KCTCS at the National Forefront of Credentials Awarded

As we fight against state appropriation cuts another report citing KCTCS as a national leader in awarding credentials offers additional proof of why we need more funding, not less.

The Council on Postsecondary Education issued the “Kentucky Completion Report” showing growth at KCTCS, four-year and independent institutions ranked eighth in the nation. The largest 10-year growth was in undergraduate workforce certificates, which increased by more than 12,000 awards between 2004-05 and 2013-14. The greatest growth was in workforce trades, up 111 percent; health, up 85 percent; and STEM, up 51 percent. There also was a 52 percent increase in the number of associate degrees awarded.

This is exactly the direction we need to be headed, and it’s proof positive that we are fulfilling our mission to improve the lives and employability of people throughout the Commonwealth. To continue along this path and grow our credential awards even more, we have to be able to meet the needs of our students and our state’s businesses.

Our students come to us to help them achieve their dreams. To do this, we must have the resources to provide the type of education they seek and the type of training today’s employers so desperately need. While we’re overjoyed with CPE’s report, we know our ability to repeat it is in jeopardy.

Please join the fight to keep our budget whole by signing our Fuel the Force petition and letting your legislators know it’s imperative for the future of KCTCS and Kentucky’s economy to fund higher ed.

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Making Our Voices Heard in Frankfort

February 18 was an important day for KCTCS. That morning I testified, along with several university presidents, before the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education about the impact the proposed cuts to our state appropriation will have on our system. This was a good opportunity for me to tell our story and try to convince the committee members not to cut our state appropriation yet again.

You may have seen some of the media coverage that talked about the alarming statistics I shared and how devastating these cuts will be to our colleges and their ability to meet the needs of students and businesses.

Then at 12:30, our Business Champions let their voices be heard in a rally at the Capitol Rotunda. Gov. Matt Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton were briefly in attendance, and the governor signed a proclamation proclaiming February 18 as KCTCS Day. Our three KCTCS Business Champions Council chairs spoke to a packed Rotunda of more than 200 people about why KCTCS colleges are so important to them and the communities they serve. They spoke with fervor and conviction, and it was clear they truly are Champions for KCTCS! Although the governor and lieutenant governor had to leave before the remarks began, I think everyone in the Capitol that day heard our voices.

There was a great turn out and support from all of our colleges. Everywhere I looked, I saw our folks proudly wearing their Fuel the Force buttons and shuttling from meeting to meeting with legislators. Every meeting, every phone call and every email count, and I’m very appreciative of all the hard work everyone is doing.

We’re only at the halfway point of the legislative session, so there’s still plenty of time to help. If you haven’t yet signed the petition to become a champion for KCTCS, please do. If you have, the next step is to contact your legislators because the budget is now in their hands. To send your elected officials the message that an investment in KCTCS is an investment in Kentucky jobs, click here.

I cannot stress enough the severe impact these proposed cuts will have on KCTCS and on businesses throughout our state if we can’t continue to fuel the workforce in a meaningful way. Please get involved and help us Fuel the Force!

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Looking at the Past to Create a Better Future

February is a busy month with Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, Heart Month and Presidents’ Day. Here at KCTCS, we’re also getting ready for our sixth annual Super Sunday, a recruitment event to promote higher education for African-American and Latino students. This year, Super Sunday is February 28 at African-American and Latino churches around the state and will include college fairs to provide information on admissions, degree programs, financial aid, transfer opportunities and more.

We believe college should be affordable and accessible to all and that’s one reason our Super Sunday message is “Yes You Can!” Since the program began, we’ve partnered with nearly 200 churches and reached approximately 42,000 participants through our Super Sunday events. We’ve also seen a 14 percent increase in our enrollment of students who self-identify as under-represented populations.

We are not the first to be concerned about the access to higher ed for people of color. The man who is known as the Father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson, believed education was the key to becoming a productive citizen. Although his formal education was put on a back burner temporarily while he worked to help his family, he eventually studied abroad and earned a Ph.D. from Harvard. He was one of the first African-Americans to do so. Woodson also has ties to Kentucky. He earned his bachelor’s degree in literature from Berea College.

An author of numerous books, one of his most famous works is the Mis-Education of the Negro, which was published in 1933. His belief was that young Black people were being culturally indoctrinated, not taught the real contributions and achievements of Blacks.

