>>>HOLYOKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
PRESIDENT CHRISTINA ROYAL HAS BEEN CHOSEN AS FOR AN ASPEN NEW
PRESIDENTS FELLOWSHIP, ONE OF ONLY TWO COMMUNITY COLLEGE
PRESIDENTS CHOSEN FROM MASSACHUSETTS. CAROLEE MCGRATH SAT DOWN
RECENTLY WITH ROYAL, WHO SPOKE ABOUT THE PRESTIGIOUS FELLOWSHIP
AND HER VISION FOR HCC AND THE STUDENTS SHE SERVES.>>THE ASPEN INSTITUTE IS A
NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED ORGANIZATION WHICH REALLY
FOCUSES ON LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND THEY’VE DECIDED
THAT WITH ALL OF THE SHIFTS WITHIN HIGHER EDUCATION, AND THE
NUMBER OF PRESIDENTS THAT ARE RETIRING, THAT THERE’S A NEED TO
REALLY INVEST IN NEW PRESIDENTS AND SO THEY’VE CREATED AN
INAUGURAL COHORT CALLED THE NEW PRESIDENTS FELLOWSHIP AND I WAS
SELECTED AS ONE OF 25 NEW PRESIDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN
THIS.>>FROM ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY,
OUT OF A PRETTY BIG FIELD.>>YEAH.>>OVER 100 APPLICANTS FOR THE
POSITION AND GRATEFUL TO BE SELECTED AS ONE OF THOSE.>>AND YOU’RE ONE OF JUST TWO
THAT WERE SELECTED FOR MASSACHUSETTS AS WELL CORRECT?>>CORRECT.>>SO TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT
THE THINGS THAT YOU’LL BE WORKING ON WITH THE OTHER
PRESIDENTS AS YOU MOVE FORWARD.>>SO WE’LL BE FOCUSING ON A LOT
OF THE CORE CHALLENGES THAT COMMUNITY COLLEGES FACE AND SO
WHEN YOU LOOK AT OUR MAIN PRIORITY IS WHEN YOU LOOK AT
NATIONAL TRENDS, IT’S FOCUSING ON RETENTION, COMPLETION, AND
ALSO CLOSING THE EQUITY GAP OR THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP.>>OKAY. WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT COMMUNITY
COLLEGE, THERE’S SO MANY EXCITING PROGRAMS, AND I THINK
THAT SO MANY PEOPLE ARE HAVING LIKE A DIFFERENT VIEW OF WHAT A
COMMUNITY COLLEGE IS NOW BECAUSE OF THE STUDENT DEBT CRISIS. PHYSICALLY SO MUCH MORE FOR
ATTRACTIVE FOR STUDENTS AND FAMILIES WHO DON’T WANT THEIR
KIDS TO BE SADDLED WITH THAT DEBT. I’M SURE YOU’RE SEEING THAT ON
CAMPUS.>>WE ARE AND I WOULD ALSO SAY
WHEN YOU REALLY THINK ABOUT THE VALUE OF A COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN
ANY REGION, BUT ALSO, PARTICULARLY IN OUR REGION, THAT
THERE IS SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST AFFORDABILITY WHEN YOU THINK OF
COMMUNITY COLLEGES. WE ARE BOTH FOR AND OF THE
COMMUNITY AND SO THAT REALLY MEANS THAT WE HAVE PROGRAMS THAT
SERVE THE YOUTH, WHETHER IT’S OUR SUMMER PROGRAMS AND CAMP
PROGRAMS FOR STUDENTS, OUR PARTNERSHIPS WITH EARLY
EDUCATION. ALSO THEN OUR WORK WITH THE HIGH
SCHOOLS AND FOCUS ON EARLY COLLEGE AND DUAL ENROLLMENT
PROGRAMS. WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT PROVIDING
DEGREE OFFERINGS TO BE ABLE TO MEET THE NEEDS OF OUR LOCAL
EMPLOYERS BUT FOCUSING ON ADULT LEARNERS WHO ARE LOOKING AT
CAREER CHANGES.>>WHICH IS VERY BIG RIGHT? SO MANY PEOPLE GO TO COLLEGE, SO
MANY YEARS AGO AND THEY SAY I DON’T LIKE WHAT I’M DOING. I WANT TO BECOME A NURSE.>>A LOT OF PEOPLE MAYBE STARTED
COLLEGE AND DIDN’T FINISH SO THEY WANT TO COME BACK AND MAKE
THAT CHANGE. OTHER PEOPLE HAVE STARTED IN A
CAREER. THEY WANT TO LOOK AT EXPLORING
OTHER FIELDS. SO THE ADULT LEARNER MARKET IS
ALSO GROWING.>>OKAY. TELL ME A LITTLE BIT OF THE SOME
OF THE THINGS, THE CHANGES THAT YOU’VE OVERSEEN SINCE YOU’VE
TAKEN THE REINS.>>IT’S BEEN A BUSY COUPLE OF
YEARS. WE STARTED OUT OPENING THE
CULINARY ARTS CENTER, OUR CULINARY ARTS INSTITUTE IN
DOWNTOWN HOLYOKE AND THAT’S OUR SECOND PRESENCE IN DOWNTOWN
HOLYOKE. WE’RE REALLY TRYING TO INVEST IN
THE DOWNTOWN AREA. AND ALSO, WE OPENED THE FIRST
FLOOR OF OUR CENTER FOR LIFE SCIENCES BUILDING AND THAT
RENOVATION AND ALSO OUR CAMPUS CENTER GRAND OPENING AND BE ABLE
TO RE-PURPOSE AND RENOVATE THE SPACE THAT WE HAVE FOR OUR
CAMPUS CENTER WHICH IS THE HUB FOR STUDENTS. WE LAUNCHED OUR LATINX STUDIES
PROGRAM SO THERE’S AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE OPTION FOCUSING ON LATIN
