2008-08-21 / News

College president outlines new vision for Kirtland

Just a little more than a year after taking the reins as the top administrator at Kirtland Community College, the college's president used an allstaff meeting Aug. 11 to outline what he hopes is a new vision for the institution established in 1966.

At the fall convocation, KCC president Dr. Thomas Quinn told staff and faculty members he was providing a glimpse into ideas under consideration by administrators and the board of trustees, and challenged employees to accept new roles in helping redefine how the college serves the region.

"Our communities are changing, aren't they?" Quinn said. "We need to create a new vision. We're working on a new model of leadership. We're all leaders. We're all expected to lead."

The changes outlined include new academic programs, technology upgrades, new and upgraded facilities, plans for student housing and additional satellite campuses. KCC officials have already begun researching new programs, such as a wild fire academy, fire science, medical assistant, pharmacy technician, aviation maintenance, oil well drilling technician and energy technology.

Faculty, staff and administrators cheered as Quinn announced plans to establish an "extension site" in West Branch by the fall of 2009, one that could house a proposed surgery technology program, as well as general education and dual-credit courses. Another extension site might be explored after that, though no timetables for discussions have been set.

"There's a real opportunity to do that," Quinn said of creating the extension sites. "I think we need to start to open our markets … and we need to do that right away."

College officials are also hoping to assist neighboring K- 12 school districts, which more and more are faced with program cuts due to declining enrollment or other financial factors, by offering dual-enrollment classes at area high schools. Discussions are underway to offer dual-credit classes to Roscommon area students as early as 2009.

"We need to be there," Quinn said. "And we need to be there by January. Then, we need to take it down the road to other schools to help out our educational partners."

Another potentially bold step, one which caused a round of applause to rise from the crowd, was Quinn's announcement that Kirtland will seek to offer four-year degree programs in applied technology programs, such as nursing. Kirtland and other members of the Michigan Community College Association are working in support of legislation at the state level that would allow two-year institutions to offer bachelor's degrees in specific areas.

"I know we'll have some opposition to that. I understand it," Quinn said. "(But) we need to change. I always say, 'If you stop getting better, you stop being good.' We need something new. We need to be doing this."

If unable to offer four-year programs directly, Quinn added Kirtland will seek to partner with other colleges and universities to bring those programs here. That could, if needed, include the creation of a "university center" at the college's main campus near Roscommon.

In addition to new programs, administrators and faculty leaders are working on a new course template to eliminate overlaps in scheduling courses. The new template, according to Quinn, could allow students to attend a full slate of courses while having to be on campus for as little as two days a week.

"I commend the people that are already working on that," he said.

Also, in an effort to increase student access to services, Quinn announced he believes Kirtland could be a leader in offering Internet access through the use of T-1 lines, allowing for high-speed Internet access. This would allow the college to offer enhanced online courses, with many students no longer limited by slower dial-up service.

"By 2010, we could redefine 'community' and provide education to everyone connected to a T-1 line," he said. "We'll have raised the bar considerably. We'll be the only college in the nation doing this. We'll have bragging rights on this one."

There will be physical changes on the Roscommon campus, as well. College officials were recently notified they should receive state funding to assist with a $500 to $1.2-million upgrade to its well and water distribution system. According to Quinn, that will help provide the infrastructure necessary for upgrades to existing buildings, as well as establish the footprint needed for the construction of new facilities.

Kirtland recently suspended its existing student housing program. But, once the water and well system is addressed, officials could consider building new student housing, such as a dorm, update the existing Student Center and/or look at a state-ofthe art lab facility for its nursing program.

"I think there are some real opportunities here," Quinn said.

Plans already call for a new student housing options to be defined by the end of 2009. Quinn, himself, recently visited four other community colleges to view their student housing operations and is encouraging board members and other Kirtland officials to conduct similar visits in the near future.

"It could be we have no housing at all," he said. "(But) the decision on that has taken too long already. I'm giving us a year and a half."

Before taking questions, Quinn said that many of the items outlined were more attainable than people might think.

"A lot of things I've talked about we're already had definitive discussions on," he said. "It's closer to being a reality than just a dream."

Currently, about 2,200 students attend a variety of certificate and two-year degree programs at Kirtland's two campuses - at Roscommon, and the Michigan Technical Education Center (M-TEC) in Gaylord - with the college's service area including all or parts of Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw, Roscommon, Otsego, Kalkaska, Missaukee, Gladwin and Alcona counties, and the surrounding areas.

For information on Kirtland, visit online at www.kirtland. edu.

Return to top

Click here for digital edition
2008-08-21 digital edition


Do you agree with the President Trump’s plan to secure schools by arming teachers?