Because of his work to encourage the study of African-American history, Negro History Week was born in February 1926 and is now a month long celebration we call Black History Month. Woodson said he chose February for the weeklong celebration to honor the birth months of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln.

Now many years later, we continue a portion of Woodson’s work through Super Sunday. Our goal is to show students how they can achieve a college education and to highlight the role of parental involvement as well as the importance of early preparation in creating successful entry to college. You can learn more about Super Sunday, including locations and times in your area by visiting super-Sunday.org

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Winter Weather Creates Challenges

Here we are in the middle of another cold, snowy Kentucky winter. Of course, this means closings and delays at our colleges. I understand it’s frustrating to wait on pins and needles to learn how the day will unfold based on someone else’s decision. Fortunately, last week, we had plenty of notice of the impending snow storm and were able to make announcements much sooner. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case.

Many times, the decision to close or delay the opening of a college comes in the wee hours of the morning, and I’m sorry it happens that way. But college presidents and others who are involved in these decisions are using the best information they have at the time from the National Weather Service and others. Let me assure you that these decisions are carefully considered and made purely with the safety of our students, faculty and staff in mind.

As you know, SNAP messages are the best way to keep up with college closings and delays. You also will find information on social media and your college website. This is a tough time of year, but we’ll all get through it together. In the meantime, here’s something to look forward to: only 53 days until spring!

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Embracing Unity and Opportunity

Yesterday I was humbled to participate in the 22nd annual Unity Breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Alpha Beta Lambda Chapter Education Foundation. This event is widely attended by people in central Kentucky and is followed by a march through downtown Lexington.

When I think back on all Dr. King accomplished in his short life, I believe he was wise beyond his years because his vision was so clear. Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” That was true 50 years ago and it’s still true today.

In today’s politically correct world, however, I’m concerned that some people may feel it’s inappropriate to speak out about social injustice and inequality. But in his quest for unity, Dr. King also said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” So don’t stand by and wait for someone else to do the right thing.

Dr. King was passionate about education and the need for opportunities for all. That’s why his birthday also is when KCTCS kicks off its sixth annual Super Sunday, a recruitment event to promote higher education for African-American and Latino students. This year, Super Sunday is Feb. 28 at African-American and Latino churches around the state and will include college fairs to provide information on admissions, degree programs, financial aid, transfer opportunities and more. I invite you to attend a Super Sunday event in your area.

Through Super Sunday, KCTCS has increased outreach to prospective students who often are not part of the higher education conversation. And it’s working. From fall 2011 to fall 2014, we saw a 14 percent increase in our enrollment of students who self-identify as under-represented populations.

But we have much more work to do. If you’re a KCTCS faculty or staff member, I hope you’ll consider participating in this year’s event at a church near you. Let’s keep Dr. King’s dream alive to make sure all people have the opportunity to improve their lives and their communities.


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Sticking to New Year’s Resolutions

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? A news story this week said only eight percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them. If you’ve ever joined a gym in January, you’re well aware that by March there are plenty of parking spaces.

January is also the start of our new spring semester, which sometimes can be challenging because of treacherous weather and illness in January and February. Whether you’re a returning student or just beginning your higher education journey, I hope you’ll make a resolution that nothing will stand in the way of completing your semester and your program.

It’s easy to say what you’re going to do, but just like with exercise and healthy eating, there are many temptations that can derail your best intentions. You’ve already navigated registering, scheduling classes and shuffling through all the financial aid forms, so now you’re ready for the fun and interesting part of college. If at some point in the semester you feel overwhelmed, look for a study pal or a mentor. Getting involved with a campus organization or project also can make your college experience more fun.

You know you’ve made the right decision to attend college. A college credential opens the door to a lifetime of higher wages and a better life for you and your family. Finishing college is a resolution you need to keep. Be part of the eight percent!

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Reflections on 2015

Last December I was honored and humbled to be selected as the second president of KCTCS. My first year has been a whirlwind. I’ve traveled to all the colleges at least twice. I’ve met with students, faculty, staff, board members, community and business leaders and legislators. I’ve talked, I’ve listened and I’ve learned.

My first round of visits was to gather information and ideas about what communities and the state need KCTCS to be in the next six years. Based on that input, we’ve begun developing a new strategic plan that will be coordinated with several state organizations and agencies so that we have a Kentucky vision for education and economic growth. That’s a first for our state.

