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Today's News Full Articles for 3/25/2014

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Today's News

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

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System News

KCTCS Names New Vice Chancellor for Economic Development and Workforce Solutions
By Kristi Middleton

​The Kentucky Community College and Technical System (KCTCS) has chosen Dr. Larry Ferguson as the vice chancellor for economic development and workforce solutions. Ferguson was selected following an extensive national search. He is currently the dean of resource development and external affairs at Ashland Community and Technical College.   He begins work in his new role with KCTCS on April 16.

Ferguson has more than 20 years of workforce training experience in both the private sector and higher education. He has been engaged in workforce development for multiple industry sectors including manufacturing, financial services, information technology, and healthcare. Ferguson also has significant experience in economic development at both the local and state levels.

"I am elated to get the opportunity to work with each of the KCTCS colleges and our close partners at the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet, the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet and the Governor's office. Together we can work synergistically toward our mutual goal of enhancing the workforce and economic development of the Commonwealth," said Ferguson.

He is actively involved in a wide variety of community organizations including serving on the executive board for the Northeast Kentucky United Way and the TENCO Workforce Investment Board.

Ferguson earned a bachelor of science degree in organizational leadership and a master of science degree in strategic leadership from Mountain State University. He also completed a doctor of philosophy in educational leadership from Trident University.

In his new role, Ferguson will serve as the primary KCTCS point of contact for global, national, and regional companies seeking workforce training services in Kentucky. Ferguson will support and collaborate with Workforce Solutions leaders and presidents at each of the 16 KCTCS colleges. 


GRIFFITH FINDS HIS WAY AT BSCTC
By Joshua L. Ball

​Two years ago, Kyle Griffith was at a crossroads many high school seniors find themselves at this time of year.

 

He was an accomplished student, ranking third in his senior class at Allen Central High School.  He attended the Floyd County Area Technology Center while at Allen Central and participated in SkillsUSA, a national partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce.

 

SkillsUSA and the Mayo campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College have shared a longstanding partnership in providing regional Area Technology Center students a facility to compete in a regional competition.  It was here that Griffith found his passion.

 

"I didn't want to just go to college, I wanted to find a career," he said. "I think everything happens for a reason, and when I toured the Mayo campus and saw the facilities, I knew this was where I wanted to study."

 

Griffith met Stephen Music, an Industrial Maintenance instructor at BSCTC's Mayo campus, during his senior year while competing in the Machine Tool Technology competition with SkillsUSA.

 

"Immediately, I knew he [Music] was genuinely interested in my success," said Griffith.

 

Music knew Kyle had something special when he met him.

 

"You could feel he had a desire to learn," said Music. "That has carried on over the past two years. He's an ideal student, and I have no doubt he will be very successful."

 

Griffith, 20, has made the most of his college experience.  He was the first student in a technical program to be named to the prestigious Honors Program at BSCTC.  Created in 2005, the Honors Program provides full-paid scholarships to recipients and focuses on students as holistic individuals stressing open-mindedness, individuality, creativity and free thinking.

 

Part of the scholarship also allows Griffith and other recipients to take an Honors course taught by BSCTC President/CEO Dr. George D. Edwards.

 

"Dr. Edwards is a man of great character and demonstrates the kind of leadership we all strive for," said Griffith. "The class has opened my eyes to a world of great opportunity."

 

Dr. Edwards said the course is a chance to engage students to discover their individual possibilities, while reaching their ultimate potential.

 

"We want to prepare our students for promising futures in diverse careers," said Dr. Edwards. "Students like Kyle show our future is in capable hands."

 

Griffith will graduate in May with an Associate in Applied Science degree in General Occupational/Technical Studies. He will also earn a diploma as an Industrial Maintenance Technician and certificates as an Industrial Maintenance Machinist/Mechanic, Industrial Maintenance Electrical Mechanic, Industrial Maintenance Mechanic Level I and Industrial Maintenance Mechanic Level II.

 

Charles Vanhoose, who teaches Electrical Technology on the Mayo campus, said Griffith is a "thinker and never afraid to tackle a challenge."

 

Griffith is modest of the accolades. "I've been fortunate to have many teachers who have cared about me and my success."


SOMERSET COMMUNITY COLLEGE ACCEPTING ENTRIES FOR ANNUAL PHOTO CONTEST; WINNERS ANNOUNCED AT EARTH DAY CELEBRATION
By Nancy Phelps

​Some of the Earth's greatest beauty can be found during a brief walk in a forest. Now, taking just the right picture of this beauty could make you a winner.

 

Somerset Community College's Fruit of the Lens photography club is now accepting entries for their amateur photo contest. "Earth, Wind & Fire" is the theme of this year's competition. 

 

Money raised by SCC's PRIDE club will be used for first ($50), second ($25), and third ($15) place prizes. Certificates of honorable mention will also be awarded.

 

Winners will be notified and recognized at the SCC/East Kentucky PRIDE Earth Day Celebration on Sunday, April 27 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The celebration will be held at SCC's Somerset Campus, 808 Monticello Street, Somerset, KY. There is no admission charge for this unique event and everyone is invited to attend.

 

Besides including some allusion to "Earth, Wind or Fire," submitted photos should have been taken in south-central Kentucky.

 

"This contest is a great way to express your inner-person in regards to how you feel about nature," said Nikki Witt, photography club president.

 

The SCC student encouraged everyone to enter and noted that the competition "gives amateur photographers a wide platform to show their talents."

 

Each submission needs to be approximately one megabyte (1 MB) in size, and contain no watermarks, names or time stamps. Professional photographers cannot enter and photos manipulated in programs such as Photoshop will be disqualified. (Normal image adjustments are perfectly acceptable.)

 

Those entering may submit up to three images and there is no age limit. Fruit of the Lens club members who enter the contest will not be eligible to take part in the judging.

 

Submissions will be accepted until Wednesday, April 16 at 11:59 p.m.

 

Email your entries to fruitofthelens@gmail.com. Subject line for each entry should be "Spring Photo Contest" and the email should contain a name for the photo and contact information of the photographer. For more information about the club, visit the Fruit of the Lens Facebook page.


BSCTC’S HUMAN SERVICES PROGRAM A STEPPING STONE FOR CAREERS IN SOCIAL WORK
By Joshua L. Ball

​The world of social work has changed over the years, but the mission remains the same – All People Matter.

 

Big Sandy Community and Technical College offers several degrees, including an Associate in Applied Science in Human Services and Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees, which are stepping stones into careers in social work.  March is Social Work Month.

 

"Social work is a rewarding profession," said Tammy Ball, a licensed clinical social worker and coordinator of BSCTC's Human Services program. "With our country dealing with issues such as educational gaps, health care disparities, mental health access, income inequality and supporting veterans, social workers stand at the frontlines of providing services that enhance the quality of life for so many people."

 

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers are in high demand.  From 2012 through 2022, there is an expected 19 percent increase in employment for social workers, paying an average annual salary of $44.200 a year. Meanwhile, social and human service assistants are expected to grow 22 percent from 2012 through 2022, paying an average annual salary of $28,850 a year.  There are currently more than 600,000 social workers in the United States with another 130,000 people working as community and social service managers.  

 

Big Sandy Community and Technical College provide students an affordable option to a college education. According to the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, students can save on average over $7,000 a year by attending a community college in Kentucky.  Through the Kentucky Community and Technical College's Go2Transfer initiative, students can transfer with ease and confidence at all state institutions and some private institutions to finish their baccalaureate degree.

 

Thelma Fluty Goforth, of Inez, was one of those students. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Morehead State University in 2013.  She completed her basics and took Human Services classes at Big Sandy Community and Technical College in 2010-11 before transferring to Morehead State University.

 

"Taking my basics at Big Sandy Community and Technical College allowed me the time to figure out for sure what I wanted to do," Goforth said. "I thought I wanted to do something else, but after taking Human Services classes at Big Sandy, I found my true passion – counseling."

