BCTC president addresses Danville Rotary

By DAVE FAIRCHILD

Danville Rotary

Koffi Akakpo, Ph.D. in higher education administration, is the recently installed president of Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC). He replaces Dr. Augusta Julian, who retired Dec. 31, 2018. Dr. Akakpo’s former position was as vice president for business, administrative and student services at North Central State College in Ohio.

             Akakpo

On June 21, Akakpo addressed Rotarians about the changes he wants to bring to BCTC and the supporting external education systems.

“One of my top priorities will be learning more about local businesses to make sure we’re offering the right programs to meet their needs.” BCTC prepares students for successful transfer to four-year institutions or with job related technical skills needed to begin a career.,

The Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) will be in operation in 24 to 28 months (Rotary contributed $20,000 toward the project). The AMC will have a high bay, open lab, consistent with today’s manufacturing industry workplaces. Four new classrooms will surround the open lab, increasing the classroom total to seven. The advanced manufacturing technology, electrical technology, and industrial maintenance technology programs (all currently operating at capacity) will be directly impacted by this addition. Program graduates will increase from 38 to 76 annually.

Kentucky’s dual enrollment program allows high-school students to receive credit for courses taught on either the high-school or the college/university campus, if the course is sponsored by the college/university. Unfortunately, the program only pays for two classes a year. BCTC’s Associate’s Degree requires 60 credit hours and in four years of high school the most a student can only complete is 30 credit hours.

If a student wants to complete the full associate degree in high school before receiving the high school diploma, she/he must pay the balance.  “Not all of our students can afford that expense, so I’m hoping we can do something to help.”

In his first 100 days, Akakpo, has reached out to all the high-school and university partners in central Kentucky’s 14-county area. “I’m trying to create what I call an educational ecosystem where students come to us as their destination for the first two years of post-high-school education, be it technical training or further education. My goal is to make the college a first choice for all high-school students, not a fallback option.”

Many studies have shown that students who have taken some college credit before going to a four-year college or university tend to do better than students who go directly from high school. Recent studies have found that it’s even better if the student gets an associate’s degree from a community college before they transfer.

According to a nationwide education advisory board, out of every 100 students who applied to attend a community college, only 46 complete the admission process. An additional 17 get lost at the beginning of the second semester and eleven more get lost at the beginning of the second year. Out of every 100 students who applied, only 18 make it through a second year. The BCTC graduation rate for full time students in 2016-17 was 25.6%. The first thing Akakpo did was to look at the college’s onboarding process. His intent is to make it easier for incoming students.

Asked if BCTC was improving or losing ground in the effort to retain students, Akokpo said that the college improved by 1% in 2018 and as of last Friday they are up 10% so far in 2019. Dr. Akokpo wants to do better. 

To help him achieve that goal, on May 28, he announced that Dr. Michelle Carter will lead the Danville Campus. She will replace Dr. Erin Tipton, who led the fundraising for the Advanced Manufacturing Center and has been promoted to director of technical programs in the chancellor’s office. Dr. Laurel Martin, who partnered with Tipton in the fundraising effort, will continue to serve as executive director of BCTC Foundation.