Another first was a record number of associate degrees awarded. Even though enrollment and unemployment were down, we awarded the most associate degrees in the history of our system. This is a positive step toward changing the dismal education levels and poverty in Kentucky.

A few more accomplishments we achieved this year:

  • Freezing tuition to keep college as affordable as possible for our students.
  • Our involvement in Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), particularly the integral role we’re playing in Kentucky Wired.
  • Another successful supplier diversity fair that brought vendors from Kentucky and six other states to meet with project managers from KCTCS and other institutions.
  • Another successful Super Sunday and Transfer Madness online recruitment fair.
  • Hiring exemplary new presidents at Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Owensboro Community and Technical College and Jefferson Community and Technical College.

The year has not been without its challenges. Our budget situation meant we had to make tough choices. And we are facing even more tough times if we don’t get additional funding from the state. I’ve worked with the four-year institutions and the Council on Postsecondary Education to develop a recommendation that restores half the state funding we’ve all lost since 2008. Even though this is desperately needed, we know it will be a challenge because the state faces issues with pensions and Medicaid. You can help by visiting FueltheForceKy and signing up to be a Champion for KCTCS.

At this time of year, I think many of us reflect on our year and begin to prepare for the New Year. Looking back and learning from what’s worked and what hasn’t is important because it helps us keep moving forward and progressing. I know none of our success happens without the commitment and dedication of our faculty and staff. I appreciate all of you more than I can ever say and am grateful for your service to KCTCS.

I look forward to our continued progress and making 2016 even better than 2015!

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Good News from the KCTCS Board Meeting

It’s always nice to report good news so I want to share a little with you. At the KCTCS Board of Regents meeting last week, we announced a record number of associate degrees were awarded during the 2014-15 academic year. With our enrollment down, this record of 9,632 degrees is especially significant.

The other good news deals with our audit. The board received positive results from an annual independent financial audit for fiscal year 2014-15. The opinion issued by Dean Dorton Allen Ford, PSC, was the highest opinion offered by public accounting firms. Even though we have budget constraints due to state funding cuts and decreased enrollment, this audit shows we are good stewards of our money.

Last, but certainly not least, the Board welcomed two new members representing faculty and staff. Congratulations to Tammy Thompson, PR coordinator at WKCTC, and Mark Wells, business administration professor at BSCTC. I look forward to your input and feedback at upcoming meetings.

I know all of this good news could not have happened without our dedicated faculty and staff. Thanks to everyone for all the hard work you do on behalf of KCTCS.

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During the Season of Giving, I’m Thankful for Our Donors

We’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving, shopped till we dropped on Black Friday, scoured the web for Cyber Monday bargains, and finally, gave back on Giving Tuesday, which kicks off the season of giving.

Recently, KCTCS had the opportunity to thank those who have donated to us with the Celebration of Philanthropy Awards Dinner in Lexington. We honored 34 of the state’s leading individuals, businesses and foundations for their generous support to our colleges and the system as a whole. The event drew 600 folks from all over the state.

We owe these benefactors a great deal of gratitude. Their endowments and other gifts provide the opportunity for many of our students to attend college. We can never adequately thank them for all they’ve done for us and for all the lives they’ve helped change.

A one-night celebration hardly seems worthy of all they do for us. So, during this season of giving, I want to again publicly thank all of those who donated to our colleges. We appreciate your gifts more than we can ever say and are humbled by your support.

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Thanksgiving Memories

If you’re like me Thanksgiving brings back memories of those family celebrations we had as children. I remember anxiously awaiting the big Thanksgiving meal and all those wonderful aromas wafting through the house while the meal was being prepared. My brothers and I bugging our mom by asking: “How much longer?”

Then we gathered around the table waiting for the OK to dig in, and boy, did we ever! We all had heaping plates of food followed by mouthwatering desserts. It was a great day spent with family that I’ll always remember fondly.

As we look forward to this Thanksgiving, I’d like to say how thankful I am for all the blessings in my life. In addition to my family, friends and church family, I’m so very thankful that I can come to work each day and spend time with such a great group of folks. Thank you for all you do for KCTCS and our students.

I’m also thankful for the thousands of students across the Commonwealth who’ve chosen to further their education at KCTCS. I’m hopeful their time with us will lead them to the places they’ve dreamed of.

In just a few days, we’ll be gathered around the table again to enjoy great food and give thanks. Even though it’s different than when we were kids, I hope you have a great day and make memories that you will recall for years to come.

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