August, 2017

I. Statement on Charlottesville
II. The Community College League of California’s Strategic Plan: Year Two
III. CEO Spotlight, Keith Curry
IV. Trustee Spotlight, Mary Figueroa


Statement on Charlottesville

In light of the recent events in Charlottesville, we wish to highlight two of the League’s core values and underscore our commitment to pluralism.

In serving the most diverse public higher education system in the U.S., one of our core values is to be inclusive. The League continually seeks to lead and support our members’ efforts to create the conditions for equitable and inclusive learning environments. Further, we aim to be deliberative. Informed and enlightened discourse and debate is a necessary condition of a pluralistic and democratic community of learners. The League seeks to foster discussion and dialogue among our diverse stakeholders to advance our understanding and support for California’s Community Colleges and its students.

Our passionate belief in the critical role our public community colleges play in cultivating an authentically inclusive, equity-minded, critically-thinking and historically-informed citizenry for our state and nation will continue to guide our mission, vision and core values.

The League is committed to collaborating with our system’s 114 colleges to oppose hate, bigotry and discrimination in all its forms through the power of education and by supporting all members of the communities we serve. 

The Community College League of California's Strategic Plan: Year Two 

By Larry Galizio, President & CEO, Community College League of California

What are the most significant issues confronting California Community College Districts and Colleges?

How can the Community College League of California (The League) most effectively support our state’s 72 districts and 114 colleges?

Which League functions, services, and programs are of the greatest value to districts/colleges?

The aforementioned questions and others were included in the statewide survey we distributed widely in the summer of 2016. The responses informed the League’s five-year strategic plan entitled Strategy 2021, summary available here.

Our vision: Quality Public Community Colleges for All Californians—encapsulates our short- and long-term goals—and it affirms the League’s raison d’etre.

A bit more than one year into implementation of Strategy 2021, League Staff reconvened in an early August 2017 retreat to re-examine and fine tune the five-year plan with considerable attention to our indicators of achievement and the strategies we’ve employed to realize the five goals identified in Strategy 2021.

I am pleased to report that the fundamental tenets of the League’s strategic plan covering the 2016-2021 period maintain their relevance and significance. The League’s mission: To strengthen California’s Community Colleges through advocacy, leadership development, and district services, continues to both reflect and guide our efforts. Our values: visionary, ethical leadership, collaborative, service, inclusive and deliberative, describe how the League approaches our work and the expectations that we have for one another.

The five goals that we developed:

  • Strengthen colleges through proactive advocacy and policy development,
  • Enhance the partnership and effectiveness between and among trustees and CEOs,
  • Increase the awareness and optimize the value of the League’s service to our constituencies,
  • Increase the League’s profile, and
  • Enhance resource capacity and strengthen internal communication

continue to animate our activities and focus our attention.

Based on the experience and implementation of year-one of the plan, we’ve made adjustments to some of the particular strategies to advance the aforementioned five goals as well as to some of the indicators of achievement. We eliminated redundant, invalid, and unreliable indicators of achievement, and we discarded and modified obsolete strategies. Additionally, we grappled with resource allocation and target dates for projects and achievements.

As the fall 2017 term begins at California’s 114 Community Colleges and students and faculty return refreshed and eager to fulfill the critical mission of the largest and most dynamic and diverse public system of higher education in the country, your League Staff and Boards are determined to help advance your institutional missions, and to achieve our vision of Quality Public Community Colleges for All Californians.

CEO Spotlight

Compton College CEO Keith Curry — From Tartar Football Team Ball Boy to Compton College President

Compton College President Dr. Keith Curry fondly recalls many childhood days spent playing football and basketball at the campus of Compton College with the other kids in the neighborhood. Listening to Curry, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the institution’s leader grew up on the Compton College Campus. The Southern California native’s experiences as a youth even include serving as the ball boy for the Compton College Tartar Football Team at the age of 12.

Fast forward to June 7, 2017, when Keith Curry scored the equivalent of a World Series grand slam and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. On that historic day for his community—after more than a decade following the loss of its accreditation—Curry received word that Compton College had earned initial reaccreditation from the ACCJC, thus making Compton College California’s 114th public community college.

