By Madeline Shannon
April 4, 2023 – In her first address to the Clovis City Council on Monday night, the President of Clovis Community College, Dr. Kim E. Armstrong, spoke about her goals for the college and how the campus can further serve the needs of the community.
“The value of a community college is that we provide excellent, rigorous academic preparation,” Dr. Armstrong told the Clovis Roundup on Monday night.
“We’re getting people to come back to college. Post-pandemic, we’ve seen quite a few people ready to go back to work and working three or four jobs, and we want to see them come back to college and get an education so they can have one liveable-wage job.”
The college president’s comments came at the beginning of National Community College Month, which was recognized by the city council this week.
According to a recent column by State Center Community College District Chancellor Dr. Carole Goldsmith, 7 million Americans, 1.8 million Californians and 53,000 residents of the San Joaquin Valley are pursuing higher education at community colleges across the country.
The community college district, which counts Clovis Community College in its ranks, is pivotal to resolving the many challenges residents of the valley face, Goldsmith said in her column.
“For far too long, our valley has struggled with disparities in health and access to healthcare, employment, wealth, basic technology and education,” Goldsmith wrote. “All these challenges stand a greater chance at resolution with an educated citizenry. State Center Community College District is central to that resolution.”
Approximately 7,115 students go to Clovis Community College, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Education College Scorecard, with a 2-year graduation rate of 36 percent and an average annual cost of $1,643.
“A lot of us started our first two years of college at a community college,” City Manager John Holt told the Clovis Roundup. “It’s pretty similar in terms of a quality education and about one-fifth of the cost of a university.”
The acknowledgement of Community College Month is apropos, given the timing of Dr. Armstrong’s arrival in the community and in light of President Joe Biden recently unveiling his fiscal year 2024 proposal, which includes $500 million for community colleges nationwide.
Biden previously spoke publicly about his intention to allocate millions of dollars in funding for career and technical education programs at community colleges to help train the next generation of trade workers, although his 2024 budget proposal doesn’t restrict the money to trade education programs.
While it remains to be seen if the nation’s community colleges will see that $500 million allocation, Dr. Armstrong already knows how a portion of that money could be used at Clovis Community College, especially with some in the community still reeling from the effects of COVID-19, Armstrong said.
“We could do a lot with that money,” Armstrong said. “We could really take advantage of the things that we know need to happen with our community’s students. We see an increase in food insecurity and an increase in homelessness with our students, and we could continue to provide those supports, have students come to college, finish college and be part of the workforce.”
Dr. Armstrong, who is originally from Oklahoma and worked in community college systems in Arkansas and Illinois, was hired by the State Center Community College Board in November 2022 and was sworn in in January. Her predecessor, Dr. Lori Bennett, retired last year after more than six years as the president of Clovis Community College.