Back on campus

Iowa Central Community College began classes for its 2014-15 year Tuesday.

The morning started with Dan Kinney, Iowa Central president, joined by staff and administrators, handing out fresh doughnuts to students, helping them find buildings and answering their questions.

“We’re excited,” Kinney said. “We’ve already been through over 200-and-some odd doughnuts. Everything’s going well.”

Students began moving into campus housing on Sunday.

“In the last couple of days, we’ve moved in 1,280 students into housing, and that’s a record for us,” Kinney said. “It’s the most we’ve ever had in housing.”

Kinney anticipates an enrollment increase for the college this year.

“The indicators we have right now, one being housing and what happened there, and very few cancellations here, it’s looking like we’ll have that enrollment increase for this year,” he said. “Hopefully, that will hold. We’ll know more in the next few days.”

Already, college officials are looking toward the future.

“We’re already starting to look at the next year, down the road, and getting geared up, in addition to looking at new programs and where we want to go there,” Kinney said. “Our No. 1 goal is to provide a work force for the region, and filling these classrooms is going to help us do that.”

To achieve this goal, new programs have been added.

“This year we’ve added automation robotics,” Kinney said. “More and more manufacturing, we’re seeing the need for that. We added digital mass communications. We’re starting to see a lot of need and hearing about that within the region.”

Jim Kersten, Iowa Central vice president of external affairs and government relations, is optimistic about the new school year.

“We’re looking forward to another good year,” he said. “We’ve had really good, strong legislative support, so we’re hoping to continue that for the next session.”

Funding for programs that develop a skilled state work force have been beneficial for college and student alike, Kersten said.

“It shows the work we put in, working with our legislators, they actually are putting money where the high priorities are for the state,” he said. “It’s nice to see our public policy process working.”

According to Kersten, it is a good time for Iowa’s community colleges.

“It’s a good time for the colleges, but also for the Iowa workers,” he said, “because the economy is growing and we’re the best institutions that can help provide the training for these jobs. It’s good for all of us.”

Kersten said he enjoyed greeting students on the first day of classes.

“They’re the reason we’re here every day,” he said. “Without the students, we wouldn’t have this college.”

The day is one of Kinney’s favorites of the school year.

“I love this day,” he said. “Honestly, the best days of the year, one is when our faculty gets back on campus and we really start getting geared up, and then Sunday, getting our students moved into the residential halls, and today, the first day of classes.”