By Joyce Helens, SCTCC President
St. Cloud Technical & Community College recently celebrated 60 successful years of listening and responding to community, business and industry needs in producing the backbone of the skilled work force within St. Cloud and a five-county service area.
During those decades, the college proved to be a dynamic and flexible institution, studying trends, and adding and updating curriculum and programs to stay relevant to the market and community demands for service.
Many of you remember the days of the St. Cloud Area Vo-Tech, which became a technical institute and then a technical college -- the name changing to reflect an enhanced mission.
In 2003, the community again wanted more from the college, which already was providing quality applied technical education and training. The community wanted a quality, cost-effective, first two years of academic education that could be transferred to four-year colleges.
The college initially collaborated with Anoka Ramsey Community College to offer the associate of arts degree at our campus. By 2006, we not only had the Anoka Ramsey degree offered, but our full-time faculty was successfully teaching liberal arts and sciences curriculum they had developed. Mean
while, our facilities were renovated.
Ultimately, it took six years as we assessed the results of a steadily growing student population and consulted with our communities, employee groups and students before we declared the intent to enhance the 60-year technical mission again by transitioning to the St. Cloud Technical & Community College.
Today, because of our well-thought-out business and facilities planning, the college has state-of-the-art facilities and faculty who deliver the curriculum necessary for the associate of arts degree.
This option also assisted our technical students in maintaining financial aid when the technical programs they were interested in were at capacity or when they were undecided on programs.
Our communities and the support of St. Cloud State University helped immensely, and the Minnesota State board of trustees approved our mission enhancement request in November 2009. In January our name change was approved, and we officially became St. Cloud Technical & Community College.
The mission and name change occurred in a time I call both historic and unprecedented. We have historic enrollment increases of 15 percent in a time of unprecedented funding reductions. And although we run a very lean organization, we still continuously focus on student success. Students matter. Their stories matter. Their circumstances matter.
Our students come from all walks of life and circumstances. Many have recently lost jobs and some have even lost their homes. Many are starting over by retraining or enrolling in programs that will give them new opportunities to acquire a better quality of life.
Some are starting college for the first time or are the first in their families to attend college. The stories of sacrifice from our students coupled with their drive to succeed makes us all proud to be here to assist them. So we listen and respond, continuously looking for new and flexible ways to make our first class education even more accessible.
And everyone pitches in to make this happen.
That is why we created more opportunities for students to enroll in flexible class options such as our 6:30 a.m. anatomy and physiology class, our part-time evening practical nursing program, or the proposed nursing mobility program.
We have "unbundled" some technical program curricula so that people who need shorter term technical skills can get it quickly and keep their jobs. We have also increased online course offerings to maximize enrollment flexibility.
Equally as important to our student success agenda are the partnerships we developed with the Stearns Benton WorkForce Center and with St. Cloud State University to take advantage of shared services and create new efficiencies and programs.
We do all this because we strive to offer our students a "well-lighted" path to higher education and training, which we believe can help keep our communities stay strong. It is an honor to serve in this way, and I always want to hear from you on how to improve those services.