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Perspective on the Future

“A PERSPECTIVE ON THE FUTURE OF THE COLLEGE”
FOR THE KASKASKIA COLLEGE FACULTY AND STAFF

BY: DR. JIM UNDERWOOD, PRESIDENT APRIL 12, 2001


Introduction Kaskaskia College has a proud history of excellence and has developed into a premier institution that is well prepared to meet the challenges of the future. KC is an effective and efficient member of the higher education community. As a highly innovative institution, KC has confronted change effectively and embraced transformation needs enthusiastically.

Powerful transformational forces in our society are causing changes for KC. The college has responded to these forces in a methodical manner and has a culture that embraces needed changes to be responsive to its public. This is important for it is essential that educational institutions disrupt the status quo, for to ignore the forces of change will result in obsolescence and ineffectiveness. The three major forces causing change are: (1) markets, (2) technology, and (3) the call for performance and accountability. These three forces will be briefly discussed, followed by a discussion on future trends in higher education and plans at Kaskaskia College.

Markets Who are the students? Higher education enrollment in the U.S. is projected to increase from the current 13.9 million to 16.1 million by 2007 and to 20 million by 2010. The “non traditional” student will become the “traditional” student, as we are witnessing in the community colleges. Almost one-half of all freshmen and sophomores in U.S. higher education institutions attend community colleges with over 50 percent of all first-time entering freshmen enrolling in a community college.

Business and Industry - Preparing the workforce is a major and expanding mission of the community college. Customized training is a need that is rapidly increasing. Educational programs are in high demand by business and industry for training the workforce along with on-going job skill upgrading.

Occupational Education – The U.S. Secretary of Labor has stated that over 70 percent of today’s jobs require post-secondary education to the Associate Degree level. Skilled workers are in high demand in many career fields and comprehensive community colleges are prepared to serve this need in a variety of occupational areas. According to AACC, the following are the top 10 hottest programs in demand:

  1. Registered Nursing
  2. Computer Tech/CIS
  3. Electronics Tech/Elec Eng
  4. Physical Therapy Assistant
  5. Automotive
  6. Law Enforcement
  7. Computer Programming
  8. Dental Hygiene
  9. Machinist/machine Tool Tech
  10. Occupational Therapist Assistant
Academic Transfer – The first two years of a Bachelors Degree is an important mission of the community college for providing locally accessible and affordable educational opportunities. Applied General Education courses for occupational degrees and developmental studies are important community college functions for preparing students. In Illinois, there is currently a tremendous need for teacher preparation!

ABE/GED/ESL – Community colleges do an exceptional job of reaching and serving students in adult basic educational programs. Also, colleges should ensure that students are provided with clear pathways from ABE to credit programs.

Community Services – Noncredit offerings in continuing education including occupational and avocational programs are in demand at sites convenient to the learner.

Broker for Higher Education – An expanded and exciting challenge assumed by many community colleges is that of becoming a broker for the offering of upper division and graduate-level programs in the community college area by four-year colleges and universities. Many of these partnerships result in the execution of various articulation and transfer agreements.

Technology
Today, more than 50 percent of U.S. homes have at least one computer. Twenty-three percent of our population currently uses the Internet. Nearly 90 percent of all public schools are now on-line with Internet and e-mail capabilities. The emerging technologies (particularly interactive-online learning) are revolutionizing education, producing an impact as profound as the invention of printing. Experts are saying that students “going off to college” will represent a diminishing segment of the postsecondary education market. Thus, traditional institutions must diversify and change their culture to meet these new demands.

The fastest growing institution in America is the University of Phoenix, a virtual university. Over the past few years this university has grown from 3,000 to 70,000 students worldwide. The Western Governors University, Electronic Campuses, Sylvan Learning Systems, and Electronic Corporate Universities are now providing educational programs effectively through Internet. Community colleges are moving forward, and most continue to do so, with the use of advanced technology for web-based offerings that are of high quality and affordable.

Performance and Accountability Institutions of higher education are being held more accountable then ever before by the public and the policy makers for producing a return on the investments of the taxpayers and students. Further, the NCA has geared future accreditation and reaccredidation on documented performance. The assessment planning currently underway at KC is in response to strengthening the accountability of the institution. According to Trudy Banta, et al., successful assessment programs take into consideration conceptualized learning in three ways. First, learning is embodied in the concept of “core content,” which refers to the traditional facts and knowledge. Second, learning is “integrative reasoning,” a concept that focuses on the skills that process knowledge and facts into applications. Finally, learning is “attitudes and dispositions,” a concept representing the character and qualities society hopes students will attain and demonstrate as good citizens. In short, assessment should be about what matters most at the institution. It must reflect what people are passionate about, committed to, and value.

