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January 8, 2003

Howard College looks to enhance services for 2003

From: Big Spring Herald, TX - 08 Jan 2003

By LYNDEL MOODY Staff Writer

The Howard College district hopes to improve educational opportunities by reaching out to area communities while continuing to enhance its local programs.

The junior college district plans to continue to focus on goals that aim at enhancing its vision to be a beacon of education and learning and a catalyst for change, said Dr. Cheryl Spark, Howard College president.

"We will continue to reach out to our 13-county service area," Sparks said. "We plan to continue to meet with area school districts to determine ways we can meet the needs of the students as well as the adults of our service area."

Growing in popularity, concurrent enrollment offered through distance learning classes allows high school students to earn college credit without having to leave their campuses.

"In Lamesa, we continue to see a great interest in distance learning," Sparks said.

The college is also continuing to help the community meet its needs by concentrated on promoting fields such as allied health and education, which have seen a shortage in the state and nation, Sparks said.

Another college program rapidly growing is the Risk Management Academy, courses designed to help reduce on-the-job accidents as well as teach governmental regulations and rules.

"In the Junction area -- the southern most point of our service area -- we are seeing a rise in interest in the Risk Management Academy," Sparks said. "We are working with Texas Tech (University) to deliver more courses in that area."

The college is attempting to work closely with nearby higher educational institutions to increase educational opportunities, Sparks said.

In 2002, Lubbock Christian University began offering a degree program on the Howard College campus. The program allows college juniors and seniors to pursue a bachelor's degree in business from LCU without having to leave Howard County.

Enrollment has continued to grow throughout the district and the college is beginning to see a need for more classroom space. The construction of a new auditorium on the Howard College campus should help with some relief.

The almost 24,000 square-foot performing arts building will include three new classrooms as well as house both the theater and art programs.

"I see a large portion of our time being spent on construction of that building during this next calendar year," Sparks said.

A possible new building may help house the increasing students enrolling at the Howard College program in San Angelo.

"The San Angelo Foundation of Howard College just received a donation of 23 acres of land adjacent to the West Texas Training Center," Sparks said. "The foundation is working on plans for the acreage."

To meet the growing needs of the SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf, the college is requesting money from the legislature to build a vocational building.

"If we are fortunate to receive the requested money for the SWCID (construction project), we will begin preliminary work on the vocational building this summer."

All SWCID costs and a large portion of the Howard College budget is dependent on state funding and funding for programs is expected to be very tight due to a shortfall in the budget.

"It is going to be a very active session due to the budget restriction," Sparks said. "We will be very, very involved with the legislative process because the result of this spring will determine the next two years for us in Big Spring in a big way."

Copyright © 2003 The Big Spring Herald