Regents discuss drop in dual credit students

by: CHESANIE BRANTLEY/Editor-in-Chief 

Fall enrollment, dual credit courses and a construction update were among the main topics discussed during the September meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents.

Fall enrollment for the Levelland college district has increased since fall 2014, according to Cathy Mitchell, vice president for student affairs. Some campuses have experienced an increase, but several have seen a decline. Off-campus students, including dual credit and anyone not attending classes on campus, have experienced the largest decrease, putting the overall percentage at -3.2 percent.

“Most of that (off-campus student decline) had to do with dual credit and some of the changes that have been made with some of our schools and their dual credit,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell said they are working on ways to recover some of that loss for the upcoming semester.

Mitchell also discussed the safety and security audit that happens once every three years. The last time this audit was conducted was in 2012. Since then, the concerns that were brought up have been addressed. This includes: all dorms holding a fire drill, with assistance from the Levelland Fire Department, every semester; communication between SPC emergency personnel and Levelland, Lubbock, and Plainview emergency departments has increased, along with campus maps, floor plans, and contact for key personnel have been provided to the respective community departments; defibrillators have been purchased and installed in most SPC buildings; residence hall staff, faculty, and staff have been trained in first aid, CPR and AED; and spiral notebooks with emergency procedures have been distributed at all SPC locations.

“We’re feeling pretty good about the audit,” said Mitchell. “There’s always room for improvement, and this is a constant ongoing review.”

Mitchell also presented additional items that are in the process of being updated or implemented, including a data governance and security policy that is in the final stages of development, access to electronic data is currently being reviewed and revised, and the table top emergency exercises that are planned for the upcoming year.

Dr. Robin Satterwhite, vice president of academic affairs, presented information on academic programs at SPC and their pass rates. SPC’s Police Academy graduated two classes, one in July and another in August. During the past eight years, the academy has had a 100-percent pass rate for first-time students.
“I think that’s really a testament of the quality of education we’re providing,” said Dr. Satterwhite.

The Fire Academy has had a total of 305 students during the past 13 years, with a 99.7 percent pass rate their first time.

“When you look at outcomes assessment,” said Dr. Satterwhite, “that is one of the primary measures when you look and see how our students perform on those external certification exams.”

Dr. Satterwhite also reported on the loss of dual-credit students. He said one of the primary things SPC is facing is the competition with universities for the larger high schools in this area. But he also said we have started to get some of those students back.

“I think where we can compete is in our service,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “We have, I believe, the best instruction. We have the best situation for those high school students who are moving up, and those doors have been opened up.”

According to Dr. Satterwhite, the differentiating factors are where students are going after they leave SPC. First, he said the cost of attendance is a big difference. On average, compared to universities, SPC students save $27,000 in two years.

“Those aren’t our numbers,” explained Dr. Satterwhite. “Those are the Department of Education’s numbers.”

The other is the service that SPC offers their students as a whole. According to Dr. Satterwhite, other universities are looking for the kind of students SPC has.

Steven John, vice president for institutional advancement, presented the institutional effectiveness performance report for 2013 and 2014. In the performance report, there are six critical success factors, explained John. They are dynamic education programs and quality instruction, educational program outcomes, quality student and support services, economic development and community involvement, effective leadership and management, and collaborative organizational climate.

“We maintain this comprehensive evaluation system that measures the extent to which we accomplish the institutional goals and objectives,” said John.

According to John, students participate in a satisfaction and instruction survey every fall semester. For the years 2013 and 2014, the surveys reflected students giving high ratings for their instructors. These findings are recorded in the report, and it shows that so far all of the previous standards have been met.

Dr. Kelvin Sharp, president of SPC, then reported updates from the construction site of the new Lubbock Center.

“I think that (the Lubbock Center) is going to be the next project to make a big impact,” said Dr. Sharp. “It’s going to impact everything we talked about today.”

According to Dr. Sharp, the first thing they did on the building was change all of the locks to the same system at all SPC campuses. The next thing that was done was an asbestos survey. There were only two walls in the southeast corner of the building that tested positive for asbestos and will be removed before continuing with the demolition plan.

“The building is going to be really nice,” Dr. Sharp said. “There is a lot of interior work to be done.”

Dr. Sharp said it’s just a matter of getting in there and finding where all of the structural components are, and then creating a floor plan based on that structure. He also said the Lubbock Center is going to offer opportunities to students who have transportation issues or any challenges like that.