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Governor's Community College Advisory Council Calls for Dramatic Growth in Maine's Community Colleges


In 2003, led by Governor John Baldacci and the Maine legislature, Maine's technical colleges became community colleges, a transformation designed to help address Maine's persistently low college-going rates and to ensure broad access to college for all those in Maine who aspired to it.

Since then, the community colleges have become a critical linchpin in Maine's educational continuum—a starting place for the growing number of Maine people who view higher education as a necessity and a vital source of skilled workers for Maine's evolving industries.

In their first three years, Maine's community colleges grew 42 percent. By this fall, that figure was close to 50 percent.

With that early growth and success have come challenges: many programs are at or near capacity; facilities and services are stretched thin; and full-time staffing levels have remained virtually unchanged as the colleges serve an additional 3,000 students. At the same time, the colleges have lacked the resources to meet the growing demand in Maine for skilled workers.

Earlier this year, in response to these challenges, Governor Baldacci called for the creation of an Advisory Council to analyze Maine's current and future workforce needs and how Maine's community colleges could be prepared to meet them. The Council—which consisted of leaders from business, labor, and economic development—met from late winter through summer.

The group heard from the state's Commissioners of Education and Economic and Community Development, the State Economist, the Chancellor of the University of Maine System. It met with representatives of major Maine industries and talked with MCCS students and staff.

In addition, the work of the Advisory Council was informed by research conducted on its behalf, including: