Tuesday, Jan. 11, marks my sixth anniversary as president of Kishwaukee College. It has been a journey that I could not have imagined when I first visited the college in 2015.
Our world, higher education, and Kish have experienced incredible change. While approximately 17 percent of classes had an online component at the college in 2016, this number is almost 70 percent today. We recognize that providing quality online instruction is key to a student’s learning experience. The use of technology in our daily operations has increased significantly, not only in instruction but also in how we deliver support services. It is critical for us to continue to make personal connections with our students without physically seeing and interacting with them as we have in the past.
With more than 10 years of declining unemployment in our economy, a declining birth rate, and the pandemic, the population of students enrolling in college continues to decline. Having fewer students means needing to continuously look at our current practices and determine how we provide improved and enhanced services with fewer resources. I am so proud of how the staff has embraced the necessary changes, with an ever-sharp focus on what is best for our students.
The challenges we faced at Kish have not deterred us from working relentlessly to achieve our mission of providing a quality, affordable education in our local communities. We continue to serve more than 4,000 students and 200 business partners each year. With a diverse student population, we continue to examine our practices on inclusiveness. Community colleges open their doors and education to all — no matter what their background or history — and help people gain the knowledge needed for the life they aspire to live. We will continue our focus on partnerships with our area K-12 school districts to help students be college and career ready, NIU and other university partners to make sure students easily transfer to the next step and the local business community to ensure we are meeting the local workforce needs.
We are fortunate to have an incredibly dedicated Board of Trustees — Bob Johnson, Bob Hammon, Kathy Spears, Linda Mason, Kathy Watkins, Kathy Countryman and Geri-Dee Hayden. They are truly servant leaders, giving of their time and talent, helping to make the college the great place it is today. The students and local communities are front and center of all their discussions and decisions.
Leading Kishwaukee College these past six years has allowed me to work with an outstanding group of professionals, creating a path forward. I am fortunate to serve in this role and look forward to continuing this important work.
Together we will embrace the future and what comes next.
Dr. Laurie S. Borowicz is the president of Kishwaukee College.