KPC's role in community impresses regents

Posted: Friday, April 18, 2003

The University of Alaska's Board of Regents is meeting this week in Kenai, giving Kenai Peninsula College an opportunity to show off.

The 11-member board oversees the university's business, meeting six times a year, though usually at one of the larger campus sites. This week marks the first time in nine years the full board has visited the peninsula.

And while little of the board's agenda directly impacts KPC, college officials said the board's visit is a rare opportunity for the school.

"The most important thing to KPC is our opportunity to leave an impression with these folks, to put faces to the KPC name," said Suzie Kendrick, KPC's community relations director.

KPC Director Gary Turner laid the foundation for that impression Thursday morning, opening the board's public meeting with a welcome to board members and presentation on current happenings at KPC.

All schools face challenges, Turner told the board. Among KPC's current needs are more classroom and office space, updated process technology equipment and student housing, he said.

However, he added, the college has plenty working in its favor.

The school is growing steadily with enrollment jumping in Homer and Seward and staying steady in Soldotna, technological advances optimizing the schools' ability to serve students and community support offering an opportunity to remodel portions of the college.

Partnerships also are key to the college's success, as well as its role in the community, Turner said.

A new partnership with Alaska Christian College is allowing KPC to take advantage of dining and housing facilities for summer courses, he said.

A partnership with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District allows the college to provide much-needed supplementary courses for high school students, Turner added.

That partnership is about trust and working together for the benefit of students of all ages, said district superintendent Donna Peterson.

"We're here to provide education pre-K through death," Peterson told board members. "We're not about turf or territory; we're here to work together for all."

A partnership with the Kenai Peninsula Process Industries Career Consortium also is crucial to the college, Turner said. That partnership provides the college with donations from industry as well as potential jobs for students.

Turner said KPC needs the board's support to continue these partnerships and to meet future goals.

"Extended campuses play a large role in the university system," he told board members. "Extended campuses are a series of small, powerful engines ... that need your support to keep pumping our energy to the larger university system."

For their part, the university leaders seemed pleased.

Board member Cynthia Henry said she was impressed with the college's relationship with the school district.

Mostly, though, board members said they appreciated the college's role in its community.

"This is a campus that in a very real sense belongs to this community," said University President Mark Hamilton. "This is the essence of what we want in our community campuses."

The board will continue its meeting today at Kenai Peninsula College in the commons area, starting with public testimony at 9 a.m. Committees will meet from 9 to 11 a.m., and the full board will reconvene at 11:30 a.m. Board members then will meet with advisory council members and students for a luncheon and tour of the Soldotna campus, and will conclude their day with a mini-retreat on board procedures.

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