College President Addresses Supervisors
Iowa Lakes Community College President Valerie Newhouse stopped by to visit with the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during their weekly meeting on May 26. Newhouse provided several program highlights and also offered the board members a chance to visit the college.
Newhouse noted that with the economic downturn currently being experienced throughout the area, Iowa Lakes has stepped up.
“We’re trying to be as responsible as we can to assist companies that are laying off or closing their doors,” Valerie Newhouse explained. “We’re working with a multi-county rapid response team to assist people with resume writing and completing interest inventories.”
Newhouse shared that the college has opened up their computer labs to help people access a 24 hour/seven days a week online resume writing program.
“Many have chosen to go back to college for retraining or to learn additional skills,” said Newhouse, who also noted that the college has experienced its own economic downturn because of the tightening of the state’s budget. The state cut 1.5 percent, or $140,000, from what had been promised in the budget for the community college for the current year.
“We’ve minimized travel and equipment purchases and things that weren’t essential,” Newhouse added. “We’ve had to do a little bit of restructuring and tightening of staffing. Through attrition, we’ve probably saved about 19 positions over the past year and a half.”
Newhouse noted that community colleges historically do very well during times of economic downturn. Summer enrollment is already high, and fall enrollment is expected to be the same.
Newhouse also spoke to a variety of new offerings at the college. Among the athletic programs, wrestling was introduced, and soccer and swimming teams are in the works.
“In this first year of competition, our wrestlers placed sixth in the nation,” Newhouse stated. “This fall, we’ll be starting men’s and women’s soccer at the Spencer campus. There’s also a possibility of having a swim team at the Emmetsburg campus.”
The president touched upon two of the college’s most popular programs–Nursing and Wind Energy and Turbine Technology.
Currently, Nursing is the largest program with around 400 students enrolled. Classes are offered during the day, as well as during the evening and weekend.
“The Wind Energy and Turbine Technology program is probably our fastest growing program at this time,” Newhouse said. “It started in 2004 with 13 students, and with our new addition, we’ll soon be able to take just over 100 freshmen for fall. With 60 returning sophomores, that’ll be around 160 students for this fall.”
In concluding her update, Newhouse stressed that strengthening the college’s current programs was among her goals. She invited the board to meet at the Emmetsburg campus in the future to learn more about the college’s offerings.