Cleveland State Community College President Bill Seymour reminded the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland there is more than one way to measure growth during his presentation Thursday afternoon.
“A lot of times people think of schools as just academic institutions. Many times they don’t think about the business aspect,” he said. “There are a lot of colleges that have gotten in trouble because they don’t pay attention to running a good business.”
He supported his statement with a reminder: Cleveland State used to be fully state funded. The local community college is now partially funded. Seymour said soon the institution will merely be “state located.”
According to Seymour, the college’s focus is more on quality versus the size of its student population. A “special” mission of Cleveland State is for everyone who is interested to have an opportunity for a college education. Seymour explained the opportunities arise from the community college performing from a “position of strength.”
One such program making it easier to attend college is the initiative Tennessee Promise led by Gov. Bill Haslam. The state scholarship measure is open to recent high school graduates. These students can receive funding to attend one of the state’s 13 community colleges or 27 colleges of applied technology for two years.
Seymour said he had been in the president’s office for three weeks when the governor made the announcement about Tennessee Promise.
“I was pretty excited,” he said. “Here I am a new college president and the governor said he wants to send more students your way, and that helps us fulfill our mission even more.”
Almost 40 percent of the students enrolled at Cleveland State are 24 and older. These students do not qualify for the Tennessee Promise program. Seymour said the college plans to look into how funds currently set aside for recent high school grads can be diverted to older applicants.
Financial concerns are only one of the needs presented by students interested in attending CSCC. The institution has also noted the need for remedial classes for recent high school graduates in previous years. This is one reason the college decided to partner with local high schools through the SAILS program.
“Essentially it is teaching the developmental math in high schools. Cleveland State was the first to pilot that a couple years ago,” he said. “The idea caught on. We saw many more regions of the state and community colleges taking that on with their local high schools, to the point the governor has now made it a state program.”
Seymour said relationships are also being developed with local industry powerhouses like Wacker, thanks to the scientific management techniques assessment and training offered through the college’s OneSource workforce.
Seymour explained the college is keeping a keen eye on its strategic plan in order to ensure all action is taken from a position of strength. This position is believed to ensure the college does not miss out on another partnership with local companies and industries.
According to Seymour, a local business has already looked into the possibility of bringing in an “outside college” to provide certificate and associate programs to fulfill their employment needs. (See related story in today’s edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner.)
“I wonder if they had a better sense of what we are capable of doing, we might have had an opportunity, and I still hope we will,” Seymour said. “I am really hoping to push a conversation about this locally.”
He closed his presentation with the announcement Cleveland State will be focusing more of its attention on all five counties in its service area: Bradley, Polk, McMinn, Meigs and Monroe.