SCCC/ATS is closing out the first year of operation as a merged institution and at the same time launching a strategic plan to enter the 40th year of operation as the provider of post-secondary education in the Liberal community.

Nearly 40 years ago the people in Liberal supported the local school board’s decision to establish an area vocational school and a community college. There was new funding available through the federal vocational education act of 1964, and funds available from the federal and state community college legislation. The state had also decided that no additional technical schools or community colleges would be approved in order to maximize state resources, so in 1967 the state authorized the last community colleges and the last technical schools in Kansas, and Liberal was fortunate to be granted both institutions. The different entities provided different services and had different missions. The majority of students who enrolled in Liberal Area Vocational Technical School were high school students and many of those were from nearby Oklahoma schools. The majority of students at Seward County Junior College were recent high school graduates with plans to transfer for a baccalaureate degree at the university level.

Times have changed in 40 years – the majority of students at the technical school are now adult students and Oklahoma high school students are unable to attend due to changes in regulations among the states; the high number of students who attend SCCC are not planning to pursue bachelor’s degrees, the majority of students attend on a part-time basis, and our greatest number of graduates enter the workforce as skilled technicians. However, even with these changes the merged institution continues to meet the principal concepts of higher education, career skill development, and serving the area needs for cultural, learning, and social development of our communities.

As SCCC/ATS enters the next generation of service, we are committed to quality improvement, sound decisions, accountability procedures, and service to our constituents. The part-time student, the student seeking basic academic support, the student learning English as a second language, the pre-professional student who graduated at the top of his/her high school class, the student who may someday be a professional athlete, the student who has children older than his/her classmates, the student who has decided to begin a new career, and the student who is still in high school but seeking to get a head start on his/her career and degree – all of these are students served by SCCC/ATS.

Our next strategic plan will continue with the efforts of the 2003-2010 strategic plan. We are seeking strategies to improve student learning, community collaboration, operational efficiencies, workplace environment, and student engagement. Through a number of surveys, focus group meetings, analysis of data, and leadership discussion our college will provide our community with the 2010-2017 strategic plan. I encourage you to be involved in the process and utilize the recommendations in the plan to help SCCC/ATS continue for a strong and vibrant 40 more years.