A colleague in marketing recently asked me to write a blog post on community colleges. She was astounded by the number of people in the state who don’t know what community colleges are, what they do, and whom they serve. I commiserated with her. This past year, a big part of my work focused on outreach and very quickly I realized that I could not assume that every potential partner—industry or community-based— or person knew about community colleges. In a state that is home to many elite higher education institutions and a strong cadre of second-tier, highly competitive schools, it is not surprising that the public knows very little about community colleges. After all, the first community college in Massachusetts was not established until 1960, some 60 years after the first community college in the country.
Origins of Community Colleges
The first community college in the United States was established in 1901 in Joliet, Illinois. The creation of other community colleges was slow and steady through the second World War. The passage of the Federal GI Bill of Rights in 1944 led to a boom in enrollment of veterans, women, and Blacks at community colleges. This continued through the 1960s when the country experienced an explosion in the number of community colleges established. It was also during this period that community colleges were established in various regions of Massachusetts, beginning with Berkshire Community College in 1960. <Read more.>