History of The Democracy Commitment (TDC)
In 2011, The Democracy Commitment (TDC) confronted challenging gaps in the civic landscape. With the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continuing, and divisiveness and partisanship growing, America seemed unable to address some of its most pressing public problems. Community College students, like many Americans, were increasingly marginalized and alienated from the political institutions on which their communities depended. Across higher education and at community colleges in particular, the national focus on workforce development was opening another gap between a contemporary view of education as job training and a historic vision of education as preparation for civic life.
Seeing these gaps widening, Dr. Brian Murphy (president De Anza College), the Late Dr. Bernie Ronan (associate vice chancellor for Public Affairs for the Maricopa Community Colleges), and Dr. George Mehaffy (vice president for Academic Leadership and Change at American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) created TDC as a project that would mirror for community colleges what AASCU’s American Democracy Project (ADP) had done for state colleges and universities since 2003. Thus ADP and TDC grew out of a shared context of frustration and despair as well as a shared commitment to education and action.
TDC formally launched at the offices of The New York Times on November 11, 2011. 50 presidents and chancellors from community colleges and districts nationwide were early signatories dedicated to the cause of democracy in higher education, and to make democratic skills available to all individuals who desire a voice and a seat at the table of local, state, and national discourse and action.
TDC grew to provide a platform for the development and expansion of community college programs, projects, and curricula aimed at engaging students in civic learning and democratic engagement. The merger with Campus Compact has created a unique opportunity to expand the reach and mission of TDC to a broader network as the alignment with Campus Compact’s mission is clear.
The work and legacy of Brian Murphy and the late Bernie Ronan will live on with Campus Compact’s Community Colleges for Democracy.