Campus: CSU Fullerton -- December 02, 2002
Cal State Fullerton Economist Calculating Community
College Success Equation
A Cal State Fullerton economist is delving into the range of services
that state community colleges are offering and determining if the institutions
are fulfilling their missions.
“Community colleges offer a wide range of programs to a variety
of constituent groups,” said Andrew M. Gill, professor of economics,
who is conducting the study with Duane E. Leigh of Washington State
University, Pullman. “They provide general education courses for
students eventually transferring to a four-year university, as well
as vocational school education, apprenticeship opportunities and on-the-job
“Yet community colleges are often judged solely on their transfer
rates,” Gill added. “There is no reason to measure their
success solely on one aspect of their mission. We feel that viewing
them in this way is misguided on two fronts: it ignores the dramatic
changes in the breadth of the curriculum offerings at community colleges.
And, the emphasis on transfer rates overlooks the value these institutions
provide in allowing students to determine whether they complete a vocational
or an academic education.”
The researchers, who received a $78,232 grant from the Public Policy
Institute of California, spent recent months gathering data on California’s
community colleges: what types of courses are offered and the demographics
of the institutions’ local service areas. Gill and Leigh are now
organizing what they have found and categorizing the colleges by programs
and other services.
“We want to understand why the institutions chose the mix of academic
and trade programs that they did — what is it about their community
demographics that affected the choices made in what each college provides,”
Gill said, adding that the researchers are looking at not only the race,
income and ethnicity of those in the community, but whether a community
college has close links to businesses, is located in an urban or rural
area, near other community colleges or in close proximity to a University
of California or California State University campus.
“Community colleges have become very entrepreneurial in the last
20 years,” Gill noted. “Community colleges are offering
students the services they need to invest in themselves and increase
their earning potential. During the last recession, when many engineers
were being laid off, they were going to community colleges for retraining.
It’s an example of how two-year institutions served a need in
Gill, a member of the Cal State Fullerton faculty since 1984, teaches
courses on labor economics, principles of microeconomics and econometrics.
He is co-editor of Contemporary Economic Policy and, with Leigh, has
authored a number of articles about community colleges. Gill holds a
doctorate in economics from Washington State University.
Media Contacts: Andrew Gill at (714) 278-3076 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pamela McLaren of Public Affairs at (714) 278-4852 or email@example.com