WASHINGTON DC – MassBay President David Podell was among eight Massachusetts Community College Presidents who recently met with members of the state’s Congressional Delegation in Washington, DC to discuss the needs of community college students and sector-wide legislative priorities.
The Presidents, whose colleges serve residents across the state from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, emphasized the everyday challenges that community college students face: basic needs insecurity, childcare, immigration status, mental health, funding for critical wrap-around services, among others.
Delegation Members expressed support for programs like Early College and Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS), increasing PELL and Title III grants, reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, and workforce training as important ways of ensuring access and student success at the state’s community colleges.
The meeting was hosted by Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means Representative Richard Neal (MA-1), who serves as the Dean of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation. Also in attendance were Representatives Jim McGovern (MA-2), Lori Trahan (MA-3), Joe Kennedy III (MA-4), Katherine Clark (MA-5), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) as well as Senator Ed Markey and senior staff from Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office.
They were joined by Community College Presidents Dr. Patricia Gentile of North Shore Community College (and Chair of the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges), John Cox of Cape Cod Community College, Christina Royal of Holyoke Community College, David Podell of MassBay Community College, James Mabry of Middlesex Community College, James Vander Hooven of Mount Wachusett Community College, Luis Pedraja of Quinsigamond Community College, and Valerie Roberson of Roxbury Community College.
“Recognizing our hardworking legislators have extremely tight schedules, we appreciate all their time and their dedication to our students’ needs,” said MassBay President Podell. “I look forward to working with them to strengthen higher education in MetroWest as well as our local economy.”
“Massachusetts is a national leader in education and innovation, and our community colleges are a critical part of that success. It was great to hear directly from our community colleges about the challenges their students face. Congress must do everything it can to empower these students with the skills, training, and outlook they need. Massachusetts’s community colleges embody excellence, and I will continue to fight every day for these important institutions and the students they serve,” said Senator Markey.
“I’m so thankful for our world-class community colleges and the lifelong opportunities they provide to Massachusetts students,” said Congressman McGovern. “Community colleges are engines of economic and intellectual growth, and I’m grateful for the work of our community college presidents who are leading the way in providing comprehensive student services. Their work is essential to ensuring that everyone in our commonwealth can achieve academic and career success.”
“Our Commonwealth’s community colleges open the doors of opportunity to all students with a dream and a vision for their own brighter future. By meeting with community college presidents in Washington, we were able to discuss policies and ideas that can open those doors even wider and ensure that our community colleges continue to provide a quality, affordable education to all who enroll,” said Congressman Kennedy.
“Hearing firsthand from our community college leaders is invaluable as we work in Washington to ensure all students in Massachusetts have the tools they need to succeed. We discussed the importance of campus-based child care, robust financial aid, and comprehensive mental health services, and I am dedicated to making these resources a reality. No matter what stage of life a student enters the classroom we want to see them walk across the stage at graduation,” said Congresswoman Clark.
“Every student deserves a chance at a meaningful education that centers their strengths, values their humanity and challenges them to be the best version of themselves,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “But across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, more than 800,000 student loan borrowers owe a total of $33.3 billion. This is why I pushed for increased investments in the Pell Grant program in the FY 20 funding bill so that no student eligible for a Pell Grant should have to worry about how they will afford a degree. I am proud to stand in solidarity with our local Community Colleges who stand on the frontlines of fighting for inclusive, accessible, quality education.”
“Massachusetts’ community colleges are a gateway to the middle class for so many students in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Warren. “I’m glad to work alongside our community college presidents and my congressional delegation colleagues to invest in community colleges and their students, and to combat hunger on their campuses.”
In addition, the Delegation Members and Presidents were joined by Director Tom Sannicandro and staff from the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges, and staff from the American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees.
“Community colleges in Massachusetts have strong partners in our Congressional Delegation. Their understanding of the issues facing our students – from student loan debt and financial aid, to childcare and basic needs insecurity – is deeply impactful in helping our students reach their potential,” said Director Tom Sannicandro. “We are grateful for the Delegation’s longtime support of our colleges and students.”
The fifteen Massachusetts Community Colleges offer open access to high quality and affordable academic programs, including associate degree and certificate programs. They provide academic preparation for transfer to four-year institutions, career preparation for entry into high demand occupational fields, developmental coursework, and lifelong learning opportunities. The Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges (MACC) represents the fifteen institutions with a purpose to support and enhance the well-being of the community colleges in service to students, communities, and the Commonwealth.
Release and photo submitted to SOURCE media