A review of programs at Barton Community College shows business courses generate the most credit hours on campus and a good deal of income. In a presentation to the BCC Board of Trustees on Tuesday, Vice President Robin Garrett also mentioned at least one program that may be phased out in the future.
Hundreds of hours went into the research for Dr. Garrett’s report, Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said. The summary of the report is 50 pages.
“Business is the ‘rock star,’” Garrett said of Barton programs, showing its prominence on a bar graph of program enrollments. However, there are exceptions.
Computer Aided Design (CAD) drafting may be on the way out. “It’s on a watch list,” Garrett said, noting few students are signing up for the program.
Dean of Workforce Training and Community Education Elaine Simmons elaborated on the drafting program.
“It came to life in 2009 with a grant,” she said. It was developed as a program for inmates in correctional facilities, and then expanded into a certificate program on campus.
Barton does not offer a degree in drafting, and the certificate program isn’t transferable to a degree program, said Mary Foley, executive director of Workforce Training.
A manufacturing course that was popular in prison also failed to attract students on campus, Simmons said.
A lot of research goes into creating new programs, and research is also required before pulling the plug on a program, administrators said.
Ups and downs
The popularity of other programs fluctuates.
“Theater has taken a nose dive,” Garrett said, noting a recent drop in enrollment. However, that was attributed to a change in personnel. This spring Dr. Rick Abel was named director of the theater program and hopes to reverse the downward turn in enrollment.
Even if the theater program isn’t a money maker for the college, administrators said it is important to the overall mission of the institution.
“There are benefits we can’t measure,” Garrett said, noting more than half of the theater majors also enroll in other classes.
Enrollment in modern languages declined after the college lost a full-time Spanish instructor. Hiring part-time instructors should lead to renewed enrollments, Garrett said.
The criminal justice program has had its ups and downs, with three different program directors in as many years. But enrollment is up this fall, Simmons said. With one class filled, a second section was added this week.
The new welding and pharmacy tech programs are popular at this time. “As of today all eight welding classes scheduled for the fall are full,” Simmons said.
The study is too recent to include the new Mental Health Technician certificate program.
“You have to figure out what employers are doing,” Simmons said. For example, courses in medical transcription and coding aren’t as popular as they once were, but a medical scribe program could be the next big thing. Likewise, the natural gas transmission and distribution program has seen a spike in enrollment since adding a gas measurement certificate.
Enrollment is down in the automotive program, not for the first time.
In the nursing programs, more students apply than are accepted, but they don’t always finish the program. Dr. Kathy Kottas, executive director of the nursing program, said attrition is preferred to a loss in quality.
Simmons agreed. She said instructors in workforce training programs see students with varying work ethics, and that many Barton students find related employment in the area.
“We’re all training people to go to work,” Simmons said. In the case of nursing programs, “Kathy and I don’t want to release people who aren’t going to take good care of you.”
Dean of Administration Mark Dean said health-care programs are expensive to run. “It will never be profitable,” he said. “It’s a community service.”