Tuesday, 14 September 2021 13:14

McInnis updates commissioners on changes at Richmond Community College

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Richmond Community College President Dr. Dale McInnis updates the Richmond County Board of Commissioners on campus activities during a meeting Sept. 13. Richmond Community College President Dr. Dale McInnis updates the Richmond County Board of Commissioners on campus activities during a meeting Sept. 13. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Community College is fast-tracking several programs to help students enter the workforce faster.


College President Dr. Dale McInnis told the Richmond County Board of Commissioners Tuesday that classes will soon start for the Pharmacy Technician program, which has been in the works for several years in cooperation with local and chain pharmacies.

The program will be housed in the Robinette Building on the downtown Rockingham campus.

“Rather than taking two years to complete, they’ll be going around the clock for one semester,” McInnis said.

The college is also in the planning stages of a new auto mechanics program that will be condensed into one semester.

In the class, McInnis said students will “go all day, work together as a team … and not only develop the skills and knowledge the professor requires, but also gain the soft skills — teamwork and following directions — that all companies are looking for right now.”

These programs are similar to the Electric Lineman program, which McInnis called “a booming success.”

The 26-day program started in 2019, graduating two classes in the first half of the year.

The most recent class, McInnis said, graduated 16 students, who had “multiple job offers from across the country.”

With one class slated to start next week, McInnis said there are six of 24 seats left in the January class.

“The waiting list, the demand is very intensive and I’m very proud of that program,” he said.

ENROLLMENT DOWN

McInnis opened his update by saying that college enrollment was down — not only at RichmondCC, but across the state and nation.

“We’re fortunate, we’re down only 1 percent” — 29 students from last fall with a head count of 2,162 curriculum students, McInnis said. “ … we’re holding our own. It took a Herculean effort on the part of our staff to maintain this level. The (COVID-19) pandemic’s impact is far-reaching, indeed.”

McInnis added that in the past year, across all formats, the college taught 7,621 students. He said that was down from the peak of around 10,000 just a few years ago in 2018-19.

But, he added, there are indications that the trend will move upward in January.

Part of the decline is due to fewer high school students taking classes at the college.

“That’s an area we’re working closely with Richmond County Schools on improving,” he said, adding that the dual enrollment numbers for Richmond County were at 241 this fall. (The college also has a campus in Scotland County.)

While those numbers are down, McInnis said there was a slight uptick in enrollment at Richmond Early College High School.

HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY CHANGES

RichmondCC has recently decentralized its Adult High School and High School Equivalency programs, which McInnis sees as a positive step.

“One of our county’s biggest challenges is that, based on the most recent Census data, 20 percent of our adults 25 or older still don’t have a high school diploma,” McInnis said. “

In response, the college has expanded the High School Equivalency program with classes being taught not just on the main campus, but also at the Rockingham and Scotland campuses.

“We want to remove the stigma that’s been attached to those courses and programs and take those courses to the community rather than force people to go to a single location,” McInnis said.

COVID PRECAUTIONS

In addition to lower enrollment, McInnis said the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the college in other ways, including students being quarantined because of exposure.

Masks are required indoors, in classrooms and large public gatherings on campus. While facial coverings are not required outside, McInnis said, “... we are monitoring that closely.”

He said there have not been any outbreaks on campus this fall.

After last year’s experience, McInnis said all classes now allow students to pivot to an online format.

“So we’re not having to close down or shut down a class if there’s a positive case,” he said.

The college is also not requiring vaccinations for students or staff, although getting the shot is encouraged.

A second-dose clinic was scheduled for Tuesday.

McInnis said the college is using COVID relief funds to replace aging heating and air units and ventilation systems — a cost he said would otherwise be passed to the county.

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 September 2021 13:52