Letter From the Chair by Christopher L.G. Whitaker | 2021

As open institutions with a commitment to student access and success, it is essential for community college faculty, staff, and leadership to understand the nonacademic factors that influence students’ ability to reach their educational and professional goals, particularly during this time of global pandemic. The unmet needs of students, including adequate income, food, housing, and technology, affect their ability to persevere in college settings.

This issue of Innovatus focuses on how community colleges can meet the basic needs of students through innovative approaches. Amy Glynn, for instance, asserts that designing services for student financial success rather than financial aid leads to increased enrollment, engagement, and retention. James Franchi offers financial options as well, while focusing on the layered benefits of helping new and prospective students discover the wide range of education, training, and career options that are available to them. Caron Sada discusses how expanding work-based experiences strengthens students’ economic viability, while Patrick Frasier describes how course sharing agreements between institutions can ensure that students are able to enroll in the classes they need, when they need them, in some cases reducing time to completion. Matthew Alex proposes a shared leadership approach to serving students and the community. Additional articles build upon the theme of how community colleges can support students by addressing their personal needs.

On behalf of the League, I encourage you to use this magazine to start or expand conversations on your campus about supporting students in a holistic manner. By addressing students’ needs beyond the classroom, we can have a significant positive impact on their postsecondary journeys.

Christopher L.G. Whitaker

Chair, Board of Directors, League for Innovation in the Community College
President, Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning


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