Published Monday, July 15, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:36 pm
community college demand
World-Herald editorial: Metro CC’s numbers see huge growth

It was already well known that Metropolitan Community College has been taking on ever-greater responsibilities in helping meet the educational needs for the Omaha-area economy. Now, new figures provide striking proof of just how great that increase has been.

Over the past 10 years, Metro saw its annual number of graduates grow from 777 to 1,879 — an increase of 141 percent.

That’s remarkable growth in the demand for Metro’s services, and it well exceeds the 10-year increase for any other taxpayer-funded institution of higher learning in Nebraska over the past decade.

The 141 percent hike that Metro saw in its annual degree awards over the past decade compares with these increases for other institutions: Nebraska community colleges as a whole, 49 percent; the University of Nebraska campuses, 31 percent; and the State College System, 15 percent.

It’s important for Omaha-area residents and leaders to understand the dramatic growth at Metro and how the college has met that need while maintaining sound planning and budget policy.

Over the 10-year period, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln saw its annual degree awards grow by 30 percent; the University of Nebraska at Omaha, 46 percent. Southeast Community College, the state’s second-largest community college, saw its degree awards increase over the 10 years by 13 percent.

Among private institutions, Bellevue University saw a large increase of 127 percent over the 10 years. Creighton’s increase was 42 percent.

These figures come in a new report from the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education.

Marshall Hill, the commission’s executive director, says that Metro’s 141 percent increase in its number of annual graduates is a “very important measure” and shows the “consistent and impressive improvement” Metro has made in meeting local demand.

It is notable, Hill says, that about 80 percent of Metro’s awards in 2011-12 were associate’s degrees rather than shorter-term diplomas and certificates.

Over the past decade, Metro’s general fund budget (funded by tuition, a property tax levy and state funding) has increased by 92 percent, going from $51 million in fiscal 2003 to $98 million in fiscal 2012.

That hasn’t meant a doubling of the college’s levy rate, though. From 2003 to 2012, the levy rate went from 6.4 cents to 8.5 cents, an increase of 33 percent.

Metro, says the college’s president, Randy Schmailzl, has devoted great energy to “modernizing our curriculum” and honing programs to meet the demands of students and the workplace.

“It’s an across-the-board effort to change how Metro provides education,” he told The World-Herald.

This summer, Metro will make a joint presentation with the Avenue Scholars program and UNO about their collaborative work to help disadvantaged youth make the transition from high school to college. The presentation will be at the national conference of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.

Metro has about 40 articulation agreements enabling students to transfer credit to UNO.

Across the Missouri River, Iowa Western Community College has placed particular emphasis in recent years on boosting enrollment. The college awarded 919 degrees in 2010. That’s up 33 percent from 2009 (when it awarded 689 degrees) and 47 percent from 2003 (when 622 degrees were presented).

Iowa Western has been energetic on a number of fronts in boosting enrollment since 2007, says the college’s president, Dan Kinney. Those efforts have included new programs of study and significant building construction.

As for the future, Kinney said, Iowa Western is focusing on boosting student preparedness, especially in science, math and technology; helping more students make it through to completion rather than dropping out; and expanding GED services.

The demand for the Omaha area’s community colleges is striking. So is the colleges’ responsibility to continue to meet that need through sound management and long-term planning.

Ex-Obama official urges approval of Keystone XL pipeline
Benefit to be held for family of Omaha shooting victim
Omaha Personnel Board to weigh a ‘ban-the-box’ proposal for city job applications
New Alegent Creighton Clinic to open in Council Bluffs
Grace: Your older self has a request — use sunscreen
At NU's helm, J.B. Milliken built the university by building relationships with state leaders
Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
Video: Stothert says Crossroads project is 'full speed ahead,' but she won't support bond issue
Agreement reached to end dog racing at Bluffs Run at end of 2015
Beau McCoy calls Pete Ricketts a 'convenient conservative' for immigration stance
Police ID body found near 36th, Seward Streets
World champion Crawford's promoter working to have title defense at CenturyLink Center
Hail, strong winds, heavy rain hit south-central Nebraska
'Fairly old' human skull found in Mills County
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Omaha crash victim, 19, had touched many lives
Firefighters take on 'fully engulfed barn fire'
Council Bluffs school board approves new district headquarters
Officials announce effort to lure more veterans to Nebraska
SB 132nd Street lane closed
Shane Osborn grabs several endorsements
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Omaha area may get 1 inch of rain tonight
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
The 1984 NFL draft was unusual for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and these days it's remembered in the name of a rock band, the 1984 Draft. Tonight, the band will be featured nationally on the NFL Network in a documentary about — what else? — the 1984 draft.
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Nebraska GOP candidates unified against naked squirrels
Some of these Nebraska campaigns are tilting pretty far right. At a recent forum, there was a consensus that we need to ban public dancing and clothe naked squirrels in public parks.
Breaking Brad: Inside the mind of a 99-year-old real estate agent
I saw an article about a 99-year-old real estate agent who's still working. “This house is extra special. It has indoor toilets!”
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
7M Grill
Half Off Delicious Comfort Fusion Food & Drinks!
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »