February 28, 2003
Dr. John Fitzsimmons,
a college credential "almost a standard prerequisite for good-paying jobs,"
Maine Technical College System President John Fitzsimmons urged lawmakers
to support Governor John Baldacci's legislation to broaden the mission
of the technical colleges and create a Maine Community College System.
Fitzsimmons said the need to move forward with the initiative is even more pressing with the many plant closings and layoffs taking place around the state. In the last two years, over 16,000 Maine workers have lost their jobs due to foreign competition. Community colleges are particularly attractive to adults because of their low cost, extra support, and convenience.
Community colleges will also help Maine increase the number of high school students going on to college, said Fitzsimmons. "In the next five years, unless we take action, 30,000 young adults will begin their journey with limited options." Going to college "is their best hope...and Maine's best hope," he said.
Fitzsimmons said the Governor's $1 million investment in the next biennium would be enough to complete the name change this fall and launch the System's plan, albeit at a slower pace than originally planned. When the revenue picture improves, Fitzsimmons said, "We will need the State's support to fulfill the promise of Maine's new Community College System."
Included in the System's seven-year plan is a request
for funding to strengthen counseling and developmental programming for
students - which will be aided by the $1 million investment - and a goal
to increase enrollment by 4,000 students, to 11,000 annually by the end
of the decade.
Fitzsimmons said the System is working to attract other revenues and strengthening partnerships to maximize the State's investment. He pointed to new partnerships with the Maine Adult Education Association and University of Maine System, which are designed to strengthen collaboration and help students transition more smoothly into the community colleges and on to Maine's universities.