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THE ISSUE: Elizabethtown Community and Technical College
OUR VIEW: A community attraction
The growth of enrollment at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College despite serious cuts in state funding and increasingly difficult economic circumstances reinforces the value of having such a comprehensive, versatile post-secondary education institution serving Hardin and neighboring counties, through hard times and good.
A year away from celebrating its 45th anniversary, ECTC has met its 5,550 student goal for this fall semester. Although the numbers won’t be official until Nov. 1, it exceeds the enrollment of a year earlier. Facing state budget cuts, the college under President and CEO Thelma White moved to reduce operating costs by adding adjunct faculty members and increasing class sizes.
Students of all ages from 12 counties come to ECTC, about half of them from Hardin County, for a myriad of reasons: to begin their college education close to home or to get a taste of what it’s like, then advance to a four-year school in Bowling Green, Lexington or Louisville, to earn an associate degree and begin their work careers, to learn technical skills, or to be re-trained in occupational specialties. They receive updated technical training for their present jobs or to embark on new ventures. Some are in the classrooms just to learn and expand their horizons.
There is no more convincing testimony of the value of ECTC to this and neighboring communities than its Hall of Distinguished Alumni initiated in 2006. The 2008 inductees, for example, included the mobilized senior nurse executive/deputy commander of nursing at Fort Knox U.S. Army Medical Department; the manager of the Elizabethtown Wal-Mart; the president of a local engineering firm and the owner of another; the owner, manager and pharmacist of a local pharmacy; the owner of a restaurant in Lebanon; and the director of community education for Grayson County Schools. One former student went on to become a cardiothoracic surgeon in Tennessee.
Whatever the reason students come to ECTC, whatever their career goals might be, the need for additional services and facilities can be expected to grow, especially as tuition and living expenses and the failure of the General Assembly to adequately fund higher education in the state push four-year campus life beyond reality for many working families. Additional pressure is coming soon from the addition of the Human Resources Command at Fort Knox.
As education needs and technology change, no four-year campus can adapt as quickly or with less expense than a local institution that is supported by and works closely with local businesses and industries, and neighboring high schools.
Hardin County is fortunate that this community invested more than four decades ago in beginning Elizabethtown Community College, and that so much work has gone into making the campus the vital regional education and training center it has become.
ECTC is one of 16 institutions within the Kentucky Community and Technical College system. ECTC also maintains extended campus sites, instructional center on Fort Knox and offers classes in Bardstown, Brandenburg, Greensburg, Hardinsburg, Leitchfield and Munfordville.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board: R. Chris Ordway, Warren Wheat, Sarah Reddoch, Jeff D’Alessio, Holly Tabor, Michelle McGuffin and Kendra Stewart.