About TDC

About TDC

As we move forward in an increasingly contentious global era and face a civic learning gap nationally, the United States must make civic and democratic learning for all students a top national priority. The Democracy Commitment (TDC) is a national initiative 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.  To such end TDC provides 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 goal of TDC is that every student of an American community college graduates with an education in citizenship and democracy. This goal includes ALL of our students whether they aim to transfer to university, achieve an associate degree, or obtain a certificate.  The future of our democracy and our shared futures depend on a more informed, engaged, and globally responsible citizenry.  We strive to close the gap between the democracy we have and the democracy we seek.


TDC is celebrating its 5th Anniversary as it was launched on November 11, 2011, at The New York Times headquarters in New York City.  Presidents and chancellors from 50 community colleges and districts nationwide were early signatories, and we have nearly doubled our network of committed member institutions progressing to realize our goal.

The Democracy Commitment is modeled after the American Democracy Project, a national coalition of public state colleges and universities committed to civic and democratic work, sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU.)

TDC is headquartered in Washington, D.C., at the offices of AASCU where this partnership enriches both 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges and universities in their efforts to enhance civic engagement on campus and in student life by creating complementary projects and goals.

About the Founders

The Late Bernie Ronan


The Late Bernie Ronan was tireless in his work for democracy, and every element of The Democracy Commitment network bears his imprint. He was an organizer, advocate, leader, and an eloquent spokesman for community college students. He was also a profound theorist of democratic culture and wrote about the significance of democratic engagement in the lives of students.   He was the Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs of the Maricopa Community Colleges. He oversaw the Division of Public Affairs, which includes government relations, marketing, media relations, communications, as well as the Center for Civic Participation.  He had been an administrator in the Maricopa Colleges for the over 20 years, including serving as the Acting President of Mesa Community College in 2007-8.   In honor of his tremendous devotion and commitment to TDC and the national civic engagement movement, we renamed our TDC student scholarship award after him last year.  The “Bernie Ronan Award” will stand as a living testimony to this good and loyal friend.

Dr. Brian Murphy


Dr. Brian Murphy is president of De Anza College in Cupertino, California. In 2011, he was instrumental in the development of The Democracy Commitment, a national project aimed at ensuring that every community college student has an education in democratic practice.  Murphy has been president of De Anza College since 2004. A key focus of his presidency is the preparation of students to be active, involved citizens committed to transforming their communities. This vision lead to the creation of De Anza’s Institute for Community and Civic Engagement.  He earned a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, all in political science.

National Leadership Team

To assist the National Director in reaching the mission and goal of TDC, the new National Leadership Team was created and is composed of community college administrators, faculty, staff, and student interns as well as representatives from our national partnerships all dedicated to advancing the work of TDC.  The National Leadership Team is composed of a Board of Directors, National Advisory Board, and Campus Coordinator Advisory Council.


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