NEBRASKA CITY – Southeast Community College concluded its community forums Tuesday intended to help shape the school’s strategic focus for the next five years.
College President Paul Illich said the forums were held in 16 communities beginning in March in Hebron and concluding at Nebraska City. Learning centers were a common topic.
Illich: “What we heard is they want to see us to continue to grow those learning centers. They want to see some of the programming expanded, but there was a lot of support for moving in that direction.”
He said establishing the six learning centers positions the school to work directly with employers to fill educational needs.
Illich expects the school’s Strategic Planning Committee to propose building on momentum from the past five years.
Illich: “Not necessarily going in new directions, but the same direction and continuing to push on everything from learning centers to facilities to making sure we are addressing the main issue we have in Nebraska, which is the lack of skilled workers.”
Southeast Community College continues to build its facility in Falls City for classrooms, welding and manufacturing space.
Illich said 18 percent of students in the college’s service area attend the school, so he suspects the 2025 strategic plan will have elements to improve that number.
New learning centers have been established in Falls City, Hebron, Nebraska City, Plattsmouth, Wahoo and York.
The college is also working on facility improvements, including the interdisciplinary center in Beatrice, diesel tech building in Milford, health sciences building in Lincoln and residence halls.
Illich said an initiative to improve resiliency in the workplace is also underway. He said Nebraska employers not only need workers who excel in practical skills, but in teamwork.
Illich was asked about apprenticeships being offered at Metro Community College, where students can remain at work three days a week and attend class two days per week.
Illich said a similar program was tried at Auburn. He said there needs to be a certain number of students involved to make it practical.
Cindy Meyer of the Nebraska City Learning Center said community partners are helping overcome space obstacles at the downtown location. She said she expects the day to come when the Nebraska City center has outgrown its current location.