 

Goforth said BSCTC's attention to student success was a key contributor. "Tammy [Ball] was so helpful," added Goforth. "She took the time to explain everything and help me weigh out the options. She truly cared about me, my road to completion and my eventual success."

 

Goforth currently works as a school-based therapist for a regional organization in eastern Kentucky and is pursuing her master's degree in social work from the University of Kentucky.

 

"Students drive us to do our best every day," said Ball. "We have the task of training and advising students who have dreams and aspirations. All of the faculty here at BSCTC strive to see our students achieve success in the classroom and in life."

 

For more information on BSCTC's Human Services program, contact Ball at (606) 889-4787 or email tammy.compton@kctcs.edu.


OPS officials excited about Innovation Academy's potential -- wherever the campus will be
By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer

​Owensboro Public Schools plans to add a second high school in the next two years.

The proposed name is Owensboro Innovation Academy.

It will mark the first time since 1976, when Owensboro Technical High School closed its doors, that the city school system has had more than one high school.

Superintendent Nick Brake said recently that the academy will start with either one or two grades and add a grade and a program each year until it has all four grades — ninth through 12th.

By then, he expects to have 400 students enrolled and a staff of 12 to 15.

"It will be like a public charter school," Brake said. "Kids would have the option of going there just for a specific program or for the whole high school experience."

But so far, it's a school without a campus.

Last year, the school system was planning to turn the old Texas Gas Transmission building, 3800 Frederica St., into a 75,000-square-foot regional career and technical education center for up to 800 high school students.

In January, it began looking at the possibility of constructing a two-story, 40,000-square-foot building in the parking lot between Owensboro High School and the OPS central offices, which used to be the Daviess County Public Library.

That building could accommodate about 500 students, school officials said then.

Brake said that's still a possibility.

"But the cost is estimated at $8 million," he said. "I think we can find existing space much cheaper."

Some school systems have retrofitted old shopping centers into state-of-the-art career and technical centers, Brake said.

The Courier-Journal in Louisville reported in December that part of the former Value City Department Store in Clarksville, Ind., that had been vacant for five years, was being renovated for a New Tech Network school that is scheduled to open in August for up to 100 freshmen.

That $6 million project is scheduled to be done in phases, including expansion into a former wallpaper store.

The school will eventually house students in grades seven through 12.

"It's a lot more affordable to use an existing building," Brake said. "We're looking at a couple of possibilities now."

New programs coming

While it looks for a campus, OPS is moving forward with new programs geared toward preparing more students for careers.

The system's district facilities plan calls for the new school to have eight tech network classrooms, five tech network labs, an alternative/tech network science lab, a health sciences suite and classroom, a construction tech suite and classroom, a welding suite and classroom, and an engineering tech education suite and classroom.

Brake said the 2014-15 school year will be a time of planning for the new school, which should open in the fall of 2015.

"It looks like we'll be opening at least four or five new career and tech programs in the fall," Brake said. "Maybe more than that."

In January, the city schools announced plans to join more than 20 Kentucky school districts in offering an aviation education program in partnership with the Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education.

The four-year program, Brake said then, is a good way to offer real-world applications for students while also reaching into the STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — curriculum.

The school system is also working with U.S. Bank to create a program to teach customer service skills and other banking skills.

Through the Community Campus program — a partnership between area school districts, colleges and businesses looking at new ways to educate students — city schools will be offering a pre-engineering program focusing on a two-year degree geared toward manufacturing.

Brake said, "We're working on a couple of partnerships in construction, electrical and HVAC work. We'll focus on preparing students for Owensboro Community & Technical College in a technical field."

And, he said, "With all the funding in early childhood education these days, we'll also expand into training for early childhood jobs."

And city schools are planning a program that will let students earn a certified nursing assistant certificate by the time they graduate from high school.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said recently that it expects those jobs to soar by 20 percent in the next six years.

Manufacturing, health care and services

"We'll be focusing on manufacturing and trades, health care and services," Brake said of the new programs being developed for the proposed Owensboro Innovation Academy.

He said, "We're still talking with the county schools about a construction and energy academy through Community Campus. We don't yet know where it will be."

All those programs sound good to Madison Silvert, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.

"That's been the goal of all the work force-aligned program we've had in the past," he said. "We have to look at our current and future job needs."

CNA certification, he said, "improves the chances that they will go on to get a bachelor's in nursing. We need to get them the skills they need before college so they don't have to take remedial classes. That can add as much as 50 percent to the cost of college. The better our people are prepared for jobs, the better our chances are for economic development."

Brake said the new academy has applied for affiliation with New Tech Network, an 18-year-old Napa, Calif.-based network of 135 schools in 23 states and Australia.

New Tech, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, says on its website that it "works nationwide with schools, districts and communities to develop innovative public schools. We provide services and support that enable schools to fundamentally rethink teaching and learning. Our goal is to enable students to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow."

It says its students graduate at a rate 6 percent higher than the national average, enroll in college at a rate 9 percent higher, get four-year degrees at a 17 percent higher rate and complete two-year degrees at a 46 percent higher rate

The site currently lists no Kentucky schools among its affiliated campuses.

"We'll greatly expand our offerings next year," Brake said. "We have to identify leadership for the new school and decide where it will be. And we hope to announce two partnerships (with businesses and industries) within a few weeks."

Digital badges

The school system is also working on a new type of diploma and considering digital badges.

The Alliance for Excellence Education and the Mozilla Foundation have proposed digital credentials that show a student's skills, interests and achievements.

The badges include information about when and how they were earned and who issued them.

It helps employers identify people who have the skills they are looking for, a paper written by the two organizations says.

All these programs are possible because the city school district was named a District of Innovation last month by the Kentucky Board of Education.

That means the district can pursue new educational approaches, free of some state regulations and local board policies.

It now follows its own state-approved plan for improving student learning and performance.

Only seven school districts in Kentucky have been approved for the designation so far. Trigg County is the only other western Kentucky district.

Brake said the city school system is working with Daviess County Public Schools, Owensboro Catholic Schools and "probably with McLean County Public Schools" to open the doors of the Owensboro Innovation Academy to their students as well.

"Some Community Campus programs could go in the new school as well," he said.

And there's a possibility that the alternative school will also be part of the academy.

In 2013, the city school system bought the 32-acre former Texas Gas property with its iconic 50-year-old office building for $3 million from Riverfront JAM LLC — Matt Hayden and Jack Wells — which bought the property in 2012 in a deal that moved Texas Gas headquarters downtown.

But the school system learned that renovating the office building for a school would cost between $8 million and $10 million.

Building a new school would cost between $5 million and $8 million, Brake said in January.

He said the state won't approve renovations unless they are no more than 80 percent of the cost of a new facility.

The operating cost of a new building would be about $50,000 a year, compared to the $350,000 for the old Texas Gas Building, Brake said.

The only way the Texas Gas Building would have worked, he said, would have been if Daviess County Public Schools agreed to lease part of the building for its students or to guarantee that 200 county students would enroll in the programs offered there.

But the county school board said it could not guarantee how many of its students would want to enroll in the new school and couldn't lease property it didn't control.

Brake said part of the Texas Gas property will likely be retained for future school needs, and part of it may be sold for development.

That decision has to be made before anything can happen with a new campus.

If a new building is erected behind OHS, Brake said earlier, plans call for a Community Campus Center on the first floor with an office, conference area, IT lab, manufacturing lab, health sciences lab, industrial lab and construction lab.

A New Tech School would be on the second floor with a teacher-work studio, five regular classrooms, two double classrooms, a science lab, a digital media lab, a distance learning center and a project room.

But if an existing building is renovated instead, those plans could change, based on the space available.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com 

 Source:  Messenger-Inquirer


EMS Leaders Gather for Statewide Summit
By Kristi Middleton

Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel from across Kentucky participated in the EMS Leaders in Kentucky Summit (EMS LINKS), held March 13-14 in Bowling Green.   The summit, organized by the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS), was the state's first and only conference aimed at offering professional development and education tailored to Kentucky EMS leadership.

