American economist and scholar Milton Friedman accurately stated, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” Those are important distinctions when attempting to measure the true value of Barton Community College to its students, stake holders and our community as a whole.
Forty-six years ago, the college was founded on good intentions with the grass roots effort and desire of our community to provide affordable education to its public. That same good-intentioned spirit still resonates today with our community. But in order to be effective in that endeavor, Barton’s true gauge to its stake holders can only be objectively measured from its results over time.
In an effort to gain objective analysis, the college has undergone a third-party evaluation by a company that specializes in providing comprehensive impact analyses for colleges and universities. Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., based in Idaho, is a leading provider of socio-economic impact and strategic planning tools, which help colleges measure their worth to their communities.
Based upon scientific learning formulas, the EMSI study details the role that Barton plays in promoting economic development, enhancing students’ careers, and improving quality of life for our area. Data sources include the 2009-10 academic and financial reports from the college; industry and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; earning and demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau; and a variety of studies and surveys relating education to social behavior.
The board of trustees will be sharing more information about the study in subsequent weeks through public forums similar to this one. The subsequent public forums will focus on each of the four perspectives presented in the study. Those perspectives are related to the impact the college has on taxpayers, students, businesses, and social value.
From each perspective, there are interesting aspects that reinforce the college’s value to our community. For instance, from its research, EMSI found that for every dollar appropriated by state and local governments to Barton, taxpayers receive a rate of return of $2.10 in the form of higher tax revenues and avoided social costs. Another interesting element from the study: Over the course of his or her working career, the average Barton student’s life time earnings will increase $4.70 for every dollar invested in their Barton education.
We encourage you to examine the study and its subsequent reports in more detail. You can access those online at the web address, economicstudy.bartonccc.edu. Also, if you have questions or wish to receive any portion of the study or reports in the mail, call the president’s office, 620-792-9302.
Additionally, the board of trustees would be interested in sharing the EMSI study with groups in our service area. Please contact the president’s office if you are interested or have questions.
Paul E. Maneth, Ph.D.,
board of trustees