Richmond Community College delivered a successful report for the 2011-12 year during Monday’s Richmond County Board of Commissioners meeting, and shared its plans for growth in the upcoming year.
The report, presented by RCC President Dale McInnis, reviewed school activity within the past year, including acknowledgement that RCC remains the fastest growing college in the system for the second year. Within the past year, the school has seen a growth of more than 10 percent, according to the report, while the system as a whole declined 3.5 percent.
In May, a record-setting 279 degrees were awarded to graduates, and 97 percent of nursing students passed the state license exam on the first attempt. The report also noted that the Medical Assisting and Early Childhood programs earned national accreditation and are continuing to improve employment options for graduates.
“In June, we were awarded $2.038 million from the federal EDA for the expansion and modernization of the Forte Building,” McInnis said. “This is the largest single grant in RCC’s history … Through the support from the county, the Golden LEAF Foundation, a federal grant, and the RCC Foundation, the Forte project is expected to go out for bids in the next 30 days, with construction complete by January 2014. This will provide us with space for our Electric Utility program and strengthen our existing technical and engineering programs.
“As we plan for the completion of the Forte project, we are also looking at new programs in advanced manufacturing, construction and engineering. Our Foundation is in the process of raising the remaining funds for this project, and we have found great support from our corporate and community partners,” McInnis said.
He added that the school’s partnership with St. Andrews University has been a “huge success” and has facilitated growth in Scotland County. Other partnership expansions included UNC-Pembroke and North Carolina State University students having the ability to earn bachelor degrees on the RCC campus.
“Students now have 13 different degree options for BS degrees without leaving Richmond County,” McInnis said.
The college president also reported that the graduation of the first class of Early College High School was an “overwhelming success.”
He also reported a positive relationship between the school and county industry.
“We have strived to meet the needs of industry in Richmond County, training over 600 employees in eight different companies this year, with 100 percent satisfaction reported from those trained,” McInnis said.
County Manager Rick Sago commented that RCC has really “stepped up” its training for these companies.
“The community college is one of the largest economic development assets we have in this county,” Sago said. “Their skilled training is probably the top priority when these companies are expanding or growing or even trying to remain competitive. The college and Dr. McInnis have really stepped up in being a partner in economic development with Richmond County — and myself, as the economic development manager — and it has paid off more than once. They have been involved in every announcement that we’ve made over the last five or six years in one way or another because that workforce is so critical.”
During the meeting, McInnis also commented that the school has an all-time high of 2,511 credit students this fall, which will slow its growth rate down due to capacity limits.
“Our continued growth is dependent on two constraints: financial resources and physical space,” McInnis said.
The school will be offering a new mini-mester, a set of 12-week courses beginning Sept. 24, in order to facilitate student demand.
In other news, the school:
• Saw a state budget cut of more than $1 million, or more than 8 percent.
• Began several new programs this year, including welding, machining, wiring, HVAC and industrial maintenance.
• Incorporated distance learning Internet classes and programs, in which over half of students are participating.
• Continues to complete the college-wide work required for its 10 year re-accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
“Today, I am more optimistic than ever about our college and our county’s future,” McInnis said.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.