Thank you, Marcia. And thanks to each of you for being here tonight to celebrate the generosity of our donors.
This is the sixteenth year for this celebration that has honored 699 Kentuckians who, since 1998, have decided to invest in the future by investing in our students. Since our beginning, private giving has totaled $190 million. Over the same period, our endowment has grown from $12 million to nearly $52 million.
This increase in philanthropy has made an incredible impact on our ability to meet our mission of enhancing the employability and quality of life of Kentuckian.
Today, the collective efforts of all our donors are supporting a system of 16 comprehensive community and technical colleges with 73 campuses across Kentucky that provide essential and affordable access to postsecondary education to more than 115,000 students annually. In fact, since 2000, we have served nearly 835,000 people.
Tonight’s honorees are making a tremendous difference in the lives of our students. Through their efforts we are able to live up to our tagline, “Higher Education Begins Here.” Their donations are allowing us to show Kentuckians that we are not only the first door of opportunity when thinking about higher education but also the path to many, many more doors. Once they enter one of our colleges we show them that there is a much bigger world out there beyond their time as a student. A world of many employment options…or a world of transfer.
Being able to open these larger doors for our students is extremely important because so many of them enter our colleges with a great deal of self-doubt. They often see only a very small, narrow door of higher education. Our goal is to help them understand that the door might seem small initially but once we help them through it they will see another door…a much larger one…that is the door of opportunity.
This is not always an easy tack. The average age of our students is 27, so many of them are juggling family and jobs along with college. Job responsibilities, sick children and other life issues get in the way and sometimes college moves to the back burner. Going to college becomes very difficult.
With the assistance of our donors we are able to help these students move forward to fulfil their dreams of a college education so they can get a good job and support their families.
Tonight’s donors are supporting our colleges and students in a number of ways. Their giving ranges from outright support for current needs to building permanent endowments, leaving legacies through bequests and trusts, and raising funds through special events.
Some have invested in campus improvements from renovation to new construction and enhancing our teaching and learning environments in science, healthcare, energy, technology, and manufacturing.
Many of tonight’s honorees have created scholarships to help both financially needy and academically deserving students ——-from high school students in our dual credit programs to students in our technical programs who are pursuing careers in high-wage, high demand occupations ——to those who are transferring to four-year universities, both public and private.
The majority of KCTCS students need financial assistance to attend college, and were it not for our donor’s generosity their dreams might never come true.
Some of you have made important investments in our arts and humanities programs, to new equipment and laboratories, to support childcare services, and even our strategic planning efforts to chart our pathway to a more prosperous future for the Commonwealth.
The majority of tonight’s honorees have generously supported the BuildSmart program, which was approved by the Kentucky legislature in April of 2014 authorizing KCTCS to issue agency bonds and raise local funds for the top capital project for each of the 16 KCTCS colleges.
To date, we have raised $26.5 million for our BuildSmart projects, several of which are already under construction or soon to break ground.
Never in the history of the Commonwealth has there been a time when all 16 of our colleges were able to design, build, and/or renovate buildings on their campuses all at one time.
In several cases, we are constructing entirely new campuses with the help of local advocates, volunteer fundraisers and donors who are committed to expanding access to higher education for their communities.
So let me say a special thanks to those donors who are investing so generously in this unique opportunity, and so quickly!
Building is important…but what is more important is the teaching and learning that goes on inside of the buildings…all of which contributes to fulfilling our students dreams.
It is with great pleasure that I now take this opportunity to recognize this year’s donors one more time.
From Business/Industry we celebrate:
AD Transport Company
AEP Kentucky Power
Air Hydro Power
The Drees Company
First State Financial
Fort Knox Credit Union
Jennie Stuart Medical Center
Don Moore Automotive Group
Paducah Power System…and
Trace Die Cast, Inc.
The Foundations and Associations we celebrate tonight include:
The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels
E.O. Robinson Mountain Fund
JPMorgan Chase Foundation…and
Kentucky Corn Growers Association
We are also celebrating some amazing individuals including:
Fred and Wendy Anderson
Ward Correll in Memoriam
Mr. and Mrs. Larry Cowgill
Jim and Glenda Guess
Louise and Ed Shytle
J. Phil Smith in Memoriam
Richard and Phyllis Frymire…and
Dr. Kenneth Smith
And from City/County Government, we celebrate:
City of Morehead
Menifee Morgan Rowan County Industrial Board
Rowan County Fiscal Court…and
Warren County Fiscal Court
Let’s give all of these donors a round of applause.
