Remembering Raymond J. Young and the Grass-Roots Development of Community Colleges from 1950 to 1976

Article excerpt

Raymond J. Young (1923-2007) played a key role in the post-World War II development of community colleges in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and elsewhere. This article describes his scholarly and professional contributions in developing "bottom-up," grassroots citizen's participatory studies that led to the establishment 60 community colleges in 33 states between 1955 and 1976.

Keywords: community college establishment; community college governance; citizen's studies

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This article reviews the scholarly and professional contributions of Raymond J. Young (1923-2007) to the field of community college education. Young and community colleges are inextricably intertwined, as he observed when speaking to students from 24 doctoral programs at the 1994 graduate student seminar of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges:

   In my career I've probably written as many words about community
   colleges as anybody else, but much of my work was not formally
   published. Most of the 50-plus participatory studies I've been
   involved in resulted in 300-page documents, done in such a fashion
   as to meet the specific needs of the situation. I was out in the
   field making a difference. (Wright & Katsinas, 1994, p. 3)

Raymond J. Young was out in the field, attempting to make a difference. A review of newspaper clippings in his personal files after his death in February 2007, along with an examination of the unpublished interviews I conducted with him, reveal that he helped to establish or significantly expand some 60 two-year colleges by directing or codirecting citizen's participatory studies that gauged the demand for community college services in specific geographic areas (counties, metropolitan areas, and regions). These 60 colleges are located in 19 states; just more than half (33) are located in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. According to data provided by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (2007), the combined unduplicated headcount enrollment of these 60 colleges in 2003-2004 was in excess of 400,000 students. In addition, Young held academic positions at five universities as well as a professional position in the private sector.

A review of his scholarly writings reveals four phases in his long career. The first occurred from 1947 to 1955, when he completed his graduate degrees and subsequently held appointments at Oklahoma State University (1950 to 1953) and the University of Oklahoma (1953 to 1955). At this time, few programs in higher education existed, and early junior college scholars, including Young, regularly taught in secondary education administration programs (Young, 2002). Young's formal education and extensive scholarly and professional field work in both secondary education and junior colleges prepared him for the second phase of his career, from 1955 to 1976. At the Universities of Illinois (1955 to 1958) and Michigan (1958 tp 1967), and then as an educational consultant with Arthur D. Little, Inc. (1968 to 1976), he led and wrote the citizen's participatory studies mentioned above. This was followed by a fruitful third period at Washington State University (1976 to 1986), when his work on the establishment of community colleges was largely concluded and when his scholarship focused on a variety of issues, including reading programs in schools (Young, 1987-1988, 1988), community college trustees (Young & Thompson, 1982), community education programs (Young & Jones, 1982), occupational education at community colleges (Thompson & Young, 1990), and summer-school practices at colleges and universities (Young, 1989a, 1989b, 1989c; Young & McDougall, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991). While at Washington State University, Young also reflected on his experience as both a buyer and seller of consultative services (Young, 1982), examining such issues as community needs surveys (Young, 1985-1986), community opinion cluster surveys (Young, 1986a), and community needs in rural areas (Young, 1986b). …