I am writing to thank you for your recent editorial about the proactive measures Washington State Community College (WSCC) is taking to address the current state of our enrollment. Like many other higher education institutions throughout Ohio, Washington State Community College is witnessing an enrollment downturn. As your editorial indicated, the strengthening economy has created new job opportunities for many area residents who had spent the previous few years in college enhancing their skill sets. In addition, more stringent federal financial aid guidelines have made it challenging for students to reach their educational goals within the timeframe prescribed by their aid agreements, and, the transition from quarters to semesters has had an impact on enrollment with a record number of students graduating last June.
These factors have served as a call-to-action for the WSCC campus community. Not only do we have a responsibility to our employees to try to mitigate the potential budgetary impacts of our lesser enrollment, but we are also charged with adapting our program offerings to meet the changing needs of our student population. For example, we are expanding our online classes as a means of providing flexibility to students in order for them to continue their lifelong learning goals.
Inasmuch as promoting economic development is a functional imperative of community colleges, Washington State Community College and our sister institutions are now working swiftly to adapt to new regional workforce demands. Take for example the expanding oil and gas industry which has created the need for workers trained in emerging technical areas. In response we are currently developing several new programs, such as Geo Technical Drafting to meet specified industry needs.
In short, WSCC is doing everything we can to support our own outstanding team of faculty and staff in these challenging times, as well as working diligently to keep our community of prospective students aware of the new and nimble educational opportunities that we have available. I also must credit, as did the previous editorial, the tremendous advice and support provided by our Board of Trustees as we determine our direction and implement strategies.
We will always remain committed to student success and to our mission of responding to the regional education and workforce needs with dynamic and affordable programs in an atmosphere that promotes student success. Even in challenging times, this is an amazing college!
Bradley J. Ebersole
President Washington State Community College