The Future Attempting to predict the future is a hazardous undertaking, particularly if we follow our academic custom of predicting the future by projecting the present and the past with a few changes in the descriptive statistics. Experts are predicting a 21st Century college will have these characteristics:

  1. Institutions will be “systems” organized and “systems” thinking will be the management mode of operations.
  2. The overall system will be centered on learning and learners, responding to heightened demands for responsiveness, convenience, and flexibility.
  3. Certification of credentials will be important for reflecting competencies and knowledge.
  4. Boundaries will disappear, as geography becomes irrelevant.
  5. The boundaries between academic and vocational, credit and non-credit will disappear, as they all will be one.
  6. There will be a proliferation of joint teaching agreements and joint degrees involving two and four-year institutions.
  7. The Stanford Forum on the Future of Higher Education suggests that the primary role of the faculty member will be as “modeler of competence” with less time preparing and professing and more time facilitating reflection, making meaning, and sharing wisdom, or managing the process of education.
  8. Community colleges will have as a major function “educational brokering” to help students craft coherent academic programs from a universe of choices.
  9. Transformed institutions will move from “courses” to instructional modules designed not in terms of semesters and credit hours, but in terms of content and educational goals. They will move from grades to competency assessment.
  10. Assessment Centers will be a growth industry, providing certification of learning and a credentialing service, all competencies based.
  11. A shift from teaching to learning will occur in transformed institutions.
For some thoughts on the future, I would like to draw on the work of Dr. Diana Oblinger, Manager of IBM’s Global Education Program. As a futurist and educator she presents a perspective that I believe is on target. She states that “technology and change” will be the common theme for global education in the 21st Century. According to Dr. Oblinger, the following six trends are causing change:

  1. Companies are re-engineering themselves for empowering employees to allow for downsizing, lowering costs, improving competitiveness, and expanding globally.
  2. The average worker will have 6-7 careers.
  3. Over 75 percent of the workforce need retraining to keep up.
  4. The information explosion is here to stay as information is doubling every five years.
  5. Over 65 percent of workers use “information technology” on the job.
  6. Telecommuting is becoming a way of life.
Dr. Oblinger asks the following questions of educators:

  1. If technology is a requirement in the workplace for 65 percent of all jobs, how is it reflected in the curriculum?
  2. How is information technology changing the expectations of our students for facilities, services, and support?
  3. Does our curriculum reflect the changes that have already occurred across disciplines due to IT networks?
  4. Does our curriculum prepare students for the new job opportunities that are being created due to IT networks?
  5. Are we building an IT infrastructure that will allow us to create a more flexible and adaptable learning environment?
  6. Are faculty provided strategies that can be used to help students develop creative intelligence? Practical intelligence? Analytical intelligence?
  7. Do graduates possess skills and an understanding in: problem solving, teamwork, communications, and a global perspective, technical competence in field, ability to apply new knowledge, and computer systems and networking?
  8. Do graduates possess attitudes such as flexibility, ease with diversity, initiative, motivation, teamwork, and ability to address complex real world problems?
She ends her lecture with a short discussion on the learning revolution. She holds that this revolution has great promise and presents great challenges, it will be difficult to manage, but impossible to resist.

Future Plans at KC
As we plan for the future, there is much, I believe, which most of us agree upon. For example:
  1. We will want our college to be high in quality and rigorous in its standards, which recruits and retains excellent students, faculty and staff.
  2. We want to maintain an up-to-date curriculum, which encompasses numeric and linguistic skill development, a solid core curriculum, and sound and practical preparations for productive and useful careers.
  3. We will want to recruit the underrepresented to help them reach their full potential through credit and not credit offerings.
  4. We want our curriculum to focus upon student learning and upon societal needs rather than institutional self-interest. We recognize that to be an effective learning oriented college we must promote and support effective teaching practices.
  5. We want learning to take place on an attractive campus that meets the intellectual, cultural, technological, curricular, and recreational requirements and interests of our students while providing a pleasant working environment for faculty and staff.
  6. We want an environment that recognizes and appreciates diversity. The U.S. will undergo dramatic demographic shifts in the coming decades—changes that will affect businesses, government, and cultural institutions. During the next 50 years, the U.S. population is expected to grow by nearly 50 percent, from about 280 million in year 2000 too more than 390 million in 2050. Immigration trends, coupled with trends in birth rates, will add more diversity to the American workforce. By 2050, the percentage of minorities will increase from one in every four Americans to nearly one in two.
I would suggest several issues that will need our attention over the next few years:

