For the first time in history, there is a growing national recognition of the vital role that community colleges play in America’s higher education system by preparing people for some of the most highly-skilled and high demand occupations in the 21st century. America aspires to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world, and community colleges are being challenged to produce an additional 5 million graduates by the year 2020. The role that Kentucky’s community and technical colleges will play in achieving this national goal is both exciting and challenging.
Fortunately, Kentucky is better positioned than most states to be a national leader in this agenda due to the passage of revolutionary legislation in 1997, the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act known as House Bill One (HB1), that reformed postsecondary education at all levels and created the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS).
Long before national leaders realized the critical role community colleges play in job creation, economic development, and global competitiveness, Kentucky’s legislature set out to create a single system of community-based, 2-Year colleges that would produce a well-educated and highly trained workforce that provides businesses in the Commonwealth with the competitive edge critical for their success.
The ultimate benefits of achieving the goals of postsecondary education reform were to enhance the “general welfare and material well-being” of Kentucky citizens and to provide them with the opportunity to achieve a standard of living in excess of the national average by the year 2020. A major part of achieving these lofty goals was vested in KCTCS and was articulated in our unique mission and the accompanying statutory mandates.
Today, KCTCS is the largest institution of higher education in Kentucky, educating more than 50 percent of all undergraduate students enrolled in public higher education and serving as the major pipeline for job creation, the employability of Kentucky citizens, and the economic prosperity of families and communities. Our 16 colleges on more than 70 campuses offer over 600 certificate, diploma, and associate-degree programs that have increased access for Kentuckians to pursue their academic and career aspirations and provided business and industry with a highly educated and trained workforce to keep them globally competitive.