The City Colleges of Chicago has set ambitious five-year goals: by 2018, there will be a 40 percent increase in number of degrees awarded, for a total of more than 5,400; a 15 percent rise in the number of certifications awarded; and a graduation rate of 20 percent or more, up from 12 percent now, with more than half of graduating students transferring to four-year institutions.
The seven-college system also is aiming to have more than two-thirds of students in occupational programs finding jobs in their area of training, a third of new remedial students advancing to college-level work, and a quadrupling of the number of adult education students transferring to college-level work after one semester in a GED or English as a second language (ESL) program.
Developed over an 18-month period and released in June, the system’s five-year plan sets these ambitious goals with a confidence level that no doubt has been buoyed by the successes of the past three years: Since 2010, the graduation rate has risen from 7 percent to 12 percent, numbers of degrees awarded are up 80 percent, total awards granted has increased 21 percent and credit enrollment has risen 15 percent. Plus, the budget is balanced, and spending on academic affairs is up 8 percent.
“I’m quite proud of each one of those [statistics],” says Chancellor Cheryl Hyman. “A couple of them—maybe the completion rate—I can say, ‘Wow, we exceeded our expectations.’” But overall, she says, “I can’t say I’m surprised. Over the last three years, 100 faculty have spent 65,000 work hours on Reinvention. I have watched their passion. I have watched their dedication.”