Dr. Betty Young has gone "hog wild" - not because she's from Ohio and hails from the nation's farmland; instead, she's riding her Harley to Hollywood on a quest to change the mind of one late-night entertainer, Jay Leno. The national "Lessons for Leno" tour, which highlights different aspects of community colleges and their prominent place in higher education, made a stop in Little Rock Sept. 22, where Young shared her lesson entitled "Community colleges make higher education affordable."
Dr. Young, president of Northwest State Community College in Archbold, Ohio, rode her Harley (the same model owned by Leno) in an all-Arkansas community college processional from the Wyndham Hotel in North Little Rock to a news conference on the steps of the state Capitol in Little Rock. Dr. Dan Bakke, president of Pulaski Technical College, also rode a motorcycle built by Ken Leslie, collision repair technology instructor, in the processional. Bob Brinkley, instructor of air conditioning and refrigeration, and Mike Sneed, dean of technical and industrial education, met Dr. Young and her entourage north of Conway and coordinated the processional. Twenty-two motorcycles representing the state's 22 two-year colleges accompanied them on the trek. Motorcades from the North Little Rock and Little Rock police departments led the group.
Following the news conference, Dr. Young delivered comments to community college students, faculty and staff from Arkansas' 22 two-year colleges at a luncheon at Pulaski Technical College.
Other events celebrating Dr. Young's tour include the Governor of Ohio helping to kick of the tour, a rally at the nation's first community college in Joliet, Ill., and an event under the arch in St. Louis.
The seven "Lessons for Leno" are that community colleges:
- Provide an economic engine for the nation.
- Have a 100-year legacy of serving communities.
- Deliver a skilled, competitive workforce.
- Make higher education affordable.
- Ensure access and opportunity for all Americans.
- Change lives for close to 12 million students each year.
- Offer solutions for communities and the nation.
"Dr. Young is a true champion for community colleges," said Dr. George R. Boggs, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges. "For far too long community colleges have been misrepresented by people who are uninformed about the value and reach of these institutions. The tour will bring a needed national focus to the difference we make to the nation and, most importantly, the millions of students we serve," said Dr. Boggs, who will be joining the tour at several stops.
"I'm not looking for an apology," Dr Young said. "I'm looking to provide Leno with an opportunity to meet with me and really begin to understand the importance of community colleges to the nation as a whole. We must change the image of community college education in many respects long tarnished by stereotypes and misconceptions."
At 28, Dr. Young was a single mother with two jobs in rural Ohio. Looking to make a change in her life, Young earned a two-year associate degree and went on to earn bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and law degrees. She became president of Northwest State Community College in Archbold, Ohio, in 2003.
Community colleges are centers of educational opportunity. For over 100 years, they have been inclusive institutions that welcome all who desire to learn, regardless of wealth, heritage, or previous academic experience. The process of making higher education available to the maximum number of people continues to evolve at close to 1,200 public and independent community colleges.
For more information and daily updates about Dr. Young's "Lessons for Leno" National Tour, please visit the Web site www.aacc.nche.edu.