Academic capitalism and the community college

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University of Alabama Libraries

Profit generating entrepreneurial initiatives has become increasingly important as community colleges look for alternative revenue to support escalating costs in an environment characterized by funding constraints. Academic capitalism was used as the conceptual framework to determine whether community colleges have become increasingly market focused. Already externally driven as a consequence of their broad missions, many community colleges become involved in academic capitalism ranging from financial partnerships with local corporations to the lease and operation of conference center facilities. Although community colleges are not identical and may differ significantly from one another, revenue from external sources is both an opportunity as well as a challenge for all. This study sought to examine the types of revenue generating initiatives occurring on community college campuses and the factors that may facilitate or impede a community college's success. The study utilized quantitative methods. A survey was sent to a national sample of 537 rural, suburban and urban community college presidents yielding a response rate of 29.3%. Survey responses were categorized and a proxy variable was created based on the institutional characteristics of academic capitalism as described in the literature. Community colleges in this study identified contract training as the most frequently utilized revenue generating initiative. The revenue generated represents a very small contribution to a college's operating budget and college presidents are ambitious in terms of expectations for future revenue. Academic units are not perceived as being entrepreneurial. Revenue generating units report to the academic vice president who rises from academic unit rank. Expectations regarding future funding allocations do not seem to drive an entrepreneurial thrust. Based on responses to this survey, large rural, suburban and urban institutions behave the same. Given the decline in government support and the revenue potential of successful market focused initiatives, further studies are warranted to better understand how to ease the constraints on pursuing academic capitalism in the community college sector.

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Higher education