Kilgore College is on track with goals set in 2016 and is even completing some ahead of schedule.
At a board meeting Monday, Dr. Staci Martin, vice president of institutional planning, presented an update on the college’s strategic plan. The report is an annual presentation intended to inform the board of achievement of goals and milestones originally created as part of a three-year strategic plan in 2016.
“I came to you last September with a strategic plan update to let you know of the achievement of those items that were scheduled for completion during the ‘16-17 academic year and I come to you again to let you know about the things we have completed in the ‘17-18 academic year. You’ll hear from me again next year at the same time,” Martin said.
Martin described the accomplishment of two goals in the “Guided Pathways Initiative,” a plan to help students choose courses more easily and to find a more straightforward path to a degree and a career. The plan called for decentralized student advising and a streamlined curriculum.
“We have accomplished both of those,” Martin said. “We have embedded advisors that work in each dean’s area that are right in the classroom buildings where students and faculty are to provide very timely advice and interventions and guidance. We also have created career maps that were piloted through new student orientation this summer. We will be tweaking those through the Student Success Council throughout this year just to see if we can improve things because we really want to do a good job. These were advising tools for our students to help guide them into a more straightforward path of what they need to take each semester.”
Martin told the board one goal had to be removed from the plan when a software vendor could not provide a needed program. The goal called for an automatic degree check function which could award degrees to qualifying students automatically, eliminating the need for students to go through the degree application process.
“We have not been able to get the software we need to do this and we have no control over when that may be developed, though I inquired about it a couple of years ago. What we are recommending is removing this from the strategic plan. Of course, it is something we will continue to work toward and we think it will be very worthwhile for us but it is not something we can impact at this point with our software vendor,” Martin said.
Despite this setback, the college has made significant progress towards one of its strategic plan goals well ahead of schedule.
The strategic plan calls for making KC more visible and recognizable. This includes installing programmable electronic signage at both KC campuses. Though this project was scheduled to be completed by August 2019, the Kilgore campus sign was installed just after the fall semester began and a location for a Longview sign is currently being determined.
Martin explained she was looking forward to a visit in three weeks from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The visit and review will determine if KC can maintain its accreditation to award associates degrees for another 10 years.
Martin said KC has been preparing for the visit by working on the appearance of the campus as well as improving its curriculum and services. The work has included repairs and improvements to the pedestrian bridge, a campus-wide beautification project and the upcoming installation of star sculptures created by the KC welding department.
The trustees voted to officially approve the $18 million McKinstry campus renovation project, which will involve major energy-efficiency upgrades campus-wide to take place over the next two years. The board also voted to approve two $7 million loans from the State Energy Conservation Office to help fund the project.
The board adopted a tax rate of .175 cents for the 2018 tax year as part of the 2019 fiscal year budget.
“This tax rate will generate more tax revenue for maintenance and operations than last year’s tax rate because of a 2.51 percent growth in property values,” said Trustee Joe Carrington.
The meeting closed after Kays delivered a short presentation about the college’s preparations for the 86th Texas state legislative session, which will occur in January 2019. Kays explained Texas college associations will focus on policy priorities during the session, including asking the legislature for additional funding for student success points, increasing grant funding for college workforce training and expanding access to dual-credit programs for high school students.