In one of her first official duties as the County College of Morris Trustee Chair, Elaine Johnson, got the invitation of a lifetime – a seat to hear President Barack Obama speak at Lehigh Carbon Community College in Allentown, PA on Dec. 4. “It was a very positive experience.” said Johnson. “The room was really charged. Of course, I was especially happy to hear about his plans and appreciation for community colleges.” Speaking to a crowd filled with community college trustees, faculty, staff and students, Obama drew thunderous applauds when he said his administration “was working to upgrade America’s most under-appreciated asset – community colleges.”
“I think the President has strongly embraced what community colleges can do for the country,” said Johnson. Given today’s economic problems, now more than ever, CCM has been a driving force in workforce development. More recently the college has also reached out to more unemployed with free tuition and to more veterans with financial support and additional services.
The event left everyone with a renewed sense of hope, said Johnson. She was pleased to hear that although the job market is still struggling, reports are looking up. President Obama told the audience that the nation lost 11,000 jobs in November, which was about 115,000 fewer than forecasted. Overall, he said, this was the best jobs report since 2007. He also said that the Recovery Act has created or saved up to 1.6 million jobs. Johnson said the experience left her with a sense of confidence that the Obama administration is doing what it can to get the economy on track and the job market growing again.
Johnson was invited to President Obama’s town hall meeting along with several other community college trustees who belong to the Association of Community College Trustees, a non-profit educational organization of governing boards representing trustees who govern over 1,200 community, technical and junior colleges in the United States.