 

Conference attendees represented 54 EMS agencies and services operating in Kentucky.  More than 20 vendors highlighted the latest tools, training and technology of the field including medical supplies, hospital services, billing, education, electronic patient care software, air medical services and ambulance manufacturers. 

 

EMS LINKS was made possible by support from KentuckyOne Health, UK HealthCare, the Kentucky Fire Commission and Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKYCTC).

 

The Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) brings lifesaving, emergency medical care to the Commonwealth by certifying First Responders and Emergency Medical Technicians, providing licenses to Paramedics and Ambulance Services and establishing standards for education and training of Emergency Medical Services personnel.   For more information on KBEMS visit kbems.kctcs.edu


SKCTC Middlesboro library gets grant for purchases
By Chris Jones

​A grant from the Kentucky Book Fair will allow for the acquisition of leisure reading materials -- especially graphic novels -- for the library on the Middlesboro campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.

Lisa A. Ahlstedt, a librarian at the campus, said a grant for $750 has been awarded. The funding was made by Kentucky Book Fair, Inc. , a nonprofit organization founded to coordinate the annual fair with all proceeds going for support of Kentucky's libraries. The 32nd  KBF was held recently at the Frankfort Convention Center.

 

Ahlstedt mentioned that a small collection of leisure reading materials already exists at the college with the assortment having been placed in a special section. She explained that the term 'graphic novel'

is a book comprised of comics content. Although the word novel normally refers to long fictional works, the term 'graphic novel' is applied broadly and includes fiction, non-fiction and anthologized work. It is distinguished from the term 'comic book', which is used for comics periodicals.

 

She said many requests for the ultra-popular graphic novels were made in the fall semester, and with the $750  grant, the library staff will now be able to better serve students with a broader selection of popular reading materials.

 

"It's a rather unique situation for us to receive the grant," she said. "My impression has been that most recipients of the Kentucky Book Fair grant have been public libraries and elementary school libraries rather than to colleges. We are grateful to receive the money; the students are very pleased to have this collection."

 

In other library news, Ms. Ahlstedt announced Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College will celebrate and participate in World Book Night slated for April 23, which is the birthday of William Shakespeare. Twenty copies of the novel 'Miss Peregrine's Home for  Peculiar Children' will be distributed free of charge to light and non-readers. The project began in Great Britain and Ireland in 2011, and a total of half a million books will be handed out on April 23.

 

For further information about services provided by the staff at the Middlesboro campus library, contact Ms. Ahlstedt at lisa.ahlstedt@kctcs.edu or at 606/589-2145 or 1-888-274-7322.


Senate's state budget cuts debt and building projects, adds cash for universities
By John Cheves/Linda Blackford, The Lexington Herald-Leader
The Kentucky Senate passed its version of the $20.3 billion, two-year state budget on Monday, containing more cash for state universities but less debt and fewer building projects than the House version approved last week.

Senate budget chairman Bob Leeper, a Paducah independent, said he was "very proud" that his chamber cut $1.51 billion in general fund and agency bond debt compared to the House version and stashed $25 million more in the state's "rainy day" reserve fund.

But this isn't the final word. Budget negotiations could begin as early as Tuesday evening between the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic-led House and could continue for the next week. Legislative leaders in both chambers said they did not yet see any deal-breakers, and they're confident the legislature will send a budget to Beshear before it adjourns April 15. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said there appears to be enough "wiggle room on both sides" for a compromise.

Among the big-ticket items the Senate didn't change: proposed pay raises for state employees and school teachers, although the Senate would make teacher raises optional for local school districts; full contributions to the state employees' pension funds; and the restoration of basic K-12 school funding to 2008 levels.

The state Energy and Environment Cabinet later criticized the Senate budget, which it said would further cut the amount of coal severance tax money going to the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing by 50 percent. The $2.6 million annual reduction would slash the office's full-time staff from 145 people to about 85 people, the cabinet said.

"The General Assembly, following the Darby Mine disaster (which killed five miners in Harlan County in 2006), wisely increased funding for mine safety and safety training so that this would not occur in Kentucky mines," the cabinet said in a statement. "The rate of injuries and fatalities in Kentucky mines has been decreasing since that time. With the passage of the Senate version of the House budget plan, every miner in Kentucky will be put at great risk every time they enter a mine."

The state's colleges and universities were winners and losers.

Gov. Steve Beshear in January recommended a 2.5 percent cut to the higher education operating budget, which would have been reduced 17 percent since 2008. The House agreed. But the Senate eliminated that cut and provided more funding — and then erased nearly all of $520 million in proposed bonds for university projects, including $45 million for a science research building at the University of Kentucky, $35 million for renovation of UK's law school and $66 million for a science building at Eastern Kentucky University.

Two higher education projects that survived in the Senate budget were the Breathitt Veterinary Center at Murray State University and an advanced manufacturing facility in Georgetown for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

The Senate also permitted the state's community and technical colleges to move forward with their plans for $145 million in agency bonds for building projects at each regional campus, funded largely by student fee increases, but it imposed conditions. Student fee hikes would have to be approved by a college's board of directors and would have to be spent at that campus, they would expire when a project's debt was paid off, and a project could not move forward unless that college raises 25 percent of the money through local donations by June 20, 2016.

Speaking Monday on the Senate floor, Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, said his chamber's primary goal in higher education funding was keeping tuition affordable for Kentucky college students. That's why the Senate would give the colleges and universities additional spending money while limiting their ability to take on more debt, Givens said.

In a campus-wide email sent out Monday, UK President Eli Capilouto said he appreciated the restoration of operating funds, which would prevent a $7 million cut across campus.

"They are part of our nearly $284 million annual appropriation from the state that we use to fund much of our teaching and learning enterprise," Capilouto wrote. "These dollars are absolutely critical to student success at all levels. It's how we try to fund and increase salaries that keep us competitive in recruiting and retaining the faculty and staff who support our vital work together."

Capilouto said UK officials will work to get bonding authority returned to the state budget for projects that will pay for themselves, such as more work on the new hospital and a new student center.

"Such projects do not, in our judgment, add to state debt levels since we take on the total responsibility for paying for these initiatives using resources we generate internally or through philanthropy," he said.

EKU President Michael Benson said he was disappointed in the Senate's actions because EKU's top priority was funding for the $66.3 phase two of a major science building on its Richmond campus.

"A science building of this magnitude comes along once every 10 years," Benson said. "There are ways to make up a budget cut, but this was a huge investment in our campus."

Among the Senate budget's other variations from the House budget, it:

■ Prohibits state funds from being used to implement the federal Affordable Care Act. The Beshear administration said it's using federal money to implement the law. But Leeper, the Senate budget chairman, said the state could face as much as $100 million in added Medicaid enrollment costs in its next two-year budget as federal subsidies gradually shrink.

■ Adds $1.76 million a year for the Kentucky State Police to rehire a group of 25 retired troopers, to beef up the force.

■ Cuts $3.7 million a year in state and federal funds for private child care provider reimbursement rates and $9 million a year for foster parent reimbursement rates.

■ Eliminates $50 million in bond funding for K-12 school technology; does not provide funding to expand preschool, despite Beshear's request for it; and cuts $13 million in "Flexible Focus" funds that schools use to pay for textbooks, extended school services, safe schools and staff professional development.

■ Drops House language that would require the state Corrections Department to transfer at least 100 older inmates to a privately owned care center that could be opened in a vacant prison in Stumbo's House district in Floyd County.

■ Cuts $500,000 in fiscal 2016 from the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, which studies data and issues reports about the readiness of the state's students and workers.

Source: Lexington Herald-Leader

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Transfer Madness is success for students and postsecondary institutions
By Sue Patrick, CPE

​Transfer Madness, Kentucky's statewide online transfer college fair, scored another slam dunk earlier this month. More than 1,500 students registered for the 12-hour event designed to connect them with transfer advisors, scholarship information, financial aid, and more at statewide institutions.

