National Leader Inspires and Informs Faculty and Staff During Opening Session

Ken White Welcomes Walter Bumphus

Jan 8, 2015 – Born into a family of 10 children with parents who didn’t finish high school, Dr Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, epitomizes the mantra he espouses: “Education is the great equalizer.” Bumphus shared both his personal and national perspective on the future direction of higher education during Davidson County Community College’s opening session for faculty and staff on Wednesday.

Walter Bumphus at Opening Session“This is the Camelot moment for community colleges,” said Bumphus. “This brief shining moment in time, where the promise of the future that community colleges can provide for the nation’s citizenry has been realized,” noting that community colleges across the country are enjoying recognition by President Obama and appreciation at the national level. 

“Community colleges have been criticized for graduation and success rates that are inadequate … and rightfully so,” said Bumphus, before sharing statistics suggesting that the three most recent years worth of data on college completions indicate that community colleges are on track to meet the president’s initiative to increase graduates by 5 million by 2020. 

“We’ve enjoyed three remarkable years,” said Bumphus. “The three most recent years worth of data on completions indicate that community colleges are increasing the number of certificates and associate degrees awarded – nearly 10 percent more in 2012-13 than were awarded in 2010-11. Community colleges awarded 55,000 more associate degrees in 2012-13 than they did in 2010-11.” 

Bumphus, who cited his close friendships with DCCC’s president, Dr. Mary Rittling, who also serves on the national AACC board, and Scott Ralls, president of the North Carolina Community College System, further acknowledged the great work being accomplished among community colleges like DCCC here in North Carolina.

“I’ve been hearing great accolades for not only what is happening at this institution but in the state,” said Bumphus. “Most of our colleges are now receiving more funds from student tuition than state funding, but North Carolina is a north star for all of higher education in terms of keeping tuition costs down.”

Bumphus’ address included a number of personal stories regarding his own family. A father of four with 13 grandchildren, five of whom are college students, he noted the remarkable stories of his own successful children over the course of two generations – due in large part to education. Bumphus encouraged not only DCCC’s faculty but its staff to “wake up everyday, look in the mirror, and ask, ‘What can I do to make a difference in one student’s life today?’” 

He further suggested a change in priorities toward not only college success rates but success with continued high standards and expectations. “If they (students) are in the best condition for learning when they get to the classroom, then we will have done our jobs,” said Bumphus. “If what we’re doing (to eradicate gaps) is working for some, let’s do it for everybody.”

Bumphus listed among the following some trends he sees on the horizon for community colleges:

  • College completion and going to scale with effective practices
  • Continued focus on serving veterans
  • Developmental education (especially in the area of math)
  • College readiness and Common Core State Standards
  • International education
  • Community colleges offering bachelor’s degrees
  • Income inequality

“At the end of the day, it’s still about the relationship between the instructor and his or her student,” said Bumphus. “You’ve still got to be committed to the student in your classroom each and every day.”

“We were indeed humbled and blessed to host Dr. Bumphus at DCCC,” said Susan Burleson, vice president, student success and communications. “He provided not only a national perspective regarding community colleges, but he reminded us of the valuable work we do and the difference it makes in the lives of our students and the communities we serve.” 

Bumphus leads the American Association of Community Colleges as president and CEO. Previously, he served as a professor and chair in the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. He has also been president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, chancellor of Baton Rouge Community College and president of Brookhaven College in Dallas County Community College District. He also worked in the corporate world as president of the Higher Education Division of Voyager Expanded Learning and has served on several prestigious presidential commissions and task forces.

The American Association of Community Colleges is the primary advocacy and support organization for community colleges at the national level. AACC supports and promotes its member colleges through policy initiatives, innovative programs, research and strategic outreach to business, industry and the national news media. The association represents nearly 1,200 two-year, associate degree-granting institutions and more than 13 million students. The colleges are the largest and fastest-growing sector of U.S. higher education, enrolling close to half (45 percent) of all U.S. undergraduates.

*Editor’s Note: Pictured in the first photo are Dr. Walter Bumphus (left) and Ken White, DCCC’s Board of Trustees chair. “He has the heart of a teacher,” White said as he welcomed Bumphus to the podium for his presentation. In the second photo, Bumphus addresses faculty and staff at DCCC’s Opening Session for spring 2015.

Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is noted for its quality educational programs and services. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers studies in more than 50 degree programs. A fully accredited, multi-campus college, DCCC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 and is looking forward to serving students in Davidson and Davie counties for many years to come. The college is committed to developing minds, inspiring imaginations and preparing students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global environment. Visit Davidson County Community College at davidsonccc.edu.