Interview: Lincoln Land Community College President Charlotte Warren
When the Crown III coal mine south of Springfield recently closed, Lincoln Land Community College stepped in. The school's truck driver training has offered special classes to displaced workers. President Charlotte Warren says the classes are full, although more could be held.
It's one example of services offered at Lincoln Land. Warren says the college provides academic offerings for students who plan to go on for a baccalaureate degree, dual credit classes for some high schoolers and specialized programs to serve the community.
"We have a lot of healthcare in our workforce," she said. LLCC has doubled the number of nursing students who attend and added programs in pharmacy technology and dental assisting, among others.
"We've just recognized we have an important role to play."
Warren says Lincoln Land has worked to improve retention of students, which community colleges have long struggled to maintain.
"Things like mandatory orientation to make sure students are started on the right track from the day they start school," she said. "We also have looked closely at early alert systems where we are able to identify students early on who may be having some challenges in course work."
Warren says programs are being structured to encourage students to finish their clases and move on. Also, financial aid help is offered.
"We know that finances in this economy are challenging," she said. The school tries to provide financial literacy. "Financial aid is challenging for staff who has been doing it for 20 years. It's daunting to a student who has just graduated from high school and is just beginning that system."
LLCC has launched an effort to raise money for equipment and emergency funds to assist students. "We find more and more students who might not have gas to put inn their car to get to school, who might not have money for books, who might not have eaten lunch in the last two weeks or dinner," she said. An endowment campaign will run for three years, ending on the college's 50th anniversary.