November Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

 Volume 10, Issue 5                                                                     November 2020

Inside this issue





Jeremy Varner
Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation


Dennis Harden
 Chief, Bureau of Career and Technical  Education


Paula Nissen
Acting Chief, Bureau of Community Colleges


Alison Jepsen
Executive Officer, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation



2020 Fall Enrollment Report released

Masked Students

The Iowa Department of Education has released the 2020 Fall Enrollment Report. This report includes enrollment information from all 15 Iowa community colleges as reported for the 2020 fall semester/quarter.

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated uncertainty has had an impact on Iowa community colleges' 2020 fall enrollment. Enrollment for this fall decreased to 83,109 students, down 6.0 percent from 2019; this is compared to a 9.4 percent decrease in enrollment nationally. In addition, the number of high school students participating in joint enrollment decreased 3.6 percent, compared to 5.5 percent nationally. Part-time enrollment continued to be the largest segment and reached an all-time high of 64.8 percent of fall enrollment. The proportion of minority students decreased by 0.5 percent--the first time since modern tracking began in 2010. This decrease in enrollment most impacted Asian students (13 percent) and black students (9.8), compared to a 5.5 percent decrease in white students. 

One of the largest statistical increases shown in the report is online enrollment, which increased 45.6 percent compared to 5.0 percent in 2019. This fall, 79.2 percent of all students are enrolled in online or blended courses. This increase in online enrollment impacted the number of online credit hours, which rose 93 percent compared to 5.8 percent in 2019. 

Please contact Dan Li, Education Program Consultant, at or 515-281-3503, or Vlad Bassis, Lead Education Program Consultant, at or at 515-281-3671, with comments or questions.

Apply for the Career Academy Incentive Fund


Applications are being accepted through Dec. 31 for the Career Academy Incentive Fund.

The fund provides targeted grants to support partnerships between school districts, community colleges, business and industry and other partners that expand access to career academy programs, with a focus on programming delivered through regional centers. Annually, the Iowa Department of Education will award grants of up to $1 million for projects that best meet the criteria specified in statute (the number of grants issued will be based on the amount of available funds and types of applications received).

Career academies are programs of study in which students benefit from business and industry partnerships, earn high school and college credit, and gain technical and traditional academic skills offered through career and technical education programs in some of Iowa’s most in-demand fields.

Earlier this year, North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City won a $1 million competitive grant through the Career Academy Incentive Fund to help expand student access to career academy programs in some of the region’s most in-demand fields through a new regional center in Forest City. The Career Academy Incentive Fund was established by a 2019 law that extends a statewide penny sales tax for school infrastructure, called Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE), through January 2051.

Expanding student access to high-quality career and technical education is part of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, which is focused on growing a skilled workforce in all regions of the state by connecting more Iowans to the education and training needed for high-demand careers.

Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted to Read more about the grant.

Put these equity webinars on your calendars!

Equity Series Logo

The Department of Education will continue its successful Social Justice and Equity in Education webinar series through December and January. See below for upcoming webinar topics, descriptions and registration information. All webinars begin at 3 p.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. You can find recordings of previous Social Justice and Equity in Education webinars here

December 3: "Brown Faces in the Classroom" by Alex Piedras, multicultural and community outreach director/international students at Grand View University. 

The session will provide an overview of the largest minority group in the state of Iowa and some of the issues that they face, and the impact of discrimination and racism on students of color. Concepts and resources are shared to aid individuals as they explore their own behaviors and commit to having more inclusive educational environments. 

Register here:

December 17: "Let’s Talk Justice: Student Stories ... Student Voices" 

Nothing brings home the power and impact of education like hearing the voices of students talking about social justice and equity issues in Iowa. Their insights will open your eyes to the reality students face on a daily basis at different levels in their educational journey. About a dozen students from across the state will come together to share their experiences with equity, social justice and inclusion as a student in Iowa’s educational system. This diverse student panel is designed as an example of how educators can hold space for this conversation with students, staff and faculty.  The panel will be made up of students from different ages, backgrounds and races. Students on the panel will be offered the opportunity to speak openly about their experiences in schools, while also providing possible solutions.

Register here: 

January 7: “Viewing Homeless Education Programs Through An Equity Lens” by Carolyn Cobb, Iowa Department of Education state homeless coordinator. Cobb will be joined by Julia Sullivan  and Tiffany Wood from Iowa State University and Emily Teeter from the Cedar Rapids Community School District. 