I also want to personally thank the many companies and organizations here tonight that sponsored our Celebration of Philanthropy Awards Dinner.
We could not do this without you and we are grateful for your continuing support.
Before I close, I would like to talk briefly about the future. We have been on an incredible journey for the past eighteen years. During this time, we’ve become the state’s largest provider of postsecondary education and workforce training. We’ve increased the number of credentials awarded to our students by more than 368 percent. And we’ve become the primary educator of the state’s allied health and skilled trades graduates. We’re proud of all we’ve achieved, but we can’t be stuck in the past or do things the way we’ve always done them if we want to move KCTCS and our great Commonwealth forward.
Our state faces many changes in the workforce over the next several years. We know that most jobs already require some type of postsecondary credential, and that will only continue to increase. We also know that a large number of our workforce will be retiring as Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age in droves.
Even though unemployment is low, many people are working in jobs that don’t pay well.
That’s mainly because a large portion of Kentucky’s workforce is undereducated.
As you know, we have a big barrier in our state when it comes to convincing people how important higher education is. It’s a cultural issue that won’t change overnight.
But, that doesn’t mean we won’t try to change it. And as KCTCS supporters we need your help in spreading the higher education gospel.
I’ve spent much of the last year or so working with internal college teams and organizations from around the state to develop our new strategic plan that is designed to move us forward.
The goal was to align our plan with state agencies and associations so we’re all focused on a strategic vision for Kentucky and Kentucky jobs.
My team and I traveled around the state gathering information for the plan from people from all walks of life.
We received input from more than 4,000 community members, business leaders, students and employees.
Our colleges also played host to Innovation Roundtables, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in nine economic regions of the state. Those were conducted to further refine the plan’s vision, values and goals.
During that time, we also put together Business Champion councils at every college. These folks are some of our many business partners from throughout the state who are hiring our graduates.
They’ve been helpful in letting us know what we’re doing right and what we can improve.
We used all of this input to develop the strategic plan, which is now complete.
We are focusing on several goals as we move forward over the next six years.
- First, we’ll work toward raising the level of educational attainment in the Commonwealth by positioning KCTCS as the accessible, affordable and relevant postsecondary education choice for Kentuckians.
- Second, we will increase access and success for all KCTCS students, particularly among traditionally underserved populations.
- Third, we’ll develop clear pathways through all levels of postsecondary education with an emphasis on experiential learning that leads to successful employment outcomes for KCTCS graduates.
- Fourth, we plan to improve student engagement, support, experiences, and success with best-in-class academic and student services.
- Last, we’ll continue to align programs and curricula with needs of employers that enhance the employability, job placement and career development of KCTCS graduates.
You may recall that last year the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce issued a report on the state’s workforce and the challenges employers are facing. The report said we have too many people without jobs and too many jobs without people. We agree with that assessment, and it played a big role in the development of our plan.
I don’t have to tell you that many good, high paying jobs are not being filled because people don’t have the training and skills needed. This is where we come in, and one of the key points I want to make.
KCTCS is the place for people to go if they want to get trained quickly for high wage, high demand jobs.
In fact, KCTCS has more than 200 programs that can be completed in four months or less. Some have starting salaries of as much as $60,000.
Yes, we also are where thousands of students earn associate degrees and transfer to four-year universities, but preparing people for careers in fields that don’t require a bachelor’s degree is just as important to us. It is the key to prosperity for students and for our state.
In closing, I would like to thank you for your commitment to our colleges, our students and the local communities we serve.
Because of your efforts we will be able to achieve our vision of being a world-class system of colleges educating Kentucky’s
globally competitive workforce.
Once again, thank you for your efforts and support.
The evening is still young. During next twenty minutes, please enjoy the soft jazz music provided by the Tymes Band…
Mingle, talk, and if possible, personally thank our awardees and corporate sponsors here tonight.
At approximately 9:30, we invite you to continue our celebration on the dance floor.
Again, thank you for being here…and let’s have a good time!