In the News

Below are links to Southwest news and other reports on community college trends, Tennessee Board of Regents and more.

To view a comprehensive list of Southwest’s media coverage, visit the Southwest website at:

MAY 24

A Year Later, Institutions Reflect on Systemic Changes Following the Murder of George Floyd
(Diverse Issue in Higher Education) Following the death of George Floyd last May, administrators at colleges and universities scrambled to issued statements condemning the murder and vowing that they would use the incident as a moment to address systemic racism on their own campuses.

AAPI Heritage Month: Dispelling stereotypes and supporting students
(CC Daily) May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Thirty-eight percent of all AAPI undergraduates in the U.S. attend community college, according to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Meeting Local Workforce Demands With Blended Learning: A Case Study (Training Industry) Diesel by Distance is a workforce development program that Wallace State delivers in partnership with virtual reality (VR) training provider TRANSFR, the Alabama Trucking Association and multiple nonprofits. It’s an effort to ease these barriers and help people move into better-paying jobs while meeting the local demand for skilled diesel technicians and mechanics.

High-touch practices keep students enrolled
(CC Daily) Northeastern Technical College serves three counties in South Carolina with rural areas where internet access is either not available or too expensive. When the pandemic hit in spring 2020 and the campus’ buildings closed and classes moved online, the college connected with students through email and social media and made sure resources were available online. 

First-Generation College Graduates Lag Behind Their Peers on Key Economic Outcomes
(Pew Research Center) Even as the cost of college continues to rise, with student debt levels climbing along with it, the long-term financial benefits of a four-year college degree remain indisputable. Adults who have attained at least a bachelor’s degree have better economic outcomes, on average, than adults who have not completed college. They tend to earn more and accumulate more wealth. 

Here’s how Tennessee plans to spend $491 million of federal stimulus funds on education
(Chalkbeat TN) Tennessee’s education department will spend the bulk of its $491 million share of one-time federal funding on new literacy, summer camp, and tutoring initiatives as the state seeks to accelerate student learning after a year of pandemic-related disruptions.

MAY 23

A Philly partnership focused on STEM students, workforce
(AACC Daily) Though community colleges have increased their ability to prepare workers for STEM-related fields through various programs and partnerships, they are still underused and “unidentified” resources to strengthen the country’s STEM workforce, according to the president of the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP).

MAY 19

Hamilton County Schools Receives $2 Million Grant For Innovative High School Models Program
(Chattanoogan) The Tennessee Department of Education announced Hamilton County Schools (HCS) has been awarded a two-million dollar grant as part of the Innovative High School Models program...HCS and Chattanooga State Community College will create a MicroCollege program at three high schools to provide a core set of introductory college courses during high school and offer a supportive environment in which students can earn dual credit toward their high school diploma and introductory college courses.

MAY 18

Strengthening Community College Workforce Training
(Community College Research Center) This brief highlights ways in which new federal funding can best support community college workforce training. It first describes the landscape of community college workforce education and presents evidence on the earnings and employment outcomes of students who earn workforce credentials. 

MAY 17

In Autism Treatment, Workforce Diversity is Critical to Providers’ Bottom Line
(Behavioral Health Business) One criticism the autism sector frequently faces is in regards to a lack of cultural diversity, and specifically, whether the industry is doing enough to meet the needs of children from traditionally underrepresented communities, as well as the providers serving them.

MAY 13

Achieving the Dream Announces Release of Guidebook to Help Understand Students
(Diverse Issues in Higher Education) Achieving the Dream (ATD) has announced the release of a guidebook for leaders of community colleges and four-year institutions to better understand students. The Knowing our Students Guidebook addresses matters such as what it means to really know students, useful data points, effective use of data and challenges.

Inequality in higher education costs the U.S. $965 billion a year, Georgetown research says
(Marketwatch) Evidence has been building for years that the value individuals reap from our education system varies by gender, race and income. Those discrepancies are not only costly to individuals, but to the nation at large.

