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Statement from President Matonak Regarding President Obama's Community College Initiative

I compliment President Obama's foresight in crafting this initiative. We are very excited to see that the administration understands that community colleges are the engine driving workforce development - and economic development - across the United States. The nation's hope for economic renewal truly begins with community colleges, and this focus and investment in the community college sector bodes well for the American economy.

Community colleges are inclusive institutions that offer educational opportunity to any and all individuals who desire to learn, are unemployed and underemployed - regardless of their financial resources or previous academic experience. Community colleges are responsive to business and industry. They understand economic trends, and educate and train students to excel in cutting-edge industries.

Many industries that show potential growth in innovation are closely tied with the programs Hudson Valley offers: biotechnology, nanotechnology, health care, energy - all can fuel economic recovery and job growth. Best of all, many of the well-paying entry-level jobs in these industries will go to people with an associate's degree.

Last fall, we experienced the highest enrollment in the history of the college - 12,787 students in credit courses. And we are headed for another record year - enrollment is well on its way to being 5 percent higher than Fall 2008.

Hudson Valley's facilities have not been able to keep pace with this increasing enrollment and instructional needs. The $2.5 billion for facilities is a critical piece to the President's proposal to help community colleges repair and upgrade their facilities.

I also am pleased that he recognizes that a government investment into community colleges is needed to achieve his goal under the "American Graduation Initiative." This initiative sets a goal for America that by 2020 we will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. To accomplish this he is challenging community colleges to produce five million more graduates by this time.

The details of the plan will need to be discussed by the community college leaders, members of Congress and the administration.

I look forward to working with our members of Congress to ensure that this commitment to community colleges comes to fruition.