Last week, the Out of the Box Listening Tour rolled out to Henderson and then to southern Kentucky to visit Somerset. I appreciate the warm welcome and all the work the teams at both colleges did to make these visits fun and productive.
It made me very proud to hear how beloved the faculty and staff are at Henderson. It means they’re connecting and engaging with our students, which is the best way to help them complete their programs.
One thing that’s become clear very quickly on the tour is how important our colleges are to the local communities they serve. I’ve heard this from people at the colleges and from community leaders in each area. Folks in the Henderson area said they’d like to see even more partnerships between the college and community.
When I asked the strategic planning question “What does your community/region need the college to be by 2022?” folks at Henderson said we need to align more of our programs to meet local workforce needs. Just like Hazard, the Henderson community also said they need more health care workers.
In Somerset the discussion also turned to jobs. I was pleased to see their entrepreneurial spirit as they talked about preparing students for business ownership as another avenue of job creation.
Student success was a big topic at Somerset. Using mentors to help ensure student success was suggested, and students said they want to help recruit prospective students by promoting the quality of their education and the caring faculty and staff at Somerset. They believe their testimonials used in advertising and YouTube are good ways to achieve this.
Thanks again to everyone at Henderson and Somerset for all the ideas. Next week, I’ll be heading to Maysville, Ashland and Big Sandy. If you work at or attend one of those colleges, I’d love to meet you and hear what you have to say about the future of your college and our entire system.
It’s March in Kentucky and that always means we’ll be watching some great basketball. But there’s something else going on this week that should interest our students just as much. That’s Transfer Madness, our annual online transfer event. Transfer Madness allows current and prospective students to conveniently and easily learn about transfer information for all Kentucky public and private universities.
This week, I kicked off the Out of the Box Listening Tour, which is my plan to visit all of our colleges over the next several weeks to gather input about the future of KCTCS. My first stop was at Hazard Community and Technical College, where I was privileged to serve as president a few years ago. There’s an old saying that you can’t go home again, but that’s not true if your home was Hazard. The community is a very welcoming one, and I’ll always feel at home there.
Paying for college continues to be a challenge for many students, so last Friday was a great day for them! The KCTCS Board of Regents unanimously approved freezing tuition for 2015-2016. Last June the board approved a tuition rate increase of $3 per semester credit hour for 2014-15 and an additional $3 increase for 2015-16. Friday’s vote overturned that decision, and I’m pleased to announce tuition will hold steady at $147 per credit hour for our in-state students.
Since March is Women’s History Month, I’ve been thinking about the tremendous role women play at KCTCS. Women are a crucial ingredient to the success of our colleges. For example, half of our college presidents are female, we have a new female chancellor coming on board soon and many of our student leaders are women. There are women in leadership roles throughout the System, and they are the heart and soul of what we do.
Like most of you, I’m really tired of this cold, snowy weather. It’s a challenge, for sure, with poor road conditions, snow on top of snow and record-breaking cold temperatures. Growing up in Texas, I witnessed unpredictable weather that shut down schools and businesses, too. Missing school may be fun when you’re a kid, but when you’re trying to earn a degree or complete a program, it’s frustrating.
I’m really looking forward to our fifth Super Sunday, the annual student recruitment event in which KCTCS partners with African-American and Latino churches around the state to host college information fairs. Since 2011, we’ve partnered with more than 150 churches to share the “Yes You Can Go to College” message with more than 33,000 individuals.
Here in Kentucky, we’re a little basketball crazy and completely dedicated to our teams. Now, a new report says basketball isn’t the only thing Kentucky ranks highly in nationally. A National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) study shows we rank above the national average in several areas.
From the 2000 – 2012 academic years, the time period NCHEMS studied, KCTCS experienced a dramatic increase in annual enrollment, growing from 73,000 students to 135,000. According to the report, one of the best ways to measure success is to look at the impact we’re having on Kentucky adults without college degrees. KCTCS now ranks fifth in the nation in terms of improving its reach to young adults ages 18-34.
KCTCS is taking part in a new partnership that will better train our students for jobs Kentucky businesses have to offer. Many of our state’s employers have good jobs available, but can find few skilled workers to fill them.
This is why I’m so energized by the new Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education program, known as KY-FAME. It’s a partnership of regional manufacturers who share the goal of creating a pipeline of highly skilled workers. KCTCS is playing a key role in this by providing dual-track, apprenticeship style training. Students will split their time between the classroom and the workplace, which allows them to have hands-on training and earn money while in school.
This is an exciting time for me to take the helm at KCTCS. President Obama’s announcement about America’s College Promise has generated a great deal of interest and speculation among community colleges, students and legislators. Although there’s still much debate to come, the idea of free community college is enticing to prospective students of all ages.
Many Kentuckians dream of a better life where they can earn family-sustaining wages. America’s College Promise could open the door to those who believed it was closed to them and put them on a path to fulfill their dreams.