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Following the defeat of the proposed levy increase in November, Ozarks Technical Community College Hal Higdon wondered if voters might not be aware of the role a community college has in a community. In this two part program, we explore the role of community colleges and specifically, the role of OTC by hearing from Higdon and O-T-C students.
This November, voters overwhelmingly rejected a levy increase for Ozarks Technical Community College. On election night, as the results became clear, O-T-C president Hal Higdon speculated that maybe voters weren't familiar enough with the role of a community college. In a more recent interview, Higdon noted that the community college is relatively new to this area.
In addition to technical and general education programs, Ozarks Technical Community College has workforce development opportunities, a GED program, continuing education courses, computer training, and English as a Second Language classes.
Besides the scope of the program offerings at O-T-C, Higdon likes to brag on the school's open admission policy.
It's not just open admission...O-T-C actually offers courses for students who may not yet have the skills necessary to take freshmen level classes. Despite all the things that make O-T-C different from the other higher education institutions in the area, Higdon says some people still believe O-T-C competes with other colleges and universities. Does he believe O-T-C steps on the toes, so to speak of the other institutions?
Criticism of O-T-C sometimes comes from the faculty of other schools. This year, O-T-C began offering a program in the fine arts, a move that drew some criticism. Higdon says those faculty members at other schools who complain about O-T-C's programs ought to think about the issue from the student's perspective.
There are students who go to O-T-C because they could not get admitted to other universities in the area. There also are students who could get admitted to these schools but choose O-T-C because it's cheaper. That's where the perception of competition comes in. O-T-C offers some of the same courses as other institutions but at a lower cost to students. Still, Higdon says he sees O-T-C as complimenting institutions like Missouri State University. In fact, Missouri State President Michael Nietzel helped create an agreement with O-T-C to make it easier for students to take classes at both institutions.
Like Missouri State and many other state schools, O-T-C's needs are outpacing its income. Twenty-five thousand people took credit or non-credit courses at O-T-C last year. Enrollment was up 6 percent this fall and it's expected to be up again in the spring. Higdon says the funds are not available to meet the demands. He explains how community colleges are funded.
Coming up this afternoon, we'll hear from some students at Ozarks Technical Community College.
I'm Missy Shelton reporting.