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KC holds open community forum at Vandalia Campus

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The Kaskaskia College Vandalia Education Center hosted a 2011 Community Engagement Open Community Forum with the board chairman and college president on Monday, June 27.
Kaskaskia College staff and community members together discussed the operations of the college. A brief overview of the Illinois Community College System was provided, as well as a description of the Kaskaskia College District 501 and the various Kaskaskia College Education Centers and services centers.
Current statistics were shared on enrollments, tuition rates and net instructional costs for the college.
Dr. Jim Underwood, president of Kaskaskia College, opened the meeting by acknowledging Vandalia Mayor Ricky Gottman for being instrumental in making the new Vandalia campus a reality.
Additionally, John Ashdown, director of the Fayette County YMCA, was recognized as a partner with KC in the community.
The new Vandalia Education Center building was dedicated in November 2008, with the first courses being offered in the new facility in spring 2009. According to Underwood, the Vandalia Center has “exceeded our expectations.”
He said that Kaskaskia College will continue to bring “education to the people.”
Mary Schulze, Vandalia Education Center director, shared with the group information about the current programming at the Center and possible areas of expansion of programming. One program that is being considered for expansion is in the office technologies area.
Ashdown offered a suggestion for more “soft job skills training” for community employers and community members.
Ashdown mentioned that he has heard from the community that many employers are looking for employees who posses communication skills, a strong work ethic, etc. Training geared at interviewing skills and other communication skills was also suggested.
Vice President of Student Services Sedgwick Harris responded with an explanation of the many career preparatory oriented services currently offered though the Kaskaskia College Success Center under the leadership of Wendy Blythe.
Vice President of Instructional Services Greg Labyak added that Kaskaskia College would work to create a marketing strategy for those individuals and/or businesses in need of those skills.
Underwood discussed with the group the status of the Vandalia Education Center Phase II project that has been approved by the state, with the expansion pending the release of state funds. Vandalia Education Center Phase II would include additional programming space for nursing, office technologies and business management.
Additionally, the Vandalia Education Center Phase II will include a focus on the fine and performing arts as outlined in the $1.7-million dollar gift received from the estate of Vandalia resident Mary Albert O’Neil and Ruth Davis.
Additional items mentioned by Schulze included the success of the Lake Land Community College agreement, which allows Lake Land District students to attend the Vandalia Education Center under a special arrangement with Kaskaskia College.
According to Schulze, “approximately 80 students a semester attend classes at the Vandalia Education Center.” Another successful partnership emphasized was the one with the Fayette County YMCA. Currently, Kaskaskia College students are taking physical education courses under a special arrangement with the YMCA.
Additionally, Underwood shared the “top 10 highlights” of a recent Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) faculty and staff survey. He said that 95 percent surveyed agreed with the “growth and development” of KC, 97 percent agreed that they felt a sense of personal accomplishment at KC, and 95 percent agreed that they would recommend KC to others.
Information was also shared on the Kaskaskia College Foundation and its support for the college from 2001-11. This information outlined approximately $11,655,500 funds raised in gifts from the various functions of the KC Foundation over the past 10 years.
Underwood shared information with the group comparing tuition rates at Kaskaskia College to McKendree University, Greenville College, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Southern Illinois Carbondale and Eastern Illinois University.
Overall, he said, annual tuition at KC is approximately $2,880, compared to the $8,070-$24,190 tuition of the comparison colleges and universities.
Schulze was praised by Underwood and Kellie Henegar, dean of arts and sciences, for her quality commitment to the Vandalia community, Vandalia Center students and the Vandalia faculty.
Gottman praised the Vandalia Education Center as being “important to our community and to the economic development of our community,” and stated he would “support Kaskaskia College as long as I am in office.”
He added that he is “proud to be a part of the college and happy KC is in our community.”