Letter to the Editor:
I bring greetings from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College as I take this opportunity to share information and provide you with continuous updates. We have been successful in preparing more graduates ready to begin employment, transfer to four-year colleges and universities, enter a new career field or apply new skills in their current jobs. On May 12, we honored over 220 graduates who earned over 375 credentials at Commencement, one of our largest graduating classes in 20 years.
The end of the academic year is an appropriate time to reflect on our accomplishments, review outcomes as they relate to our goals and objectives, and develop plans to move forward and prepare for the upcoming academic year. In August, we excitedly greet our new students and welcome those returning to complete programs of study. Our students will find new programs in Cyber Security, Science and Mathematics, as well as a Pipefitting Welding program
DSLCC student enrollment remains strong. This past year we saw a 4.8% enrollment increase, the largest of all 23 community colleges in Virginia. In addition, we were very proud of our 14% overall increase in performance outcomes in the areas of retention, student progress and completion of certificates and/or associate degrees. Our students experience success due to the hard work and dedication of an incredible team of our faculty and staff, but also from the strong support services and activities that are in place to assist students with achieving their goals.
Dual enrollment remains a major initiative for the college. Over 800 students participated in dual enrollment programs over the past academic year from our partner school divisions. This total represents a 21% increase over the previous year. Research shows that students who participate in dual enrollment are more likely to meet college readiness benchmarks; more likely to enter college, and enter shortly after high school graduation; have higher retention and completion rates and complete an industry credential and enter the workforce immediately upon graduation. I thank our partner schools for working with DSLCC on increasing the educational attainment in our region.
Grants provide resources to launch new programs and to strengthen and expand existing ones. DSLCC was excited to be part of a federal award of $3.6 million with Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College and Allegany County of Maryland to offer tuition scholarships to students, professional development for faculty, explore new instructional technology, and seek more employer engagement. From now through December 2020, we will develop new pathways in the areas of advanced manufacturing to include drone technology; an EMS to Paramedic degree option; massage therapy graduates having the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree; and a program to prepare for enrollment into a medical lab technology degree pathway. Called America’s Promise (AP) 220, the grant includes three colleges that are located on or near route US 220. This funding focuses on increasing the number of individuals who earn workforce credentials that employers seek.
To bridge the financial gap, a new, need-based scholarship launched this past year; The Dabney Promise. This program is a tertiary level-funding source for students, following scholarships and Federal or state financial aid. The Dabney Promise would provide those students who desire to study at DSLCC the ability to do so, without concern of the financial burdens of higher education. Thanks to generous individuals, private foundations, as well as many localities, the DSLCC Educational Foundation was able to provide scholarships to 53 students who may not have been able to follow their dream of earning a college credential.
Thanks to the support of the Virginia Legislature, DSLCC has been able to provide approximately 100 individuals with high-demand industry training through the New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Program. This program provides tuition assistance to expand the affordability of workforce training and credentialing for current and future Virginia workers in selected technician, technologist, and trade-level positions. This training available at DSLCC includes Certified Medical Assistant; Commercial Driver’s License (CDL); and Medical Coding and Billing, to name a few.
DSLCC will continue to work and grow with your help. Too many individuals believe that higher education is out of financial reach for them and their families. We are committed to working with you. Pathways to college and career success await you at your community college. Best wishes for a wonderful summer and plan now to take advantage of what we can offer you at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.
John J. Rainone, Ed.D.