Rise in demand for community college

Shawntaye Hopkins

Students walking through the halls of the community college to rooms 1, 2 or 3 can smell fresh paint.

The three new classrooms are located just beyond the Carroll Knicely Center for Economic Development and consist of general education and developmental courses.

They are part of several renovations done this summer at the Community College to help ease its growing enrollment – and there are still other changes to come.

Ed West, the director of planning design and construction, said the renovations began at the end of the spring semester.

Only a limited amount of work could be done in order for the projects to be finished by the beginning of this semester, he said.

The projects were funded by student tuition.

Interim Dean Sherry Reid said the college’s enrollment has increased by 195 students since last semester.

The total enrollment is about 2,400, she said.

For a second year, two trailers were added, with each holding two simultaneous classes, Reid said. A third unit holds 10 faculty offices.

“We are planning to replace the trailers with permanent construction when that can be accommodated,” Reid said. “They are temporary solutions … and we’re very happy to have them, but we can’t use them forever.”

The bookstore was also moved to an area closer to the classrooms, Reid said.

“We’ve always had a South Campus bookstore,” she said. “But it was kind of remote to where our classes are.”

Martha Houchin, chair of the Health Sciences Division and director of the nursing program, said enrollment growth spurred several changes in the Health Sciences and Health Care Information Division.

In the past, nursing students have had two available rooms – a classroom and nursing lab. The loading dock behind the college was converted into a storage space, computer lab and observation room for Sim-Man, a computerized mannequin for nursing students.

Also, part of the loading dock was used to provide the Health Care Information Systems Division with more space.

The division now has a storage room for medical records and computer lab. It also has one classroom, which was expanded.

But more space hasn’t necessarily meant enough space.

Houchin said the classes are still crowded and she looks forward to other expansions.

“We’ve been improvising and doing what we can to create the space that we need,” Houchin said. “We could always use more space.”

Reid said she expects planning for a second phase of renovations to begin soon.

Although no decisions have been made, there has been talk about adding dining services.

Reid said President Gary Ransdell has acknowledged the need for hot food at the community college.

“I think food services will probably be one of the next things to happen,” Reid said.

John Osborne, associate vice president for campus services and facilities, said adding dining services would be costly and there isn’t enough space currently at the college.

Reid said she believes space could be found to build a food service area.

Osborne disagrees.

“It would have to be an addition to the building,” he said.

Osborne does agree, however, that dining should be considered in the future because of the growing enrollment.

But Florence freshman Tara Minter doesn’t see the need for dining services at the college. She said the vending machines are enough.

Minter is more worried about the college’s parking situation.

“I think they need more parking because when we’re leaving there’s a jam in the middle of the parking lot,” she said.

Some students, such as Cincinnati freshman Dustin Autry, park in the conference center lot even though there are signs stating that they should avoid those spaces.

Students were also told to avoid parking at The Diner, a restaurant near the building.

Autry said he has a few crowded classes, but his top concern is the 20 minutes it can take for him to find a parking space.

“That’s the main thing right now,” he said.

Osborne said students should be aware of the Campbell Lane lot which is located near a sidewalk leading to the Community College.

He said the lot is not being fully used by students.

Reid said administrators haven’t yet begun discussing or planning for when food services and additional classrooms, offices and parking will be added.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]