VC president gives college, economic update


Sept. 15, 2010 at 4:15 a.m.

Twelve of the nation's 20 fastest-growing careers require associate's degrees, and it's time to redefine college, Victoria College President Tom Butler said Wednesday.

"I would put to you that the bachelor's degree, which is what we all think going to college means, is completely inappropriate for the 21st century, every bit as much as what we had in the 18th century was for the 20th."

Butler presented an update on the college and its economic impact at a Victoria Chamber of Commerce breakfast inside the college student center.

The college has grown, Butler told the 128-person crowd.

It boasts 4,321 students, up 6 percent from 2009's fall semester, while the number of full-time students is up 11 percent. The college's centers in Port Lavaca and Gonzales also grew.

Economic factors contributed, Butler said. Many people are out of work or are concerned about job prospects and others return to school because they worry about supporting their families.

Decreased state funding means community colleges must adjust their revenue sources, he said. In 2000, 53 percent of the college's revenue came from state reimbursement, he said, but that dropped to 29 percent in 2010.

"Now there are probably very good reasons why it's happening, but there's no getting around that, as the state's contribution shrinks, we have to turn to tuition and fees and local taxes to make up the difference," Butler said.

Victoria College had a part in Caterpillar's decision to bring a manufacturing plant to town, Butler said.

The college hosted several tours, mainly focused on its Process Technology program, he said, and the company was impressed with the college's partnerships with area plants.

"Everybody played a role in getting them here, but I can tell you this," he said. "If Victoria College was not the kind of college it is, they would not be here."

Chamber President Randy Vivian met with Caterpillar Sept. 9 and said he asked why the company chose Victoria.

The available industrial park and other amenities helped, he said, but it really came to educational aspects, Vivian said. Caterpillar liked knowing the college could provide employee training.

"So, you guys sold it," he said to Butler.

Shara Smith, who attended the breakfast with co-workers from Warm Springs Hospital, said she found it enlightening.

"There are things you don't think about when you think about the college," the nurse manager said. "They have a big impact on the community."



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