Let’s Talk … Community: A BruIN magazine column from KCC President Dr. Paul Watson

By Dr. Paul R. Watson II
President, Kellogg Community College

Folks have heard me say that we’re not just a community college – we’re the community’s college. That means that we are deeply committed to fostering a symbiotic relationship with the communities and individual people that we serve. It is about transcending the traditional boundaries of higher education and frankly embracing a broader undertaking to uplift and empower as stated in our institution’s mission.  

What does that look like? It means that we: 

Serve as a hub for cultural and artistic events. We celebrate the beautiful, diverse stories that reflect our communities’ heritages and serve as a haven to exhibit, perform and contribute to that same scene. 

Promote civic engagement and responsibility. Most KCC degrees require students to participate in projects that meet community needs, leading to self-reflection and self-discovery. Many students apply their skills and knowledge in serving and volunteering within the community for at least 15 hours throughout the semester for a class.  

Promote Lifelong Learning. Beyond traditional degree programs, we offer exploratory experiences for both adults and young adolescents. Whether it is to enrich lives, explore hobbies or academic interests, we serve to nourish the community’s desire for knowledge and personal growth.  

Provide “beyond the basics” educational opportunities. More than introductory course offerings, we offer fully fledged and articulated transfer degrees, certificate programs and degrees aligned with the demands of workforce. We also provide internships and apprenticeships whereby students can gain practical experience.   

Are an engine for economic growth. We create a significant positive impact on the business community and generate a return on investment to our major stakeholder groups – students, taxpayers and society. For example, in FY 2018-19 the net impact of the College’s operations spending added $35.1 million in income to the regional economy, and we found that the activities of KCC and its students support one out of every 38 jobs in the KCC service area; indeed, the net impact of KCC’s former students currently employed in the regional workforce amounted to $120.6 million in added income. Additionally, our students experienced a return of $5.20 in higher future earnings for every $1 they invested in their KCC education.  

These things and more are what makes us the community’s college.  

This column first appeared in the September 2023 edition of BruIN magazine. To read the issue online, please visit kellogg.edu/bruinmagazine.