STUDIES, WHICH IS A PERFECT AREA OF STUDY FOR OUR REGION,
ESPECIALLY GIVEN THE FACT THAT 50% OF HOLYOKE, THE CITY OF
HOLYOKE, IS LATINX.>>WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF
THE STRATEGIES THAT YOU’LL BE WORKING ON WITH THE OTHER
PRESIDENTS, WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR TOP PRIORITIES OR AREAS
THAT YOU MIGHT NEED A LITTLE ADVICE ON?>>SO ONE OF THE CORE AREAS IS
LOOKING AT EQUITY. AND I LIKE TO THINK OF EQUITY AS
SUCCESS FOR ALL. HOW DO WE ENSURE THAT EVERY
STUDENT, REGARDLESS OF THE BACKGROUND THAT THEY COME WITH,
ARE ABLE TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT COLLEGE. AND WE KNOW THAT THERE IS WHAT
WE CALL AN ACHIEVEMENT GAP WHICH MEANS THAT OUR WHITE STUDENTS
ARE SUCCEEDING AT A HIGHER RATE THAN OUR STUDENTS OF COLOR AND
SO THERE’S A REALLY CONCERTED EFFORT TO LOOK AT WAYS THAT WE
CAN REDUCE AND ELIMINATE THAT GAP. THAT GAP EXISTS BECAUSE OF A LOT
OF THE CHALLENGES THAT OUR UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES
EXPERIENCE AND THERE CERTAINLY IS A HIGH CORRELATION TO
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND SO BEING ABLE TO REALLY LOOK AT
WAYS THAT WE CAN SUPPORT THE FULL LEARNER AND REALLY EDUCATE
THEM AND SET THEM UP NOT ONLY WITHIN THE CLASSROOM, BUT
OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM, AS WELL.>>HOW EFFECTIVE ARE THE
DUAL-LANGUAGE PROGRAMS AND THE EARLY COLLEGE PROGRAMS TO
ADDRESS THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP THAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT?>>THE DUAL ENROLLMENT AND EARLY
COLLEGE PROGRAMS ARE VERY EFFECTIVE, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU
LOOK AT OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH THE HOLYOKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, BECAUSE
THERE IS A HIGH REPRESENTATION OF MINORITY STUDENTS IN THAT
DISTRICT. AND SO BEING ABLE TO START OFF
BY GIVING THEM THE MENTORSHIP, GUIDANCE, WRAP-AROUND SERVICES
THAT ARE NEEDED TO SUPPORT THEIR ACADEMIC PURSUITS IN GETTING A
COLLEGE DEGREE OR STARTING TOWARDS A COLLEGE DEGREE WHILE
THEY’RE IN HIGH SCHOOL IS VERY POWERFUL IN BRIDGING THAT CHASM
THAT EXISTS FROM THE TIME THEY GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL TO WHEN
THEY THINK ABOUT GOING TO COLLEGE. WE WANT THEY MEAN TO GET AN
EARLY HEAD START IN LIFE BY GETTING THEIR CREDENTIAL AS SOON
AS POSSIBLE FROM THE TIME THEY GRADUATE, BUT ALSO TRYING TO
BRIDGE THE EXPANSION THAT THEY’RE HAVING IN HIGH SCHOOL
FOR WHEN THEY GO TO COLLEGE BECAUSE IT’S A VERY DIFFERENT
EXPERIENCE FOR A LOT OF STUDENTS. THERE’S A LOT OF STRUCTURE IN A
HIGH SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT, AND THEN THEY GET TO COLLEGE AND
COLLEGE FEELS LIKE A VERY DIFFERENT WORLD SO WE REALLY
WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY’RE PREPARED, THAT THEY UNDERSTAND
THAT THEY CAN HELP MAKE THAT CULTURAL SHIFT, AND THAT THEY
UNDERSTAND THE RESOURCES THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO THEM TO HELP
SUPPORT THEM WHETHER IT’S TUTORING OR ADVISING SUPPORT,
EARLY PLANNING OF MAYBE THEM THINKING ABOUT WANTING TO
TRANSFER TO A FOUR-YEAR INSTITUTION. SO WE REALLY LIKE TO MAKE SURE
THAT THEY HAVE THE SERVICES AND SUPPORT THAT THEY NEED AND THAT
THEY’RE AWARE OF WHAT WE OFFER.>>AND WHEN YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT
KIDS WHO DO WANT TO TRANSFER TO A FOUR-YEAR INSTITUTION, THERE
ARE SO MANY PARTNERSHIPS THAT THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES HAVE,
INCLUDING HCC. HOW DO YOU HELP THAT STUDENT WHO
WANTS TO BE AN ACCOUNTANT MAKE THAT TRANSITION TO A FOUR-YEAR
COLLEGE?>>HAVING THEM COME IN AND
REALLY THINK ABOUT ALL THE POSSIBILITIES FOR THEIR LIFE AND
PART OF WHAT WE DO IS HELP THEM TO DREAM BIGGER, IS TO REALLY
THINK ABOUT ALL OF THE POTENTIAL THAT THEY HAVE IN THEMSELVES,
HOW THEIR SKILL SETS CAN TRANSLATE TO HAVING SUCCESS IN
VARIOUS PROGRAMS AND THEN HELPING THEM NAVIGATE THAT PATH.