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Community College of Rhode Island

Contact Information

Ray Di Pasquale Ray Di Pasquale

Knight Campus
Room 3328
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400 East Ave.
Warwick, RI 02886

Fax: 401-825-2166
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Annual Education Summit

Oct. 29, 2014

On Wednesday, Oct. 29, I spoke at the annual Education Summit in the Senate Lounge at the State House. I was asked to provide an enrollment report and speak specifically about our minority population and our efforts in helping our students succeed. The following is a transcript of my remarks.

• Good morning.

• I'm pleased to be here today representing the Community College of Rhode Island and the good work that CCRI does.

• In just a moment, I'm going to speak about some of the programs that we have in place at CCRI.

• But first I think it's important to really understand what the Community College of Rhode Island is and what its role is in this state.

• I regularly meet with representatives in the business community and elsewhere and when I speak about CCRI, their response is often, "I didn't know that," or "I didn't know that you did that."

• So, who and what is CCRI?

• We have nearly 18,000 students spread across four campuses and two satellite locations. And we have more than 64,000 alumni, most of who reside here in the state.

• We are you. We are Rhode Island. Nearly 97 percent of our students come from Rhode Island. And the makeup of our student body reflects this state.

• This semester, we enrolled 17,553 students. Between our fall semester, spring semester and summer courses, we will serve nearly 40,000 students.

• In addition, we train between 30- and 35,000 Rhode Islanders each year as part of our workforce training efforts.

• That brings the total number of Rhode Islanders that we touch each year to nearly 70,000.

• We have a very diverse population at CCRI. Last year, we tracked where our students hailed from and we found that we had students from 101 different countries.

• In addition, our minority population – those students identifying themselves as minorities – has grown from 23 percent in 2009 to 36.7 percent today, making CCRI the largest provider of higher education to minorities in Rhode Island.

• The fastest growing segment of that minority population are our Hispanic students. Our Hispanic population rose from 16 percent in 2012 to 19.3 percent this year.

• At CCRI, the Office of Opportunity and Outreach offers a number of college access, readiness and retention programs that collectively provide direct support to at-risk youth and adults from middle school through college completion.

• These programs currently serve more than 5,000 individuals annually. The great majority of these individuals are low-income, first generation minorities.

• Federal budget cuts of nearly 10 percent over the past 3 years have eroded services and reduced the number of students that these programs have been able to serve by over 1,000 per year.

• The problem is that budget restraints make it impossible for CCRI to make up the difference. And those most affected are precisely the individuals who need these support services to remediate their skills, attend college and advance through the completion of a postsecondary degree.

• We need the help of the legislature to keep our great programs strong, especially as we see an incredible increase in minority students.

• At CCRI, our Center for Workforce and Community Education – CWCE – contracts with businesses to provide needed training and programs that help to provide the necessary skills for each organizations' workforce.

• By developing partnerships with various businesses and organizations throughout the state, internships and job opportunities open up for our students.

• A perfect example is Carousal Industries in Exeter. They are an international telecommunications company and we began a training program for them several years ago. Since then, they have hired nearly 30 of our students in high-paying, room for advancement positions. That's just one example.

• CWCE also offers a variety of career training programs.

• As you can see [point to slide], our popular CNA program reported a student grouping that was 9 percent African-American and 14 percent Hispanic.

• The CNA training program has been offered since 1986 and was offered 11 times last year. More than 2,200 individuals participated. Approximately 500 students graduate each year.

• Wages for CNA workers are $10 to $17 per hour depending on experience, full-time, part-time and shift assignments.

• Other programs that recorded high minority enrollments were: Office Skills Training, which was 8 percent African-American and 23 percent Hispanic; Plumbing Apprenticeship – 8 percent Asian and 23 percent Hispanic; and Environmental Safety Training – 5 percent African-American and 13 percent Hispanic.

• Workforce training at CCRI includes awarding GED credentials. As noted in the July 2014 legislative report, 310 students earned their GED diploma, including 96 Spanish-speaking students.

• Our JDF-funded adult education programs had a number of job placements in 2014, including a systems analyst in New London, Connecticut; a restaurant manager who was promoted and relocated to Florida; and a production manager for a local construction firm.

• Over the past year, we have had 43 students complete our Pharm Tech program and go on to employment at the companies mentioned on the slide.

• Wages in retail pharmacies like Walmart and CVS range from $9 to $10 per hour to start. Wages in hospital pharmacies and infusion centers are in the $12 to $15 per hour range.

• On the academic side of the house, we continue to make strides in retention, graduation rates and support for all of our students, including our minority population.

• CCRI has experienced a dramatic increase in minority students. In the fall of 2007 there were 3,555 minority students (21 percent) and currently there are 6,445 or 36.7 percent of CCRI's enrollment. This represents an 81 percent increase in minority students in the past 8 years.

• Among minorities attending full-time, the retention rate (fall 2013 to fall 2014) is 61.8 percent compared with 65.2 percent among Caucasians. That is up 3.7 percent from last year for minority students.

• Among minorities attending part-time, the retention rate (fall 2013 to fall 2014) is 46.5 percent compared to 44.5 percent among Caucasians. That is up slightly (0.3 percent) from last year for minority students and, more significantly, it is a higher rate than for Caucasians.

• Of CCRI's near record 2,011 graduates in May 2014, 469 or 23.3 percent, were minorities. This continues the trend of both more minority graduates and an increasing percentage of minority graduates each year (2012, 18 percent; 2013, 19 percent).

• In addition, our minority students are finding work. The most recent data that we have is for our graduating class of 2013. Among African-Americans, 37 percent were employed full-time, compared to 39 percent among Caucasians; 13 percent were employed part-time and 8 percent had continued their studies, while 11 percent were employed full-time and attending college part-time.

• Among Hispanics, 28 percent were employed full-time, 8 percent were employed part-time and 14 percent had continued their studies, while 12 percent were employed full-time and attending college part-time.

• These are impressive results. A full 90 percent of our more than 2,000 graduates responded to our survey and the survey was taken 9 months after graduation, so clearly, our graduates are finding work.

• At CCRI, we offer more than 80 programs of study.

• In programs such as Social Work, Engineering, Management, Accounting, Paralegal and Computer Programming, minority students currently make up the majority of enrollees.

• One of the major points of emphasis recently has been in the area of manufacturing.

• With more than 2,500 manufacturers already in Rhode Island and more being added every day as jobs return from overseas, CCRI is positioned to be a key stakeholder in training our workforce to fill the jobs that are becoming available.

• We have dedicated more than 5,000 square feet of space in Warwick to our manufacturing center and are exploring the possibility of opening another manufacturing lab at our Providence campus.

• A $380,000 grant from the Champlin Foundation enabled us to purchase a full range of state-of-the-art equipment as we look to develop additional programs in manufacturing.

• I'd like to introduce Dr. Peter Woodberry, our Dean of Business, Science and Technology, to speak to you about our Manufacturing program, and I'd be happy to answer any questions after.

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Last Updated: 2/16/17