Letter to the Editor

February 22, 2018

Kishwaukee College: Celebrating 50 Years, Looking to the Future

This is a great year for Kishwaukee College, as we celebrate being an integral part of the local communities since 1968.

The College campus looks very different than it did 50 years ago. Over the years, the taxpayers have supported the growth and expansion of campus spaces to best serve the students. Our learners are fortunate to have the quality facilities and technology available at Kish.

Enrollments also look different than they did in 1968, with 994 students attending the first year the campus was open to the approximately 5,750 students that will attend classes this year.

When the Community Colleges first opened their doors in Illinois, funding was to be evenly shared between three sources - tuition, local property taxes, and state aids. Over the years, less state aids have come into the colleges. The result at Kish is that over 50% of the College budget comes from student tuition dollars. Enrollments become that much more important as they generate the revenue needed to ensure the College is able to offer a quality education to all students.

Kishwaukee College is like most other colleges in the state of Illinois, and indeed across the nation, with declining enrollment. According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse, over a 5-year period between 2011 and 2016, enrollments in higher education in the United States dropped by 2.4 million students. Much of this decline is attributed to changing demographics in our country.

In Illinois, it is worse. Among recent Illinois high school graduates attending four-year institutions, 46 percent enrolled in out-of-state schools in 2016, compared to 29 percent in 2002, according to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Illinois has the second highest out migration of college bound students. New Jersey is the only state that loses more students than Illinois.

The long-term effect of the net out migration is devastating for all of us. Studies from the Illinois Board of Higher Education found that, of Illinois residents who study in their home state, approximately nine out of 10 graduates start careers in Illinois. But of those studying out of state, approximately one-third don’t return to Illinois to start their career.

Given these realities, we need to continue to work together as a state and communities to ensure a bright future for our current and future residents. We are hopeful that our leaders in Springfield consider the long-term consequences as they begin planning the next state budget and developing public policy. We need a budget that is done timely and supports higher education. Let’s show our students that we want to keep them here in Illinois.

Kishwaukee College has been your Community College for the past 50 years, and as we are celebrating our rich history this year, we are looking forward to the next 50 years of providing quality education locally. To learn more about the great things happening at Kish, follow me on my blog at drlaurie.kish.edu.

Dr. Laurie Borowicz
President
Kishwaukee College

 

January 5, 2018

This time of year, with the end of another academic semester and the holiday season upon us, we have an opportunity to step back and reflect on our successes.  We are proud of the 500 students graduating from Kish this fall semester.  Congratulating 171 of our graduates as they walked across the stage at commencement is a highlight for me, as well as all of us who work at Kishwaukee College.  

January 11th will mark my second anniversary as the President of Kish, and there are so many things to be proud of as I start my third year. We have had some challenges the past two years, but the positives far outweigh them.  I am fortunate to serve as the leader of an organization that transforms the lives of students enrolling in our college every day.  I am fortunate to be surrounded by devoted and caring faculty and professionals dedicating their life’s work to helping students achieve their educational goals.  I am fortunate to live and work in communities that care about education, helping each other, and working together.  

The new year, 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of Kishwaukee College.  It’s impressive how in the past 50 years, many things have changed on the corner of Lincoln Highway and Malta Road, from barns and an old farmhouse on farmland, to Quonset huts, and now beautiful facilities.  The new year will be about celebrating our past - and looking forward to our future.  We are planning some events, starting with a kickoff on February 20th, and two other events in the summer and fall.  I hope you will find some time to join us and see all that Kish has to offer.  As I travel throughout the district, I hear wonderful Kish stories, and I know that the college has touched the lives of many residents.  Please share your stories on our 50th anniversary website at:  www.kish.edu/50th-anniversary

So while we spend a bit of time reflecting this time of year, we are also looking forward to what’s to come.  New programs are being developed, and new partnerships are being forged with NIU, area K-12’s, and local businesses.  New students will walk down our halls, learn in our classrooms, play on our athletic fields, and walk across the stage at graduation. 

I am honored to serve as President of Kishwaukee College - Your Community College.  To learn more about the great things happening at Kish, follow me on my blog at drlaurie.kish.edu.

October 30, 2017

 

The fall semester is in full swing at Kishwaukee College, with students on our campus and in our classrooms.  Enrollments are down slightly from last year, but the enrollment decline is primarily out of district students.  Kish is the college of choice for approximately 30% of the local graduates of the class of 2017.  Enrollment history shows that close to 50% of all area high school graduates will take a least one class at Kish within two years of high school graduation. 

