The City of Aurora and Community College of Aurora have enjoyed a strong partnership through the years. And with Dr. Betsy Oudenhoven now in place as college president and the rest of her leadership team taking form, Mayor Steve Hogan is hopeful that the two entities can solidify the relationship to the benefit of both parties in the short term.
Hogan, speaking at a Tax Help Colorado event on the Lowry campus on Feb. 4, said that he has ‘seen and heard good things’ about Oudenhoven, adding that he’s hopeful that with improved continuity within the college that the bond between city and college can be strengthened.
Aside from Oudenhoven’s full-time role as president, CCA in the last several weeks has promoted three to vice president’s roles – Elena Sandoval-Lucero (Student Affairs), Janet Brandau (Academic Affairs) and Chris Ward (Institutional Effectiveness). Additionally, Catherine Trouth has been promoted to director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, further stabilizing the college’s power structure.
“It’s been difficult the last 15-18 months with the changes in leadership, so the continuity is obviously going to help,” Hogan said. “I think Betsy’s confident she made the right decision and we look forward to working with her. The city had a great relationship with Linda Bowman when she was president, and part of that was continuity. So you keep that continuity and things happen.”
Aurora and CCA have partnered on a couple of projects in recent months: improving signage and landscaping at Lowry, and with the city hiring three interns from the college to help the Aurora Sister Cities Program get off the ground.
“Getting some programs and some projects going and completed just helps makes everybody feel not just good but better and think, ‘Now we can move on to the next one,’” Hogan said.
Oudenhoven noted that in the seven months she’s occupied the president’s office she’s received nothing but support from Mayor Hogan and city officials, adding that she’s looking forward to establishing an even stronger working relationship.
“It is clear to me that the city of Aurora values the Community College of Aurora, and I know the college will continue to discover rich opportunities for partnerships with the city, our school districts and our employers,” she said. “The will is definitely there on both sides to do the best we can for our students and the residents of our city through collaboration and win-win partnerships.”
One idea that Hogan mentioned was forging a three-way cooperative partnership not only between CCA and the city, but including Aurora Public Schools into the mix. Both the college and APS have worked well independently with Aurora, but Hogan sees those three pieces possibly fitting together in a real way.
“It could tie together three-way things, not just two-way things,” he explained. “There are already a number of APS students who have a lot of hours with CCA by the time they graduate as a senior in high school. That just can be, and ought to be, expanded. And we as the city find ways to do internships with APS, as well. So if we can do it with each one individually, we all just become stronger if we do it together.”
The notion of tying the internship pieces into a three-way partnership already has been discussed, Hogan noted. “There are those nasty little details that always have to get worked out, but yeah, there have been discussions and I think everybody’s interested. It’s not a question of a lack of interest. Sometimes these things take time.”
Oudenhoven said that she is “very grateful” for the assistance provided by Aurora in both the landscaping project at Lowry and the new Sister Cities partnership. She believes that with the input and expertise of the likes of Mayor Hogan, City Manager Skip Noe, members of the City Council, and numerous city employees can only prove beneficial “as CCA charts our future direction.”
APS and CCA recently worked together to help promote the successful concurrent enrollment program that now accounts for about 25 percent of the college’s enrollment. Cable giant CNN is working on a segment that celebrates that successful partnership in a soon-to-air, prime-time special report.