Kaskaskia College Holds Trenton Community Engagement Meeting

Kaskaskia College held the second in a series of annual Spring Community Engagement events at the Trenton House Restaurant on Tuesday, May 21.  The purpose of the meetings, according to KC President Dr. James Underwood, is to share the commitment of the College to the needs of the communities and to gain input from citizens on the operations of the College.


A booklet entitled “Kaskaskia College Report to the Community 2013-14” was distributed to each attendee, and Dr. Underwood led the gathering through some of the highlights of the booklet, including reports on College enrollments, job placement rates, growth, and the efforts to enhance  KC services to the students through new programs, opportunities for higher degrees through partnerships with universities, and the ongoing effort to make programs and degrees available to students in outlying areas of the College district.


Kaskaskia College enrollments peaked at around 12,000 students in 2010, and the College has focused on maintaining those enrollment numbers.  “With the state of the economy in the last several years, and with the constant reports of dropping enrollments nearly across the board at other institutions, we consider holding our enrollment numbers steady to be a victory in itself,” Dr. Underwood said.  “In fact, both our headcount and credit hour numbers have increased slightly over last year.”


Dr. Underwood was also able to report that in a survey of fiscal year 2012 graduates, 91% were employed, with 90% of those employed within 50 miles of the main campus in Centralia.  KC also maintains the 13th lowest tuition rate of the 48 Illinois Community Colleges, according to the booklet, and was ranked number two in Illinois and number 20 nationwide in a study conducted by of the nation’s best colleges based upon student success rates.


Dr. Underwood touted the College’s Dual Credit Program, which allows local high school students to take specially developed courses that also count for college credit.  With a start of only 74 students a few years ago, the Dual Credit program now serves over 2700 students.  Kaskaskia College does not charge tuition for these credits, allowing local families to save as much as one year’s college tuition and associated costs, and fast-tracks students to early completion or transfer.  As a result, it is reported that 53% of area high school graduates who go on to higher education choose KC to start their post-secondary educations.  The national average, according to Dr. Underwood, is closer to 25%.

Another focus was the College’s ongoing Capital Campaign, which has five new building projects in line over the next several years. The first of these projects is an expansion of the Trenton Education Center, for which over $1.1 million has been raised in the past year.  The project will expand the Trenton Center from 3,800 square feet of instructional space to nearly 16,000 square feet by renovating and adding on to the building that currently houses the Center.  “Based upon our past experience in Vandalia and Greenville, we expect to double our enrollments with the new center,” Dr. Underwood said.  “One reason for the expectation of increases in students comes from the opportunity to create new programs utilizing the increased space.  That is why these meetings are so important; it gives our citizens the opportunity to share their needs with us directly, and we act upon those needs in a timely manner.”


In fact, according to George Evans, KC’s Dean of Career and Technical Education, one focus in the new Center will be a Residential and Commercial Electrical Wiring Program that is being developed with the input of local business and industry and the local unions.  This flagship program is expected to draw students from a wide area to the Trenton center, as it will be a lower-cost alternative to some other regional technical programs.


Plans have been finalized and bids for construction of the new center have been accepted.  KC will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the Trenton Center on Friday, May 31.  Other area locations have been found to house classes while the work, expected to be finished in March of 2014, is underway.


The Kaskaskia College Community Engagement Series will continue with meetings scheduled for the Greenville Education Center on June 3, the Salem Education Center on June 4, and the Vandalia Campus on June 17.  All meeting time are from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, and a light meal will be served.  Interested citizens are encouraged to attend.​

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