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Thursday, February 16, 2012 (Bronx, NY) - President Félix Matos Rodríguez will serve on a task force panel of distinguished higher education scholars and leaders, representatives of the business, philanthropic, and civil rights communities to consider strategies to strengthen community colleges. 

The Task Force on Preventing Community Colleges from Becoming Separate and Unequal, which is supported by the Ford Foundation and assembled by The Century Foundation, will address an issue that has remained below the radar screen in national and regional discussions over improving college access and completion: the growing racial and socioeconomic divide between two- and four-year institutions.

“I am delighted to be part of this task force because the issue is of monumental importance,” said President Matos Rodríguez. “We need to continue to find ways to attract students and make community colleges accessible to a greater population and invest more resources to help students achieve their goals and graduate. Community colleges are the gateway to higher education and to workforce and in order for the country to remain competitive in the global economy these issues need to be tackled.”

The issue is being addressed at a time when new emphasis is being placed on community colleges and their role in higher education. Most recently, President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, placed a spotlight on the importance of community colleges.

The group will examine the demographic trends in community colleges; why these developments are of concern and make recommendations on how to reduce economic and racial stratification.

“Will higher education reduce or exacerbate the growing economic divide in this nation?” said Dr. Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library who is co-chairing the group with Eduardo Padron, president of Miami Dade College. “If the better funded four-year sector caters to wealthier white students while community colleges lose funding to educate low-income and minority students, the two-year sector will remain separate and unequal.”

Currently, the United States spends almost three times more to educate each four-year college students than it does for community college students.

U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter will make a special presentation during the first task force meeting on February 17. The Task Force will also hold meetings in May and September, after which it will issue a report with recommendations and background papers.

The Task Force is the latest in a long series of groups that The Century Foundation has assembled on important public policy issues such as election reform, elementary and secondary education, and U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

For more information about the task force and for a list of all the task force members visit: http://tcf.org/publications/pdfs/CCCPR.pdf

About Hostos Community College

Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, part of The City University of New York system, was founded in 1968.  Located in the South Bronx, the college currently serves nearly 7,000 students.  In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Continuing Education and Professional Studies Department that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in the fall of 1970 to the spring 2010 enrollment of nearly 7,000 students.  The college also serves an additional 12,000 students through its Continuing Education and Professional Studies Department. For more news and stories about Hostos Community College visit www.hostos.cuny.edu.
About the Century Foundation:
The Century Foundation is a progressive nonpartisan think tank. Originally known as the Twentieth Century Fund, it was founded in 1919 and initially endowed by Edward Filene, a leading Republican businessman and champion of fair workplaces and employee ownership strategies, all with an eye to ensuring that economic opportunity is available to all. Today, TCF issues analyses and convenes and promotes the best thinkers and thinking across a range of public policy questions. Its work today focuses on issues of equity and opportunity in the United States, and how American values can be best sustained and advanced in a world of more diffuse power.


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