Kaskaskia College hosted the first of a series of Community Engagement meetings at the Nashville Education Center on Monday, October 19. The meeting was attended by KC administrators, and community civic, business, and education representatives.
Dr. Penny Quinn, President of Kaskaskia College, opened the meeting with an update on the status of the College and its ongoing projects. Dr. Quinn reported that the new Nashville Education Center, located on Highway 127 north of Nashville, was nearing completion, with a dedication ceremony slated for February, 2016.
Dr. Quinn also spoke on the state of KC’s enrollments and financial status. KC experienced a peak enrollment period in 2010, with a steady decline since, along with a projected loss of 11,000 credit hours for fiscal year 2015, translating to a 11% decrease in enrollments. She also shared the financial state of the College, with charts explaining the operating budget along with concerns over state reimbursements, which account for a large portion of the College’s operating capital.
Cheryl Boehne, Director of Admissions, Registration, and Dual Credit for KC, who now has the area Education Centers under her responsibility, spoke briefly on faculty credential changes being made by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) which is the College’s accrediting body and the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) which will impact the dual credit program in our 17 high schools. Boehne explained that the guidelines not only apply to the high school dual credit instructors but adjunct faculty as well as full time college faculty. While the guidelines have always been in place the recent changes are very specific. Faculty teaching transfer level courses must have a Master’s degree in the subject area or a Master’s plus 18 graduate hours in the subject. The change will have little effect on career & technical faculty. Dr. Quinn added that although the College is very satisfied with the faculty who teach the dual credit classes, it is being mandated by its accrediting body and we must follow the guidelines. Boehne added that the college is open to working with the high schools on alternative teaching opportunities in order to continue offering high school students the chance to earn college credits while in high school. The College must be in compliance by the start of the fall 2017 semester.
George Evans, Dean of Career and Technical Education for KC, shared the results of a survey conducted by the South Central Illinois Growth Alliance (SCIGA). SCIGA is made up of civic and business leaders from the entire Kaskaskia College district, and the survey asked community leaders what needs they experienced that KC may be in a position to fulfill. Evans reported that survey results showed that 92% of respondents declared a need for workplace ethics such as punctuality, cooperation, and professionalism. Evans stated that each of the Career and Technical programs at KC incorporate workplace ethics into the curriculum. Other concerns from the survey included basic problem solving skills and basic comprehension. Evans said that these issues were also being addressed at KC.
The SCIGA survey and anecdotal evidence points to a need for trained machinists in the area, Evans said, which segued into a discussion of the training programs KC is conducting at Nascote Industries. Janmarie Kent of Nascote reported that the Magna Track program, in which eligible and screened high school students participate, has been a useful tool in recruiting new workers. Those students successfully completing Magna Track are guaranteed probationary employment with Nascote, with the hope that they will become full time employees. Though originally targeting those students with no plans to go to college, a majority of the students completing the program have enrolled in higher education, Kent said. Diane Weihe, who was in attendance, said that she had a relative in the Magna Track program and that the family is very pleased with the results.
Travis Henson, Director of Marketing for KC, asked the attendees for ideas to help the College get their message out. Responses included posting flyers for relevant Community education classes at area businesses and churches, banner ads on municipal and school websites, and increased use of social media.
For more information on Kaskaskia College’s Community Engagement, or to suggest ways that KC can help to build the communities, please contact Cheryl Boehne at 618-545-3184 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.