James July-August 2022 web - Flipbook - Page 11
PK There have been many changes on your eight campuses, as well as growth, under your leadership— especially
an expansion of programs and degrees. Can you elaborate?
RN When some schools were merged, there was a great
recession and state finances were down, but soon after
I became president we had to turn things around and
expand. We had to focus on what local needs were: If
businesses and industries needed more workers to do
so-and-so, we needed to be there to expand our offerings
and access to them in that community.
Remember that our mission statement is both to provide a workforce for business and also to provide individuals with the opportunities to get the job and career they
want to be successful. It is a marriage of both those goals
and it’s a beautiful thing to see happen. We continue to
be responsive to local needs.
PK Let’s specifically address the just-opened Center for
Advanced Manufacturing at the North Metro Campus.
How will the student training at this facility, featuring
high-tech computer labs and robotics, impact Georgia’s
current and future workforce?
RN It’s a great example of how we constantly seek to
expand. The Advanced Manufacturing Center is just
inside Bartow County and the county has a heavy concentration of manufacturing companies, and adjacent
Cherokee and Cobb counties also have quite a few. We
asked the state for funds to build this center to meet
those local needs. And, yes, that’s what a technical college and its system do.
This 20,001-square-foot facility offers, as you noted,
computerized numerical controls, industrial maintenance, precision machining and manufacturing as well
as robotics; this is exactly the skillset that local manufacturers said they were thirsting for, and Chatt Tech
will produce the graduates who in turn will have successful careers.
The next focus for us is the now-being-built Aviation
Training Academy in Paulding County, which mirrors
that same kind of responsiveness.
PK COVID-19 obviously impacted Chattahoochee Technical College. What lessons were learned in dealing with
it? Were you concerned about a lack of academic rigor
with students doing more online courses?
PK Student tuition and related college costs present a
big obstacle for all too many parents and students. What
are your thoughts on how Chattahoochee can provide an
affordable, high-quality education?
RN When COVID-19 hit, we reacted as everyone did and
went as much as we could to virtual courses. But given
the nature of most of our programs, there is still a handson component that required a presence, and in the first
and second semesters we learned a lot about when a
student absolutely does need to come to campus to learn
and demonstrate a skill. It worked out remarkably well,
and we followed all the COVID protocols.
In terms of the quality of the virtual instruction,
initially we all had those same questions. But then I
realized that the faculty— in whom I have the highest
confidence— are the ones who make sure that each
student has the skills and knowledge to perform well both
at school and on the job. I always emphasize the role of
the faculty, including the faculty leadership, because it
is them, and not the president, who guarantees on-theground quality control.
And I’m also quick to add: I’m blessed to be on a
team at Chatt Tech which includes not only a great faculty but also great staff— proud every day of each of them.
RN This is a beautiful story for the technical college system because our tuition and fees are so affordable. If you
look at this coming fall semester, for example, an in-state
student can take a full-time load for less than $2,000. In
a time of headlines about student debt, Chatt Tech is so
affordable that we don’t even offer loans, and a student
won’t be saddled with college debt for years to come.
And we offer the HOPE Scholarship for degree programs, and the HOPE Grant and Career Grant for certificates and diplomas. The latter includes our workforce
certificates and diplomas, and significantly reduces the
already very affordable cost of attending Chatt Tech.
As an admittedly best-case example, if you are enrolling in truck driving, you can apply for a HOPE Career
Grant which makes the cost just about free. You can see
why I want Chatt Tech to push this high-demand program into more locations in local communities.
As with all of our programs, it epitomizes the role of
Chatt Tech and TCSG in a win-win-win-win for individuals, businesses, communities, and the state!
PK What other new developments or changes can we
expect for the near future in terms of answering employer workforce needs? What is your overall vision for the
school in future years?
JULY/ AU GU ST 2022
RN Today at the college we have scores of important
programs, but we’re increasingly focused not only on
manufacturing but also on healthcare as well as transportation and logistics. We are short thousands of nurses and
healthcare workers, so Chatt Tech received funds to build
a Health Care Building on the Marietta Campus—but of
course we’re on multiple campuses with health care programs. In transportation, we’re short thousands of truck
drivers, so we’re going to be seeking a second or even a
third location for training out there in our local communities. You again see the vision: community-based training
through which everyone wins.
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