President's Page - January 6, 2020

16th Blog – Looking Ahead

With the onset of spring courses before us, I welcome your return and trust that your holiday leave rejuvenated your spirit and renewed your energy.   

In looking back to fall 2019, there were many internal communications that provided you with a broad array of information and updates concerning topics ranging from student matters to faculty/staff support, Barton administration and governance, and State/Federal funding and policy implications.

With the benefit of a number of initiatives, it appears that we have stemmed the loss of enrollment so far this academic year as we experienced the previous 3 years.  Summer 2019 brought us a slight dip in enrollment and fall 2019 enrollment held stable.  We are currently showing an approximate .50% decline from Summer 2018/Fall 2018.  With the return of previously deployed Army service members to Ft. Riley, our Spring 2020 enrollment should reflect a rebound in our numbers of students to be served.   As of today, our spring point in time enrollment comparison to last year, shows a tentative gain of 5%.

Looking ahead to this spring and the schedule of initiatives, opportunities, and challenges facing the College, I believe it helpful to review the list that is garnering my immediate attention:

  1. Open Educational Resource project continues to make progress and the number of courses adopting OER continues to grow.  The goal was to achieve 50 OER based courses within three years and we are well on our way in achieving that goal.
  2. This past fall, the Kansas Department of Correction revised their format for providing instruction to the incarcerated population.  Whereas before, Barton was one of three active training entities, now we are one of twelve, with eleven being higher education entities and one being a social agency. The identified path forward, is not ideal for Barton as we now are expected to move as 12 versus being individual in our pace of expanding learning opportunities benefiting the incarcerated.
  3. The Center for Academic Innovation and Excellence is an outstanding development that will be developing further in terms of scope of service supporting instruction and the personnel who will be called on for their expertise.
  4. It is widely anticipated that the Kansas legislature will implement legislation this session that will expand college academic offerings to high school students.  This concept would closely correspond to the current SB155/CTE model that has been operational for the past 7 years.  It is unclear as to the number of eligible courses and funding that would scholarship 100% for the enrolling HS student, however, legislative support for the concept has grown since this concept was discussed last year. 
  5. In anticipating the eventual expansion of academic course offerings to the HS student market, our marketing approach to State USDs will be revised.  This is to ensure potential enrollees that our online courses can be applied to the 100% scholarship option and that text book costs will be minimized with our OER adapted courses.
  6. Barton has been and continues to respond to State policy leaders and KBOR questions/concerns pertaining to career technical programming costs, local mill levy allowances, and sufficiency of current funding.  There are many opinions, but essentially, it comes down to whether the two-year sector is under-funded or over-funded based on the training needs of Kansas.
  7. Barton’s quality initiative that is aligned with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) Student Success Academy was initiated this past fall.  In follow-up, our Academy Team is accumulating data that will support its next meeting with HLC consultants this March.
  8. As an outcome of Barton’s first quality initiative, Student Assessment Academy, the Faculty Assessment Institute training that originated in 2018-2019, has now been extended to a second group of faculty.  This group of leaders are set to conclude their professional development April 27.
  9. Our revised General Education format is scheduled for implementation April 1.
  10. The final 50th Anniversary Events are scheduled for March 10 and May 8.
  11. Trustee Retreat is set to take place June 9-10 at Ft. Riley and Ft. Leavenworth.

Additional matters of attention that are self-explanatory include:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Enrollment
  • FY21 Budget

The eventual listing of spring projects/needs will be greater in number than those mentioned above.  As the other projects surface, appropriate attention will be applied.

Best wishes to each of you for a healthy and outstanding 2020.