"Our four-year campuses have grown to understand that transfer students from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) are well-prepared, committed to college, and are as engaged in their learning as students who begin their baccalaureate education at a four-year institution. Campuses have stepped up recruiting and advising, and Transfer Madness is a key strategy to increase the number of students who transition to a four-year campus and persist to graduation," said Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) President Bob King.

"Transfer is definitely a team sport and in order for our students to successfully make the transition they need a team of committed and talented players working for them...both at the KCTCS and at four-year institutions," said KCTCS President Michael B. McCall. "Transfer Madness provided that team support in a comfortable, safe environment.

KCTCS, along with 22 of Kentucky's four-year institutions, CPE, and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, collaborated for Transfer Madness. Of the more than 1,500 who attended the online event, 68 percent were from Kentucky and 50 percent were current college students. The event also drew more than 400 high school students.

Transfer Madness supports the Council's Stronger by Degrees strategic plan to improve the quality of Kentucky's workforce by increasing the number of students who transfer from KCTCS colleges to four-year institutions. One of the goals of House Bill 160 (2010) is to eliminate the barriers students encounter when trying to transfer to a four-year institution, and one of the barriers is a lack of information and engagement between students and transferring institutions.

Students who missed out on Transfer Madness are encouraged to contact the transfer advisors at the four-year campuses of their choice. Students can also check to see how their general education credits transfer and count toward a bachelor's degree by visiting http://www.KnowHow2Transfer.org.


OCTC deserves chance to build tech center
By Staff, Messenger-Inquirer

​We hope we're wrong, but it sure seems like efforts to fund the Advanced Technology Center at Owensboro Community & Technical College could be derailed — once again — by partisan politics.

State Sen. Joe Bowen laid the groundwork for this possibility recently when he suggested that some legislators see the plan to raise money for the building through an $8-per-credit-hour fee as a "tax increase" on students. Bowen is supportive of the project, but if he's tossing that idea out in public, he's certainly heard it more than once behind closed doors with Senate colleagues.

And sure enough, when it came time for the House to vote on its proposed budget Thursday, the "tax increase" on students was a popular talking point. "We continue to cut, but yet we've got all of these projects and buildings," said Rep. Jeff Hoover, the Republican Floor Leader in the House.

To be clear, this is no more a tax increase than any other time tuition goes up on campus. And it's no more a tax increase than when the state chooses to fund a bridge or road with tolls. But in an election year, rhetoric always trumps reality, and that means much-needed community priorities, such as the Advanced Technology Center, often fall victim to politics.

We'd also like to remind legislators that if they had lived up to their end of the bargain a long time ago, OCTC wouldn't be in the position of having to fund its tech center with a student fee. It's been 14 years, after all, since the General Assembly initially approved money for the design phase.

In 2005, the legislature approved $13 million for the first phase, and in 2006, it approved $14.1 million to complete the project. However, then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher vetoed all capital projects in the budget, including Owensboro's tech center.

Four years later, funding for the project was approved by the House but was killed in the Senate. Once again, the project made it through the House budget Thursday but must still gain approval in the Senate — which is why Bowen's comments are worrisome.

By now, we've long since given up hope that state government will actually fund the tech center. Instead, OCTC just needs state government's approval to raise the money on its own. Think about that for a second: After 14 years of broken promises from elected officials, we're reduced to begging simply for the opportunity to raise the money locally — and even that has to involve political gamesmanship.

Under the current proposal, the college would raise $9 million through the $8-per-credit-hour fee and another $4.5 million through a community fund drive. Jim Klauber, OCTC president, is confident the college can raise the money, and this community has shown time and time again, when it wants something bad enough it will make it happen — many times on its own.

We just need state lawmakers to quit playing politics, get out of the way and let those who believe in this project get to work.

Source:  Messenger-Inquirer


'Culture of entrepreneurship'
By Joy Campbell, Messenger-Inquirer

​In six years, Owensboro has gone from "not having much infrastructure for entrepreneurship to having a pretty sophisticated one," said Madison Silvert, president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation.

"We have a state-of-the-art business and research center — especially for the scientific and R&D piece," Silvert said. "The culture of entrepreneurship is starting to come around."

Junior Achievement continues to do a good job of introducing young people to entrepreneurship, but the community has not had much of a focus on adults until recently, Silvert said.

A significant change in the way new companies received support came when several organizations were combined under one umbrella at the Commerce Center building at 200 E. Third St. The resources now available at the center include the Kentucky Small Business Development Center at Murray State University; SCORE — Senior Corps of Retired Executives; and eMerging Ventures, Owensboro's office of the Kentucky Innovation Network.

The Kentucky Small Business Development Center at Murray State University was located at the Green River Area Development District for many years before moving to the Commerce Center.

"It's nice to have these different agencies in one place," said Lois Decker, a management consultant and director of the SBDC. "We have the chamber downstairs and the EDC on the second floor. I get referrals from both of those, and I sometimes refer to them."

Some clients who walk in the SBDC's third floor offices don't know exactly what they need, so Decker and Tricia Hudson, administrative assistant, can channel them to the right office.

About half of Decker's clients are either pre-startup or startup companies. The other half are existing businesses.

"For the pre-startups, I like to talk to them and go through a process to see if they even should start the business," Decker said. A business plan will show whether it makes sense financially, she said.

"For startup companies, usually we help them with taxes, insurance and licensing," she said. "That can be daunting for them at first."

Financing/under capitalization is routinely the biggest stumbling block for an individual who wants to start a business.

"I never tell them not to start it because it's their dream," Decker said, "but I will put up all the hurdles for them to see that it shouldn't be done."

One client, when she couldn't make it work on paper, decided to use her 401K to start the business, Decker said. In less than a year, she was out of business.

"That's the hard thing; to start and lose your savings," she said, "but we've had a lot of successes. And that is really rewarding ... to drive down the street and see the businesses you helped."

The SBDC also keeps up with its clients, including one successful startup business from 30 years ago. That individual has also started other businesses, she said.

Decker can be reached at the SBDC at 270-926-8085. More information is available at www.ksbdc.org.

A group of Owensboro residents who have run successful businesses and nonprofits comprise SCORE. These volunteers coach and mentor people who want to start or are operating new businesses.

The work the EDC does through Emerging Ventures/ the Owensboro Innovation and Commercialization Center and its statewide parent agency, Kentucky Innovation Network, is paying off, Silvert said. Owensboro has been a member of the KIN since 2008.

In 2012-13, the KIN set a goal for the Owensboro office to serve 19 clients. "We actually served 22, and seven were new clients," Silvert said. "We saw 24 technology jobs coming out of this."

Those high-tech, growth startups were funded with more than $2.3 million in out-of-state private funds and $900,000 of in-state private dollars. The ventures included $34,000 in state investments, Silvert said. The businesses generated about $6.6 million in annual revenue.

The "vast majority" of the jobs created were in energy, biotechnology and information technology, he said. "Those three sectors are pretty much the standard trend for startups," Silvert said. "We've had more dramatic years than that, but that was a pretty decent year."

These new high-tech, high growth potential companies do not include what are called new lifestyle businesses. Those are ones that someone starts to generate enough income for themselves and their lifestyles. 

"It's the difference between starting one coffee shop and starting a Starbucks," Silvert said.

The EDC expects to have a new system in place soon that also will allow tracking the lifestyle business startups, he said.

The agency also has been connecting local entrepreneurs with investors through the Kentucky Angel Network. As the name suggests, it links individuals with a statewide network of angel investors and deals.

"Entrepreneurship is a valid vocation, and certainly this is one way people across America can be in the place they want to live — if they create their own job," Silvert said. "And for people starting their own business, we have so many resources to help them make that possible."

What's in the Centre for Business and Research?

