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New book celebrates 50th anniversary of Iowa community colleges

    by Iowa State College of Human Sciences
    Posted on 10/19/2015

AMES, Iowa - A new book released today by an Iowa State University professor and doctoral students celebrates the 50th anniversary of Iowa community colleges.

Iowa’s Community Colleges: A Collective History of Fifty Years of Accomplishment” provides a history of the statewide development of the community college system, through a focus on the individual college stories and dynamics.

“Iowa State University is proud to be a part of the history and evolution of the community colleges through our continued collaborative efforts related to articulation, transfer, research, and community college leadership and professional development,” said Iowa State University President Steven Leath

“The success of many Iowa students is because of our mutual commitment and on-going efforts to enhance student transition and transfer,” Leath said. “Iowa State celebrates the first half century of each community college’s growth and their many regional, state and national contributions.”


A history of community colleges

The commemorative book has been two years in the making and contains detailed updates from a book written a decade ago. The new book is edited by Janice Nahra Friedel, an associate professor in the School of Education, and recent doctoral students Cristobal Salinas Jr. and Zoë Mercedes Thornton.

While several community colleges have recorded their own histories in various formats, others have not had the resources to compile a formal historical piece. This book provides a concise history of Iowa's community colleges available for public review.

“Iowa's community colleges have a rich and distinct history of serving the educational needs of their communities,” Friedel said. “Each district holds a distinct history and identity, as well as goals for the future, even within the shared mission of the statewide community college system. In fact, many of the colleges have early histories of educating their communities long before the system was formed in the mid-1960s.”

Salinas, who’s now an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Research Methodology at Florida Atlantic University, said community colleges are a true representation of access, affordability, and success.

“Our book highlights the accomplishments of Iowa’s community colleges,” he said. “These accomplishments have changed the lives of students, administrators, and faculty who otherwise would have been overlooked by academia, and in turn helped make Iowa’s future brighter.”

Fifteen chapters of the book are dedicated to Iowa’s 15 community college districts, with each college authoring its own chapter. The book also includes briefings on some of the pioneering staff, faculty, trustees, alumni, and legislators who have contributed to the development and success of Iowa's community colleges.

“This book recognizes the distinct histories and identities of each of the community colleges, as well as their collective goals in advancing the welfare of the entire state and all Iowans,” Leath said. “The book begins with an overview of the state system of community colleges, followed by chapters on each of the fifteen community colleges, and it concludes with a summary and look to the future. It is our hope that this book serves as a resource on the histories of all of Iowa’s community colleges for public review.”


Iowa State cultivates community college leaders

Iowa State University’s Community College Leadership Program in the School of Education has cultivated 10 of Iowa’s 15 community college presidents, two-thirds of those colleges’ administrators, and three-fourths of their leadership teams. It’s also prepared several college presidents and cabinet-level administrators in Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, and Kansas.

The 232-page book by Friedel, Salinas, and Thornton reflects Iowa State University’s pride in Iowa’s community colleges and commitment to successful partnerships with each school. It’s priced at $20 and is available online through the ISU Extension and Outreach store. 

This book is a collaborative project involving Iowa State University, Iowa’s 15 community colleges, the Iowa Department of Education — Division of Community Colleges, the Iowa Association of Community College Presidents (IACCP), the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees (IACCT), numerous community college employees and retirees, ISU Community College Leadership Program faculty and doctoral students, ISU Extension and Outreach, and ISU Printing Services.

Taylor Wertzberger, an Iowa State senior in graphic design, developed the book’s design, layout, and cover design.

Authors received some funding from a Publication Subvention Grant through the ISU Office of the Vice President for Research. The grants are intended to support the publication of the scholarly writings and other worthy productions of the faculty and staff of Iowa State University, as well as selected manuscripts by others with the additional restriction that those manuscripts deal with topics related to the state of Iowa and the surrounding region.



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Janice Friedel, associate professor, School of Education, Iowa State University, 515-294-4719 office, 515-343-9474 cell,

Cristobal Salinas Jr., assistant professor in educational leadership and research methodology, Florida Atlantic University; 2015 Ph.D. in education from Iowa State University; 515-708-5103,

Zoë Mercedes Thornton, 2015 Ph.D. in education from Iowa State University, 515-554-3958,