Valuable information was shared at the recent Western Iowa Tech Community College Advisory Board Meeting at the Cherokee WITCC Campus.
Besides the Advisory Board comprised of local community members, also in attendance were WITCC President Dr. Robert Dunker, WITCC Executive Vice President Dr. Terry Murrell, WITCC Foundation Representative Carolyn Ellwanger, and WITCC Director of Cherokee Campus and Northern Services Area Darla Struck, who conducted the meeting.
The Board heard The President's Report from Dunker, the many WITCC student scholarship opportunities from Murrell, an update on the proposed Cherokee Wind Energy Program by Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation Director Mark Buschkamp, and a WITCC Conference Center update from Director Nancy Brutsma.
Struck also enlightened the Board about the many student services now available at WITCC in Cherokee, including Academic Advising, Interactive Career Software, Adult Basic Education/GED, Skill Development Software, Disability Accommodations, ESL Software Assistance, Library Services, Computer Lab, Tutoring, College Placement Prep and Testing, Career Counseling, and Transfer Information and guidelines.
Struck also touched on the many scholarship possibilities and combinations available for WITCC students, and Financial Aid packages for qualifying students.
Dunker also emphasized that 95-percent of community college graduates stay in their communities to begin or renew their careers. "Most of our students are not attending WITCC for classes, but to improve their lives and their family's lives. I think about that every time I consider what our true mission is."
Dunker also identified what he termed the most exciting development for WITCC in 2009, and that was the dramatic increase in student enrollment to a record 5,829 credit students. That increase also called for increased facilities, programs, and equipment, and Dunker said WITCC was well-prepared to embrace the many positive changes.
The WITCC President mentioned the new Security Institute that opened in March on the WITCC Campus in Sioux City, a 37,000 square-foot state and locally-funded underground facility that houses classrooms and advanced equipment such as a state-of-the-art driving simulator to train drivers for a wide range of emergency and non-emergency occupations.
In Advanced Sciences, 3-D technology has brought learning to a new level, explained Dunker. And within the Dr. Robert Kiser Building, a totally remodeled cafeteria expanded its space and food options. Also, popular new programs were created such as video game design and dance, and an exciting new partnership with the University of Iowa now allows WITCC associate degree graduates to complete any of three UI degree programs on the WITCC Campus.
Struck also addressed the new WITCC Wind Energy Program, which encompasses the skill sets needed as a technician and/or operator, depending on the career path students choose. A number of certificate and diploma options are available, allowing students to customize their interests and training.
A local Wind Energy Committee initiated by Struck and coordinated by Buschkamp is making strides in exploring the feasibility of locating a wind turbine in Cherokee for the WITCC program.