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EDITORIAL: NWC report a positive sign for the future

The final report on a three-year plan adopted by Northwest College in 2008 includes some impressive statistics.

Among the positive numbers in the report is a 28 percent increase in the number of students taking classes at NWC during the past three years. During the 2010-11 school year a record number of students, 2,450, were enrolled, and the full-time-equivalent enrollment also was a record: 2,131.

The numbers are even more significant because the increases came across the board. Both minority and non-minority students grew in numbers, as did those enrolled in distance learning and work force training. Concurrent enrollment among high school students also increased.

The college added 10 new certificate and degree programs, and the number of students completing degrees increased 9 percent in those three years.

In all those areas, NWC exceeded the goals set in 2008.

There were some negative numbers in the report as well, such as a decline in the number of students earning certificates and lower rates of student retention from semester to semester and year to year, and the college still is working to meet some of the objectives laid out in the plan. Still, the overall tone of the report is positive.

Not all has gone smoothly for NWC in recent years. There has been friction between faculty and administration and work continues to address that with a shared governance system. There also has been turnover in administration positions, and the college has struggled to fill some of them.

Despite that turmoil, the college has managed to achieve some important goals, and credit for that achievement is due to all the elements of the NWC community — faculty, staff, administration and the board of trustees.

NWC faces other challenges in the future. The demands of the work force are constantly evolving, and educational institutions must continue to adapt to meet them. Moreover, there is a strong possibility that the college will have to adapt to those changes in the face of state funding that will remain flat, if not decline, as the state looks for ways to reduce spending.

The achievement of many of the goals set in 2008 is an indication that NWC can meet those challenges and continue to serve the vital role the college plays in the life and economy of Powell and the Big Horn Basin.

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