Dr. Bill Seymour, president of Cleveland State Community College, said 2019 was a “historic” year for the local college, as they stayed on track with the five-year strategic plan and experienced …
Dr. Bill Seymour, president of Cleveland State Community College, said 2019 was a “historic” year for the local college, as they stayed on track with the five-year strategic plan and experienced several groundbreaking moments.
Dr. Seymour said he can’t quite pinpoint any one event from 2019 that was especially influential. Instead, he offered a list of what were, in his opinion, the highlights from the last year.
In March 2019, it was announced Cleveland State had been voted College of the Year.
During the first Statewide Outstanding Achievement Recognition event in Nashville, the College System of Tennessee offered the award to Cleveland State. The award was given to CSCC after 300 votes from students, faculty and staff, in addition to 13 community colleges across 27 local and government entities selected Cleveland State as the first recipient of the College of the Year title.
The trophy, a “gleaming new” College Cup, according to the CSCC communications department, is on display at the campus and will be at the college until the next SOAR awards.
Starting with incoming fall 2019 students, Cleveland State launched its new Success Coach Model, which offers one-on-one assistance to students with college applications as well as academic achievement.
Dr. Seymour said success coaches act as a “one-stop person” for students seeking assistance with registration and other documentation needs. He added the new model was not only part of the college’s five-year strategic plan, but has also helped increase retention among its growing student population.
The eight new success coaches are stationed in the Student Services office on the Cleveland State campus.
2019 ushered in a year of development for Cleveland State as it broke ground on two new facilities, a Health and Sciences Building on its home campus and a new facility in McMinn County.
The first building to be added to the campus in 45 years, the new Health and Sciences building celebrated its groundbreaking in August 2019. Located near the intersection of Adkisson Drive and Norman Chapel Road, the new building will host classes for students in nursing and medical fields of study.
The two-story building is expected to span approximately 53,000 square feet. It is being filled with multiple classrooms and lab spaces, which include interactive features to help students develop their medical skills.
Dr. Seymour said the new building was not only a milestone for the campus, but also a much-needed facility for the highly demanded field of medicine.
In addition to the new Health and Sciences building, Cleveland State broke ground in McMinn County for a new facility. The Athens Center will offer programs in administrative professional technology, agribusiness, business, criminal justice and psychology.
On the subject of remodeling the community college, Dr. Seymour said he is proud of the newly remodeled entrance and the road currently under construction on campus.
The new entrance at Adkisson Hall was finished within the last year, something Dr. Seymour said “was a really nice development for our campus.”
The community college is also in the process of paving a road around the campus to allow better access for students. The Loop Road Project, as Dr. Seymour referred to it, will enhance accessibility to the two new entrances at the north and south sides of the campus.
In 2019, Cleveland State became the first in Tennessee to offer an honors college. Currently, the CSCC Honors College offers courses to over 120 students under the direction of Dr. Victoria Bryan.
The program started in the fall of 2015 with just 14 students. The Honors College currently has partnerships in place with Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and potentially Lee University.
Students of The Honors College focus on five areas during their studies: academic excellence, in-depth subject exploration, public presentation experience, leadership skills and techniques, and service to the campus and/or community.
Cleveland State has followed a theme of high enrollment numbers, thanks to efforts in retention as well as statewide initiatives, like Tennessee Promise.
According to Dr. Seymour, CSCC enrollment was up 6.6%. That’s counting full-time equivalent students. In addition, Dr. Seymour said they have increased their graduation rate as well. He said the graduation rate has doubled in the last six years, something he also credited to both the college’s work in retention and the Tennessee Promise program.
In November, Cleveland State was announced as the recipient of the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) grant.
The grant will pay out over the next two to three years, Dr. Seymour said, and assist institutions with workforce development, which Gov. Lee stated is “a key component of our strategy to prioritize rural Tennessee.”
Cleveland State plans on using the grant funding to enhance its Advanced Technologies Apprenticeship Institute. The college will also add five new areas of study to its Mechatronics program, including computer information technology, electrical engineering technology, engineering systems technology, cyber security and electromechanical technology.
Around the same time the United Way of the Ocoee Region released its results from the ALICE study (Asset Limiten, Income Constrained, Employed), Dr. Seymour announced CSCC would be increasing pay for its adjunct faculty.
In addition, CSCC increased its compensation plan for faculty as well, effective Jan. 1, 2020. He said the effort to increase pay across the board was “necessary” to “bring it up to date.”
The ALICE report revealed many areas of work in Bradley County suffered from the increase in the cost of living, offering detailed budget breakdowns on average costs of bills and rent in the area and comparing it to the average pay.
According to information provided by Dr. Seymour, no one teaching on campus was to make under $30,000 a year after the pay increase.
Bradley County Schools joined Cleveland State’s Early College program, allowing them to dually enroll in college classes while earning the credit during their high school careers.
This program was previously only taken advantage of by Cleveland High School students until the county schools joined last year.
Dr. Seymour said this May will see the first class of early college students, who will walk across the state to accept their high school diploma having already earned an associate’s degree from Cleveland State.
During the 2019 fall semester, Cleveland State launched its Cougar Coach program, a free transportation service that travels to McMinn and Meigs counties to pick up college students and shuttle them to the Cleveland campus.
Dr. Seymour said this program was baked into their strategic plan and designed to help students who lacked transportation in outer counties. Dr. Seymour said he was inspired to start the program after hearing from multiple high school officials of the large number of students with a desire to pursue higher education, but lacking the ability to physically get there.
Dr. Seymour said the campus is looking forward to welcoming Archie Manning later this year in August.
Manning will be coming to the campus on Aug. 15 for the Homecoming Week at CSCC at the L. Quentin Lane Center. Dr. Seymour said his visit is a landmark for Cleveland State and part of an effort to bring “big name speakers” to the campus each year for homecoming.
The college is also looking past 2020 to the next five years. Cleveland State is developing their next strategic plan, which will take the campus through 2025.
Dr. Seymour said the strategic plan will be revealed in an event in May and be in effect this June.
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