Preparation, relevance, and improvement were the themes weaving through conversations during Wilkes Community College’s Program Advisory Committees Kickoff event on Friday, October 18, at the Walker Center on the Wilkes Campus. Advisory committee members and WCC faculty, staff and administrators took part in the discussions.
Dr. Cox welcomed everyone in attendance and thanked them for coming and sharing their time and expertise with the college. Cox stated, “We have gone through an extensive process over the last 18 months; reimagining our mission and vision at Wilkes Community College. After much time, energy, and thought; our new vision is ‘More students with credentials that support workforce needs and provide a family-sustaining income’. Our whole purpose at WCC is reflected in that statement. If we’re doing a good job in supporting the business and industry here in our community by helping them thrive and grow their business; and we’re helping our students graduate with the credentials they need to earn a family-sustaining wage, then I feel like we’ve done our work.”
Program advisory committees are an essential link between the area’s business and industry community and the college. Whether preparing students for entry into the world of work, or for transfer to a four-year college or university, advisory committees provide input to ensure the relevance of the college’s curricula in a rapidly changing world. Additionally, the committees advise the institution regarding the improvement of programs in an effort to more adequately meet the needs of the community.
Committee members are local educators, business and industry representatives, and county agency representatives from the three-county service area who are familiar with and interested in the workforce needs of the community. Their expertise in the areas they represent provides opportunities for suggestions, recommendations, and assistance involving specific programs.
Approximately 171 advisory committee members met with the following program areas: Advertising and Graphic Design; Animal Science Technology, Applied Engineering Technology, Academic Support Center, Associate Degree Nursing, Architectural Technology, Automotive Systems, Building Construction, Business Technologies, College Readiness, Collision Repair & Refinishing, Culinary Arts/Baking & Pastry Arts, Diesel and Heavy Equipment, Disability Services, Early Childhood Education, Horticulture, Human Services, Information Technology, Learning Resources, Radiography, Respiratory Therapy, and SAGE (Supporting Academic Goals for Education).
The Diesel and Heavy Equipment Advisory committee had representatives from Blue Ridge Tractor, Hardy Brothers, Triad Freightliner, James River Equipment, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, and Daimler Trucks. Discussion topics included guided pathways for the diesel program, day to day challenges in the workplace and how to handle them, customer satisfaction, being proactive instead of reactive, soft skills, and apprenticeships.
The Culinary/Baking and Pastry Arts Advisory committee had representatives from Boondocks Brew in West Jefferson; Artisan Café, Southern and Main in Elkin; and Muddy Creek Café in Sparta. Topics of discussion included learning outcomes to include efficiency, leadership, quality, personal responsibility, ABC rules and regulations, and communication skills. Suggestions for curriculum included practical instruction in basic equipment problem-solving, importance of the profit and loss analysis to better understand the big picture of revenues and expenses.