BCC experiences growth on Marion campus

Amy Kjellin, site director at Butler Community College-Marion, says the tough economy contributed to more adults returning to school to train for other jobs.Even though Butler Community College overall enrollment is down, its off-campus site at Marion increased by 32 percent from fall 2012 to fall 2013.

The reason, according to Amy Kjellin, site director, is that when the recession hit six years ago, BCC, like most other community colleges, swung in the opposite direction of the economy.

?Enrollment went up when the economy declined because people were losing their jobs and unable to work, so they went back to school,? she said.

?Now that the economy is a bit stronger, and after several years of double-digit enrollment increases, it is now leveling out and on the decline.?

Challenges

The challenge today, Kjellin said, is how to continue to provide the best services when state funding is potentially decreasing.

One way is through restructuring for non-credit types of programming, as well as significant changes in the marketing department, she said.

?This does have an impact on our ability to pull some of those types of things involving non-credit and marketing,? she said.

The Fun Class Day is one such program that will not be offered this spring, Kjellin said.

?I am not giving up (on the free classes), and I feel it is a really important thing, but it also becomes one of those issues,? she said.

BCC?s focus is helping people earn college credit. Non-credit courses are important, but sometimes there is just not time to do it all, Kjellin added.

?That?s what I ran into this year with all the other things we are doing in Council Grove, the Higher Learning Commission visit and preparing for that,? she said.

It was the year for Butler?s accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission, and the first year as part of that accreditation they visited Council Grove and Marion.

?The commission wanted to visit an off-campus site,? Kjellin said.

Consequently, Kjellin put together panels of students, part-time instructors and members of the community who could answer questions about the school. They also were asked about Butler?s strengths and areas for growth.

?It went well,? she said. ?The feedback and reports for Marion and Council Grove?s portion of that accreditation visit were all positive. We had sterling comments about what we are doing, and the quality of services we are trying to provide to the county.?

One of the primary themes from students were that if the college wasn?t in Marion, they wouldn?t be able to go to school or earn a degree. Many said they couldn?t afford going out of the area and paying higher tuition rates.

High school students

Every spring, Kjellin said she goes to high schools to talk with students about Butler?s programs.

?Marion High School gives me time to talk to their students, and all the schools have an open door of what we are trying to do for their students in Marion County,? she said.

Kjellin said she will talk with sophomores, who will be juniors and juniors, who will be seniors about what BCC offers.

?We also talk about the advantages and give them pros and cons just to make sure they understand,? she said.

Students pay tuition and any courses they take at BCC are on their permanent college transcript.

?We want to make sure students understand that they don?t want to enroll in a class and then blow it off,? she said.

Students at Marion High School will get dual credit, which means they receive high school and college credit.

?If they take College English I and II, it replaces their English 12,? she said. ?Comp I and Comp II also count for senior-level English or math credit for college algebra and elective credits for speech, sociology and psychology.?

Data for 2014

Forty-one seniors will graduate from Marion High School this spring?26 of them, or 63 percent, have taken at least two BCC classes. Kjellin said one of the seniors has taken 38 credit hours and another has 28 credit hours.

?This is a huge savings,? she said.

Calculating an average of 16 credit hours through BCC will cost the high school student $1,500. That same amount of hours at Kansas State University would be about $4,200; Wichita State University, $3,700; and Emporia State University, $2,300.

?We have six students graduating from MHS this year already classified as college sophomores by credit hours,? she said. ?They are still eligible for freshman-level scholarships and sports eligibility, but because they have these credits it saves them that time.?

Of the students taking BCC classes, some have a semester?s worth of college credit with 15 hours or more.

?This is a pretty good increase when comparing data analysis from the senior class in 2013,? she said. ?In 2013, the median number of credit hours earned was 10. This year it was 15.?

Scholarships

Kjellin said Butler of Marion also received a generous donation for scholarship money that can be used by high school and allied health students.

?Close to $10,000 of scholarship money was paid out to allied health students, but mostly Marion and Peabody high school students was from a scholarship fund that is the only high school scholarship that Butler offers.?

Someone in the area wanted to help high school students, Kjellin said. Fifteen students received this scholarship; depending on how many hours they were taking, a student could receive up to $1,000.

?We had several who got that full amount because they were taking so many hours,? she said.

The scholarship was opened to ?need-based? students and children of people who worked for the district or were recommended by a counselor or principal.

Improvements

Butler CC of Marion is at the Bown-Corby Building, 412 N. Second St. Other than painting the facility inside and out about two years ago, no other major upgrades were done.

?We still have WiFi in the building, but we have it where teachers can access Internet and with it in all the classrooms now, it is an enhancement to the teaching environment,? she said.

In early 2013, because of its lease agreement with the city, a new sewer line was installed in the building.

?This would have been a very expensive improvement (without the agreement),? Kjellin said.

Every semester, BCC of Marion offers four to six classes a night depending on which classes attract enough enrollment.

?We schedule classes with the Council Grove site and sometimes connect with IDL equipment with Council Grove and also classes that are just with Marion students,? she said.

Classes range from sociology to math to lifetime fitness.

?Most students coming at night are considered non-traditional students,? she said. That means they have been out of high school for three or more years.

No new programs

Jackie Vietti, who was president of BCC for 18 years, was recently succeeded by Kimberly Krull.

?This is a transition for our campus, but it has gone very well,? she said. ?We have received positive support from President Krull in terms of what we are doing out here. She has visited a couple of different times and was impressed.?

Kjellin said they haven?t had many new instructors.

?Rex Wilson has taught for Butler off and on doing developmental algebra courses for over 20 years, but there wasn?t a class for him every semester,? she said.

This year, and with all the things he does, Kjellin said, Wilson decided to let someone else teach the class.

Don Mollecker is teaching Wilson?s class, but Kjellin reiterated that he is not replacing him.

?I am not saying (Wilson) won?t teach again and he does tutor from time to time,? she said.

Ann Brose, who taught behavioral sciences, retired after teaching about five years.

?She was hard to replace because she taught high school daytime classes, so we had a challenge finding someone to travel to three different high schools four days a week.?

The new psychology/sociology instructor is Gretchen Francis, who replaced Brose.

For more information about BCC, call Kjellin at 620-382-2183.

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