05/29/13 — Community college president urges vigilance with state budget

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Community college president urges vigilance with state budget

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 29, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne Community College continues to be strong in programming and enrollment, but in a precarious economic and budget-making climate, President Dr. Kay Albertson urged the board of trustees to be proactive with contacting legislators.

"The budget, you know the governor has a budget, the Senate has a budget and now it's time for the House to have a budget, and they're moving rapidly," she said.

Mrs. Albertson said the college appears to be positioned well thus far, but there is still another battle to be won.

"Either the governor's or the Senate's budget would be OK for Wayne Community College, but we all know that the House is wanting to cut more money," she explained. "I don't know how education is going to fare."

The president offered to equip the board members with talking points so they could better communicate how the budget vote will affect the local community college.

"I appreciate the fact that many of you have contacted our legislators in the past," she said. "It made a difference with our tobacco smoke-free bill. That didn't go any place. It stopped. So your voices are important to be heard."

Mrs. Albertson has long touted the irony that accompanies an economic downturn, often sending increasing numbers of students to the community college. As businesses downsize, workers enroll in vocational programs or certifications to bolster their skills.

But without the necessary funding to offset the cost of an education, many of the potential students would not be able to pay for the training available at the college.

Grants, loans and scholarships are essential to bridge the gap to education.

Fortunately, WCC has experienced some success in that regard.

"In total right now, we have over $3 million in grants (this past quarter) and that really does help support all that we do on this campus," she told the board. "I think you know that we have been very active in pursuing grants."

Like anything else, that could all change if legislative efforts to introduce a more competitive grant system comes into place.

For now, though, she said there is much to be proud of at WCC.

Its nursing program, as well as areas like information systems and computer technology remain solid, while aviation systems and engineering and manufacturing technologies programs continue to grow and have done a solid job of recruiting students, she said.

"Overall, the spring enrollment is the highest we have had since 2011," she said.

Spring enrollment this year was at 3,815, compared with 3,667 for the same time last year and 3,850 in the spring of 2011.

"Programs ebb and flow," Mrs. Albertson said. "You have to expect that. The economy has an effect on that.

"We are as administrators extremely pleased with our enrollment numbers and holding students completing the programs. We're doing a lot of certifications that do lead to degrees."