COMMUNITY COLLEGE VP … Al Lewis, the executive vice-president at Northwest State Community College, told Rotarians that community colleges give students the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Lewis, who has been at Northwest State since last July, spoke about how the college has been implementing its five-year plan. The program was arranged by Rotarian Dale Kern. (PHOTO PROVIDED)
Al Lewis is fairly new at Northwest State Community College. His first day there was July 1, 2021. However, he isn’t new to community colleges. In fact, the Marshall University graduate has worked at community colleges across the country for a number of years now.
During his presentation to Archbold Rotarians, he explained NSCC’s current five-year plan is built on five pillars: providing life-changing education for students, offering learning for all, assuring organizational excellence, empowering staff at all levels to make decisions, and engaging the community.
He noted that the average age of Northwest’s 6,000 student body is 28, so their programs are appealing to both younger and also non-traditional college students — all looking to improve themselves through additional education and training.
About 58 percent of the students are female and nearly 87 percent of their 12,000 alumni live locally. Most students are from Williams County with Fulton County close behind.
The college’s strategic plan includes new programs to meet the area’s needs: an agribusiness program, business programs for adults, training to assist persons in the skilled trades, and entrepreneurial certificates.
Lewis explained that since many of their students are non-traditional, they provide some additional supports for students who either have never been to college or have been away for awhile and have some catching up to do.
And, once in a program, the college makes sure the students are moving forward and staying on track to successfully complete their degree or license. Northwest State also awards more than $1 million annually in scholarships to students.
Lewis spoke specifically about a rather audacious goal that the college has set for its health services program. With COVID creating extra work and stress for healthcare during the past several years, many persons choosing to leave the profession.
So, Northwest State, which has a health services program, has established a goal of doubling the number of health care professionals that they train each year by next year’s graduation to 225.
And, the college is investing capital in its main campus as well as buying a 50,000 square foot building to create a Van Wert satellite campus with a dean in charge so Northwest State is more convenient for Paulding and Van Wert county students, who currently only account for about 6.5 percent of Northwest State’s total enrollment.
At the main campus, a lighting program will switch over to energy efficient fixtures to improve lighting and save money. Renovations are planned for the B-Buildng and A-Building is being remodeled to create a student union environment.
So, how is Northwest State doing in fulfilling its mission to provide access to excellent and affordable education, training and services that will improve the lives of individuals and strengthen communities?
Its graduates earn $9,900 a year more than their peers or about $386,000 in additional lifetime earnings. And, for every dollar invested, society gains $7.20 in added income and social savings.