McDonald County campus breaks ground

By Becky Embry-Ross
Sports Editor

Crowder broke ground for the new campus location in Jane on Thurs., Nov. 15 at 2 p.m.

Dr. Alan Marble, president of Crowder College, together with longtime Board member James B. Tatum and members of the Crowder Board of Trustees and Directors, faculty, staff and members of the community, were present to watch and participate in the ceremony, which opened with a “Welcome” from Dr. Marble.

“It is a wonderful day. This is truly awesome,” said Tatum.

“It is our honor to be here today,” said Andy Wood, President of Crowder College Board of Trustees. “This has been a dream for us to be here. We wouldn’t be here without the father, James Tatum.”

According to Tatum, a campaign to raise the funds necessary to see the dream become a reality started somewhere between two or three years ago.

A dream whose time has come, the theme for Tatum’s speech, has slowly become a reality for all those who have been involved in the project. Dr. Marble pointed out the staked points for where the campus will become more than just a dream from early next spring to becoming a Christmas surprise for many.

Tatum, along with many others, has long seen and spoken of the “dream”. It has been a vision for those close to the project for many years to see an expansion in McDonald County.

“There comes a day when an authentication has to come,” said Tatum.

The campus will be off Highway 71 on Larry Neff Drive in Jane just before the Wal-Mart stop light. The college purchased the 7.81 acres of land through Freeman Health System for $750,000 according to the minutes of the Board of Trustees Meeting Oct. 22, 2012. According to Dr. Marble, the College is still $175,000 short of meeting the targeted $1.5 million raised in donation funds for this campus and encouraged visitors at the ceremony to add their names to the list of donors that have already contributed to the $6 million project.

“The difference with this campaign is it started from the ground up,” said Jim Armstrong, President of Crowder College Foundation Board. “And it started with the people of McDonald County.” The construction plans, by Nabholz Construction as the construction manager, are set to begin Feb. 22, 2013 for the two story, 25,000 square foot building. Dr. Jim Cummins, Vice President of Finance stated that the building turnover is set for Dec. 24, 2013 with plans to open the new campus for the spring 2014 semester.

Dr. Marble commented that there is enough room to expand either now or in the future. Pellham Phillips, the architectural firm behind the design of the campus building, was chosen by a committee back in 2010. Dr. Jim Cummins, Vice President of Finance, stated that they are looking at what LEED certifications can be done that, “are within our budget.”
For about seven years, the McDonald County community has seen Crowder’s presence, holding classes from Noel to the high school to the Hometown Bank in Jane. The college recently added a temporary location in Pineville hosting CNA and nursing classes. Once the new campus is built, those classes will be moved along with the general education classes to Jane. “They [McDonald County High School and Hometown Bank] have been more than gracious with their time and resources,” said Sherry Wilson, Developmental Education Chair and Administrator for the McDonald County classes. ”There is no way that we could offer the number of classes without their outstanding help and support. They have been wonderful neighbors and we are looking forward to the continued support from the community.”

“We started with two classes and now have roughly 30 classes,” said Wilson. “A person could complete their degree in general studies between what we offer and on-line classes.”

With the exception of the CNA and nursing classes being the first classes in McDonald County to be held during the day, the general education classes at the McDonald County High School and the Hometown Bank in Jane are one to two nights per week. “We have seen a dramatic increase in enrollment,” said Jim Riggs, Director of Admissions.
Riggs stated from fall semester 2010 to fall 2011 there was a 20% increase in enrollment. From fall 2011 to fall 2012 the number of students attending classes in McDonald County went from 54 students to 152 students which marked a 181.48% increase. The number of credit hours those students enrolled in those classes also seen an increase from 464 in fall 2011 to 887 in fall 2012 making it 91.16% increase.

In comparison to the four campus locations already in place, McDonald County has seen the most enrollments over the last two years. Neosho, the largest existing campus, only seen a 2.10% increase in 2010-2011. However, from 2011-2012, Neosho had a decrease within their enrollment rate, decreasing that rate at -5.39%.

Cassville and Webb City enrollment rose in 2011-2012 with Cassville reporting in at a 14.20% increase and Webb City with a 15.23% increase. Nevada only reported a small increase from 2011-2012 at 0.04%.

Riggs commented that the increase is in part from the new nursing and CNA program that started in Aug. 22, 2012.

Hopes for an even larger increase in enrollment and credit hours are rising due to future plans of waiving the out-of-state rate for students living in neighboring states. The current out-of-state rate is $134 per credit hour whereas the in-district tuition rate is $77 per credit hour.

“It’s [tuition rate proposals] under consideration,” said Riggs. “We’re a quarter of a mile away. We feel that our programs are good and will attract more students.”

“This is our future. We have to have education,” said Vicki Babbitt, Board of Trustees Member. “Anything that has to get done, that is my goal.”