A major resource for Owensboro-area startups is the Centre for Business and Research at 1010 Allen St. Businessman Malcolm Bryant has transformed the former tobacco warehouse into an impressive center, and office space is customized as new tenants are signed.

Here are the companies now located at the center:

1. Hollison, a food safety solutions company.

2. Adult Immunizations Management.

3. Craig O'Bryan Graphics

4. Brite Lite Logos

5. Digital Communications

6. DaLisha's Desserts

7. GuitarGoods.com

8. Corporate Design

9. Barkley Technologies

10. Blue Star Consultants

11. Western Kentucky University-Owensboro — research labs

12. Kentucky Bioprocessing — research labs

"We've had some businesses in and out," Berry said. "We want it to be a business incubator for startups."

Emerging Ventures is in discussions with several more companies, he said.

CBR tenants rent their space and receive phone and Internet service, use of a conference room and a copier. "And they get us," Berry said of the Emerging Ventures staff.

It takes from 60 to 90 days to build out space for new tenants, Berry said. The center still has space available.

"At some point, our space availability will require us to address establishing a set graduation date, but we don't have one now," he said.

The EDC and community leaders "are always asking what kind of economy do we want here," Berry said. One of the goals is grow companies that create products that are not unique to one particular area — because competition is global.

Data shows that Stage II companies — ones that employ from 10 to 99 — are where the largest job growth occurs.

"We're trying to get these companies to Stage II," Berry said.

The EDC also continues to seek large industries and to work with existing industries to facilitate expansion as part of its overall recruitment strategy, Silvert and Berry said.

Owensboro's innovation and commercialization center includes the seven GRADD counties. Berry said he plans to meet entrepreneurs in the six other counties, hear their ideas and inform them of the available resources.

Hollison ready for more growth

Hollison, a food safety solutions company, was the first tenant in the Centre for Business and Research.

"In 2006, I was a guy with a great idea — working in a garage," said Kevin Humphrey, the company's president. "I filed the patent in 2006, but still, I had no concept of how to get to market and turn this into a business."

By 2009, Humphrey was running out of things to sell to support his idea. That's when he met Owensboro businessman Malcolm Bryant, president of Malcolm Bryant Enterprises, who introduced the struggling entrepreneur to Silvert.

"I needed what he knew, and he needed a success story," Humphrey said. "That first meeting changed everything."

Silvert shaped Humphrey's business plan and his ability to find investors.

The company's $50,000 investment from eMerging Ventures has attracted $3 million, Humphrey said.

Hollison needed office space since Humphrey's garage didn't suit the experiments he needed to conduct on contaminants.

"Now, in 2014, we have biolevel 2 lab space, and we can do testing with organisms," Humphrey said. "There is no way to do this without this facility. People should be moving their startups to Owensboro."

Humphrey said he probably would have developed Hollison without eMerging Ventures. "Would it be in Owensboro? Probably not. And would I still live here? No."

Another major factor in Humphrey's ability to nurture his company has been "the openness of successful businessmen to mentor us," he said. "You can't buy or build that. It's just the type of people they are."

While he encountered a few closed doors, for the most part, Owensboro's successful entrepreneurs, including Wayne Foster, Jack Wells, Bill Baron, Chris Reid and Malcolm Bryant answered and returned his calls, Humphrey said.

Another step in Hollison's growth came in January of this year when Bo Barron joined the company as vice president of communication and collaboration.

"We were a group of scientists with a salesperson until Bo came on board," Humphrey said. "He organized us, framed our message and taught us to communicate properly."

Barron said his job is to create market presence for Hollison — particularly for Vice President for Business Development Nick Willison, who already has a "systematic, efficient prospecting system" which is "us going after the business we want," Barron said. With market presence, "businesses will be calling us," he said.

The former real estate executive said he will be writing articles, blogging, going to trade shows and using other means to get Hollison the attention it wants in the industry.

"We want to completely disrupt the food safety business," Barron said.

Hollison has created a new, patented, sampling process for testing the air around food at its "choke point" going through the manufacturing line.

The "hold and release" process most often used is about 100 years old, Humphrey said. With pet food, for example, in the current process, the testing involves taking a scoop of the dry, particulate food pieces, turning it into liquid form and testing it to see if it's safe to ship.

"The problem with that is that contaminants on dry, particulate food do not spread, so you have to hit where the contaminant is to find it," Humphrey said. "You're taking a sample, and if it's clean, the assumption is that the product is clean. But there is no way to really know."

Contaminants on the outside of food somehow get in the food. In Humphrey's system created for Hollison, the air is tested and micro-sized tissues are separated from the dirty air and turned into a liquid sample.

Companies can take the vial, which is a lab-ready sample, and have test results in 45 minutes, Humphrey said.

"This can mean millions of savings for companies," he said. "We can sample 100 percent of their product." And huge inventories will no longer be waiting for test results.

The machine that does the testing has actually existed "for a month or less," Humphrey said.

"We struggled to get our product finalized," he said. "And then the 3-D printer at OCTC moved us forward..." The company was able to create the mold for its food testing technology.

"The 3-D printer is amazing technology; what it does for companies like ours is so valuable," Humphrey said. "It saves us a fortune in prototypes. We could not have spent $50,000 on a mold, have it be wrong and then spend $50,000 again."

Hollison just moved into its second lab space at the CBR's Reid Haire Research Wing. The first lab is for final assembly and quality control.

In demonstrating the process, Humphrey shows how an air pump pulls in the air through the back of the machine, and it is pushed into a vortex of water that is shot off and pumped into a vial — becoming the sample of "what was in the air."

Barron named the machine Merlin because, he said, "that's the magic."

In a few weeks, Hollison will be assembling the machines.

"We're projecting to sell 111 of them this year," Humphrey said, "but a company making a site visit in two weeks could buy 200 to 400 units this year."

If that deal is made, more employees will be needed — at least 10.

The testing works for human and animal food, and the company's potential is to serve global clients, Barron said.

"It's easy to chase everything," Humphrey said. "We're trying to remember that we're still four to five guys in Owensboro."

Joy Campbell, 691-7299, jcampbell@messenger-inquirer.com

Source:  Messenger-Inquirer


Open Enrollment Underway at WKCTC;
By Janett Blythe

​Enrollment is underway for the summer and fall semesters at West Kentucky Community and Technical College.

 

WKCTC offers more than 200 associate degree, diploma, and certificate options with multiple career pathways in more than 40 academic and technical programs.  Students can take day, evening, as well as online courses that are designed to accommodate students' busy schedules. The first of three summer sessions begins May 19. Fall classes begin August 14.

 

Students can apply now for financial aid at fafsa.ed.gov for the spring semester. The financial aid priority deadline for summer is April 15.   The financial aid priority deadline for fall is July 15. Students applying after this date must make payment arrangements and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form at the Web site listed above.

 

Students can register for classes in the WKCTC advising center located in the Anderson Building, Room 106, or by contacting Amanda Scheidegger, WKCTC admissions advisor, at (270) 534-3110. Advisors are available to help with the registration process in the advising center from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday - Thursday and from 8:00 a.m.  to 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

 

Students are encouraged to make an appointment to avoid waiting during registration. Appointments are available by calling the advising center at (270) 534-3408.

 

Students can also submit an online application at http://westkentucky.kctcs.edu/en/admissions/apply.aspx . No fee required. Students submitting an online application must still register for classes.


HCC Pledges to Support ‘Got Your 6’
By HCC, SurfKy.com

​Hopkinsville Community College has signed a pledge to join the Education Pillar of Got Your 6 and support student veterans by implementing and enhancing resources, programs and policies to support this population.

Got Your 6 is a movement led by a consortium of major film and television studios, broadcast and cable television networks, talent agencies, and guilds that are united in changing the conversation in America with regards to veterans and military families. HCC is joining dozens of colleges and universities nationwide committed to heighten their support for current and future students who are also military veterans.

Leading the Got Your 6 Education Pillar: Transitioning through Education efforts are the Pat Tillman Foundation, Student Veterans of America and Operation College Promise who are working collaboratively to collect pledges from 500 colleges and universities by June 2014.

