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Never before have community colleges experienced a year like they did in 2009. In many ways, it truly was the best of times and the worst of times.
Consider that President Barack Obama proposed spending $12 billion on community colleges over the next decade, catapulting the institutions to the center of the public debate on how best to revive the American economy. Obama had used community college campuses as a backdrop for his campaign appearances, and now he was citing colleges as essential to the nation's well-being.
It marked the first time that the federal government pledged to make a direct investment in two-year schools, and the leaders of colleges, who often felt unappreciated, were elated.
But all that attention came with a price. The economic downturn sent students back to colleges in droves. Adults seeking to burnish skills in a sagging economy were joined by recent high school graduates looking for an affordable way to start their college educations. At the same time, the economic downturn drained tax coffers of cash, squeezing colleges between two distinct trends: sharply rising enrollment and significantly curtailed resources. Colleges were being called upon to do more with less.
As 2009 draws to a close, colleges are expected to continue to see record-high enrollments as the national economy evolves. But before we ring in 2010, here are the top community college-related stories of 2009.
1 Obama Announces $128 Community College Initiative
In July, community college leaders around the country enthusiastically embraced President Obama's "American Graduation Initiative"--a proposal aimed at boosting the number of college graduates and training workers for emerging fields. The initiative calls for 5 million additional community college graduates by 2020. It calls for community colleges to increase their effectiveness and impact of community colleges. Funds will be used to modernize facilities and create new …