HomeCommunityNewman, GCCC program subject of Lunch & Learn

Newman, GCCC program subject of Lunch & Learn

GARDEN CITY – This Wednesday, July 19, the public is invited to a Lunch & Learn at Garden City Community College to learn more about a partnership between GCCC and Newman University, a private university in Wichita, to offer four-year coursework here on campus in Garden City.

Lona DuVall, President and CEO of Finney County Economic Development Corporation, said talks with Newman and GCCC have been going on for over a year after Newman officials reached out to see what degree programs could be offered to meet the local workforce demands.

“In visiting with Garden City Community College, we found several opportunities to build on associate degrees and allow our students to stay in the region for four year and advanced degrees,” DuVall said.

Creating opportunities for people to continue to live and work in Garden City and the region is important for the future workforce needs. Currently, there are 4,000 open jobs available in Finney County and not enough workers to fill them – there are roughly 3 jobs open for every person looking for work by some estimates.

DuVall said nearly a fourth of the open jobs require a four-year or advanced degree, which demonstrates the importance of a GCCC partnership with Newman University.

“We are in what’s considered a higher education desert; in other words, there isn’t a four-year university within a half hour. We have over a thousand students graduating in the Greater Garden City area every year who are academically qualified and don’t (move on to an advanced degree) simply because of distance,” she said.

Jessica Bird, Dean of Newman’s School of Education and Social Work, lives in Garden City and has an office in Dodge City and in Wichita. She said Newman has been involved in Garden City since the 1990s as part of an outreach program for teacher education. Based on that program’s model of success, the university wanted to expand and offer programs to meet the needs of southwest Kansas.

Initially, Bird said, the GCCC/Newman partnership will focus on bachelor’s degrees in business administration agribusiness. She said those were two areas identified as a good starting point by local community members and the college based on the number of students majoring in business areas.

In the future, Bird said the goal is to expand into other areas such as health care, nursing, sonography, and radiation technology, to name a few.

Bird said the benefit of the partnership for Newman is first and foremost it is mission driven.

 “The university was founded by a group of sisters who wanted to educate underserved women in general, and the location of Garden City and southwest Kansas is considered an education desert,” she said, due to the lack of a four-year institution close by.

“Students can get associate degrees at Garden City, and that’s fantastic. But to get a bachelors or a masters they have to leave the area,” Bird said. “We want to offer a way for people to live and stay in the area and get a degree. We know with brain drain people often leave and don’t come back. That’s detrimental to the entire region.”

Wednesday’s noon luncheon will feature GCCC and Newman University officials, including Newman’s Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the School of Business and Technology who will provide a presentation about the programs that will be launched this fall. Bird said there will be a mix of in person and zoom classes offered, taught by Newman faculty and local adjunct professors.

Bird added that Newman and the GCCC Board of Trustees have developed a scholarship package that will make this extremely affordable for students.

“This is really a new and unique partnership between four year and the community colleges. We hope to create a successful model and serve the area well,” Bird said.

The meeting will be in the Endowment Room at GCCC. An RSVP is appreciated to ensure a lunch through fcedc@ficoedc.com.

Those with questions should contact Jessica Bird at 620-272-7281 or birdj@newmanu.edu; or Lona DuVall at lona@ficoedc.com.