Community College Research Initiatives

The Community College Research Initiatives (CCRI) group was formed in 2016  to focus on research and development initiatives involving community and technical colleges in Washington state and nationwide. Dr. Debra Bragg was named director of CCRI and her first assignment involved hiring a research team to study high-performing transfer partnerships. This multi-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had begun at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where Dr. Bragg is the founding director of the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) and where she continues as an endowed professor emerita of education policy, organization and leadership. From 2016 to 2020, Dr. Bragg also led CCRI’s research portfolio focusing on community college baccalaureate (CCB) degrees and she initiated the Coaching for Change research to practice focus area with the national Student Success Center Network, an effort that continues under the leadership of Dr. Lia Wetzstein.

In June 2021, Dr. Lia Wetzstein was named the new director of CCRI.  She joined CCRI in December 2016 as a research scientist and was promoted to associate director in October 2018. She also served as the acting director from September 2020 until becoming director. Lia began her career focused on improving STEM learning and experiences for minoritized students in multiple roles, including as a teacher, practitioner, and via outreach efforts. Her desire to impact systemic changes in higher education led to her Ph.D. in Learning Sciences. Her research focus has been on transfer and transfer partnerships, improving and evaluating STEM and environmental education, coaching for equitable outcomes and organizational change, and community college baccalaureates. Looking to the future, the CCRI group strives to grow its capacity to create new knowledge, practices and policies that support more equitable student outcomes.