The population of rural America has faced changes as the manufacturing industries that once assured jobs for those living in rural areas have moved or closed. Small towns have become smaller as younger residents move away for employment or educational opportunities. As these changes take place rural citizens face increased challenges in the wake of a weak local and regional economic base. These challenges ripple through rural communities in the form of under-funded schools, lack of available healthcare, illiteracy, lower than average per-capita income, and higher than average school drop-out rates. Rural communities have increasingly looked toward their local community colleges to help meet these challenges.
A qualitative study method was used to examine the ways in which rural community colleges interact in mutually dependent ways with their communities as they work together to meet these challenges. Phone and in-person interviews were conducted with 23 individuals in 11 rural community college districts in Illinois. Included in the interviews were presidents, chief academic offices, and other college personnel, as well as leaders of other organizations and institutions in the communities.
It was concluded that rural community colleges and their communities work together in mainly symbiotic relationships using a variety of resources to obtain mutual benefits. In these mutually dependent relationships the well-being of the colleges and the communities were inextricably linked. Additionally, it was concluded that the presidents of the colleges maintain a network of ties in their communities which allows them to develop and maintain relationships with other organizations outside the colleges. Relationships that were identified as particularly important to the colleges were those with K-12 institutions and economic development organizations.
|School:||Illinois State University|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/03, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education|
|Keywords:||Community colleges, Mutually dependent relationships, Rural communities|
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