In earning reaccreditation, President Curry highlights the hard work of faculty, staff, the board of trustees, the El Camino College District, and a whole host of individuals and organizations throughout the community and within the community college sector. Still, those familiar with the circumstances of the institution’s lengthy journey to reaccreditation observe that President Curry’s leadership was indispensable to the successful outcome.

In addition to leading the successful effort for Compton’s initial reaccreditation, Dr. Curry was instrumental in the District’s passage of Measure C in 2014, a $100 million dollar facilities bond that garnered affirmative votes from 78 percent of voters casting ballots in that election.

President Curry is also involved in community college efforts at the state and federal levels serving as the Chair of the California Community College Athletic Association Board, and he is active on the Statewide Association of Community Colleges, President’s Roundtable, the American Association of Community Colleges, and the Association of California Community College Administrators.

Illustrative of the passion that he has for his district, Curry is eager to remind people that the district’s service area goes beyond Compton and includes the cities of Carson, Downey, Lynwood, Paramount, South Gate, and Los Angeles. Dr. Curry’s sense of mission is fueled not only by his lengthy affiliation with the District, but also by his recognition of the need for affordable higher education opportunities and community support. President Curry observes that 28 percent of the individuals residing within the Compton College District live at 150 percent below the federal poverty line, and only 15 percent have earned a baccalaureate degree or higher.

Queried about significant issues confronting California’s community colleges, Curry identifies declining enrollment and low completion rates as two of the most important. He expresses hope that Guided Pathways will help address the low completion rates. Notably, Curry makes clear his approach to college leadership: “I look at the big picture and then I do what is in the best interest of students.”

Finally—and this will come as no surprise to those who know Keith Curry—he gives himself low grades when it comes to allowing himself to take time off from his professional responsibilities. On those rare occasions when he does, he prefers spending time with family, friends from his alma mater UC Santa Cruz, and watching the L.A. Dodgers.

Correction: In a previous version, Keith Curry was incorrectly referred to as a CEOCCC Board Member. His title has been edited to correctly refer to his position.

Trustee Spotlight

Riverside CCD Trustee and CCCT Board Member Mary Figueroa — Giving Voice

As the first in her family to attend and graduate from college, Riverside Community College District (RCCD), California Community College Trustees (CCCT), and Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Board Member Mary Figueroa consistently and passionately endeavors to represent the often-forgotten and marginalized students and constituencies in the boardrooms where decisions affecting their interests are made.

“I seek to bring the voice of the challenged, the voice of the not normally heard to the table where the decisions are made that affect so many lives,” explains Figueroa in describing her most important contributions to her district and California’s Community Colleges. And considering her service at the local, statewide, and national levels, Figueroa’s voice and representation has considerable range.

Trustee Figueroa’s approach to governance, policy-making and advocacy is informed both by her personal journey as a first generation student, and a recognition that without students our institutions of higher education simply wouldn’t exist. She observes, “Who would we teach? Who would we make decisions for that impact lives?” And she continues, “We must work together in partnership so that all of society is represented. We must share the governance of the institution so that all stakeholders have a voice.”

Mary Figueroa’s philosophy of leadership is illustrated in her response to a query about what everyone should know about the Riverside CCD. “Everyone deserves the chance to make life better for themselves and their families. They need to know that our district is here to help them achieve that goal.”

A champion for public community colleges, Figueroa highlights a lack of respect for community colleges as one of the most significant challenges confronting the largest system of public higher education in the U.S. “The community college system needs to stand-up and accept the role that it deserves to have as a life-changer.” Figueroa believes that community colleges are “never being acknowledged for their career technical education expertise and they are rarely being seen for the economic engines they are to their local regions.” To address this she maintains that “Our local, state and nationally-elected officials need to be reminded of the value that the community college system has within society and for a very low cost.”

When not advocating for underserved and marginalized students and communities, you’re likely to find Trustee Figueroa at a concert enjoying the “international language” that is music. And for a trustee whose mission is to give voice to those often peering in from outside the venue, it’s a fitting passion for Riverside CCD and CCCT Board Trustee, Mary Figueroa.