“Working together, the Pat Tillman Foundation, Student Veterans of America and Operation College Promise have selected a leading group of institutions that will make the commitment to the Got Your 6 Education Pillar, including Hopkinsville Community College,” said Chris Marvin, Managing Director of Got Your 6. “It is our mission to ensure many more colleges and universities will join us in pledging to support our veterans which will have a lasting and positive effect not only on campuses, but in communities all across the country.”

“HCC is dedicated to serving the military student. We are honored to be one of the few colleges that has a presence on Fort Campbell,” explained Allisha Lee, HCC Fort Campbell campus director. “We are always looking for ways to further support these military students and their unique needs. In 2012 HCC opened a Veterans Program with resource facilities at both Hopkinsville and Fort Campbell Campuses. Just this week the college’s Student Veterans Organization was accepted into the national chapter and will be having meetings alternating between campuses.”

HCC student Cole Reece commented on the college’s service to soldiers who are reintegrating and looking for a college. “When I left the Army I enrolled at a 4-year college and really didn’t succeed. I came to HCC and talked to someone in Veterans Services then enrolled. I have excelled here and will graduate with an associate in science degree in May with plans to apply for the nursing program. The smaller class sizes, interaction with professors and HCC’s advising approach has made the difference in my success.”

Cole is currently a student worker at HCC in Veterans Services.
Source:  SurfKy.com

Brandy Durman pays it forward, turning tragedy of husband’s death into triumph
By Ann Blackford, KyForward

Brandy Durman was a radiography student at Bluegrass Community and Technical College when her husband, Lexington Police Officer Bryan Durman, was killed in the line of duty by a hit-and-run driver on April 29, 2010. Her entire life changed that night and, she depended on the love and support of others to help her through some of her darkest days. Little did she know at the time that she would some day take her personal tragedy and use it for good to help others in similar situations.

The days following Bryan Durman's death were surreal to Brandy, and she says she had to live from moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day. She has a military background working in crisis management and she knew she had to keep herself together, especially for her son Brayden, who was 4 years old at the time.

"Grief is much more physical than people realize. I remember being in pain. My heart hurt. Grief is both physical and emotional," she said.

Durman returned to BCTC in the fall following her husband's death for her first rotation in surgery clinicals but she soon realized that everything about the hospital — the sights, the sounds, the smells, the sight of trauma — reminded her of the night her husband died. Although she didn't know at the time what she wanted to do, she knew she could not work in that particular setting.

As she mulled over what to do next and while attending the trial of Glenn Doneghy, the man who would eventually be convicted of her husband's death, she began working with Victim's Administration with Commonwealth Attorney Ray Larson. Soon, what could be described as a door to a new beginning was opened for Durman.

A social worker with the Commonwealth Attorney's office, Mary Houlihan, came to her home shortly after Bryan Durman's passing. Houlihan was also a law enforcement wife and she walked Brandy through the entire court process, preparing her for what she might see and hear.

"She knew all about the law and could discreetly explain things when I didn't understand something that was said in the court room," Durman said. "Basically, Mary manages other people's tragedies. She also suggested my son see a counselor to help him conquer his grief."

Houlihan was a pivotal person in Durman's life the stressful weeks and months of Doneghy's trial. Houlihan would say something to Durman that would have a huge impact on her future: "People who have experienced trauma are often the best counselors."

"Her commitment to helping others inspired me to take that direction with my own life. I am so glad I made that choice because I have been able to use my story and my experiences to positively impact the lives of others."

Durman enrolled in the University of Kentucky College of Social Work in the fall of 2011 and is set to graduate this May, one day before what would have been her husband's 31st birthday. She plans to attend graduate school at UK and to pursue certification as a licensed clinical social worker.

A large part of Brandy Durman's work while at UK has been with advocacy of stronger laws that require offenders convicted of manslaughter in the 2nd degree or reckless homicide to serve longer sentences. The catalyst for her advocacy was learning that Doneghy, who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years for Bryan Durman's death, would have to serve only 20 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole under the original statue.

Brandy Durman felt disbelief over the way the law was written, and with the support of local politicians, she began to lobby in Frankfort for policy change. She met with Sen. Alice Forgy-Kerr, R-Lexington, who became instrumental in changing the law.

When Gov. Steve Beshear signed the Bryan Durman Act on April 29, 2013, exactly three-years after her husband's death, anyone convicted of manslaughter in the 2nd degree or reckless homicide of a public servant must now serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before they can become eligible for parole.

"The College of Social Work has been amazingly supportive while I have been out of classes lobbying. Faculty members as well as classmates have attended sessions in Frankfort and have helped hand out flyers at community events. I can't think of a profession more supportive than this," Durman said.

Passage of the Bryan Durman Act was a bittersweet moment for Durman. The new law does not impact Brandy Durman or her family's situation, but it can change the circumstances for other victims of crime in the future.

"The whole reason I am in social work is to pay it forward," she said. "I had a social worker hold my hand through the darkest moments of my life, and she spoke for me when I could not speak. Now that I have a voice, I want to speak for others."

Source: KyForward


Budget top item for state leaders
By ROBYN L. MINOR, The Daily News

​Kentucky Senate lawmakers this afternoon are expected to vote on the state’s budget, and a conference committee could come to an agreement on how schools can make up excessive snow days.

Because this is the last full week of the legislative session, the Senate will be focused on the budget and transportation bills, both already approved by the House.

DN Blank rail NEWS short 
 
 

“The budget will be the top priority, and we will roll out our version today,” said Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg. “It should be voted on about 4 p.m., and from there, it will go into the conference committee. The sticking points, historically, have been the structural imbalance with all of the fund transfers that we do. The other sticking point has been the debt ratio, and we will try to get that down. Those will be the main points of contention.”

Givens, a member of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, said the Senate version also differs in how it funds higher education.

The House version cut higher ed funding by 2.5 percent but allowed schools to construct buildings using both agency and general fund bonds, something which the Senate speculates will force a rise in tuition.

“So I think institutions will be pleased with what we have proposed,” Givens said.

The Senate also is coming up with its own plans about how the Kentucky Community and Technical College System can fund building projects. A previous plan allowed KSTCS for an $8 per credit hour fee across the state to help pay for projects.

Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, said it appears that at least two of the Senate’s three stipulations over snow makeup days will remain in the bill that could be finalized today. Wilson, a member of the conference committee, said the Senate version allowed for schools to make up the days to reach 1,062 instructional hours; however, they wanted to schedule them and have the state give approval. Another provision would allow schools that aren’t used as polling places to remain open Election Day.

“Now we are working on the portion of what districts do if they can’t reach the 1,062 instructional hours (without going numerous more days) and how we handle that,” Wilson said.

As for the transportation plan, Wilson said he is working to get money put back in for at least one Warren County project that was minimized. An original proposal had $500,000 for improvements to Hennessey Way near Fruit of the Loom North, which is an access road along Louisville Road. That funding was reduced to $100,000 in the House version.

“I have been talking to the mayor, and he thinks they can make it work if we can get the number up to $280,000,” Wilson said. “I’m pretty sure the airport funding will stay in. I have talked to the Transportation Committee chairman, and I have gone to bat with that and he is in favor of keeping it.”

The state would provide $750,000 to help attract a commercial airline service, provided that a combination of local and private funds also are used.

“There are a lot of House bills that will probably be going out this week (from the Senate), and hopefully, some of the Senate bills will go out from the House,” Wilson said.

State Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, said the Local Investments for Transportation legislation could get a vote today in the House after House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, changed his mind. A vote in favor of LIFT would allow for a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot giving local governments the authority to enact a local sales tax to be project specific.

“It can be argued each way, and I’ve got back and forth on it,” DeCesare said. “It is putting the authority in local hands, which is a good thing. But it still is a tax increase. I know one thing that turned me off was the LIFT people ran some robo calls this weekend ... and I was one of the people targeted. ... The call said there was going to be a vote today, so they know more than I do.

