Bumphus inspires area educators

Bumphus inspires area educators
January 16
00:00 2015
(pictured above: Dr. Walter Bumphus speaks.)

Born into a family of 10 children with parents who didn’t finish high school, Dr. Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, epitomizes the mantra he espouses: “Education is the great equalizer.”

Bumphus shared both his personal and national perspective on the future direction of higher education during Davidson County Community College’s opening session for faculty and staff on Wednesday, Jan. 7.
“This is the Camelot moment for community colleges,” said Bumphus. “This brief shining moment in time, where the promise of the future that community colleges can provide for the nation’s citizenry has been realized,” noting that community colleges across the country are enjoying recognition by President Obama and appreciation at the national level.

“Community colleges have been criticized for graduation and success rates that are inadequate … and rightfully so,” said Bumphus, before sharing statistics suggesting that the three most recent years worth of data on college completions indicate that community colleges are on track to meet the president’s initiative to increase graduates by 5 million by 2020.

“We’ve enjoyed three remarkable years,” said Bumphus. “The three most recent years worth of data on completions indicate that community colleges are increasing the number of certificates and associate degrees awarded – nearly 10 percent more in 2012-13 than were awarded in 2010-11. Community colleges awarded 55,000 more associate degrees in 2012-13 than they did in 2010-11.”

Bumphus, who cited his close friendships with DCCC President Dr. Mary Rittling, who also serves on the national AACC board, and Scott Ralls, president of the North Carolina Community College System, further acknowledged the great work being accomplished among community colleges like DCCC here in North Carolina.

“I’ve been hearing great accolades for not only what is happening at this institution but in the state,” said Bumphus. “Most of our colleges are now receiving more funds from student tuition than state funding, but North Carolina is a north star for all of higher education in terms of keeping tuition costs down.”

Bumphus’ address included a number of personal stories regarding his own family. A father of four with 13 grandchildren, five of whom are college students, he noted the remarkable stories of his own successful children over the course of two generations – due in large part to education. Bumphus encouraged not only DCCC’s faculty but its staff to “wake up everyday, look in the mirror, and ask, ‘What can I do to make a difference in one student’s life today?’”

He further suggested a change in priorities toward not only college success rates but success with continued high standards and expectations. “If they (students) are in the best condition for learning when they get to the classroom, then we will have done our jobs,” said Bumphus. “If what we’re doing (to eradicate gaps) is working for some, let’s do it for everybody.”

The American Association of Community Colleges is the primary advocacy and support organization for community colleges at the national level. AACC supports and promotes its member colleges through policy initiatives, innovative programs, research and strategic outreach to business, industry and the national news media.

Bumphus previously served as a professor and chair in the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. He has also been president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College and president of Brookhaven College in Dallas County Community College District. He also worked in the corporate world as president of the Higher Education Division of Voyager Expanded Learning and has served on several prestigious presidential commissions and task forces.

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