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OH Community College Focuses On Students, Gets Results

I ran across an interesting article from the Statehouse News Bureau in Ohio. It focused on Lorain County Community College in Elyria, OH. For a long time, LCCC focused on creating programs that supported the region’s manufacturing and steel industries. But when those industries dried up, LCCC needed to make some rapid changes to its course catalog. The community college created a task force comprised of local employers to find out which direction it should go, and the consensus was that LCCC needed to move into the microelectronics business.

It did just that and developed a microelectronics manufacturing program about a decade before the need arose to bring chip fabrication back to the United States. When the CHIPS and Science Act passed, companies that relied heavily on microelectronics found it easy to decide to locate in Ohio. In part, they chose the Buckeye State because it already had the trained workforce and training infrastructure the companies needed to build their microelectronics manufacturing facilities. As a result, Ohio has landed billions of dollars in investments and the thousands of jobs that go along with them.

Following the Great Recession, LCCC wasn’t immune to declining enrollment. Its unduplicated headcount dropped by more than 23% between 2012 and 2021. Its FTE count dropped by nearly one-third. But in reprogramming its course offerings, it was able to deliver real economic development to Lorain County.

Its strategy of focusing inward on the needs of Lorain County and the students who enrolled there is paying dividends. The Lorain County Community College Vision 2025 strategic plan involves five main focus areas: students, success, future, work, and community.

Community college strategy is to build community

Nowhere in their strategic plan do they call for building a hotel and convention center. Or improving signage on campus. Or even selling retail spaces in the parking lots. (I imagine LCCC’s plans for its parking lots involve mostly parking. I’m not sure though; LCCC’s strategic vision for its parking lots was conspicuously absent from Vision 2025.)

The community college seems to be spending its operational dollars on operations. They’re developing new programs; finding ways to increase their graduation rates; recruiting new students and helping enrolled students remain in school; providing employers with flexible training and retraining options; and figuring out how LCCC can be part of the solution to community issues like public transportation, food insecurity, Internet access, personal health, and drug addiction.

And somehow, they’re doing all this with only four Vice Presidents.

Photo Credit: Onri Jay Benally , via Flickr