Community Colleges Should Focus on Their Mission, Not on Frills

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The big problem with nonprofit management is that the managers are apt to spend money on things that they like but won’t make the institution any better. They’re easily gulled by consultants who lead them to believe that advertising or campus facelifts or something else will elevate the school.

In today’s Martin Center article, Esam Sohail Mohammed of Butler Community College in Kansas bemoans that fact and argues that community colleges need to stay centered on their educational mission.



He writes, “Once the million-dollar fancy marketing campaign for the brand new dorm or the cool robotics center runs its course, the core constituency of the community college remains: students who are seeking to save a significant chunk of money in the pursuit of their eventual baccalaureate degrees. That is the bread and butter, the raison d’etre if you will, of a vast majority of America’s community colleges.”

Community college leaders should learn to say “no” to the experts who ply them with costly advice. Mohammed mentions a $90,000 contract that a small school in northwestern Michigan entered into for “strategic planning.” Consultants fatten their wallets by peddling such plans. What school officials should focus on is good, low-cost education for their students.

Mohammed concludes, “Nonetheless, an imperfect and yet empirically sound solution is staring us in the face: promote the value proposition of the community college like never before. It might just work better than that expensive fancy new program with five students that is giving heartburn to legislators and board members about to face the electorate.”


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