Some schools rally around a football team. Harper College has rallied around a number.
When President Barack Obama called for 5 million more community-college graduates by the end of the decade to boost U.S. competitiveness, this commuter school 30 miles northwest of Chicago figured out it would need to produce 10,604 additional graduates to do its part.
It won't be able to count on much government help.
Even as Harper and many of the nation's 1,200 other two-year community colleges try to deliver on Obama's vision of a revitalized manufacturing sector and a better-skilled work force, support from the federal and state governments is eroding.
"I've been in this business for 42 years. I've never seen anything like this - the pressure on the business model, the pressure on the whole institution of higher education," Harper College President Ken Ender said in an interview.