SKCTC is a public, comprehensive community and technical college under the governance of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). SKCTC serves the southeastern Kentucky region — with campuses in Cumberland, Harlan, Middlesboro, Pineville, and Whitesburg — and it provides continuing education, academic support, training activities and diploma/degree programs to help prepare individuals to succeed in today’s technological workforce, and enhance community and business development.
Dr. Bruce Ayers first spoke about the KCTCS educational system and the strategic plan of SKCTC, stressing the importance of advocacy.
“We are 16 institutions strong. We have about sixty campuses that are scattered throughout the state. And this semester, we have more than 100,000 students that are enrolled,” stated Ayers. “We are, without question, the largest segment of higher education in the state, and by far the most rapidly growing segment of higher education.”
Ayers explained that higher education numbers have increased in the state of Kentucky this semester — up almost 12 percent from the previous year. He stated that nearly 80 percent of that growth is at KCTCS institutions.
“One of the things we are doing this year is advocating for KCTCS,” said Ayers. “We don’t think that our system, and indeed, we don’t think that community and technical colleges around the nation get nearly as much credit as they are deserving of.”
Ayers explained that community and technical colleges educate about half of the students nationwide, and do not receive nearly the amount of government funding as traditional four year universities. He explained that four year institutions get over six billion dollars of state support annually, while community and technical colleges only get a little over a billion and have almost as many students as these traditional institutions.
“We have decided in KCTCS that we were going to take a very proactive approach and start working with our communities... to try to increase support for these institutions,” said Ayers.
Ayers then spoke about the many contributions SKCTC has made within the community. He stated that progress will continue to be made around the region as more funding becomes available. He encouraged local officials and community members to continue to support local educational programs.
Ayers also touched on yearly enrollment reports, student services, academic support, expenditures and revenue, public services, fundraising programs, tuition rates, and campus/building information. He also informed community members of the array of academic programs available to them, including web-based courses, dual credit courses, specialized training, workforce related courses, technical programs for economic development, coal mining courses and training, transfer programs, nursing and radiography with allied health certificates, and business administration programs.
Ayers informed those in attendance about future educational programs, recently implemented programs and the importance of accessibility. He stated that SKCTC is starting an honors program for superior academic performers, as well as an industrial maintenance program. A pre-engineering program is currently available on the campuses of Whitesburg, Cumberland and Pineville, and a Ph.D. program has also been established at the Middlesboro campus in association with Mississippi State University.
“One of the things we have emphasized, and one of the things our board has emphasized, is that we need to get out into this community. And we have done that,” Ayers explained. “Access is so important to the students attending community and technical colleges. They need to be able to go to school close to where they live, and close to where they work. And with our five campus format, I think we are able to do that in a way that really provides opportunities for a whole lot of people who otherwise would not be able to go to school.”
Lastly, Ayers spoke about the significance of community involvement and said that the KCTCS helps meet the recreational, cultural, educational and social needs of our area.
“We have been so fortunate at the college to have wonderful support from the community that we serve,” said Ayers. “We are about transforming lives and we are about transforming Kentucky. That is our goal. That is our theme, and that’s what we are hoping to do.”
The event was hosted by the Bell County Chamber of Commerce, the SKCTC Small Business Development Center and Eastern Kentucky Jobsight.
Contact Staff Writer Adam Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.