Greetings and welcome back!
As an institution of stature, Barton is regarded for its quality, accessibility, affordability, and responsiveness to diverse populations, communities, and industries. These defining four factors are continually being highlighted and reinforced through public requests for information and governmental reports for accountability. The resulting recognition and linkages with external entities afford exceptional opportunities to this College and our students, faculty, and staff. As an example, a recent event demonstrates a positive reflection of our reputation. This past Thursday, August 4, a public reception occurred on the Pratt Community College Campus (PCC). Over the past several years, PCC Nursing could not reverse its programming setbacks and determined the best course was to seek a partner that could continue and maintain a nursing education presence in Pratt. Pratt Community College sought out Barton’s nationally accredited, highly reputable program to fill a need for medical professionals in the Pratt area. The significance of this gathering was to recognize Barton’s willingness and ability to bring the highly successful ADN program to the Pratt Campus and establish an education/training center focusing on the second-year nursing student. Renae Skelton, Barton Director of Nursing, was a driving force in coordinating the event and showcased Barton’s efficiencies and effectiveness in collaboration with the full contingent of Barton nursing faculty/staff. Barton-pride was noticeable, and I viewed the event as a partnership celebration – celebrating the partnership, but of equal or more importance, celebrating Barton. PCC selected Barton based on its strong performance record for preparing career professionals and test achievement scores, ability to support F2F and technical-based learning, a competitive tuition/fee structure, and commitment to students seeking a bright future.
As we wade into the fall term of courses, the partnership event serves as a testament to what we collectively and individually believe and is reflected in the mission of this College – “Barton offers exceptional and affordable learning opportunities supporting student, community and employee needs”.
In further assessment of what lies ahead for this year:
- Barton is constantly reevaluating its programs and services to ensure the college remains relevant to the community’s needs, and to that end has added several new programs in the last few years, including CDL, welding, scale technician and more. The most recent additions are carpentry, plumbing, network security specialist, and digital communication and content strategy. Several existing programs were also added to Barton’s growing list of programs available fully online, including medical assistant, criminal justice, computer science, and several business certificate programs.
- The college community is gearing up for an accreditation visit from the Higher Learning Commission (HL)C this coming October. Maintaining accreditation is a long, complicated, must do process that requires a high level of collective efforts from faculty and staff and detailed cataloguing of measures for accountability. Our full attention and focus on receiving accreditation is critical and I believe we have and continue to proactively prepare.
- Barton has committed to the construction of a new multi-purpose agriculture training facility in the coming years thanks to a grant from the state and anticipated matching private donations. The new facility will allow the college to expand current agriculture offerings and add a new farm machinery mechanic program through its existing partnership with CASE New Holland. A second building renovation/addition is being pursued and this pertains to Kirkman athletic programming. Planning and consideration has been presented to the Barton Board of Trustees and they have approved fundraising efforts for this venture.
- The Kansas Promise Scholarship Act passed by the Kansas Legislature in 2021 scholarships the cost of education remaining after other financial aid is applied for certain career and technical programs. This is a tremendous opportunity for a hand-up for Kansans and their families, or an opportunity for a high school graduate to get started quickly in a high paying field with potentially no student dept. Excel in CTE is another state program. It covers the cost of qualifying career and technical education courses for Kansas high school students.
- The college remains vigilant against COVID-19 and its variants. Signs remain on doors to advise those on campus who have not been vaccinated and cannot maintain social distancing to wear a mask. While students nationwide are regaining confidence in the prospect of attending college uninterrupted, many are still electing to delay their college educations because of uncertainty, and those attending now expect various forms of virtual delivery of coursework. COVID-19 has had enduring adverse impact for College enrollment; however, we are beginning to see indications that enrollment is trending in a positive direction.
- In terms of financial responsibility, constraint and integrity, the Barton Board of Trustees is proud to enter its 15th year without requesting an increase in local taxes. Hard work, planning, and commitment on the part of the college faculty, staff, and administration allow us to keep the local tax burden as light as possible, which is a noted priority. Our Grandview Plaza, Fort Riley, and Leavenworth outreach sites also generate revenue to offset the mill levy, while providing affordable education opportunities to Soldiers and their families.
As you may agree, the above indicators are just a sampling of the many efforts that are underway. Thank you for your presence and belief for which this College stands - hope, opportunity, and success.
Thank you for your presence and enthusiasm. Each of us makes a difference.
Please see the listing of new employees and employees who are settling into new positions.
Credits: Brandon Steinert