Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President, Visits ACC

(May 5, 2010 - Littleton, Colorado) - Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and a community college educator for 16 years, visited Arapahoe Community College on Friday, April 30. At 2 p.m., she toured the ACC Automotive Technology department, which is ranked among the top programs in the nation.

Dr. Jill Biden puts on her personalized lab coatDr. Biden met with students, faculty, administrators and local industry partners. The visit is part of her efforts to highlight models for student success at community colleges across the country. She was joined by Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training Administration at the Department of Labor. 

The purpose of Dr. Biden’s visit to Arapahoe Community College was to tour the ACC Auto Tech program. During the tour, students and Instructors presented demonstrations on a General Motors scan tool, which can display sensor values and system data and can also be used to perform various tests such as checking the operation of parts like fuel pumps and cooling fans. She also saw demonstrations of several of the department’s vehicles, including one of the program’s hybrid vehicles, a Yukon. One student revved up ACC’s racecar, and Dr. Biden was presented with her own personalized automotive lab coat.

Auto Tech Director Jerry Viola, a graduate of the program and adjunct Instructor before joining the College full-time, explained that after graduation from the program students can make between $40,000 and $50,000. After 8 to 10 years in the industry and with a master ASE certification, many make $100,000.

Dr. Biden said, “You’ve really taken this program into the future.” Dr. Oates added that the automotive facility was more like a science lab than an auto shop. ACC President Diana Doyle; Kim Kuster-Dale, ACC Dean of College Outreach; Janna Oakes, Dean of Liberal Arts and Professional Programs; Viola; Dennis Goodwin, Chief of Police; and Auto Tech Assistant Christi Maes hosted Dr. Biden on campus, along with other faculty, staff and students.

The ACC Auto Tech program is one of four finalists for program of the year in a national Yukon Hybrid Vehicle competition. ACC also recently began offering an intensive training program in hybrid vehicle conversion and hybrid technology repair. Through a grant and partnerships with other educational institutions and businesses, ACC has received seven hybrid vehicles for use in the training. It is one of the few training programs today to have such a wide variety of makes and models of hybrid vehicles.

Biden wants people to know what community college campuses have to offer. “Americans are opening their eyes to community colleges,” she said, “and they are seeing that they can go to a community college for two years and then they serve as gateways many times to 4-year colleges.”

Dr. Biden’s visit to ACC was to help kick off a listening tour on best practices in community colleges. In the fall, Dr. Biden will be hosting a White House summit on community colleges, where she will be sharing these best practices. Details of the summit will be available at a later date.

President Doyle said that ACC colleagues and students in the Auto Tech program represented ACC well and impressed Dr. Biden with their knowledge and skills. “We were both proud and excited that she chose ACC to be one of only two Denver community colleges to visit,” she said.

Dr. Biden also visited Red Rocks Community College earlier in the day. She toured the school’s Industrial Science and Operations Building and learned about the school’s Renewable Energy Technology programs. 

For more information about Dr. Biden’s visit to ACC, contact College Communications at 303.797.5709 or by email at murry.unell@arapahoe.edu. The Main Campus of Arapahoe Community College is at 5900 S. Santa Fe Drive, just south of downtown Littleton. ACC’s Web site is http://www.arapahoe.edu.