MAY 11

Teens earn cash while learning tech at summer camps
(WVLT) Teens who earn a spot at a tech-based summer camp could earn cash for learning job skills. YouthForce camps offer welding, engineering, culinary and criminal justice skills. High school aged participants must pass an interview process for a limited number of spots in hand-on camps in East Tennessee. This is a project organized by Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley in cooperation with Pellissippi State Technical Community College, funded by a state contract.


Arizona community colleges can now offer bachelor's degrees
(Higher Ed Dive) Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation this week that will allow the state's community colleges to offer some bachelor's degrees if they can show a four-year program meets student demand and workforce needs.


Fiber Optic Technology course now offered at Tenn. college
(WVLT) Earning a certification for an in-demand job is possible in just days at Tennessee College of Applied Technology. The college is now offering courses in fiber optic technology. Instructor Michael Rauch who is leading the first class offered in May says anyone can take the course even if they don’t have a previous background in fiber optic technology.


Cumberland University announces tuition-free college for select Tennesseans
(WKRN) Cumberland University announced the launch of its Phoenix Promise program, giving qualified Tennessee students an opportunity to earn a tuition-free four-year degree. 


Biden’s Plan Would Make Community College Free. It Could Also Have Unintended Downsides.
(Chronicle for Higher Ed) The proposal has been called “a momentous step forward,” but some experts say it could waylay the students it most wants to help.


Fostering Social Justice in Higher Education
(Diverse Issues in Higher Education) As the pace of change continues to accelerate, higher education leaders are now under constant pressure to respond to social justice issues within their campuses and surrounding communities. To my generation, education is viewed as the “great equalizer,” but this promise of equality cannot be achieved when fundamental injustice exists.


University of Texas at San Antonio to Create Hispanic Thriving Institution Leadership Council
(Diverse Issues in Higher Education) The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) will create an institutional-level Hispanic Thriving Institution (HTI) Leadership Council to help the school become a Hispanic Thriving Institution, according to UTSA officials.


Empowering the next generation': Southern Tennessee Higher Education Center opens in Lawrence County
(Daily Herald) After more than half a decade of planning, Lawrence County’s Southern Tennessee Higher Education Center opened its doors to members of the public for the first time on Friday.


Most incoming college students want face-to-face classes this fall: survey
(Higher Ed Dive) As schools map out their reopening plans, a poll of more than 21,000 students and parents shows their comfort with vaccine mandates and safety protocols.


MTSU Board of Trustees approves three new bachelor's degree programs
(Murfreesboro Post) The MTSU Board of Trustees approved three new bachelor’s degree programs for supply chain management, media management and photography at its quarterly meeting on April 6, according to a news release from the university.


Community colleges: Improving lives and your community’s economic vitality
(CC Daily) It’s a phrase I think about often and share when I speak to our students and employees as well as in the community. To me, it means improving lives and the economic vitality of our community through education generation after generation and being responsive to current needs and proactive in preparing for the future.

Employers say college grads lack needed skills, but that could be changing, survey finds
(Higher Ed Dive) Employers remain confident in the value of higher education but continue to think new graduates lack the skills needed to succeed in the workplace, according to a survey of nearly 500 executives and hiring managers.  It is the Association of American Colleges and Universities' seventh survey of employers, and past iterations showed a similar disconnect between companies and colleges.  However, the latest findings show graduates are getting better at communicating their skills and that employers' views vary by age.


Advising community college students during a pandemic
(CC Daily) The year 2020 was not one that higher education professionals will soon forget. Institutions quickly shifted their practices to provide students an education experience in ways never seen before.


Community college enrollment sank this fall. But some programs fared better than others.
(Higher Ed Dive) One of Ian McKeown's favorite assignments last spring was to go to the grocery store, buy some wine, make a meal and write about it. Like many culinary students around the country, McKeown suddenly found himself baking and butchering in his home kitchen instead of the commercial kitchen on campus — which in his case was at Wake Technical Community College, in North Carolina.


As Pell Grants open up for incarcerated students, programs ready for growth
(Higher Ed Dive) During his fourth year inside Fulton County, Georgia's correctional system, Larry Jackson became the subject of an experiment in prison education. The facility needed more medical help, so it started training its incarcerated population. He earned a nursing assistant certification