By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“Community colleges contribute to our economy and our whole democratic process all across the United States,” said Peninsula College President Luke Robins, who began in that position in July. “They represent a gateway, an open door, particularly for groups that have not previously been well represented in higher education.”
Robins said that Peninsula College’s curriculum is always evolving
“We are working to hard to align workforce and technical programs to community needs,” Robins said. “We are looking to sit down with local leaders and ask them what we are doing right and what are the needed skills that we need to provide.
“We really want to increase adult education and GED outreach, that continues to be a real focus,” he said.
“Somewhere along the line, the vast majority of those who dropped out of high school will stop and say, ‘Oops, I’m going nowhere, and unless I can get an education, I will continue to go nowhere.’”
Robins said there are 1,132 community colleges across the country with 7.4 million students.
Community colleges have 60 percent of all women in higher education, 44 percent of African-Americans and 42 percent of all Latinos.
Pointing to a pie-chart that showed an enrollment of 60 percent female and 40 percent male Robins said, “I always tell young men that Peninsula College is a great place to go to school.
“Women see the value of higher education for themselves, and in any given class at Peninsula College, you will always see a large number of working mothers.
“For them, community college is the only way they will have access to higher education and still manage all of the balls they need to juggle.”
Robins said that 85 percent of African-Americans in college are women.
“African-American men are not attending college in historical numbers,” he said. “We aren’t sure why this is happening, and a lot of resources are going toward addressing that issue.”
Robins expressed support for the renovation of Fort Worden’s Building 202 and the establishment of the Lifelong Learning Center but said the college does not depend on those occurrences.
“We are committed to providing service to Jefferson County no matter what else happens,” he said. “We are anxious to see the Fort Worden project go forward, but if for any reason it doesn’t, we will continue to provide services wherever they are needed, we want to be clear about that.”
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.