EMCC president delivers State of the College Address

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Community College enrollment is down statewide, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be fewer programs.

East Mississippi Community College has plans for more courses.

During the “State of the College Address” at Lion Hills, EMCC President Scott Alsobrooks touched on several topics including the decline in enrollment numbers.

EMCC is down 5% this fall compared to last year.

“We’ve kind of suffered from some enrollment declines over the years, but we’re adjusting and making the changes necessary to make our business solvent,” said Alsobrooks.

Alsobrooks said many counties in EMCC’s district have lost population, that’s why he wants the legislature to waive out-of-state tuition for nearby Alabama students.

Alsobrooks also believes the economy plays a role.

“Nationally, this is a national trend that community colleges are suffering from– enrollment declines. That historically has usually been the case when the United States economy is doing really well. People have the choice of going to work or going to school, often they will choose work and to go out and make some money for themselves,” said Alsobrooks.

One way to get more people interested in going to community college is to provide more classes and degree offerings. The start-up money usually comes from grants.

“We have four programs here. We have turf and landscape management, we have culinary arts, and hotel and restaurant management. We’ve added a baking certificate, and we’re fixing to start a new certificate that is small engine, small motors, small engine motors, but it’s focussed on golf equipment,” said Lion Hills Director Cheryl Hubbard.

Hubbard said EMCC picks its new programs based on the response from the community and workforce surveys throughout the region. EMCC also finds ways to add more courses that go with programs already in place.

“There’s a great need in our community and outside our local community for people who can work on golf equipment. We have a shortage of those, and you’re talking about people who can go out start an income for forty to sixty thousand dollars right out of school,” said Hubbard.

EMCC’s Communiversity is another way the school is trying to provide more workers that graduate from programs or non-credit programs. For the Communiversity to be a success, Alsobrooks said businesses have to continue to stay involved and donate.

Alsobrooks said enrollment will improve when the mentality behind community college changes.

“There’s a tremendous shortage of skilled workers out there, so it’s incumbent upon the community colleges to fill that pipeline of workers for these industries… I think that a lot of our citizens still believe you’ve got to get a four-year degree to be successful in this world, and you don’t. Many years ago to reach the middle class, you had to have a four-year degree… That’s not the case anymore,” said Alsobrooks.

EMCC plans to interview at least three candidates to lead the Communiversity in the coming weeks.

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