Community college leaders from across the state met in Grand Island on Wednesday for their annual meeting.
The college's presidents and board of governors members are able to talk about the national and state issues facing them.
"We try to ask the question 'what's best for the students?' and act accordingly," said Central Community College President Dr. Greg Smith.
Like other community colleges across the country, Nebraska officials are talking funding, but Smith says state aid has stayed steady, and that's letting them focus on graduates instead.
"More and more at the national level folks are talking about student success and completion," he said. "We need to get more students through the pipeline then we are currently."
This year Nebraska's community college leaders also had the opportunity to speak with the American Association of Community College's president. Dr. Walter Bumphus says he's excited to hear what Nebraska has to say.
"I expect to hear some wonderful ideas about things they are doing here in Nebraska," said Bumphus. "They'll be ideas that I'll be able to share with our commission, and hopefully as they are considering recommendations, I'm sure there might be something that comes out of here that we can use."
Wednesday's meeting in Nebraska was the last listening tour stop for Bumphus on his 21st Century Initiative. A commission on the future of community colleges will now review the information he's gathered across the US and make recommendations at the AACC's national meeting next spring.
Bumphus says it's important to understand what best practices work in the Cornhusker state, and to see if they can be models for other states.
"What we are trying to do is come up with a set of universals - things we can do, things we can advance at a national level that will give every community college across the country - and we have 1,167 of them - something that the can hang their hat on." he said.
Dr. Smith says he hopes visiting Nebraska will help Dr. Bumphus and other states understand the benefits rural community colleges like Nebraska's have.
Bumphus says the role of community colleges is evolving across the country.
He says some community colleges and universities in other states are changing the way students transfer between them. Instead of the traditional two years at community college then two years at university, they're moving to a 3+1 model, meaning three years at community college and one at university.
Smith says though some private institutions in Nebraska do accept 3+1 students, the majority of Nebraska will likely stay 2+2.
"91% of our graduates are career and technical education graduates, so they're not necessarily transfer students," said Smith. "In Nebraska statute it does say that career and technical education is the preeminent and predominant part of our role and mission - everything else is secondary."
Smith says that's not to say Nebraska community colleges aren't suited for transfer students - many of their required courses are transferable general courses.