“We’ve been hearing some rumblings that maybe the gambling legislation might come up for a vote, but I will believe that when I see it,” he said.

Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, said he feels pretty confident that the airport funding will remain, as will $2 million for the Gatton Academy at WKU.

That money would allow the school to add 80 more students, 100 for each class, bringing enrollment total to 200 high school juniors and seniors.

“That was based on a gift of $10 million to enlarge the building to accommodate the additional students,” Richards said. “I don’t know what is going to happen on LIFT legislation. There are several other bills still out there, including my bill to give legal immigrants and refugees longer to graduate high school. That came out of Senate committee last week.”

Richards said there are five days in session this week to pass legislation. Two more days next week may be used to concur with each other’s legislation.

Source:  The Daily News


Latest KCTCS News Releases

The latest KCTCS news releases can always be found on KCTCS.edu.

State News

Beshear, Rogers announce leadership of SOAR initiative for Eastern Ky.
By Bill Estep, Lexington Herald-Leader

A panel of people with long experience in education, business and other fields will help guide an effort to expand and diversify Eastern Kentucky's beleaguered economy.

Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced Monday the executive committee of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR, initiative.

The two also announced the leaders of 10 work groups that will help identify development strategies in agriculture, business recruitment, health, tourism and other areas.

The goals for the initiative over the next few months include hiring a permanent executive director, holding a series of "listening sessions" so more people can help come up with plans to boost the economy, and a summit meeting in November.

Beshear, a Democrat, and Rogers, a Republican, pledged that SOAR will produce results, not just a series of meetings.

"We're gearing up to create quality jobs," Rogers said at a news conference in Hazard. "When you're talking about the future of our region, we want action."

However, the two said it was important to first create a structure to guide the effort. That was one key recommendation that came from the initial SOAR summit last December in Pikeville.

People at the summit submitted hundreds of potential ideas for developing the economy, highlighting the need for a body to organize the effort to come up with a development plan for Eastern Kentucky.

It was clear at Monday's news conference that people involved in the initiative are looking past the next few months. For instance, one goal of the working groups is to come up with three to five priority ideas to develop over the next three years.

In addition to the executive committee and the panels focused on particular areas, the effort includes a development committee to focus on raising money to pay for the initiative.

Beshear has asked lawmakers to approve $400,000 for SOAR over the next two years. He said Monday that he's optimistic that the legislature will include that money in the final state budget.

The leaders of the legislature — House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers — have been supportive of the initiative and are on the executive committee.

However, another key recommendation from the December summit is that the permanent structure of SOAR needs a source of money that doesn't depend entirely on government.

The development committee is led by Jean Hale, chairwoman, president and chief executive of Pikeville-based Community Trust Bank. The committee will try to get money from government, the private sector and philanthropies.

"A vision without funding is a hallucination," Rogers said.

However, there already are a number of proposals and programs to finance projects in the region, Beshear said.

The governor has asked for $750 million to upgrade the Mountain Parkway over the next six to 10 years and $60 million in bonding capacity to improve high-speed Internet service in Kentucky, beginning in the eastern end of the state. Rogers secured $10 million through the Appalachian Regional Commission for the broadband project in his district.

In January, President Obama announced eight counties in the region had been designated a Promise Zone, giving them priority for federal funding — something it also will receive through a separate U.S. Department of Agriculture program.

Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation also has set up a $2.6 million loan fund for 22 counties in the region.

The plan to continue SOAR comes at a time when a sharp downturn in the Eastern Kentucky coal industry has brought a feeling of crisis.

Coal companies have laid off about 7,000 miners and other employees since early 2012. That was nearly half their work force in Eastern Kentucky, and that doesn't count the impact of those layoffs on other businesses.

The Central Appalachian coal industry faces challenges from cheap natural gas, tougher environmental regulations and relatively high mining costs.

A lot of people in the region are hurting, but there are opportunities and reason for hope, leaders involved in the SOAR effort said.

"I see us overcoming a lot of hurdles over the next several years to come," said Pikeville city manager Donovan Blackburn, who will be managing director of the initiative.

Beshear and Rogers will co-chair the executive committee announced Monday. The other members are Hale; W. Bruce Ayers, who retired last year after more than 27 years as president of Southeast Community and Technical College in Harlan County; coal executive Jim Booth of Martin County, head of Booth Energy; Rodney Hitch, economic development manager for East Kentucky Power Cooperative in Winchester; Lexington businessman Jim Host; Tom Hunter, who retired recently as director of the Appalachian Regional Commission; Kim McCann, an attorney from Ashland; Haley McCoy, economic development advocate with Jackson Energy; and Bob Mitchell, who was Rogers' chief of staff for three decades before retiring in 2012.

The committee includes four representatives of state and local government: Stumbo, Stivers, Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock and Magoffin County Judge-Executive Charles "Doc" Hardin.

Chuck Fluharty, head of the Rural Policy Research Institute, will be interim executive director of the initiative.

The 10 areas in which committees will focus on developing strategies are agriculture and regional and local foods; broadband; business recruitment; business incubation; education and retraining; health; infrastructure; leadership development and youth engagement; regional collaboration and identity; and tourism, which is to include natural resources, arts and heritage.

Those committees are open to anyone. More information is available by calling (606) 444-5127 or (606) 437-5127.

The SOAR initiative includes a committee to plan and hold a "futures forum" in spring 2015 that will consider a long-term vision for Eastern Kentucky. Former Gov. Paul Patton heads that committee.

​Source: Lexington Herald-Leader


Kentucky universities boost enrollments, degrees
By Ed Green, Business First

The University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville — the state’s largest universities based on enrollments — each reported slight increases in enrollments for the latest academic years, capping off a decade of steady increases in university attendees.

That upward trend was common at public universities across the state as enrollments in degree programs rose 9 percent from 2003 to 2013, according to the latest enrollment report from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

Compared with 2012, enrollments at universities statewide were up 0.1 percent, to 128,598.

At UK, enrollments were up 1.6 percent from 2012 and 11.9 percent from 2003, to 29,385 students in 2013.

At U of L, enrollments were up 1.1 percent from 2012 and 5 percent from 2003, to 22,529.

The enrollment numbers include students in both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Overall, the state had 128,598 students enrolled at public, four-year universities in 2013, an all-time high, according to a news release from the council.

The report noted that while four-year public sector institutions posted gains in 2013, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System saw a 4.7 percent drop in enrollments, to 92,365 students.

Since 2003, KCTCS enrollment has risen 14.5 percent, according to the report.

“This decline reflects national patterns of two-year colleges that are more closely aligned to economic forces,” the release said. “As the job market improves, an increasing number of students return to the workplace.”

To view the report for the public colleges and universities, click here.

An earlier CPE report on degrees conferred by public institutions shows that the number of degrees awarded outpaced growth in enrollments — meaning more students are completing their degrees.

According to that report, degrees awarded in 2013 by public universities totaled 25,511, which was up 31.1 percent from 2003.

U of L conferred 4,782 degrees in 2013, up 31.8 percent from 2003. UK conferred 6,164 degrees in 2013, up 24 percent from 2003.

To see the full report on degrees awarded statewide, click here.

Source: Business First


National News

Why are community college students defaulting at such high rates?
By Brittany Hackett, Community College Daily

Community college students have traditionally been less likely to take out student loans than their counterparts in other sectors, largely due to lower tuition costs. However, the number of students who attend two-year institutions receiving financial aid has increased from 61 percent in 2006–07 to 74 percent in 2010–11, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). On average, students at two-year public institutions who received student loans in 2010–11 were awarded $4,800, NCES data show.

Not only are community college students borrowing more money, community colleges now have the largest two-year cohort default rates (CDR) of any higher education sector, according to recent U.S. Department of Education data. The two-year community college CDR was 15 percent for the FY 2011 cohort, and the three-year community college CDR was nearly 21 percent for the FY 2010 cohort.

