Contributed Photo: EAC President Todd Haynie, left, applauds the EAC Marching Band along with other community college representatives at the Arizona State Capitol.
Legislators Urged to Continue to Invest in Community Colleges and the Future of Arizona
PHOENIX – Arizona Community Colleges rallied at the State Capitol yesterday, showcasing their programs, students and the staggering economic benefits they deliver to Arizona. They converged there to thank their legislators and Governor Ducey for the one-time funding from last year and to urge them to continue to invest in Arizona Community Colleges.
“We represent 10 college districts and nearly 300,000 students, nearly double the number of public universities,” said President Haynie of Eastern Arizona College “Our financial impact is staggering with graduates earning $11B in increased wages over their working lives, equating to 5.6% of the total gross state product.”
The College Presidents and Chancellors from around the state kicked off the event by highlighting how the 2019/20 funds are being put to good use. For example, Pima Community College shared how it is expanding its Aviation Technology Center for more classrooms, labs, and a second commercial jet hangar, helping create 450+ jobs with a total economic impact of $225.5M over the next five years. Cochise College, a rural educational hub in southern Arizona, is constructing a new automotive technology building on its Sierra Vista Campus and a new agricultural greenhouse on the Douglas Campus. With the nursing shortage crisis, The Maricopa Community Colleges is creating a state-of-the-art nursing program with funding to cover program development, equipment, and facility expansion at Gateway and Paradise Valley Community Colleges.
Illustrating the vital work of the colleges, Dr. Jackie Elliot, President of Central Arizona College said, “We provide the most important and accessible educational entry point for traditionally underserved students and are the number one gateway to higher education.”
At the event, students, faculty and staff from every corner of the state proudly presented these programs on the Capitol lawn from Robotics at Yavapai Community College to Virtual Welding at Mohave Community College. Northland Pioneer College put on a law enforcement stun gun presentation, and their fire science department showed how backdrafts can be deadly if not correctly assessed. Coconino Community College brought in their program dog to illustrate the need for more veterinarian techs, and Eastern Arizona College kept the mood lively with their marching band. Estrella Community College exhibited Cyber Security and Mesa Community College demonstrated Automated Technology.
The scene was dynamic and colorful with even more exhibits from colleges across the state. And of course, ten community college mascots – from a fighting Gila Monster to Andale the Bull – were also there entertaining the crowd.
Close to 600 people toured the exhibits, including legislators, who were reminded that the programs they help fund, make students career-ready in high-demand jobs with skills needed by today’s employers.
Several students toured the chamber with the legislators and told them what Arizona Community Colleges mean to them and how important the funding is.
The tagline from the event was #FundWhatWorks. Throughout the day, the displays served as a reminder that the jobs of the future demand a highly educated and skilled workforce – a workforce produced by Arizona Community Colleges.
“Today’s event vividly illustrates how consistent, equitable state funding helps create programs and jobs that can change student lives and contribute to Arizona’s economy,” said President Dr. Corr of Arizona Western College. “We want to continue to collaborate with the legislators and Governor Ducey to Fund What Works.”