Shawnee College hosts community forum in Anna
Shawnee Community College hosted a community forum on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at the college’s Anna Extension Center.
Dr. Peggy Bradford, the new president of the college, along with other Shawnee Community College staff members, attended the forum. More than 20 members of the community and business leaders also were present.
Bradford said the purpose of the meeting was to hear from community members and business leaders about courses and what the future holds for the college.
Surveys were also handed out to those in attendance. The purpose of the surveys was to ask community and business members to help the college design and outline a vision and strategic planning efforts for the next three to five years.
Questions for community members included:
•”What programs would you like to see offered or expanded?”
•”Is Shawnee College an option for your education goals?”
Comments also were welcomed regarding where the college should focus its efforts for the next three to five years.
The survey was similar for business leaders, asking questions like:
•”In the next three to five years, what will be the greatest need(s) facing your business in terms of employee skills and educational attainment?”
•”Do you feel Shawnee College is currently meeting the needs of your business?”
Business leaders also were invited to share their thoughts about where the college should focus its efforts for the next three to five years.
A big topic of discussion for some of the community members focused on concerns about why there no longer is a full-time agriculture instructor at the college.
Those who spoke about the matter, who mostly comprised of agriculture students and area agriculture teachers, said since there is no longer a full-time agriculture instructor, a class which is needed to graduate is no longer offered.
Bradford assured those at the forum many times that an educational plan is being developed and that plan is scheduled to be presented in January.
Brent Miller, agriculture teacher at Century High School at Ullin, said he had more than 100 ag students and that an ag program at the local community college is essential for this area.
Miller also stated they needed to look at the ag students’ first two years as a building block, because most of them go on to pursue a four-year degree.
Cobden High School ag teacher Lindsey LeFevre said she didn’t want to push her students towards Shawnee Community College if their needs wouldn’t be fulfilled there.
Bradford encouraged ag students to let the college know that ag is what they plan on majoring in. Currently, the number of ag students showing in SCC’s records is 36. Many believed that number was incorrect.
The topic of the extensions centers was also discussed. Some suggested closing them down to save costs.
Bradford reassured those in attendance that each extension center meets unique needs to the areas that they are located in.
Besides Anna, the college has extension centers in Metropolis and Cairo.
Bradford discussed some statistics about the Cairo extension center.
During the 2010-2011 school year, Cairo had about 700 students. Now, the number is closer to 100.
Some in attendance said those numbers were not accurate and in some cases, the student was possibly counted multiple times, depending on how many classes they were taking.
Towards the end of the meeting, several people took the time to welcome Bradford to the community and shared how much they appreciated Shawnee Community College being in their area.
“We are currently reviewing all the programs and the needs for students,” Bradford said.
She also said the college does its best to serve everyone and is reaching out to alumni to see where they have gone. The data will have an impact on their educational plan.