According to the College Board, four out of ten graduating high school students start their college careers at community colleges. With the benefits of lower tuition and more hands-on attention from faculty, community college can be an attractive beginning to a college career.
There are over 1,600 community colleges in the United States, serving 11 million students. One of those “first-responder” institutions is Western Nebraska Community College, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Beginning in 2010, IHE alumnus Todd Holcomb became president of WNCC.
“There are many challenges to being president at a rural community college where our service area covers 17,000 square miles,” explains Holcomb. “Those challenges include declining rural demographics, competition with metropolitan areas, cost of instruction and delivery of services, and hiring qualified faculty and staff.”
When Dr. Holcomb became president of WNCC, he was fully prepared to take on those challenges with many years’ experience and a dedicated staff of professionals to help students succeed. “We just recently completed our new mission statement and strategic plan. The promise, ‘WNCC assures learning opportunities for all — enriching lives, invigorating communities, and creating futures,’ is printed on the back of every business card. It is part of our organizational culture and a fundamental expectation of being an effective educator at WNCC.”
Reflecting back on his time at the Institute, Dr. Holcomb explains, “My doctoral work created the foundation for my future career. We were taught to examine issues in a 360-degree manner, argue positions from both sides of the table, and defend our position in a confident and assertive manner. We encouraged each other to be better educators and people.”
Todd Holcomb encourages today’s higher education students to, “Take risks, accept challenges, and stretch yourself to be a better student, professional and colleague”.