Barton Community College’s 2015 “Community Report” is hot off the press, Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman told members of the Great Bend Kiwanis on Wednesday. The annual report to BCC stakeholders highlights the college’s progress and its vision for the future.
Heilman said the college is in its eighth consecutive year of enrollment growth. While that is mostly due to online courses, even local enrollment grew this past year, after six years where that was not the case, he said.
A letter from BCC Board of Trustees Chairman Mike Johnson, included in the report, notes the college’s continued growth; new workforce programs such as welding, Commercial Driver’s License and weights & measures; and fiscal responsibility with no mill levy increase in the past seven years.
The Report also notes that Barton’s Camp Aldrich should be open in the spring of 2016. The facility next to Cheyenne Bottom closed after the dining hall burned down in 2014. “Though it is unfortunate to have lost such a beautiful landmark, the situation has allowed us the opportunity to build a new, state-of-the-art facility,” Johnson states.
Anyone interested in receiving a copy of the report may call Heilman’s office, 620-792-9302.
Robert Feldt, a former BCC trustee who is in charge of this month’s programming at the Kiwanis Club, asked Dr. Heilman to comment on the Report and on a recent WalletHub.com survey. That nationwide survey ranking 670 community colleges placed Barton Community College 591st overall.
When the Great Bend Tribune reported on the survey in September, it was noted that some of the information WalletHub used for its rankings came from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE, pronounced SESS-ee). The creators of CCSSE promptly denounced such rankings, noting “each community college’s performance should be considered in terms of its mission, institutional focus and student characteristics.”
Heilman said Barton staff spent more than 100 hours researching what WalletHub is and trying to verify the validity of its data.
WalletHub is part of Evolution Finance, parent company of CardHub. A social network that Heilman compared to Facebook, WalletHub claims its experienced and knowledgeable experts are available to comment on matters ranging from credit cards to gifts cards to mortgages, insurance and investing. It is “not experienced and knowledgeable in college education,” Heilman said.
The WalletHub survey researcher used data from varying years from available resources, but it was a comparison of apples to oranges, Heilman said. Some areas where the college scored low could be interpreted as strengths. A taxpayer and a student might see the data differently; for example, is it good or bad if the college spends less on faculty salaries than other institutions do?
“It does point out some areas the college can be better at,” Heilman said of the survey, although the weighting assigned to data and other parts of the survey can’t be verified.
“I keep the eye on the bigger picture,” Heilman said. If Barton had poor quality, he said, stakeholders wouldn’t see the continued growth, new programs and more than 440 community partnerships.