This session aims to inform educational organizations about homelessness, so that myths and stereotypes can give way to better informed decision-making processes. Presentation focuses on the importance of equity to McKinney Vento programming, PK-12 and college-level considerations, outreach and identification of students, service delivery, policy review and framing equity in your community. Webinar attendees will also be provided with resources.

Register here:


CTE programs statewide prepare to expand career and technical student organizations


As a component of Iowa’s state plan for Perkins V is that each secondary career and technical education (CTE) program must establish, maintain and integrate a career and technical student organization (CTSO). Each secondary CTE program is required to offer a CTSO by the start of the academic year 2024-25. Guidance is available on the Department website here.

The Department of Education supports the CTSO Advisor Academy, a free monthly webinar series on CTSO management for CTE educators. Upcoming are two sessions highlighting CTSO competitive events, held December 9 and January 12 from 4:00pm-5:40pm.  For more information, please register here to be sent the calendar of events and to be added to the mailing list.

Finally, each CTSO has an executive director who can provide individualized support.

BPA - Deb Jones 

DECA - Morgan Petersen

FBLA - Lou Voss 

PBL - Ryan Steines 

FCCLA - Kayelani Kirschbaum 

FFA - Iowa - Scott Johnson 

HOSA - Kent Seuferer 

SkillsUSA - Teresa Mankin 

TSA - Rhys South 

For more information on Iowa’s CTSOs, please contact Chris Dzurick at or 515-419-4792. For more information on the CTSO Advisor Academy, please contact Cale Hutchings at or 515-975-8193.

Work continues on guided pathways state initiative

Guided Pathways

In June 2019, the Iowa Department of Education was awarded a $1.3 million grant from Ascendium Education Group to support guided pathways development and implementation at Iowa’s community colleges until December 2021. Within this initiative, colleges are focused on building unique and available pathways at each community college, putting structures in place to help students start and stay on a guided pathway, and ensuring that all students are engaged and learning.

Community college leaders recently convened to move this implementation forward. Unlike fall 2019's large face-to-face full-day convening at DMACC with over 120 people, this year, due to COVID-19, four two-hour convenings were held virtually by Zoom from September to November. Each of these convenings was valuable to the colleges and allowed each of the virtual meetings to focus on college-requested topics that the facilitator, HCM Strategists, put together. The September convening was focused on how community college presidents can help lead a local initiative, with President Joe Schaffer of Laramie County Community College leading the discussion. The first October virtual meeting focused on advisors and advising practices that help students get on pathways, with Dr. Myra Furr, vice president of student success and dean of students from Stanly Community College in North Carolina, leading a discussion which used Stanly’s advising model as an example. The last webinar in October focused on moving a college from buy-in of guided pathways to full commitment, with Lesley Bonds, director of student services and equity from Bakersfield College in California, leading the discussion. The  November convening was a review of the colleges’ Community College Research Center (CCRC) assessment of their progress. Southeastern community college and Southwestern community college that had moved from “in progress” to "at-scale" for certain guided pathway initiatives shared their process with their peers from other colleges. The last three virtual convenings each saw over 120 college staff participating in the discussions. 

Beyond the virtual meetings, colleges have recently updated their progress in the guided pathway work plans and built more work-based learning courses into their program curriculum. The colleges have also been focused on adding transfer majors to their program curriculum. There are currently 26 vetted discipline frameworks and over 210 approved transfer majors across the 15 colleges.  Additional transfer major discussions in the disciplines of human and family services, engineering, computer science and music are underway.   

Contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges, at or 515-725-2247 with comments or questions.

Two high schools, community college forge new path for postsecondary success

Naomi DeWinter

Jennifer Fernandez-Miranda knew she wanted to be an English teacher. But the real question was: How? After all, Fernandez-Miranda hadn’t had anyone in her family take this path. The logistics – not to mention the cost – seemed insurmountable.

“During my senior year at Columbus Junction, I felt very anxious, I knew that I wanted to go to college, but it didn’t seem like a realistic possibility for me,” she said.

Fernandez-Miranda’s dilemma was pretty common at Columbus Junction High School, and educators there were seeing bright students turning away from bright futures. It’s not like the district didn’t have counselors. But they, like pretty much everyone in their profession, have been stretched thin. Career and postsecondary counseling seemed to always take a back seat to more pressing issues.

In a neighboring district, the Louisa-Muscatine Community School District was noticing those same stumbling blocks for their students. That’s when the Louisa-Muscatine Superintendent Mike Van Sickle had an idea: What if there was a school counselor who was solely dedicated to working with students to follow their dreams? And if a small district in Louisa-Muscatine cannot afford another counselor, might the position be shared with another district and, perhaps, a community college?


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