Community college is ready to respond to new opportunities

Thursday, July 23, 2009

President Barack Obama's American Graduation Initiative pumps $12 billion into community colleges, aiming for 5 million additional community college degrees and certificates by 2020.

Expanded following World War II to serve returning veterans, community colleges are the largest part of our higher education system, enrolling more than 6 million students and counting,

Affordable tuition, open admission policies, flexible course schedules and convenient locations are especially attractive for older students, those who need remedial classes or who can only attend school part-time.

Community colleges are good at working with businesses, industry and government to create specialized training programs in the health, computer, manufacturing and green industries, often delivering them on the work site.

The Mid-Plains Community College area, and McCook Community College, Nebraska's first junior college, are in the thick of it, and action Wednesday night ensures they will stay there.

Dr. Ed Hammond of Fort Hays State University was on hand at the board of governors meeting at McCook Community College. The Mid-Plains Community College board signed a memorandum of understanding which will create seamless transitions between Mid-Plains colleges and the Kansas college.

Our community college already has an ongoing relationship with Bellevue University, and the board reaffirmed the memorandum of understanding with that school following a presentation from Dr. Mary Hawkins, president of Bellevue U.

Another example of the community college's innovative spirit is the recent graduation of the second Work Ethic Camp class at the cooperative Center for Applied Science and Technology. Thanks to CAST, six offenders will carry welding certification with them as they re-enter society, giving them a better chance at a successful life.

Mid-Plains is also celebrating more progress with a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new extended campus location, at 1324 Broadway in Imperial, at 11:30 a.m. MST on Friday. Following the ceremony, a lunch of hot dogs, chips and soda will be served.

Thanks to innovations such as these, coupled with online opportunities, students can obtain advanced degrees without ever leaving their hometown.

Once the recovery kicks in, and we must do everything locally and nationally to make sure it does, the Mid-Plains Community College area, staff and students it serves will be ready.

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