramatically Changing Environment.” It is appropriate for Morton College to accommodate a conference with this particular theme since it has experienced a dramatically changing environment itself. 

The Morton College service area, originally settled by people immigrating from Eastern and Southern Europe, has witnessed noticeable demographic shifts in the last 30 years, and currently over 80 percent of the college student body is Hispanic. This fact makes Morton College the sixth largest two-year, public, federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (out of 178) in the United States. Change is expected at Morton College, and we are building an operational infrastructure that is founded upon the idea of change.

This year, the college was recognized for the efforts it has made to address change and was invited to apply for the prestigious Aspen Award. Also, The League for Innovation in the Community College has asked that Morton College be a founding part of its Faculty Voices project, a four-year initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition, The Center for Community College Student Engagement invited us into its High Impact Institute, which emphasizes the use of data and evidence to address change at the college. Being a part of these programs provides networking with other schools to gain insights into how they themselves address change.

Indeed, change is crucial to what community colleges do. It defines us. With our open door policies and our dedication to the communities we serve, we must consistently adapt our curricula and our operations to meet the changing wants and needs of our demographics. Our mission and vision Statements ensure that we will always retain the flexibility that allows us to best serve our students and communities.

Dana Grove is president of Morton Community College

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