The Barton Community College Board of Trustees spend two days last week visiting Fort Riley campus.
The college’s Fort Riley campus has been a mutual asset to the college and to the military for almost three decades, which is a feat that speaks volumes about the quality of Barton’s education, said Mike Johnson, chairman of the BCC trustees.
The board visited the campus Thursday and Friday during a retreat. The time was used to meet with key figures with the Barton Fort Riley location and the U.S. Army to review the overall operations on post, and to determine the direction in which Barton will take the satellite campus.
If what Johnson observed is any indication, there will be some significant improvements and expansion of services in the near future. An opportunity to begin a new computer training program for troops has been identified, and Barton has already taken steps to make it happen.
"We’ve been doing some of this programming for several months now, and we met with several key individuals who are very pleased with what we’ve done so far," Johnson said of the courses, which will be called C4. "This could potentially double or even triple the amount of training we offer. More and more troops will need this for their service, but it also gives them some necessary skills for after their time in the Army that they can take to the workforce."
Some of the key individuals the trustees met with include Garrison Commander William Clark; Director for Educational Services Mark Sodamann; and Director of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Tim Livsey. They also met with Dean of Fort Riley Learning Services Gene Kingslein and Dean of Technical Education Bill Nash of the Grandview Plaza location, which offers paramedic training and Emergency Medical Service and Occupational Safety and Health Administration programs.
"These meetings were very insightful. The Army appreciates us a great deal," Johnson said, adding the benefits are mutual. "As the operations on Fort Riley continue to grow and it becomes a bigger part of Barton operations, it will help bring revenue back home and keep the mill levy down.
"Of all the things I do as a trustee," he added, "my trips to Fort Riley are what I look forward to the most."
Enrollments at Fort Riley have been steadily increasing for several years, and now account for 36 percent of the total college enrollments, a trend that is expected to continue.
"For 26 or 27 years we’ve offered services to the fort. We’re a long-standing education provider there, but we’re at the pleasure of the military," Johnson said. "If they say we aren’t performing our duties they need from us, they can ask us to leave. We have to prove ourselves every year. Keeping our presence there for almost 30 years says a lot about Barton."