First, I am elated to celebrate my first year with the students, community, and people who are a part of Somerset Community College! People here are genuine, friendly and welcoming; Sheila (Castle's wife) and I have felt welcome and appreciative for that environment and look forward to meeting and working with more of you in the coming years.
As I began to learn more about SCC in those first few months, it was easy to see the exceptional staff and faculty that serve our students. We were also going through the same issues many colleges have wrestled with over the past couple of decades. Including declining budgets, changing demographics, revolving needs for business and industry, new academic technologies and delivery options, aging infrastructure, and evolving student populations.
We have been gathering data, talking to school district leaders, engaging community leaders and our legislators, and speaking with business and industry. While we are still gathering and assessing this wealth of information, we did make some changes that I believe will be helpful to our students and to you as a part of your community.
We started last fall by focusing on student success. It is the central part of our work, our purpose-so important that we have labeled student success as our "Main Thing." We focus on the Main Thing in everything we do at SCC. One of the first changes included adding an Honors program that will start this fall with a cohort of 20 highly motivated, qualified students. Applicants are accepted from all majors at SCC, transfer, technical, and health sciences.
Initiated by Congressman Hal Rogers and community leaders, SCC now has the University Center of Southern Kentucky located on the Somerset Campus. During this inaugural year, students will be able to complete their first two years of college with SCC and then complete their final two years with Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, the University of Kentucky, or Western Kentucky University at our Somerset Campus. Students can do long term planning while taking dual credit courses in high school, complete the SCC course work in less than four semesters, and then finish their baccalaureate degree, all while living in the area but at approximately half the cost.
A very important part of our future is career technical programs. We are the pathway for those students who are choosing a vocation as their career path. This year, through our robust Workforce Solutions department, the KY FAME program, graduated over 20 well-qualified students into very well -paying careers in automated manufacturing.
We have multiple opportunities in careers for welding, HVAC, construction, automotive technicians, diesel technicians, electricians, robotics, additive manufacturing (3d printing), and aviation. We have an outstanding culinary arts program with a brand new state of the art kitchen, Cosmetology program featuring an evening esthetician program this fall and an extensive business program.
Beginning this fall, SCC will have CDL-A truck driver-training program, an exciting area in high demand. Our Health Science programs are helping meet high demand jobs as well in careers such as nursing, radiology, physical therapist assistant, pharmacy technology, EMT-paramedic, and phlebotomy.
On both the Laurel and Somerset campuses, SCC has started moving our technology programs to the next level by beginning the remodeling and updating of our buildings and shops.
As a comprehensive higher education institution, SCC is constantly working on our Main Thing by analyzing and improving our programs to meet the needs of our students and communities. Come and see your college. I think you will be pleased. We are proud of where we came from and proud of where we are going in the future. SCC, Real People. Real Success.