by Murrel Bland
I attended the second annual President’s Leadership Breakfast via Zoom, Thursday, Nov. 12, at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Dr. Greg Mosier, the college’s president, told of the school’s plans as it looks to celebrate its centennial in 2023.
A major part of the school’s strategic plan is to build a downtown campus. This new center would meet the educational needs of the downtown and the eastern Wyandotte County Community. Courses would include English as a Second Language, General Educational Diploma classes, biology, chemistry, commercial construction technology and administrative office professional training.
Cooperative partners in this downtown campus would include The University of Kansas, which would offer bachelor’s degrees in biotechnology and social work. Other partners would include the YMCA offering youth and adult programs; the Wyandot Behavioral Health Network offering various social services; and High Aspirations, a youth development agency. The college would continue with its dual enrollment program in which students can earn college-level credits with various high schools including those in the Kansas City, Kansas, District.
The cost of the downtown campus is estimated to be $60 million; that cost would be shared among the various cooperating agencies.
Business and industry here and across the nation are looking to community colleges to provide the necessary workforce. One of the issues in Wyandotte County is the lack of qualified employees for well-paying jobs. Those who are trained at the community college in such areas as machinist or diesel mechanic can expect to start at salaries in the range of $40,000 to $50,000 a year. Some of the best jobs in Kansas are in Wyandotte County. However, Wyandotte County residents rank toward the bottom when it comes to wages. Education is very obviously the solution to break this cycle of wage disparity.
The college also has plans for housing at its main campus. The college would build 100,000 square feet of first-class student housing that would provide 260 beds. It would cost $20 million. Construction could start next year.
I spoke with Dr. Mosier Friday, Nov.13, about the Higher Learning Commission’s recent status change from “Accredited” to “Accredited-Probation.” The college met all 24 core components except for two—one concerning the responsibility for quality educational programs and another for a commitment for educational achievement and improvement. Dr. Mosier said he is confident that his faculty and staff can “promote continuous quality improvement.”
The college has to face the challenge of being an urban institution. Many of its feeder schools are from the Kansas City, Kansas, School District where only about 70 percent of students graduate with their class. Many of those students, despite having a high school diploma, come to the college poorly prepared and must take remedial classes.
The Kansas City, Kansas, School District is now searching for a superintendent. I would hope the school board would select someone who has solid experience as a superintendent in an urban district and is willing to move his or her family here.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.