Iowa Central begins new school year

Iowa Central Community College began its 2013-14 school year Tuesday.

Dan Kinney, Iowa Central president, and his staff began at 7 a.m. with a yearly tradition, greeting students and offering them doughnuts and coffee.

“We’ve got the staff out here again to help direct students,” Kinney said. “Students get here, they don’t exactly know where they’re going.”

Students moved into campus housing on Sunday.

“We had a great move-in day. I think it went the smoothest it ever had,” Kinney said. “Yesterday we had a lot more check in. Starting tonight, with the barbecue, we’ve got activities for the next couple of weeks for the students.”

Activities are planned for the next two weeks, including a Back to School Bash and trip to Rosedale Rapids Aquatic Center later.

“If a student’s going to get homesick or decide to leave school, it’s going to be usually within the first couple of weeks,” Kinney said. “This gives us the opportunity to engage the students, get them into the flow, start meeting different people. We have students who came here with friends, but we also have students who came here knowing nobody.”

Kinney said it is also a way to make themselves available if students need help.

“They’ve seen us around campus, maybe one of the admissions staff they worked through,” he said. “If they’ve got questions hopefully they’re going to stop today and ask us while we’re just hanging out here.”

Iowa Central this year will continue its effort toward meeting state workforce demands, Kinney said.

“That’s our main goal. Not just statewide, but locally, too,” he said. “We started a new degree this year called process technology that brings our electrical and mechanical together with a science component to really help some of these new businesses and existing businesses in our community. A lot of what we’re doing is just trying to get an educated workforce.”

Tom Beneke, vice president of enrollment management and student development, said the college is tracking a decrease in enrollment this year.

“Right now, with the economy the way it is in our region, we’re tracking a little down with our enrollment,” he said.

The problem is a good one, though, Beneke said. More people are finding jobs.

“With what’s going on out west of Fort Dodge in the industrial park and the opportunities this region is going to have with those things going on, it’s a great thing for our region,” he said. “How it impacts us a little bit, people are going to work instead of going to school and that’s okay, too.”

Despite the decrease, housing at the college is full again this year.

“Our housing is full. We’ve got a brand new cafeteria that will hopefully be completed the first week in October. It really looks positive for this upcoming school year,” Beneke said. “We’re off to a great start.”

Kinney said he enjoys meeting the students on the first day of classes.

“The two best days of the summer are the day you get your staff back, that was last Thursday, and then Sunday and this week, having all these students back,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for. This is why I’m in higher education, to help these students get degrees and move on and get jobs.”