Overland Park & Leawood

JCCC’s Sopcich details impact of school on Kansas and world

Updated: 2013-09-17T23:04:34Z

By LUKE RANKER

Special to The Star

In his first state of the college speech as president of Johnson County Community College, Joseph Sopcich said the school has built a strong reputation as a learning institute and community leader. To continue building that reputation, Sopcich wants JCCC to form a strategic and academic plan focused on serving students and the community.

He said JCCC will continue to “exceed expectations” as its leaders devise a new master plan for the school in the coming year.

He wants JCCC to be “a place where programs delivered to our community are based on community need and not the individual need of those that offer them,” he said.

Sopcich said he wants each program and faculty member to evaluate how they serve and lead students to success after they’ve left JCCC. Phase one of that idea is to monitor five key performance indicators: persistence, graduation rates, transfer rates, transfer student performance and student satisfaction. As data in those areas becomes available, performance measures will be displayed around campus.

“I believe in the people who work here, that collectively, as one, we can do anything we put our minds to,” Sopcich said last week.

How the rest of the new strategic and academic plans will look is unclear right now, Sopcich said, but the larger Johnson County community will play a role in forming them. Members of the outside community will be invited to meetings where they can share input and concerns about JCCC. The school and surrounding community must act as one team, he said.

“We’re a community college so we need to live up to our mission to serve the entire community,” he said in an interview after his speech.

Moving forward does not come without financial burdens. Sopcich warned that as the school establishes the best way to serve students and the community, it must also calculate how it spends money. He would like to evaluate how programs benefit the school on criteria including enrollment, program vitality and graduate success.

“Then we step back and say ‘What can we afford to do, what do we need to be doing and, maybe, what shouldn’t we be doing anymore?’” he said.

To demonstrate how JCCC programs already have affected Kansas and the world, Sopcich invited faculty members and students on stage to give brief descriptions of their work.

Faculty members included:

•  Anthropology associate professor Sean Daley, who works with the American Indian Health Research and Education Association, a partnership with the University of Kansas Medical Center, to provide health education and resources to Native American communities.

• English professor Andrea Broomfield, who has written about Victorian culture and now wants to study Kansas City culture through historic restaurants.

• History associate professor James Leiker, who has built relationships and study abroad opportunities in the Netherlands and is applying for a grant that would allow students to compare immigration to Kansas a century ago to immigration today.

• Nursing professor Kathy Carver, who described the nursing program’s Healthcare Simulation Center, which allows students to simulate real-life health problems and procedures. Students and faculty traveled to Uganda to be immersed in the culture while training nurses.

“These are the reasons why this community college is one of the best in the world,” Sopcich said.

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