A College’s Smartest Business Decision Leads To National Prominence On Racial Equity And Student Success

Compton University was in serious trouble. Due to serious financial problems and reports of steering committee corruption, the Community and Junior College Accreditation Board revoked the institution’s accreditation in 2005. It took 12 years to regain accreditation. Reaccreditation would likely not have occurred had the board not hired Keith Curry as the college’s 12th president in 2011. This proved to be a really smart business decision.

“What Dr. Curry and the Compton College community have accomplished to regain ACCJC accreditation is nothing short of a miracle. It proves that,” he said. Erika A. Endrjonas, President of Pasadena City College.

Since Curry took over as CEO, Compton has completed nearly $118 million in renovations and new building construction projects. He also secured more than his $250 million for additional construction and student success initiatives. In impressive fashion, Curry has significantly improved the institution’s operations while establishing itself as a nationally recognized leader in higher education equity. “Racial equity is essential to me as Compton changes his college’s policies, practices, systems, and structures,” he explains. “The number of students we serve today is not what he was here in 1927 when Compton Junior College was founded, so we cannot continue to do business as usual.”

Losing accreditation is a painful consequence. This is a serious business problem. When this occurs, the college or university will no longer be eligible to receive student financial aid, grants, or other sources of funding from the federal government. It also means that some students cannot be employed in occupations or roles that expressly require prospective employers to have certificates and degrees from accredited institutions. It will eventually be closed if the certification is revoked. Luckily, this catastrophic outcome did not occur at Compton.

Much of the university’s survival is attributed to Curry’s extraordinary leadership. But part of that is also due to legislation introduced by California legislator Marvin Dymally, a black and indigenous person, shortly after the agency lost its accreditation. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed his AB 318 into law in 2006, raising $30 million in emergency funding and allowing Compton to move to another nearby community of his college district. We were able to continue operating as part of it. The year he was recertified, Curry secured his $11.3 million from the state to restore Compton to an independent college. He convinced state legislators of the agency’s importance.

Compton College is located in the area where tennis megastars Venus and Serena Williams spent most of their childhood. Many other famous black entertainers and leaders also grew up there. theyis a 10-episode Amazon horror series about a black family who are terrorized after moving to Compton in the 1950s when the community was predominantly white. In the decades that followed, the racial demographic changed, becoming predominantly black at some point. Today, only 1% of his inhabitants are white. Compton College therefore plays a key role in providing educational opportunities for her more than 90,000 people of color who call its community home.

“Compton College is a phoenix, a magnificent example of rebirth and ascension, and an inspiration to all of us in higher education who work at the intersection of access and equity,” said Dean of the Los Angeles Community College District. Francisco C. Rodriguez, who is This remarkable rise of the College has been marked by more than President Curry’s boundless energy and magnetic charisma. It is underpinned by his keen leadership ability and the successful execution of his clear strategic vision to provide educational services that lift the most in need of students out of poverty and into infinity. opportunity and success. ”

Restoring accreditation and continuing to provide access to racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse people in the communities where he was born and raised are just two aspects of Curry’s presidential agenda. Ensuring students’ basic needs are met, creating the conditions to foster student success, increasing the number of students transferring to four-year colleges, and transitioning graduates into rewarding careers. , has consistently been his top priority. Student homelessness and food insecurity are among the most vexing challenges facing his college community in California. Compton is an outstanding state and national leader in strategically addressing these issues through innovative programs, policies, and partnerships. The university recently secured $80 million in its California budget from 2022 to 2023 to build a 250-bed student housing facility.

Some public figures have publicly praised the institution’s survival and praised its leadership on equity. One of them is Mrs. Michelle Obama, who proudly wore her Compton College sweatshirt at her 2019 National Her College Her Signing Day event. “We are lucky to have a great community her college system in this country. Compton College has a great story,” she shouted to her audience of over 10,000 students. “The school fell into some difficult times a few years ago, but they persevered, worked hard and now bounce back, providing thousands of students with an excellent and affordable education each year. increase.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom recognized Curry’s leadership in 2020 and appointed him to a statewide task force on higher education, equity and COVID-19 recovery. Walter G. Bumphus is president and CEO of the National Association of Community Colleges. The organization comprises over 1,000 degree-granting institutions, and in total he enrolls nearly 12 million students. “Dr. Currie has worked tirelessly to ensure that his College in Compton is serving its students and the community,” he affirms. “A true phoenix, Compton has risen from the ashes to become one of his most student-centered colleges in the nation. Dr. Currie’s continued commitment to developing underresourced students is a model for his colleges in all communities across the country.”

In addition to leading racial equality on his campus, Curry is one of 30 commissioners working to address racial inequality in all of California’s community colleges.he co-founded black student success week, an annual series of events and legislative activities for community colleges statewide. He currently leads a national group of experts developing solutions to the declining enrollment of black students in community colleges and his four-year institutions. Last year, he received the Equity His Champion Award from his Chief Instructional Officer at California Community College.

Compton College Trustee Sharoni Little has taught for over 20 years at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, worked with hundreds of executives, and served as a company’s Chief Diversity Officer. Among the myriad of governance responsibilities, she and other board members have to make very important business decisions on behalf of the institution. Little said of Curry, “His unapologetic commitment to ‘speak up’ for fairness and excellence holds all stakeholders accountable to each other for fostering and sustaining an inclusive institutional culture.” I am asking for it to be done,” he said.

Appointing Curry as president 12 years ago was the best business decision the trustees could have made at the time. For all CEOs involved in higher education (and CEOs in the corporate context), he will lead through tough times, build a strong national reputation for doing the right thing, and earn millions of dollars to move the institution forward. An inspiring example of how to raise dollars too. Equity at the top of the executive leadership agenda.

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