Local athletes competing on our sports teams this year is nearly 50% of all athletes, up from 19% last year.  Our goal is to reach 75% of our Kougar athletes being graduates of our local high schools by 2019.  We have brought back women’s volleyball and basketball for the 2017-18 school year, and will have men’s and women’s soccer and cross country for the 2018-19 school year.

Given the number of local high school graduates choosing to attend Kishwaukee College to continue their education, it is important that we work with the area high schools to help students easily transition to our College after high school.  Programs with our high schools, such as dual credit, prepare students to be college and career ready.  Annually I host a K-12 Administrators Breakfast, which was recently held on October 26th.  Ten K-12 administrators, representing school districts from DeKalb, Genoa-Kingston, Hiawatha, Indian Creek, KEC, Paw Paw, Rochelle, and Sycamore, attended the meeting. Discussion focused on how we can continue to work together to build educational pathways for students from high school to college.  Acting President of NIU, Dr. Lisa Freeman, joined us at the K-12 Administrators Breakfast, the first time a NIU President attended.  The meeting was groundbreaking as we work to create K-16 educational programs and pathways for our local students.  I feel fortunate to be working with Dr. Freeman and the area K-12 Superintendents to enhance opportunities for the students attending our respective educational institutions. 

Many students attend Kishwaukee College with the intention of finding employment in our communities following graduation. Kish is proud of the Career and Technical Programs we offer, preparing students for our local workforce.  I serve on both the GREDCO and DCEDC boards of directors, which allows Kish to play a key role in local economic development for both current and future employers.  Businesses considering relocating to our area critically look at the local workforce, examining the opportunities that exist to hire and train employees.  It is important for us to demonstrate what we can offer in workforce development for prospective employers.  To support this effort, I am pleased to be involved in expanding workforce partnerships beyond our local area, working with five Community College Presidents in Northwestern Illinois. Together we are exploring how we work together to support the workforce needs of the region. 

It is by working with others that we build on the rich tradition of quality education at Kishwaukee College - Your Community College.  I am proud and honored to be serving as President. To learn more about the great things happening at Kish, follow me on my blog at drlaurie.kish.edu.

Dr. Laurie Borowicz
President, Kishwaukee College

August 7, 2017

Often people view summer as a “quiet” time in education.  While it is true that our halls are a bit quieter than during the fall and spring semesters, Kish has1330 students enrolled this summer, taking classes to prepare for the fall semester.  College employees are working on a number of activities in preparation for our students attending the College this fall. A few highlights include:

Services for “Undecided” students. When I am out in the community, I often hear that one of the biggest reasons students choose to come to Kish is because they are undecided on their program or major.  We are in the process of re-vamping our “Career Planning 101” class, designing the course specifically for those students that are unsure of what they want to do for a future career.  Students will take the course in their first semester at Kish, ensuring that their remaining semesters at the College are filled with courses they need to get them on their desired future pathway.

Earn and Learn Program. We believe it is important for our students to have real world experiences while being a college student.  Student employees are an important part of our campus community, and we are working to streamline and communicate employment opportunities.  We are also working closely with area employers to enhance our internship program, and help our students have workplace learning experiences related to their programs or majors.  

Local athletes participating in NJCAA athletics.  Coaches have been hired for both women’s basketball and volleyball, after a one-year break for both.  For fall, we are pleased to see over 50% of the Kish Kougars on our athletic teams being graduates of local high schools.  We are currently exploring bringing back men's and women’s soccer for Fall 2018, as well as additional sports such as cross country.  Community Colleges offer a great opportunity for local athletes to continue their athletic passions in college.

kish.edu. The College has embarked on a technology plan, providing updates and enhancements to be more efficient and support the needs of our students. One of the biggest changes is going from kishwaukeecollege.edu to kish.edu for our website and email.

Campus facility planning.  We are pleased to have a state budget, and are grateful for the financial support we will receive to meet the educational and workforce development needs of our area.  A number of capital updates at the College were delayed the last two years due to the budget impasse that are now being evaluated and implemented.  It is important that we maintain a quality learning environment for our students.

Classes start on Aug 21, and we look forward to welcoming students to our campus once again.  We are honored to help over 6,000 students each year achieve their educational goals.  I have learned in my time at the College how important Kish is to the residents of the local communities, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as President of Kishwaukee College. To learn more about the great things happening at Kish, follow me on my blog at drlaurie.kishwaukeecollege.edu.

Dr. Laurie Borowicz
President, Kishwaukee College