By John Wolcott HBJ Freelance Writer
EVERETT — Student success, community partnerships and job skills for aerospace and other industries are top priorities in Everett Community College’s 2012 Strategic Plan approved by the Board of Trustees in mid-July.
Nearly 500 Snohomish County residents and business leaders provided insight and guidance to draft the plan.
College President David Beyer said the plan will guide the college’s solutions for such challenges as growing enrollment, rising tuition, community and business education needs and increasing opportunities for four-year degrees on campus, particularly through Washington State University’s growing presence.
Beyer said an updated strategic plan is required periodically for the college’s accreditation but he emphasized that the document is a daily guide for trustees and administrators, not a project document taking up shelf space.
“We really depend on the plan to guide our institution,” he said. “We pay attention to it and review it regularly to be sure that it’s complete and current.”
The strategic plan also helps the college steer its way through changing events, priorities and resources, he said.
“A lot of things are different right now,” Beyer said. “We’ve lost nearly $10 million in state funding since 2008, we’re going through a lot of staff retirements and the growth in enrollment and education needs continues. Student enrollment was up 11 percent from 2008 to 2011.”
Challenges include the high number of students arriving at college with weak mathematics and writing skills, he said. The college is working with local school districts to address a problem that affects up to 70 percent of new students.
Dedicated to serving the corporate market in the county, the college is increasing its skill training programs for Boeing and other business employee needs.
“We need a lot more short-term training programs, particularly in the growing aerospace field,” Beyer said. “Also, health care is still adding jobs, which is why we’re building our new nursing and health sciences building on campus to help meet those needs.”
Another growth area is for four-year degree programs on the EvCC campus. The college’s University Center of North Puget Sound has for years offered a variety of programs linked to degrees from Central, Eastern and Western Washington universities, The Evergreen State College, St. Martin’s University, University of Washington-Bothell, WSU and Hope International University.
Now, WSU’s four-year degree programs are growing as WSU’s commitment to the EvCC campus ramps up.
Founded in 1941, EvCC had 7,142 part-time students enrolled in the fall of 2010 and 5,050 full-time students, including 34 percent in academic programs, 32 percent in vocation or technical studies, 16 percent in basic skills learning and 18 percent enrolled for personal interest studies, according to a 2011 college study.
“One of our biggest challenges right now is training students for business, aerospace and technical skills through the college’s Corporate and Continuing Education Center and similar business programs,” he said.
That training facility, near Paine Field and the Boeing assembly plant, is undergoing a major renovation to create more classrooms and add additional computer and audio-visual facilities to expand the number of programs and student enrollment. The facility will reopen in December, he said.
“Another issue we’re focused on is spending more time assuring students are succeeding and graduating,” Beyer said. “We often don’t monitor the success rate for students and we will be putting more emphasis on that.”
Increasing tuition and education costs are creating more financial challenges for students, too, he said, noting that “the cost of education is being shifted from the state to the student, not just in Everett but in every public and private institution across the country. … Cost has become a major barrier to higher education and we’re working to do what we can to keep costs down.”
What makes EvCC so successful in providing a variety of programs and a high level of quality education is its connections with the community, he said.
“Our community involvement affects everything we do,” he said. “I’ve been in this business since 1975 and I’ve learned that doing it right means being connected to the community, from Providence Regional Medical Center and The Everett Clinic to the Boeing Co. and to local businesses who tell us about their current and future needs.”
He also credited “an extremely good faculty” for the college’s success in serving students.
The college also supports its education goals by its growing volume of grant writing, development of international student programs and working with local industry and businesses on special programs, Beyer said.
“Our Corporate and Continuing Education programs are paid for by the businesses and individuals who use them, not by state support,” he said. “Also, when we created a grant development office, we were successful as a partner in a statewide effort to win a $20 million Air Washington grant to support community college aerospace training in Washington state.”
EvCC’s strategic plan
Everett Community College’s 2012 Strategic Plan, approved by the Board of Trustees July 17, focuses on five strategic priorities for the college over the next three-to-five years, including:
• Student success;
• Innovation and leadership;
• Community connections and partnerships;
• Cultural pluralism and global readiness;
• Resource stewardship.
Overall, the plan defines the college’s vision, mission, core values and themes and strategic priorities.
The college’s “vision” is to create a better world, one successful student at a time.
The “mission statement” of the college is to educate, equip and inspire each student to achieve personal and professional goals, contribute to diverse communities and thrive in a global society.
“Core values” include valuing, respecting and acting on behalf of each student’s educational needs and aspirations; embracing the transforming value of learning (while) striving to innovate, improve and advance; nurturing a college community that is culturally competent and inspired.
“Core themes” include strengthening communities by providing access to higher education; preparing students to be job ready, technically excellent, culturally literate, ethically grounded, future oriented, skilled in collaboration and prepared to successfully transfer and succeed in four-year institutions.
For more information about the Everett Community College 2012 Strategic Plan, go to www.everettcc.edu/strategicplanning.