  1. Providing on-going faculty and staff professional growth and development.
    1. Establish a new cost center and budget
    2. Support work of college-wide committee
    3. Develop an annual plan and schedule of events
  2. Gaining the appropriations for a facility to replace temporary buildings.
  3. Developing a three-year plan for equipment replacement and a comprehensive technology plan.
  4. Expanding outreach efforts with educational programs offered at sites and at times convenient to the learner. Determine communities where educational centers will be needed in the future. Structure for continuity between on and off campus credit.
  5. Providing for an organizational structure and decision-making model that is appropriate for KC.
  6. Fully implement Assessment Plan and complete NCA focus visit requirements.
  7. Establish a globalization task force and develop plans and goals.
  8. Study expansion of the performing arts (theater, journalism, art) in addition to music.
  9. Study intercollegiate athletics to include staffing arrangements, sports, structure, etc. Consider possible new sports programs, i.e. golf, tennis.
  10. Strengthen communications (internal and external.
    1. Establish monthly meetings with employee group leaders, deans, and president.
    2. Develop a college-wide advisory group of business and industry personnel
    3. Produce an annual report on college facts and record
    4. Maintain monthly open forums with the president for employees and students
    5. Consider re-establishing the college newspaper
    6. Strengthen the college occupational advisory committees
  11. Establish a task force to expand recruitment of minorities and promote diversity.
  12. Continue with review of group health insurance coverage, concepts, and providers.
  13. Perform an area needs analysis to determine new programs, expansion of existing programs, or elimination of programs.
  14. Continue to support the development of web-based courses and programs.
  15. Develop partnerships with the school districts on duel-credit, and advanced studies programs.
  16. Prepare a marketing plan, evaluate the institutional image, and promote community relations.
  17. Support the work of the KC Foundation, assign college administrative personnel Foundation tasks, and set funding needs for future projects.
  18. Work with ICCB, ICCTA, Legislature, and Governor in gaining needed appropriations.
  19. Review, refine, institute faculty and staff personnel evaluation systems.
  20. Review and update current college policies and procedures, prepare needed new ones, and eliminate unnecessary statements.
  21. Promote the development of partnerships with school systems, state agencies, business and industry, other colleges, etc.
I would like to comment specifically on some additional issues for the future. Every American youth and adult needs to acquire 21st Century literacy skills (strong academic, thinking, reasoning, teamwork and proficiency in using technology. In addition, proficiency in communications, problem solving, creative thinking, work habits, understanding expectations, computations, and human relations are all critical skills for the new century. In short, employers are telling us that technical skills must be combined with what is often called “employability skills.”

Additionally, I would like to address the need to have a college environment that is comfortable, one that respects and encourages diversity, risk taking, non-threatening, respectable, and enjoyable. I believe in participatory management, empowerment, and shared decision-making for planning and policy development. We must also be prepared for change and support change when needed. Those who brace themselves against the winds of change will surely be blown over and the world will pass by them in lightning speed. The administration must be approachable, flexible, accountable, and responsive. All that we do should promote service to students. We must have intervention programs and services for assisting our students to succeed. Our support functions are to assist our faculty in the teaching and learning process.

Summary
I appreciate very much the confidence of the Board of Trustees and I’m very proud to have been selected president of Kaskaskia College. My wife, Roxie, and I are pleased to be moving back to Illinois and to be joining the college. We will commit our energy and abilities to the advancement of KC and we will be active supporters of the communities served by the college. KC has a proud history of excellence and a very positive public image, and I will do my best to continue to maintain the success the college has experienced over the years. After my first week at KC and meeting with many faculty and staff members along with meetings with the trustees, I can enthusiastically state that everyone whom I have visited truly loves this institution and enjoys very much their association with KC. Thus, the reason why this is a great place to work. I look forward to working together with everyone as we provide educational opportunities to our public.
 
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