Increasing Efficiencies and Effectiveness in Community Colleges: Program Review, Program Cost Studies, And the Transformative Practices of Leaders in Two Community Colleges

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Hert, Fiona Thom
Northwestern Michigan College ; Ferris State University ; Central Piedmont Community College
Community colleges are faced with potential fiscal and institutional crises that demand the development of new business and finance models to greet their second century of existence—models that provide for affordable, high-quality education, and increased graduation rates. This research, using a case study methodology, seeks to understand the processes, the products, and the leadership competencies associated with effective implementation of program review and program cost models at two community colleges, Northwestern Michigan College and Central Piedmont Community College. Each college’s model contains key components of new business and finance models that will assist in sustaining other community colleges for the future. The results of this study indicate each college has developed unique program cost and program review processes that are integrated into their budgeting and strategic planning processes as required by their regional accrediting bodies. Each college found that key factors of efficiencies and effectiveness were improved as a result of the processes. Program elimination did not occur at either college as a result of program review or program cost study processes. This study has also identified that programmatic costs be embedded into program review processes to give each institution a holistic view of the quality and the cost of each of its programs. This inclusion will assist community colleges in their continuing efforts to ensure that their programs meet their mission, vision, and support the sustainability of the institution. The American Association of Community Colleges Leadership Competencies of Communication and Community College Advocacy were rated as the top competencies by each college for current and future use in the development and integration of program review and program cost model, while the two competencies, Community College Advocacy and Resource Management, respectively, would have greater importance for the future. The conclusions from this study indicate that the AACC leadership competencies remain useful and important for driving improvement in program review and program cost model processes. Study participants also indicated that two additional areas of future leadership emphasis, entrepreneurial and risk taking were needed. Transformational leadership was viewed as an important leadership style by leaders of these processes.