Guest Column | Mohave Community College expands educational offerings

Mohave Community College is excited about all our accomplishments in 2022 and we look forward to 2023 being a year of expanded academic and workforce training opportunities that will benefit students, business and industry, the healthcare sector and citizens throughout the college district.

During 2022 we saw many great developments, including a 6% enrollment increase. We served 5,079 students seeking a college degree or certificate, and an additional 1,686 citizens signed up for one or more of our non-credit learning and workforce training options.

Higher Education across America is at a critical juncture, as noted in the recently published book The Great Upheaval. Some people question the value, cost and benefits of a traditional college degree, as well as the applicable knowledge and skills students are being taught, or not taught. While much of the concerns are directed at four-year degree institutions, for us in the two-year college system this is an opportunity to excel and prove our value. I must admit, I view this as a very exciting time for MCC because we are nimble, affordable and have the unique ability to adapt and meet the needs of our students and communities. Your local community college is at the forefront of a paradigm shift in higher education, which includes evaluating and implementing new ways to train a skilled workforce to meet 21st Century needs.

Over the past few years, with the help of our great Chamber of Commerce directors and ARIZONA@WORK, we have made a concerted effort to meet often with local leaders in the business, industry, government, healthcare and education sectors. We sought to determine if we are providing services the community values and needs; and what more we might do to help students and our communities.

I am proud to say MCC received good reviews, and terrific insight into potential gaps we can fill. The additions and expansions we will make are outcome-focused and will add to the value our exceptional faculty and student support teams currently provide. Your local community college is adapting to meet the needs of our communities and prepare our students for future success.

A significant change in 2023 will involve our Community and Corporate Education Division, which provides options for people seeking short-term classes and workforce training, without earning college credits. Community feedback revealed the need to expand our non-credit workforce training options and tailor them to meet specific industry needs. Two examples you may notice are the addition of culinary classes at our North Mohave Campus and carpentry classes for those living in the southern part of the county. These non-credit classes teach applicable industry skills and may be finished in just a couple days to a few weeks. Also, we look forward to continuing the expansion of our short-term training options with an Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Kingman, which will serve everyone in the MCC District and we hope to begin the construction on the center soon.

A concern for some students taking these non-credit workforce training classes is the cost of tuition. Unfortunately, the non-credit training programs do not receive federal financial aid for students and the state of Arizona does not financially recognize these programs when funding community colleges. To help relieve some of the burden, we have partnered with ARIZONA@WORK. They have the ability to offer some tuition assistance for qualifying students who seek non-credit workforce training.

In addition to expanding our non-credit division, the college’s Academic Master Plan calls for the expansion of several associate degree and certificate programs, which many people refer to as college credit courses. Many students will start their careers after earning an associate degree or certificate, while others choose to transfer their MCC credits to one of our 20 university partners where they can complete a bachelor’s degree. I want to thank our wonderful faculty, all of whom are experts in the fields they teach, and their work to ensure our credit courses are university-quality.

To address the expansion and addition of new academic programs, the college is also assessing all facilities we hold and manage as community assets. We have 50-year-old modular buildings on each of our campuses that may cost more to upgrade than replace, and several facilities simply do not meet student and instructional needs. Our Facilities Master Plan is currently in the research phase and will identify options to ensure every campus is safe and meets the needs of current and future students.

I look forward to working with our legislators to help ensure the college can spend the revenues we already have to support the addition of programs and services that will assist more people in the college district. MCC and other community colleges in Arizona are currently limited by our state’s archaic Expenditure Limitation formula created in the late 1970s and enacted in 1980. It does not consider the educational needs of the current workforce because it does not recognize the value of students who seek short-term training courses to earn industry-recognized credentials. Perhaps even worse, it encourages colleges to incur debt.

We are excited to continue to work with our governing board members and review proposals to add degree, certificate and non-credit options in all of the college educational divisions: Health Professions, Human Services, Public Safety division, Career and Technical Education, General Education, and Community and Corporate Education. As always, improving lives and communities remains our priority. I encourage everyone to stay up to date with what is happening at the college by visiting our website and social media pages, and review our annual report online at Mohave.edu/Admin. Go Bighorns!

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