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Shining a Light on a Best Kept Secret

Dr. Jill Biden looks back at the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges.

Ed. Note: Also check out the write-up from Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

President Barack Obama and Dr. Jill Biden on Stage at Summit on Community Colleges

President Barack Obama and Dr. Jill Biden take part in the White House Summit on Community Colleges, highlighting the critical role that community colleges play in developing America’s workforce and reaching our educational goals, in the East Room of the White House, October 5, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

We did it! This Tuesday’s first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges was an historic and exciting day – and one I am so proud to have chaired. 

I was personally moved by the people I met at Tuesday’s Summit. Whether a student, a fellow faculty member, a business leader, Cabinet Secretary or college President or trustee – every person brought such a diverse range of experiences and expertise, yet all shared a firm commitment to strengthening community colleges and their future.  I am still reading through the great feedback from attendees and thoughtful comments from those who participated online. I visited each of the day’s breakout sessions and heard great discussions around issues ranging from credit transfer, veterans support services, industry best practices, and – my favorite- solutions that might be applied to various challenges facing community colleges and their students. 

The Summit helped identify key practices that are working, and hopefully identified challenges that will require more thought and attention.  While the Summit was a major success, it was just one step in an ongoing commitment to our nation’s community colleges.  We need to continue to work together to meet the President’s 2020 goal and to develop and promote innovative job partnerships.

We have many milestones to look forward to achieving: the rollout of the 2 billion dollar Community College and Career Training Initiative, the expansion of the Skills for America’s Future partnerships, the Gates’ completion grants, the Aspen prize awards, and additional ways we will build upon the great ideas and commitments from the Summit.  I look forward to continuing my work in this area, by visiting more great programs and speaking to more people about the value of community colleges.

Having been a community college instructor for the past 17 years, I have always said that community colleges are one of America’s “best-kept secrets.”  It’s clear that is changing – and that’s great news for our country.