Cisco College working to keep strong roots in the community

Cisco College is looking ahead to the years to come.

ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) - Cisco College is looking ahead to the years to come, hosting a forum called "Your Future, Our Focus."

Among putting more students into lucrative careers, the college is also working to keep strong roots in our community.

"We've grown. The technological demands have grown. A forum like this helps us focus how best we're allocating those resources," English instructor Tom Bell said.

Cisco College is in its growth phase, and a majority of it is from the Abilene campus.

"Eighty-five percent of our student body from both campuses comes from here in Abilene. This effort allows us to open up our in-district tuition rate, a better tuition rate for students here in Abilene and the surrounding counties," Bell said.

Cisco College President Dr. Thad Anglin said the college's main focus is responding to the statewide shortage of nurses.

"The nursing shortage is partially due to the aging population and the retiring population or nurses. The prediction statewide is alarming and Cisco College is responding to it," Dr. Anglin said. "The statewide shortage is something that we're responding to at Cisco College and we're in the process now, of implementing plans that's going to increase the number of our nurses by 2020."

The community college is ooking to double the nursing student enrollment to 170 students by 2020.

"I'm very proud of those placement rates and our placement rates across all our allied health. Respiratory therapy is another example. A hundred percent placement rates from the respiratory therapy. These are students earning their degree and going directly into the workforce and helping our citizens maintain a healthy life," Dr. Anglin said.

He and Cisco College is responding to the State of Texas' 60x30Tx Plan (60 by 30 Texas plan), which essentially means, they are working to get 60 percent of their student population to earn a degree or certificate by 2030. To make this possible, they would have to lower the student debt and the cost of education, graduate more students and prepare students with marketable skills for careers.

"The economic impact that our programs and services have are tremendous. If you just look at the allied health areas and nursing in particular, we have 96 percent placement rate of our nurses and most of those are within Taylor County, Jones County or the region," Dr. Anglin said.

The National Association of Manufacturers predicts 2 million job vacancies nationwide by 2025 and the American Welding Association predicts a shortfall of 300,000 welders and welding instructors by 2020.

"We track what we're doing pursuing, contributing to that particular goal. We're seeing our graduation rates go up and completion rates go up as a result of good planning," Dr. Anglin said.

To better serve its students, Dr. Anglin is proposing a nickel maintenance tax for Taylor County.

"It can never go above five cents, so one of the benefits of that nickel maintenance tax is it allows us to weigh that out of district tuition that lowers cost to Taylor County residents," Dr. Anglin said.

The proposal is still in its informing phase but whatever the outcome, Bell said he hopes that future students will choose Cisco College to pursue higher education.

"Community college is the great melting pot or higher education. By that, I mean we serve so many different kinds of students, from the dual credit, with a foot in high school and a foot in college, to the traditional college student that we're preparing for a 4-year," Bell said.

Dr. Anglin said the proposal is still being developed, but is confident it would better assist the students of Cisco College.

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