ITAWAMBA COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – A community college president in our area has recently received two prestigious national honors.
Whether he’s visiting with folks at the first home game of football season, or getting to know students, Dr. David Cole is a man on the move.
“We go to a lot of meetings, we represent the college , but we work very hard here,” says Cole.
Dr. Cole came to Itawamba Community College as president 20 years ago. Recently, he received two prestigious honors. The Aspen Award ranked ICC in the top 10 percent of community colleges nationwide, and he was just chosen for the American Association of Community College Trustees Southern Region C.E.O. of 2012.
He is quick to share the credit for both honors. “All of this is based on the performance of the college and the students that attend here and the innovative programs and practices we have implemented,” adds Cole.
Among those, an initiative to encourage students to earn their associates degree. Since implementing the program known as ‘Graduation, It Matters,’ ICC experienced the highest percentage increase in graduation rates among all 15 two year institutions in Mississippi last year.
Also, under the pace program, every high school senior who comes to ICC takes a course on how to be successful in college. Dr. Cole has also overseen development of the student success center, which provides tutoring and other services for students. There is also a writing center that helps with English courses.
Dr. Cole has also established a reputation as a leader who brings business, industry , and government representatives together to improve educational opportunities, and workforce training. He was instrumental in helping form the Mississippi Corridor Consortium, which is made up of area community colleges who provide training for local industries.
ICC is also in the middle of an $8 million fundraising initiative , to complete funding for a $15.8 million Health Science Education Center at the Tupelo campus.
Accomplishments and accolades aside, Dr. Cole says there is even a more effective measure of the success and influence of ICC.
“We measure economic development by new tennis shoes, new blue jeans and backpacks when students get off the buses. That means mother got that national board certification, has that job making a living in the healthcare profession and can provide for the family,” says Cole.
Dr. Cole heads to Boston next month to receive the AACT Award, and then next summer the Aspen Institute will recognize the top community college in the nation, ICC is in the running for that award. Dr. Cole says the national honors are a testimony to the hard work and dedication of staff and administration who help students achieve their goals, which translates into a positive impact for the entire region.
ICC provides academic and credit enrollment to more than 14,000 students in Fulton, Tupelo and Belden.