Mount Holyoke College President Lynn Pasquerella spoke to Campus News recently about President Obama’s proposal to provide free tuition for community college for all.
Drawing on her personal experience of attending a community college before transferring to Mount Holyoke, Pasquerella noted in the interview that the Pell grants and Perkins loans she had relied on during that time are “harder to come by” now.
Obama’s proposal would remove financial barriers to community college, which place an especially heavy burden on first-generation college students, she said.
Pasquerella also expressed hope that the proposal would work to dispel the “preprofessional rhetoric” around community colleges and recognize that two-year institutions play an important role in providing liberal arts education. The proposal could be very beneficial, she said, to combat segregation in higher education due to the “stepping stone” relationship between community colleges and four-year institutions.
“We need to think of education as a public good, not a private commodity,” she said. “I’m thrilled President Obama is taking seriously the need to educate for democracy.”