Faculty and administrators at Salt Lake Community College were told Tuesday to gear up for global enrollment.
In the next five years, students might possibly be receiving Internet feeds all over the world from classes being taught in Salt Lake City, said Troy R. Justesen, assistant secretary of vocational and adult education in the U.S. Department of Education. He delivered a keynote address at SLCC's Convocation, which aimed to prepare college staff for the upcoming school year.
"We are about the entire human condition," he said, adding that various countries are coming to education officials in the United States to learn how to best set up a community college system. They are impressed, he said, by a system that is open and accessible to anyone and everyone.
Fifty percent of all Americans are getting a higher education from various community colleges, Justesen said. It is the largest available system for technical education and other subjects, such as training for law-enforcement and health-care professionals.
"Community colleges are the most cost-effective, rigorous option for millions of Americans," said Justesen, a College of Eastern Utah graduate.
Justesen said concurrent enrollment or dual-credit options are a growing trend and an unrivaled asset of a community college, "blurring the transition between high school and college." The challenge, however, comes with keeping the strength of liberal arts core curriculum while still offering what local industry and economy needs.
"I believe community colleges are the economic engine of their local areas," he said. "You are an emerging area of economic policy."
Utah higher education officials and legislators are participating in discussions pertaining to the future of career and technical education in the state. Justesen said a duplication of services can coexist in some places, specifically rural America, but maintaining a separate academic system is important for students and teachers.
Access to both systems in one location, however, creates a "good option" for students.
"Technical education is no longer just wood shop," Justesen said.
SLCC President Cynthia A. Bioteau told the group she hopes in the coming year to take the community college to a new level, creating "ripple effects" that extend beyond its 14 locations in Salt Lake and Tooele, while "fostering a culture of civility."Classes at SLCC began Wednesday, and registration is available throughout the first week of school.