“I'm unaccepting of the term new normal,” says Dr. Lori Gaskin.
She refers to the term used by many economists in describing the postrecession economy, a term coined by Mohamed El-Erian in his 2008 book, When Markets Collide, where he describes the shift of economic growth from the United States to emerging market economies that will cause economic and social disruptions for Americans—not unlike what is happening today.
“I have an unflagging optimism—I can't accept that this will be normal because for education, higher education in particular, as a society we can't allow this new normal to be defined by the degradation of higher education as we're seeing it.
“It may be the new reality, but no one will get me to say that it's normal!”
Nestled in the rolling hills of suburban Saratoga, California, West Valley College (WVC) is surrounded by million-dollar homes belonging to Silicon Valley's high-tech digerati and to families who once shared their space with acres of fruit orchards.
This bucolic setting masks the disruptions occurring for Dr. Lori Gaskin, who joined West Valley College as its president in 2009, as she and her team redefine what “educating all” will look like in a state reeling from its own economic reality. The decisions made now will change the face of education for years, if not decades, to come.
Historically, community colleges have accepted all those who walk through their doors, delivering on their mission to provide ...