Kaskaskia College held its Salem Advisory Board meeting at
the Salem Education Center on Wednesday, November 6 as part of its fall
semester series of community meetings.
The purpose of the meetings is twofold; to enlighten Advisory Board
members on the status of the College and its initiatives, and to solicit input
on how it can better serve the needs of the communities.
The Salem meeting was attended by area community leaders and
by administrative personnel from Kaskaskia College, including KC President Dr.
Jim Underwood and Board Chairman Bill Hawley.
Dr. Underwood gave an overview of the College, using
information from a booklet, entitled “Kaskaskia College Report to the Community
2013-14.” Dr. Underwood’s highlights
included stable College enrollments of 12,555 unduplicated students in its
credit and non-credit programs, the status of the growth initiatives the
College is currently engaged in, including several new and ongoing building and
renovation projects, and the success of the College’s dual-credit program,
which has grown from 74 students a few years ago to over 2,700 students
The dual credit program, free of charge, allows high school
students to take courses for college credit, and has saved the families of
students between $1.98 million to over $7.3 million in the past year when
compared to what those credits would have cost in tuition at regional colleges
and universities, according to the booklet.
Janice Eischens, Director of KC’s Salem Education Center,
spoke of the program offerings currently available at the center, and upcoming
courses. A highlight is the graduation
of the first class of Paramedicine graduates from the Salem Center in the
spring of 2013, and the initiative to bring a Criminal Justice degree program
to the Center as part of the College’s Weekend College concept, in which
students take courses on Friday evenings and Saturdays to earn the same credit
as traditional 16 week semester classes.
Dr. Underwood touted the Weekend College initiative as an innovative way
to meet the needs of working adults who want or need to update their skillset
or to change to a more fulfilling career.
Dr. Greg Labyak, Vice-president of Instruction for KC, spoke
of new course offerings at the College, and opened the floor to discussion of
what needs are in the community and how KC can best position itself to fulfill
Salem Mayor John Raymer complimented the College on its
quick response to needs and concerns, and pointed out challenges he sees the
College facing in the near future. One
concern is the need for “short-term certificate and training programs, rather
than full degree programs, to meet the needs of employers and employees, and
the need for vocational, rather than purely academic, counselors to help guide
prospective students to the classes they need.”
Dr. Scott Crothers, KC’s Dean of Student Success, pointed
out that the College was already poised to meet that challenge through new
short-term certificate offerings in several areas, and what he called
“stackable credentials,” in which students may earn short term certificates on
the way to earning Associates degrees.
Dr. Underwood promised to look into the area of a dedicated vocational
counselor for the College.
Dr. Underwood was asked about encouraging volunteerism
efforts for area students and other young people. Kaskaskia College has a volunteerism program
in place to give credit for volunteer work, and encourages students and the
community to take advantage of free college credit by volunteering and
documenting their efforts. “Once people
start to volunteer, and see how good it feels to do things for others, they are
hooked and come back again and again,” Dr. Underwood said. “We are working hard to give people an
incentive to begin volunteering.”