As the Maricopa Community College District is celebrates its 50th anniversary, Dr. Rufus Glasper, the Chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges, talks about the role of community colleges in Arizona.
Ted Simons: 50 years ago the Maricopa community college district was created to address the growing need for affordable higher education. To talk about the history and the future of community colleges is Dr. Rufus Glasper, Chancellor of the Maricopa community college district. Good to see you here. Thanks for joining us.
Rufus Glasper: Good evening.
Ted Simons: 50 years ago, what were community colleges intended to do?
Rufus Glasper: Well 50 years ago, community colleges were established as Junior colleges. Primary focus at that time was transfer to the four-year institutions, complete the first two years then transfer to a university or to a college. And as we have transitioned over the years, in 1971, the Arizona state legislature changed the Junior college to a community college to broaden our mission realty. Mission realty is we do technical training and we do other types of training that support our community and our mission.
Ted Simons: Talk about the models. From your research, I don't think you were here quite at the 50-year Mark, but did Arizona look at other community colleges, Junior college programs around the country, or was this something pretty much invented here or started here and you learned as you go?
Rufus Glasper: No, there were other community colleges, Junior colleges established. In 1920, Phoenix College was established as a Junior college, as a transfers institute to the existing state universities.
Ted Simons:Why were there no other Junior colleges or few others?
Rufus Glasper: At the time, we did not have the population growth. Since the establishment of Phoenix college in 1920, in the early 1960s, 1962, we started expanding into additional colleges. Since then we have expanded from three colleges to now we have ten community colleges and two skill centers.
Ted Simons: is there difficulty working with the municipalities? Seems there are so community colleges now and a lot of cities have one, cooperation, collaboration there or is it sometimes a push and shove?
Rufus Glasper: I think there's always a little pushing and shoving, however I believe our cooperation is great. As a matter of fact, we are working with cities and towns as part of what I have termed empowerment zones. Our resources are diminishing in many cases and so are cities and towns, so we're looking at ways to establish sites such as in surprise. We're looking at one right now in queen creek. This is to bring in the cities and public libraries as we did in south Phoenix.
Ted Simons: Talk about collaboration with four-year institutions. Is there cooperation with for-profit universities? How is that whole dynamic working?
Rufus Glasper: The cooperation with four-year institutions both public and private is at an all time high. Within the last three years we have established articulation agreements unprecedented in history. Our students are now able to transfer to the university and I'll use ASU as a primary focus. We can now transfer students into the university and into individual colleges. We currently have a Maricopa ASU pathways project that maps back individual programs to our colleges and students can transfer seamlessly if they follow those paths. We currently have 800 students in that program today.
Ted Simons: Also as far as the future and development you have to look at home learning, online learning. How is that working in the community college world?
Rufus Glasper: We have received a number of home learning students but we also have expanded our online. The price point of higher education in general is becoming unaffordable for many. So we're trying to figure out ways to keep the costs down and online education, hybrid education where you take part of your course work in the classroom and part online is becoming more and more the norm. It allows students who have evening jobs, night jobs and others to get their course work in but it's great for other students who have other obligations as well.
Ted Simons: with that in mind, we talked about what community colleges were intended to do some 50 years and before, has that mission changed over the years? Have the goals changed?
Rufus Glasper: Our primary mission has stayed relatively the same. Our mission is teaching and learning and public service, however, we have expanded in terms of our outreach from being just a transfer institution to now being a provider of both technical support and a broader curriculum. We are the largest provider of work force training in the state of Arizona. We provide education for more police, fire, teachers, and allied health programs than any other institution in the state of Arizona.
Ted Simons: talk about budget cuts.
Rufus Glasper: They have impacted us dramatically. We have gone from a high in 1986 or '87 of about 27% from the state where we're down to about 1%. But we're working. We understand the state has its budget to balance. We're trying to balance our. We have become more effective, more efficient. We have balanced our budgets. This year we balanced our budget and did not increase tuition or property taxes.
Ted Simons: Will we see in the future four-year community colleges?
Rufus Glasper: I believe they are the desirable four year community colleges in the state of Arizona. Probably within five years I 17 think that the momentum will build. We have great transfer relationships with our state universities and I would like to try to exhaust that as much as we can.
Ted Simons: All right, Chancellor thanks for joining us.
Rufus Glasper: thank you.
Dr. Rufus Glasper:Chancellor, Maricopa Community Colleges;