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Proposal to take 'community' out of community college moves forward

State House Bureau

October 18. 2017 9:33AM

CONCORD — A group of House and Senate lawmakers has signed off on a proposal to remove the word “community” from the names used by the seven colleges in the Community College System of New Hampshire.

The idea was initially proposed by Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, chairman of the Public Higher Education Study Committee, which met seven times over the summer and fall to review issues surrounding the university and community college systems.

The committee, composed of three senators and five representatives, voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve its final report, which calls for the name change. Reagan said he is already having a bill drawn up.

According to the report, “The committee discussed research showing improved acceptance of transfer credits and a generally higher regard for institutions considered colleges, rather than community colleges.”

Some members agreed that the term “community college” may be falling out of fashion just as “junior college, “teachers’ college” and “normal school” once did, according to the report.

Others had concerns that such a name change might make the community colleges seem less accessible to some students.

Shannon Reid, director of communications for the community college system, warned in an Oct. 16 email to the committee that such a change could be costly and divert resources from other CCSNH functions.

“There would be costs to CCSNH to comply with such a measure,” she wrote. “We can see points on both sides of the question. However, as a practical matter, name changes would result in significant increased costs and the re-assignment of institutional effort.”

Reid cited several examples, including changes to all websites, external marketing, new signage, training manuals and other internal documents, replacing existing branded items in college stores and supplies or forms in administrative offices.

“It’s worth considering whether you believe implementing a name change for each of the colleges at this time should become a new focus of the institutions, alongside or in place of, for instance, student success initiatives, expanding industry and K-12 partnerships and addressing the recommendations in the performance audit.”

The proposal will be fully vetted in public hearings once the Legislature reconvenes in January.

“The idea will have to go through the legislative process,” said Rep. James Grenier, R-Lempster. “People will be able to communicate their concerns. It will not be done just because we say so.”

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