While drafting a new mission statement for the Alabama Community College System, chancellor Freida Hill decided to go straight to the source for ideas — specifically, the communities that house local two-year institutions.

Hill visited Wallace State in Hanceville Wednesday afternoon for a community question and answer session with local business and political leaders about ways the two-year college system cold better serve the region. Alabama is home to 21 community colleges, and Hill said she hopes — with feedback from the community — to refine the system’s vision.

“We want to go around the state and talk to our stakeholders,” she said, noting more meetings are scheduled in the coming months across Alabama. “We want your input and for you to help us figure out where we’re going and what you want us to do for you.”

Hill touched on topics ranging from how a two-year college can affect a community, to what specific needs exist in certain areas of the state.

While asking what role a community college should play, Hill noted the impact Wallace State has already made in Cullman County.

“I’ve been on this campus several times, and when I walked into this building [the new Ottis and Evelyn Burrow Center for the Fine and Performing Arts] it was really a ‘wow’ moment,” she said. “They have this artwork here because someone cared and believed in this college ... Community colleges are called that for a reason, and it’s a symbiotic relationship between the college and community.”

From the crowd, Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jan Harris said the two-year system should make a concerted effort to stay on the cutting edge of new job opportunities.

“I think it’s a fluid process,” she said. “The community colleges have to look at what’s hot now, because the careers that will exist in the next 10 years will be things we haven’t even heard of yet.”

Hill agreed, and said she believes the system is already doing an excellent job of preparing students to move on to the next level.

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