East Central College reports a strong finish to 2013.
Dr. Jon Bauer, college president, said the past year was one of transition, with several projects that will continue into 2014.
A new strategic plan for the college has been in the works for several months, Bauer said. The board of trustees recently approved the vision and mission statement.
Work will continue on the plan and likely will be ready to present to the board for approval this spring.
The document includes benchmarks for the college in fulfilling its mission and values and organizational values for employees and constituents, including integrity, excellence, dignity, accountability, environmental responsibility and global citizenry.
It also identifies stakeholders in the college district and service region.
Bauer said the plan will guide the institution for the next several years, but it will be evaluated annually.
“In terms of institutional importance, that’s one of the top accomplishments,” Bauer said of the plan.
Another internal achievement, Bauer noted, is work on personnel policies, which also has taken several months and will continue into the spring.
Bauer said a major accomplishment in 2013 was the approval of additional space for ECC’s operations in Rolla.
The college will lease a 7,900-square-foot building on North Bishop Avenue to house the nursing program and several general classrooms.
Previously, the college subleased some space from Phelps County Regional Medical Center. A clinical lab and classroom were separated by a curtain so only one space could be used at a time.
ECC’s main facility in Rolla is housed at Rolla Technical Center on Forum Drive. That space is leased from the Rolla School District.
Bauer said the lack of space has been challenging, “because we haven’t been able to schedule as robustly as we would like.”
The lease on the Bishop Avenue property begins in the spring semester.
In January 2013, 585 district residents were interviewed as part of a random phone survey conducted by the Warren Poll of St. Louis.
A total of 92 percent of respondents described the quality of education at ECC as “excellent” or “good.” Additionally, 44 percent said they or a family member had enrolled at ECC.
More than 90 percent rated ECC as “excellent” or “good” in preparing students for their chosen professions.
“I think we certainly hoped to see that the public thought we were doing a good job, but it’s nice to see that affirmed,” said Bauer, adding he hopes to conduct a similar survey every couple of years.
“The essence of a community college is being responsive to the community we serve,” he said. “Whether that is with our credit and academic programs, providing training for business and industry, providing noncredit offerings or providing a pathway for people in the area.”
Bauer said the college will work to maintain its positive reputation in the community.
Enrollment numbers are down at ECC, with 4,188 students enrolled in 38,572 credit hours in the spring semester and 3,901 students enrolled in 37,670 credit hours for the 2013 fall semester.
Bauer said lower enrollment is a trend many community colleges are experiencing across the country.
“We’ll continue to focus on enrollment,” he said.
Bauer attributes some of the decline to an improving economy and those who had lost their jobs completing retraining and finding work.
The college will continue to work on recruiting and retaining students, he said, and making sure students complete their goals.
Tuition and fees increased in the fall semester, but Bauer said the college will remain cognizant of affordable tuition for students.
Art Department Renovation
This past September, the art department moved back into its space in the auditorium/classroom building following an extensive renovation project over the summer.
For more than 20 years the art department has been housed in space that was originally used by the automotive technology, building construction and welding program.
The renovation cost was $359,000, with the state reimbursing the college $139,578.
“The renovation of the art department is important. We have such a strong program in the fine and performing arts,” said Bauer, adding that the renovation provides a better designed space for the program.
Also in September, the precision machining program at the college was recognized by the National Tool Manufacturing Association. The program was reaccredited by the National Institute for Metal Working Skills in 2013.
In December, a three-member team from the Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics Management (CAHIM) made an accreditation site visit.
The visit was the culmination of three years of work in program development, recruitment, update and improvement.
Bauer said that the emphasis on program accreditation will continue throughout 2014.
“It’s a way for us to convey to students the quality and value of our programs,” he said, adding that the evaluation process provides a platform to improve programs as well.
“It gives us a benchmark,” he said. “It’s both the seal of approval and a tool we can use to make sure we keep our programs as good as they can be.”
Also in December, ECC joined with four other St. Louis area community colleges to form a consortium to train workers for advanced manufacturing jobs at aerospace companies.
The college’s softball program received postseason honors this past year, and Coach Brad Wallach was named the region’s coach of the year for the second straight year.
Five players also were named first team all-region for the NCJA Division II Region 16.
For the fourth consecutive year, East Central College student athletes achieved the highest grade point average in the Midwest Community College Athletic Conference.
And, for the fourth time since volleyball was reinstated at ECC in 2007, the Falcons competed in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division II national tournament.
The Falcons finished the season with a record of 20-27.
Coach Lisa Mathes-Peters and her squad qualified for the national tournament by claiming the Region 16/District O championship.
The Falcons have captured the Region D-II championship five times in the past six years.
In 2013, ECC added a new text messaging system, ECC Alert, to keep students and staff abreast on class cancellations for weather delays or emergency notifications as they arise.
In May, the college held its 43rd annual spring commencement, with 487 candidates for graduation.
At that commencement, ECC started a new tradition of honoring graduates who have served or are now in active duty in the armed forces. Graduates were given a bronze challenge coin to recognize their achievements.
ECC has been named to the 2014 Military Friendly Schools list which honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.
For the fall semester, about 120 ECC students were using some kind of VA/military benefit.
To help employees balance home and work, ECC chose New Directions Behavioral Health Employee Assistance Program to provide assistance to full-time employees and their immediate family up to age 26 with workplace conflicts, interpersonal difficulties, marriage and family concerns, stress management, emotional upsets, financial matters, alcohol and drug problems.
Other services include legal consultation, wills, training, health coaching and wellness. The program’s usage is at 7.24 percent, which is higher than the national average for EAP utilization, at 4 to 6 percent.
This past spring, the Franklin County Treatment Court created a community vegetable garden on the ECC campus as a new way for court participants to fulfill their community service requirement.
In October, the college established the Student Ambassador scholarship program. Six students will represent the college at orientations, tours, recruitment activities and patrons of the arts events.
The following month, Dr. Jennifer Judd, associate professor of music, received the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award.
In July, the college began a new fiscal year with a budget of $18.8 million — a 4.8 percent increase over fiscal year 2013.
Tuition and fees represent the largest source of revenue for the college, accounting for almost 40 percent of the total budget. Local tax revenue represents 32 percent of the revenue for ECC and state aid accounts for 26.6 percent of general revenue.
The start of the new fiscal year also brought a change in the organizational structure.
The vice president of career and outreach education position was restructured (the position had been vacant for several months) to vice president of external relations overseeing the college marketing plans, website, public relations, grants, noncredit offerings, work force development and summer camps.
Joel Doepker started in the new vice president position Nov. 4.
Doepker was college director of communications and marketing for the past seven years for the Ozarks Technical Community College system in Springfield.
The College Reading and Learning Association’s International Tutor Training Program certified the tutor training program for learning center facilities at ECC’s locations in Union, Rolla and Sullivan.