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Hechinger Announces Community College Fellowships

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Richard Lee Colvin

Richard Lee Colvin, Director of the Hechinger Institute at Teachers College

TC’s Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media has named six journalists as fellows and nine as associates for its first fellowship program to support in-depth coverage of community colleges. The fellows and associates were chosen from a competitive field of more than 50 applicants.

Those selected for the “Covering America, Covering Community Colleges’’ fellowship will gather in New York City for two expense-paid conferences. In October 2007, the 15 journalists will meet with experts, discuss their projects with other journalists, conduct research and visit local colleges. They will return in February 2008 to discuss their projects with each other and talk about what they learned. The six fellows also will each receive a $7,500 stipend to support their research.

The fellowships were awarded to journalists working in print, online and broadcast media, based on detailed proposals they submitted. One of the six fellows selected will be writing a series of editorials. Another will be completing commentaries for radio and a Web site and will also write magazine articles. The others will complete in-depth articles or series for their newspapers.
In working on their projects, the fellows will be able to draw on the expertise of Thomas Bailey, George & Abby O'Neil Professor of Economics and Eucation and Director of TC’s Community College Research Center (CCRC), and his colleagues at CCRC. Bailey and CCRC co-director Jim Jacobs were among those who helped select the fellows.

 Community colleges enroll nearly half the college students in the United States but are rarely given substantive, analytical coverage by media outlets, said Hechinger Institute Director Richard Lee Colvin. 
“We are gratified by the tremendous response to this unique opportunity,’’ Colvin said. “We’ve chosen a terrific group of journalists who will find and tell compelling stories about institutions that open doors for those who might otherwise be shut out. It is clear that the drama and possibility of this uniquely American institution has captured the attention of many reporters.’’

The six fellows and their projects are:
•    Greg Bolt, (Eugene, Ore.) Register-Guard: Nursing, health and technical training at community colleges.
•    Rita Giordano, Philadelphia Inquirer: Following students enrolled in the Gateway program at Community College of Philadelphia.
•     Mary Beth Marklein, USA Today: National analysis of community colleges, with state-by-state comparisons.
•     Gloria Padilla, San Antonio (Texas) Express-News: Minorities in Texas community colleges.
•    Nancy Rodriguez, (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal: Problems with transferring from community colleges to four-year colleges.
•     Wick Sloane, Inside Higher Ed and “Here and Now,” WBUR-FM in Boston: Community college funding issues.

“This fellowship program reflects the growing recognition of the important work of community colleges,’’ said Kay McClenney, director of the Community College Survey of Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin and a member of the panel that chose the fellows.

Nine additional journalists selected as associate fellows proposed projects ranging from four-year institution transfer rates to job retraining programs in areas heavily hit by auto industry layoffs. 

The nine associate fellows are Ana Alaya, (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger; Mark Harper, Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal; Diane Knich, (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier; Matthew Krupnick, Contra Costa (Calif.) Times; Chad Livengood, Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot; Matthew Miller, Lansing (Mich.) State Journal; Janet Okoben, Cleveland Plain Dealer; Marsha Sills, (Lafayette, La.) Daily Advertiser; and Susan Simpson, The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman.

The selection panel was made up of community college leaders and veteran journalists. The journalists were: Tamara Henry, formerly of USA Today; Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed; Paul Lieberman, Los Angeles Times; Jay Mathews, Washington Post; and David Wessel, Wall Street Journal. The community college experts on the panel were:  Thomas Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University; Jim Jacobs, director of the Center for Workforce Development and Policy at Macomb (Mich.) Community College; Kay McClenney, director of the Community College Survey of Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin; and Regina Peruggi, president of Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Support for the first year of the fellowship comes from Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based foundation that aims to help individuals achieve their potential by expanding access and success in education beyond high school. Lumina Foundation also is the leading funding organization for “Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count,’’ a national initiative to help more community college students, particularly low-income and minority students, succeed.


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