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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thank you, Glendive for supporting DCC

Guest Opinion By Scott Mickelson

I am writing to extend a big thank you to all of the individuals who sent letters and emails and traveled to Helena to urge the Montana Legislature not to cut funding to Dawson Community College. I think it can be easy for people outside of eastern Montana to disregard the big picture, and instead, look only at numbers and bottom lines. However, they forget the commitment, passion and drive of the hard-working people of eastern Montana — you make a difference.

Three weeks ago when Board Chairman Chad Knudson and I decided to hit this funding issue hard and fast, the community rallied in support. Because of your support we moved away from zero funding, but the proposed cuts are drastic and present additional challenges for the college to overcome.

In House Bill 2, DCC will see a funding reduction of nearly $800,000, or approximately one-fifth of the amount allocated to DCC in the last biennium. On Friday, March 17, HB 2 passed the House and was sent to the Senate. It is currently under review by the Senate Finance and Claims Committee which is expected to take executive action early next week.

We continue our work at the Capitol and we again ask you to write letters urging the Senate to follow the state statute funding formula already in place for the three Montana community colleges. The link below provides the names and contact information for the Senate. http://leg.mt.gov/css/sessions/65th/roster.

Our Legislators must not lose sight of the fact that community colleges provide educational opportunities for a diverse student body for whom four-year institutions aren’t necessarily an option and we provide industry with an educated, qualified workforce which is necessary for a strong economy to meet the various needs of our state.

Here is a sampling of great things happening at DCC:

• Our graduation rate is 44 percent! It is the highest in Montana and above the national average – DCC is a great investment for Montana!

• Spring 2017 resident full-time-equivalent (FTE) student count is up 18 percent compared to Fall 2016 resident FTE

• Dual credit enrollment is up 85 percent from last year. A big thanks to our local high schools and these powerful partnerships.

• Ninety-five percent of DCC students are satisfied with their educational training – well done DCC faculty!!

• We have an Action Plan that aligns with our Strategic Plan and puts us on the path to success – growing the number of Montana students attending Dawson Community College.

The fight for funding, however, will not stop at the end of this legislative session. As we work to find creative solutions, we will continue to partner with the community. One such opportunity is the Dawson College Foundation Spring Fundraiser on Saturday, April 29 at the DCC Toepke Center. It will be an evening of fun games, delicious food and an exciting auction. Look for more information in the coming weeks.

Please continue to spread the positive messages to friends, family and legislators. Your voice must be heard in Helena and is essential for the success of this institution! DCC has been privileged to receive tremendous community support throughout its 76-year history. DCC will continue far into the future as eastern Montana’s “Community” College providing an affordable, quality education. I appreciate the efforts of everyone. Thank you.

Scott R. Mickelsen is President of Dawson Community College. He can be reached at smickelsen@dawson.edu.

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