But if community college students still borrow less than their counterparts at four-year institutions, why are they increasingly defaulting at such high rates? And why is borrowing increasing, especially when tuition and fee amounts are relatively low compared to other institutions?

Myriad reasons

The answer is probably more complicated than a lot of people realize. Many community college students transfer in from other institutions where they have already accumulated large amounts of student loan debt, explains Joan Zanders, director of student financial aid and support services at Northern Virginia Community College, which serves more than 75,000 students.

The current CDR calculation makes it impossible to differentiate between the total amount a student borrows over the course of a college career and the specific amount borrowed while attending community college, Zanders says. If the student’s last place of college attendance was the community college, the student is automatically made a part of that cohort.

Laurie Wolf, executive dean of student services at the 23,000-student Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa, has seen similar situations at her institution, adding that some students have no choice but to take out loans for certificates and degrees in fields with low salaries, such as day care.

“They are already underwater before they get started,” Wolf says of these students.

“The slump in the economy the last few years has forced students to borrowing more,” says Lisa Hopper, director of financial aid at National Park Community College in Hot Springs, Ark., which has an annual enrollment of 3,000. “Student loan interest rates for the most part have remained lower than the rates on credit cards and thus are a better choice for a student who has to borrow.”

The poor economy also has played a role in default increases, says Pat Hurley, associate dean of student financial aid services at Glendale Community College in California, which serves 21,000 students. At first, students “were borrowing to supplement income loss, but now they’ve found out about loans as an easy source of money,” she says.

Of great concern to Hurley and her staff: The loans students are taking out these days are almost entirely to help pay for living expenses.

In addition to over-borrowing, the high percentage of students who attend community colleges but leave before completing their degrees is contributing to the burgeoning default rates, experts say.

“Over half of the defaulters at our small, rural, community college are students who either officially or unofficially withdraw from courses, due to family health issues, financial reasons, childcare, marital issues, or just the fact that they are ill-prepared for college academically,” says Hopper.

Digging deeper

An NCES report released in April 2013 found that in 2009, 46 percent of beginning community college students did not complete a degree or certificate and were not enrolled six years after starting. The federal student loan borrowing rate among noncompleters at community colleges was 25 percent, and 7 percent of noncompleters at community colleges had cumulative federal debt that equaled or was greater than 100 percent of their annual income.

Colleges help students avoid default

Hurley says that, in many cases, students already considered at-risk end up dropping out of school while earning wages that are insufficient to pay their debts, which results in defaulted student loans.

“For the student, there’s no way to get out from underneath the loan,” Hurley explains. “It’s not like other debt that they can go into bankruptcy on. So they always have it.”

The bigger issue, she says, occurs once a student enters into default because their loans continue to accrue interest while in default, further increasing the amount they owe.

Currently, financial aid administrators are not empowered to alleviate the situation because federal student loan regulations require that schools award students the full amount for which they are eligible, regardless of whether they need that much money for their academic expenses.

Suggested fixes

In 2013, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) convened task forces to look at student indebtedness and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The task force released a number of proposals that addressed issues specific to community college students.

Nearly 60 percent of two-year students get financial aid

Wolf, Hurley and Zanders, who sat on the task forces, and Hopper, who serves as a regional representative on NASFAA’s board of directors, agree that financial aid administrators need more flexibility to counsel students on their borrowing decisions — as well as the authority to potentially set limits on borrowing. Currently, financial aid administrators do not have the authority to limit loan amounts.

The NASFAA task forces recommended that financial aid administrators be given institutional authority to limit loan amounts in certain scenarios, such as allowing part-time students to only take half the annual loan amount.

In addition, the HEA Reauthorization Task Force recommended reinstating a variation of the year-round Pell Grant program, which would give students more flexibility and control over how and when they access their financial resources and hopefully reduce the amount of loans.

Other recommendations include stepped aggregate limits so that a lower limit applies to undergraduate students who have not yet successfully completed the second year of an undergraduate program, reviewing the effectiveness of current consumer requirements, and simplifying the Return of Title IV Funds calculation and process.

Hackett is an editor at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Source: Community College Daily


Hillary on Higher Ed
By Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed
Hillary Rodham Clinton, a likely presidential candidate in 2016, outlined here Monday a vision for higher education globally and in the United States that would focus more on the disadvantaged and those who need postsecondary training, but not necessarily a four-year degree.

Clinton, the former secretary of state, senator and first lady, spoke at the Globalization of Higher Education conference organized by Academic Partnerships, which recently unveiled a "Specializations" initiative in which academic programs from American colleges will be translated and offered online in countries worldwide where English is not the primary language.

In her review of the needs of higher education in the developing world, Clinton strongly endorsed the idea of partnerships between American colleges and universities and their counterparts in other countries, and of online education. But she cautioned that new approaches to higher education may be needed at home and abroad, and that there may be limits (at least today) on the quality of online education.

American institutions seeking to work abroad need to ask what kinds of education "will make the biggest difference in a particular country or community," Clinton said. And in much of the world, that means resisting the temptation to simply reproduce "the extraordinary institutions" of higher education in the United States. In much of the world, she said, basic education and skills training is what is needed, Clinton said. In other countries, experiencing more rapid economic growth, education in "a specific sector," such as clean energy, may be the most important contribution.

Clinton also said that a problem she sees in much of the world is that countries have an elementary and secondary system, and a research university, but "no levels in between ... nothing like technical schools or community colleges." She said that building these kinds of models may be one of the most important contributions American higher education can offer.

When turning to the United States, she argued that American society "needs to reorient our social expectations and the signals we send" about the value associated with different kinds of degrees.

She said that it is time to "redefine higher education" so that more see the value of non-bachelor's-degree programs. "Just because a job requires certain technical skills and not a bachelor's degree" should not lead to a devaluing of those jobs or the relevant training, she said.

On online education, Clinton spoke of its potential, but without quite the enthusiasm of some of the other speakers here (such as MOOC proponent Tom Friedman) and with caveats that one doesn't typically hear from the technophile Obama administration.

She talked about the potential of online education to provide the best American education to students who might never come to the United States. But she said that as of March 2014, there is “no substitute for the kind of learning that takes place in a well-taught classroom."

She said that online education could provide the kinds of "world-class" education currently available in Cambridge, Mass., or Cambridge, England, elsewhere, but she quickly added "but it has to be a world-class education.... We must have a system of accountability."

Online education, Clinton added, can "open doors" for many students, and may offer as high quality an education as anything in some fields or for some students.

"But technology is a tool, not a teacher,” she said. "It cannot replace laboratory-based experiments." And she questioned whether it could do as good a job as a teacher in encouraging creativity.

She also stressed that American higher education needs to preserve its emphasis on promoting creative thinking. The reason American higher education is "the global gold standard," she said, is that "we still value students thinking creatively, innovating and questioning authority.” She said that these qualities are “part of the American DNA that remains an American advantage."

As she frequently does in her public appearances, Clinton spoke of the importance of providing full educational opportunities to women all over the world. But while she noted considerable progress in the United States in the availability of educational opportunities for women, she drew attention to inequities. She noted that women make up a majority of undergraduates, but only a small minority of those majoring in computer science.

Clinton told a story she has frequently recalled in the past as a sign of progress. After she was admitted to the law schools of Harvard and Yale Universities, Clinton said, she attended a reception at Harvard where a friend introduced her to a law professor there and asked for his thoughts on whether Clinton should enroll there or at the law school's "closest competitor."

The law professor replied that Harvard law didn't have a close competitor -- and didn't need any more women. Clinton enrolled at Yale.

While she noted (as she has in the past) that this shows how much progress has been made, she also gave a less optimistic interpretation to the story than she sometimes has in the past. There are still professors like that, she suggested. Of the professor's comment, she said that "some might think it, but they wouldn’t be so politically incorrect as to say it."

Source: Inside Higher Ed




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