Iowa Lakes Community College president Val Newhouse Thursday updated Estherville Rotarians about new developments and programs at the college.
Starting with enrollment, Newhouse said the student count was 3,742 - down a bit from last year. Students come from 33 states and 10 countries, with 76 percent under 19 compared to 69 percent two years ago, indicating an improving economy. Two years ago, male-to-female populations were 60 and 40 percent respectively and now that number is about evenly split, said Newhouse. "Our older males are back in the workforce," Newhouse said.
Fully 91 percent of graduates stay in the region - a statistic that argues very favorably for the positive economic impact of the state's investment in community colleges. And of the total student population, 1,000 are dual-enrolled high-school students.
Iowa Lakes' student retention rates exceed both state and national averages, said Newhouse. The college sees 70 percent of its students return for a second year - far above the 50 percent rate for Iowa community colleges overall and 48 percent nationally.
There are nearly 100 faculty members who have a master's or better, with an average employee stint of 12.5 years.
While complete college costs - including tuition, room and board - are substantially lower than at other colleges at $11,000 a year, Newhouse said the actual net cost is more like an average of $8,800 a year since 75 percent of students who apply get at least one scholarship. A lot of scholarship funding comes from college foundation activities held throughout the year.
There's also a big contribution from area business and industry with advisory committees helping decide curriculum.
Newhouse said nursing remains the largest program in the college with 250-300 students.
The college's myriad innovative delivery systems include not just traditional face-to-face classes but also online, online hybrid which is a combination of online and traditional lecture and the college's state-of-the-art television delivery system that reaches out to nine area high schools.
Among new developments, Newhouse said the college is the first Iowa community college to be nationally accredited in developmental education.
The college has also partnered with other Iowa community colleges in a trade adjustment agreement grant that will help expand the capacity in the college welding program as well as a robotics program.
Newhouse also pointed to the college's designation as one of a handful of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) hubs in Iowa. STEM-related activities include the First Lego League held late last year and the Kid Wind Conference coming up in May.
Newhouse also pointed to the college's continued leadership in wind energy.
"We are still home to one of the first and best programs in the state of Iowa," Newhouse said, noting the college program has received the American Wind Energy Association's seal of approval.
The college's acquisition of the former Medieval Glass building for its SERT program will help house the new water quality and HVAC programs the board of trustees approved in January. Snap-on and Trane will be corporate partners in the new programs. Newhouse said eventually the college would like to add geothermal and solar certificate programs.