Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the facts regarding the rhetoric of democratization and broadening the base of higher education with reference to the development of the Virginia Community College System. In a state with a tradition of conservatism and elitism toward public education, this study sought to identify those factors which accounted for the adoption of a populist notion, the community college system.;Established in 1966, the system was late in coming compared to other states. The first continuously operating two-year public college was established in Joliet, Illinois, in 1901, and California, along with other states, soon followed. This study also sought to answer why Virginia did not act sooner in creating a public community college system.;Relying primarily on available documents, forces and changes of the 1950s and 1960s which finally resulted in the adoption of the two-year comprehensive community colleges were explored and interviews of some key individuals were also used to confirm the importance, credibility, and interpretation of those documents.;Based on the findings, several conclusions were made. First and foremost, the development of a comprehensive community college system in Virginia was not the direct result of a cry for democratization or broadening the base of higher education (equal opportunity). The development, in fact, evolved from a series of problems facing the State. Through the vision and leadership of Governor Mills E. Godwin, Jr., the establishment of the Virginia Community College System was promoted and adopted. Time, care, and thoughtful consideration (in the traditional Virginia fashion) brought to fruition this system which was an immediate cure for a number of ills. It answered the following needs: It provided a cost-effective and efficient way to accommodate an increasing enrollment; it was a vehicle for occupational/technical training in support of industrial development and keeping up with advancing technology; and it provided a method for coordination of all two-year institutions. and finally, although the Virginia Community College System was adopted without compromising the past tradition of conservatism and elitism, it did come to be a vehicle for broadening the base of higher education in Virginia.



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