PADUCAH, KY (10/05/2017) More than 40 graduate students and administrators from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville learned about the benefits of pursuing a career in Kentucky's community colleges during a visit to West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) October 2.
The students were part of UT's College Student Personnel (CSP) program, which prepares UT graduate students for work serving others in higher education or related services by providing program students with an education grounded in research, theory, and practical experience.
UT Associate Professor Dr. Dorian L. McCoy said the CSP program, which started in 1947, has usually focused on helping graduate students seek employment in four-year universities and colleges. "We typically don't have a large community college focus," said Dr. McCoy, CSP program coordinator, "but we are trying to extend that through our practicum opportunities because we know that (community colleges are) the fastest growing segment of higher education."
In addition to visiting WKCTC, the group also stopped at the University of Tennessee-Martin, and Belmont University and Fisk University, both in Nashville. "It's our opportunity to take what's being learned in the classroom and to hear and to see it being applied at four very distinct higher education institution types - a religion-affiliated institution, a small public regional university, a community college and a historically black college. It has really been a great opportunity."
Dr. Anton Reece, president of WKCTC, said he was pleased to share some of the benefits of working at a community college with the young adults, but he also emphasized the positive aspects of living and working in western Kentucky. "We know that one of the challenges throughout the Jackson Purchase region is in retaining and attracting that very elusive group - aged 20-40," Dr. Reece told the students. "As you might imagine with my bias, I believe that community colleges have if not as much, even more, to offer to an individual looking to build a career in higher education. We have some unique opportunities to be a part of students' lives in a positive way and those opportunities are growing."
Representatives from WKCTC's academic, student services and human resource departments briefly talked with the students before the students toured the college campus including the college's Challenger Learning Center and Paducah School of Art and Design.
"As educators, we really believe that if we are really going to make a difference in our community, it has to go beyond bricks and mortar," Dr. Reece said. "It comes down to people and hiring good people who have that people passion, commitment and vision of truly making a difference in people's lives - that is what we do at WKCTC and throughout the community college system."