Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


California community college reform legislation enacted in August 1988 was predicated on the willingness of the colleges to assume an increasingly more prominent role in local, regional, and statewide economic development. Many colleges, especially small community colleges, have not clearly defined their potential role as a catalyst and resource for economic development. This study had three primary purposes related to the role of the community college in economic development. First, the results of this study should assist administrators at Crafton Hills College, a small two-year public community college in southern California, in defining and implementing the college's economic development mission in the San Bernardino Community College District. Secondly, the data collected were used to formulate an operational definition for the term "economic development" that can be applied in the context of the community college mission. Thirdly, results of the study were used to identify strategies and activities for regional economic development that the five community colleges located in the Riverside/San Bernardino metropolitan area might pursue cooperatively and collectively. A descriptive research study encompassing national, state, and regional sources of information was conducted. Data collection involved a comprehensive review of pertinent literature, attendance at six professional workshops and conferences related to the community college role in economic development, and administration of a community college economic development survey instrument developed by the National Council for Occupational Education. The fifty-eight item questionnaire was mailed to twenty-five California community colleges, grouped in sets of five selected for geographical proximity or regional identity. Twenty -four questionnaires were returned, for a ninety-six percent response, and the results were obtained by computer tabulation. Ana lysis of the data focused on the following research questions: (1) What is an appropriate operational definition of economic development as related to the five community colleges in the Riverside/ San Bernardino metropolitan area? (2) What activities s are the five community colleges in the Riverside/San Bernardino metropolitan area currently engaged in relative to economic development? (3) What economic development activities are currently being undertaken by other community colleges in comparable metropolitan areas of California, as well as nationally? (4) Would the five community colleges be more effective in economic development by pursuing regional strategies? (5) What level of resources are the five community colleges committing to economic development as a college mission, and do their published mission statements explicitly include economic development? (6) What economic development activities would be appropriate for Crafton Hills College? From the analysis of the data, the following general conclusions were developed: (1) Expanding the role of community colleges in economic development is viewed as an important objective by state legislative and educational leaders, as well as by community colleges practitioners; (2) All of the colleges included in the study were more likely to be engaged in economic development activities related to their traditional vocational education and training efforts, rather than innovative activities such as operating a small business assistance center; (3) Among those economic development activities that were least frequently engaged in by the respondent colleges, those activities that would tend to foster an institutional environment supportive of the economic development mission were regarded as the most important; (4) There was no significant variation among the five geographical areas f or those economic development activities that were most frequently engaged in by the twenty-four colleges; ( 5) Participation in regional economic development activities was the predominant pattern among the colleges included in the study; (6) Most colleges had not yet formally acknowledged an institutional commitment to the economic development mission. California community colleges are on the threshold of a state supported movement to more explicitly direct the use of college resources to enhance the state's economic growth and development. Traditional vocational education and training programs will not be adequate for this task, and community college practitioners must be prepared to establish new relationships. Community college leaders should support alliances that nurture regional cooperation and coordination to achieve economic development objectives.

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