Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A priceless education

Cindy L. Miles, Ph. D.
Chancellor, Grossmont-Cuyamaca
Community College District
(This column by Dr. Miles recently appeared in the East County Herald.)

     Who can put a value on a college education? A recent study we commissioned found that the average lifetime income of students at Grossmont or Cuyamaca College increases by $6 for every dollar they invest in their education with us.

       I’d like to think that the knowledge and skills our students learn is priceless. College education is more than just a pathway to a job – it helps students understand themselves and their place in the world, while becoming more fully-engaged citizens.  Plus, like the king of jazz B.B.King says, “The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.

     We wanted data to prove what we intuitively knew about these contributions, so we commissioned a study to measure the economic impact of the college district on East County. The study was conducted by the highly-respected EMSI, Inc., which has done hundreds of similar studies across the country (check them out online:  they’re a minority, veteran-owned small business established in 1989). Here’s some of what we learned:
  • East County’s economy benefits by $99.4 million per year from our district’s operations.
  • Higher earnings by Grossmont and Cuyamaca College alumni, plus increases in state income expand California’s tax base by $87.2 million each year.
  • Grossmont-Cuyamaca’s total annual economic impact on East County is $477.5 million!
      If you’d like to see the full report, go to our website at and click on “About Us” and then “Economic Impact Report.”

     The report put a numerical face on the differences we strive to make every day for our students and community. We are thrilled when we hear news from alumni like Amanda Simpson, who attended Cuyamaca College’s horticulture program. Amanda is now crew chief for the Brickman Group, in charge of the beautiful landscaping at the world-famous Hotel Del Coronado.

     “I found my true life calling,” Amanda said. “This is a dream job and it’s because of the school, because of the people there, that I work where I do now and I get to do what I love every day.”

     We also enjoy getting feedback on our district’s impact from businessmen like Brian Fordyce, president of Fordyce Construction in Santee. His company, which has been in business for 17 years, has worked on numerous construction projects for the district.

     “We’ve worked with Grossmont College on projects the entire time we’ve been in business,” Fordyce said. “They’ve all been helpful for our company and our growth and allowing us to stay and work in East County.”

     It makes me proud to know that the college district has played a key role in East County over the last 50 years, and we plan to continue doing so. I’d also love to know how we’ve made a difference for you, your family, or your business, as well as how we can do an even better job in our next 50 years!

     Meanwhile, if you haven’t visited us lately, now is the time to bring the family to explore some of the exciting things happening at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.  Let me personally invite you to a couple of landmark community events coming up this month:
  • Grossmont College’s 50th Anniversary Open House, April 13 and 14:
o   Friday, April 13, 6:30 p.m.: Music fair; Sock hop at 7:30 p.m. at the college gym.
o   Saturday, April 14:
§  9:30 – Campus Rededication Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting for new Student center and Student Services and Administration building
§  10 a.m. to 2 p.m.- Learning and Family Fun Day: department fairs with activities and demos including theatre, music, health, culinary, math, English, forensics, video gaming; building tours; youth sports clinics; plus entertainment and great food from a dozen gourmet food trucks
  • Spring Garden Festival @ Cuyamaca College and the Water Conservation Garden, April 28, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This is your chance to buy some plants, learn more about landscaping, and hear presentations on everything from bee keeping to urban chickens. There will be tons of outdoor fun for the whole family!
      I always welcome your comments, so feel free to contact me. You can reach me at