A Year In Review
MARIETTA, OH ( February 14, 2017)--Washington State Community College (WSCC) looks back on 2016 as a year of celebration. Not just for its anniversary, but for the success of its students and the growth and improvement to the college.
Last fall WSCC, located in Marietta, began celebrating its 45th anniversary. The school has grown from four graduates in its first year, to more than 10,000 alumni. In that time, one thing remains unchanged—its commitment to fuel the community's future through education, workforce development, cultural enrichment, and community service.
Today, the school has more than 1,600 students and offers over 50 certificate and associate degree programs. WSCC faculty and staff take pride in maintaining a dynamic learning environment who foster a culture of hard work, dedication, and encouragement to help students reach their full potential. In order to accommodate schedules and learning styles, classes are taught in a variety of formats: face-to-face, online, blended (both online and in the classroom), day, and evening.
Washington State's steadfast focus on student success, in alignment with Ohio's success-based funding model, has positioned WSCC to receive both statewide and national recognition. These student success initiatives have made it possible for the College to help more students reach their academic goals through both course and degree completion.
Student success initiatives also include early access to college. Washington State is proud to work with local Ohio high school students through College Credit Plus (CCP), Ohio's initiative to give 7th-12th grade students the opportunity to earn college credits at no cost to them. The program saved WSCC students more than $950,000 in college tuition. Across the state the program is credited with saving families more than $110 million.
WSCC was the recipient of several grants in 2016 that totaled more than $2.37 million. The funds resulted in improved educational opportunities for both current and future students. The College received funds from Rapids, TRIO, Buckeye Hills, Dominion and support for the College Readiness Program. "We've been very fortunate to have received several valuable and highly coveted grants. The money we secured has and will continue to keep us at the forefront of higher education in the Mid-Ohio Valley," said WSCC President Dr. Bradley Ebersole. "The College has invested the funds from the grants in instructional equipment, facilities improvement and program growth and expansion to maintain an academic environment that continually makes a positive impact on the community," he added. The most valuable of the grants, the Federal TRIO grant which supports the Educational Talent Search college access program, totaled $1.98 million. It was the largest TRIO grant ever awarded to WSCC –an increase of more than 30% from previous years, and will fund the program during the next five years. With funds from the RAPIDS grant, the College was also able to complete the renovation in the engineering wing and in the fall officially opened the Center for Manufacturing Excellence.
Mid-last year WSCC began to research and develop a strategy for its new branding campaign. Working closely with a Dayton-based marketing firm, B63 Line, the College talked with faculty, staff, students, community members and some of the College's academic advisory committee members to get a clear understanding of the perception of the College. B63 worked closely with WSCC to take the compiled data and develop a message that matched the vision for the school's future. The efforts included a refreshed logo, a strong ad campaign and a new website that will launch this summer.
WSCC's strength lies in its leadership and 2016 brought new opportunities to compound its influence with the addition of several key figures. In the spring the Governor appointed two new members to the school's Board of Trustee, Dr. Bradley D. Carman of Marietta and Staci Matheney of McConnelsville. Dr. Carman is a general surgeon at Marietta Memorial Hospital and is currently the Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Staci is the Senior Vice President of Retail Sales and Services for Peoples Bank.
The College also welcomed Anna Rittenhouse as the new Executive Foundation Director. Rittenhouse assumed the helm of the College's alumni and fundraising organization at the beginning of August, just prior to the launch of the school's fall session.
At the close of the year, President Ebersole announced his plans for retirement. Following nearly six years of service as President of the College, he decided that effective June 30, 2017 he would take his leave. His tenure in community college education spans more than four decades and includes 26 years at The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC), and three years of living and teaching abroad in Japan and Europe.
Ebersole leaves Washington State a legacy of innovation, growth and academic excellence. He has brought a sense of stability and well-being to the college, changed the culture to embrace student success, significantly improved the physical facility and IT services, and renewed the efforts of the Foundation. His leadership has stood to not only enrich the lives of the students but to our community as well, as he has held prominent leadership positions including chair-elect of the Ohio Community College's President's Council, served on several AACC commissions, and was actively engaged in the Mid-Ohio Valley community.
Looking to the future
Recent research shows Washington State is in strong standing with a bright future. The College prides itself on being responsive to industry needs and its resilience in the face of change, and 2017 brings with it many opportunities of validation, including new and enhanced programs offerings, an updated image, and new leadership.
Beginning in April, WSCC will begin enrolling student in three new programs for the fall: Powersports Tech Training, Associate Degree Welding and Online Business Management.
A portion of the 2016 RAPIDS grant made it possible for the College to offer a one-year certificate in Powersports Technician Training. Students who want to learn to work on motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs and more. Upon completion of the program, graduates can seek employment in a trade that shows promising employment growth with some fields anticipating as much as a 15% spike.
Due to demand, WSCC will also be expanding its one year welding certificate to include a two year associate degree in welding. The College initiated the welding certificate program in the fall 2014 to serve the training needs of the oil and gas industry. The need has grown and last fall the Board of Trustees agreed it was in the best interest of the school and community to seek approval to further develop the program for degree seekers.
Additionally, the College will begin enrolling for its third online program-- the online business management degree. The need for educated talent in the workplace has surged and WSCC is responding by increasing its presence in online education. Online classes, sometimes called distance learning, is a growing trend across the nation. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 25% of students are taking some form of an online course. This program is designed in such a way that it can be completely exclusively online in just two short years while providing the flexibility needed for students to balance work, family and other outside commitments. The Business Management program joins two other existing online degrees as WSCC, Chemical Operator and Liberal Arts Transfer.
Later this spring WSCC anticipates the completion of the renovation of its Commons Area. This student union space will include upgraded student lounge areas, state-of-the-art sound system, revamped food service area, new furniture and more. The completion of this project will mark a significant point for Dr. Ebersole, as it will be one of the final campus improvement projects before his retirement.
Currently, the College is accepting applications for the role of president. WSCC is working with the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) to assist with the search process. ACCT has worked with more than 400 community college searches. Washington State anticipates having the final candidates visit campus in late March. During these visits, everyone throughout the college community will have the opportunity to meet the candidates, ask them questions in campus-wide open forums and provide feedback.
For 45 years WSCC has been making an impact that reaches far beyond its home in the fair city of Marietta. In celebrating its history and the strides made in education, it's impossible to not look to the future with anticipation. The outlook for the College, with its strong foundation, respected leadership, community involvement, and continued growth, provides a clear vision for prosperity. Be Inspired. Be WSCC.