Community college access, affordability focus of upcoming symposium

By Raquel Talamantes

The UNT College of Education will host a fall symposium focusing on how policy affects community college access and affordability on Thursday, Oct. 27, at Brookhaven College in Dallas. The Bill J. Priest Center for Community College Education, in partnership with the Dallas County Community College District, designed the program to help North Texas higher education professionals gather and reflect on policies that affect students across North Texas today.

“This forum brings together higher education professionals who are familiar with innovations that address community college finance in different states and at the national level to share their understandings and perspectives for discussion by North Texas community college/higher education professionals,” said Beverly Bower, the UNT Don A. Buchholz Endowed Chair and Professor of Higher Education.

Symposium speakers include Paul Fain, news editor for Inside Higher Education; Patrick B. Crane of the Oregon Higher Education Commission; Emily House of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; and Joe May, chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District. The panelists will give their opinions on what needs to be done to ensure proper policies are put in place for North Texas students.

The symposium’s goal is to bring attention to community college students’ struggle to pay for their higher education as they move toward achieving professional and personal goals. Bower said community colleges face the challenge of financing their services and programs that are beneficial to a student’s ability to succeed. This is why policies have been made by the state, community colleges and universities to try and ease this process so students can receive the best and least financially straining education possible, she said.

“I hope symposium participants will leave the event informed about different approaches to community college financing and funding, as well as the effects these innovations can have on student access and success,” Bower said. “I also hope that they develop new ideas from the day’s discussion that they can take back to their campuses to improve student access and affordability.”

Bower said the symposium also aims to remind participants that many college students struggle to pay for basic needs like housing and food. To help raise awareness, symposium participants are encouraged to bring peanut butter, protein (tuna fish, canned chicken, canned meat), pasta, ramen, canned fruit, toiletry items, baby food, diapers, wipes and/or any non-perishable food item to donate to The Cave, Brookhaven College’s food pantry.

The symposium is set for 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27. To R.S.V.P., visit http://dcccd.info/UNTfallsymposium.