Enrollment, new website priorities for SCCC

SCCC President Brad Bennett listens to comments and questions from community members in the audience at its town hall meeting on March 24.

LIBERAL, Kan. – A major initiative on how to improve enrollment is underway at Seward County Community College.

Enrollment along with a redesign of the college’s website were topics discussed at a town hall meeting held at the Showcase Theater last Thursday. The meeting was the first of several to be held throughout the year.

SCCC President Brad Bennett, who led the event, acknowledged that the college’s enrollment was declining, but it was not an issue unique to SCCC.

“There are 19 community colleges in the state of Kansas,” Bennett said. “In 2016, there were 126,000 students in that sector. Now we have about 104,000. We’re down about 18 percent. When we talk about enrollment, it’s not just a Seward County Community College problem – it’s across the entire sector.”

With the financial uncertainty at the state level, Bennett noted that growth was essential, adding a planning phase has started.

“What we’re doing in this planning phase is getting organized and making sure how and where we want to grow with the idea that in the Fall of 2023, we’re going to have some major growth and a five-year plan will be in place,” Bennett said.

Another priority will be a redesign of the college’s website.

“We need a new website,” Bennett stressed. “I know it’s not fun and exciting. Our website is hard to find and we’re losing students because of that. That’s one of the first things that we’re tackling.”

Bennett emphasized the need for input which will include focus groups from the SCCC Board of Trustees, Liberal USD 480 and community members.

“Community is in the middle of our name for a reason,” he said. “It’s not Seward County College. Some colleges in the state have (taken community out of its name). It’s Seward County Community College. It’s yours. It’s not mine. It’s all of ours.

“That’s why we want to have these town halls,” he added. “We want to hear what’s important to you. What are our weaknesses are and what we can do better.”

Other staffers who gave insight on their departments at the meeting included Norma Jean Dodge, director of business and industry; Celeste Donovan, vice president of student services; Mike Bailey, outreach coordinator; Amber Jones, dean of industrial technology; Eric Volden, admissions director; and Rachel Coleman, director of public relations and marketing. 

A recording of the town hall is available on the SCCC YouTube and Facebook pages.

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