Kaskaskia College held the second in a series of annual
Spring Community Engagement events at the Trenton House Restaurant on Tuesday,
May 21. The purpose of the meetings,
according to KC President Dr. James Underwood, is to share the commitment of
the College to the needs of the communities and to gain input from citizens on
the operations of the College.
A booklet entitled “Kaskaskia College Report to the
Community 2013-14” was distributed to each attendee, and Dr. Underwood led the
gathering through some of the highlights of the booklet, including reports on
College enrollments, job placement rates, growth, and the efforts to
enhance KC services to the students through
new programs, opportunities for higher degrees through partnerships with
universities, and the ongoing effort to make programs and degrees available to
students in outlying areas of the College district.
Kaskaskia College enrollments peaked at around 12,000
students in 2010, and the College has focused on maintaining those enrollment
numbers. “With the state of the economy
in the last several years, and with the constant reports of dropping
enrollments nearly across the board at other institutions, we consider holding
our enrollment numbers steady to be a victory in itself,” Dr. Underwood
said. “In fact, both our headcount and
credit hour numbers have increased slightly over last year.”
Dr. Underwood was also able to report that in a survey of
fiscal year 2012 graduates, 91% were employed, with 90% of those employed
within 50 miles of the main campus in Centralia. KC also maintains the 13th lowest
tuition rate of the 48 Illinois Community Colleges, according to the booklet,
and was ranked number two in Illinois and number 20 nationwide in a study
conducted by CollegeMeasures.org of the nation’s best colleges based upon
student success rates.
Dr. Underwood touted the College’s Dual Credit Program,
which allows local high school students to take specially developed courses
that also count for college credit. With
a start of only 74 students a few years ago, the Dual Credit program now serves
over 2700 students. Kaskaskia College
does not charge tuition for these credits, allowing local families to save as
much as one year’s college tuition and associated costs, and fast-tracks
students to early completion or transfer.
As a result, it is reported that 53% of area high school graduates who
go on to higher education choose KC to start their post-secondary
educations. The national average, according
to Dr. Underwood, is closer to 25%.
Another focus was the College’s ongoing Capital Campaign,
which has five new building projects in line over the next several years. The
first of these projects is an expansion of the Trenton Education Center, for
which over $1.1 million has been raised in the past year. The project will expand the Trenton Center
from 3,800 square feet of instructional space to nearly 16,000 square feet by
renovating and adding on to the building that currently houses the Center. “Based upon our past experience in Vandalia
and Greenville, we expect to double our enrollments with the new center,” Dr.
Underwood said. “One reason for the
expectation of increases in students comes from the opportunity to create new
programs utilizing the increased space.
That is why these meetings are so important; it gives our citizens the
opportunity to share their needs with us directly, and we act upon those needs
in a timely manner.”
In fact, according to George Evans, KC’s Dean of Career and Technical
Education, one focus in the new Center will be a Residential and Commercial
Electrical Wiring Program that is being developed with the input of local
business and industry and the local unions.
This flagship program is expected to draw students from a wide area to
the Trenton center, as it will be a lower-cost alternative to some other
regional technical programs.
Plans have been finalized and bids for construction of the
new center have been accepted. KC will
hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the Trenton Center on Friday, May 31. Other area locations have been found to house
classes while the work, expected to be finished in March of 2014, is underway.
The Kaskaskia College Community Engagement Series will
continue with meetings scheduled for the Greenville Education Center on June 3,
the Salem Education Center on June 4, and the Vandalia Campus on June 17. All meeting time are from 6:00 to 8:00 pm,
and a light meal will be served.
Interested citizens are encouraged to attend.