Dawn Lindsay: “At AACC, we are dreamers supporting dreamers”

If you live, work, or play in Anne Arundel County, you’ve probably recently interacted with a graduate of Anne Arundel Community College. Maybe it was the phlebotomist who took your blood who graduated from our 16-week program. Maybe it was the electrician who wired a new light switch in the office, who was apprenticed in one of our many skilled trades. And the creator of this peach cobbler croissant inhaled on Saturday morning? He may have honed his skills in the kitchens of the AACC.

As President of the AACC and its greatest cheerleader, I could talk about all the programs, but I will simply say that AACC graduates are everywhere. Most live and work here in our community.

Despite a pandemic over the past two years, we have moved forward by completing and opening two brand new buildings on campus. The Clauson Center for Innovation and Skilled Trades was born out of community partnerships as the first AACC building built entirely with philanthropic dollars from people who believe in the mission. Other supporters included local businesses that need students to graduate and other industry partners, including Associated Builders and Contractors, Independent Electrical Contractors, Job Corps and Maryland Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association. This new building houses our electrical, HVAC, plumbing and sprinkler systems apprenticeship programs, as well as welding, forklift operations, carpentry and finish carpentry and general contractor programs, tailored specifically to regional demand.

AACC’s other new building, a state-of-the-art home for health and life sciences, recognizes growing local medical needs. Demand for healthcare jobs is skyrocketing; according to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in health occupations is expected to grow by 16% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than average. We are responding in kind, with new space that allows our nursing program to double in size with other critical care programs.

Not only did we do it during COVID, but we received accolades along the way. AACC was named the #1 community college in 2021 by Academic Influence. Achieving the Dream recently named us a Leader College of Distinction. This column does not have enough room for the many #1 rankings our nursing program receives, while our information science and technology programs often top industry rankings, our school Culinary has repeatedly been la crème de la crème, and again and again we are named a military friendly school. Others clearly took note of our accomplishments.

Additionally, our ability to transition entirely to online courses at the start of the pandemic was award-winning. Since then, we’ve embraced a hybrid model of in-person and online courses and services, using what we’ve learned to improve student success in smart ways. We know students have a life outside of school, and we’ve responded with even greater convenience through a range of courses and services that provide flexibility for work, family and life.

I am proud to chair the Board of Directors for the Community College Innovation League, an international non-profit organization that cultivates community college innovation. I get a front row seat for innovative and revolutionary approaches to higher education and I can clearly say – we are leading the pack.

At AACC, we are dreamers supporting dreamers. But we’re not just big idea thinkers, we’re big doers too. By expanding our workforce development programs, we are meeting the needs of our employers and our local economy while helping people start and maintain successful careers.

Our accolades, our students, our graduates and their work in our community and beyond all speak for themselves. And in case you didn’t know, I hope you do now.

Lindsay is the sixth president of Anne Arundel Community College.

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