This is the season when many families throughout southwest Kansans will be sitting down together to give thanks, and as president of the state's leading community college, I believe our institutional family has a great deal to be thankful for, as well.

Just to name a few of the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us over the past year, I take a great deal of pride in sharing each of the following:

* GCCC has been ranked for the second straight year among the top 10 percent of American community colleges by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.

* GCCC was named this year as one of the top 24 community colleges in the nation for student success, by CNN and CNN Money Magazine.

* Out of more than 12,000 colleges and universities serving our nation, GCCC is one of just 1,739 schools named to the 2013 list of Military Friendly Colleges.

* With more than 70 academic and technical programs to choose from, GCCC now is adding a brand new program in oil technology.

* Just this fall, we logged our largest increase in student enrollment in six years close to 10 percent.

* Just more than one month ago, GCCC unveiled the institution's first new trademark logo in 23 years.

* For the first time in seven years, we have received an invitation to a bowl game, so the Broncbuster football team will be playing at 2 p.m. Dec. 2 in the Mississippi Bowl at Biloxi, Miss.

Sharing with the public

Most of these facts are among the realities that you can discover in the 2011-12 GCCC Annual Report, a full-color, 12-page document that is scheduled to be inserted in Monday's edition of The Garden City Telegram.

As president, I believe in accountability, and that is one of the reasons we make this report available each year at this time. The report covers the year that concluded June 30.

I also place a great deal of respect in the relationship between our elected governing body, the GCCC Board of Trustees and the taxpaying public that owns the institution. In addition, I highly value the policy governance system by which our board sets objectives and parameters, and places responsibility on our administrative team, faculty and staff and ultimately on the president to achieve our goals in serving the public.

When you receive your annual report in the days ahead, and focus on the information it presents, I hope you will agree that we are achieving those goals.

Institutional accomplishments

The document lists 44 major institutional accomplishments for the year, in the five categories of:

* Essential skills

* Work preparedness

* Academic advancement

* Personal enrichment

* Workforce development

GCCC's mission is to produce positive contributors to society and the economy, and these categories run parallel to the five key outcomes that are linked to this mission.

The new report also outlines college revenues and expenditures for the fiscal year and gives a profile of our student body. In addition, it incorporates highlight segments about:

* Partnerships for students

* Boosting the workforce

* Broncbuster athletics

* Mercer Gallery

* The new Oil Tech Program

* Economic impact

Links with the community

Since our six-member elected board of trustees is charged with governing the college, the report includes direct contact information for the board, as well. In addition, we will be sharing some comments and observations about GCCC from students, supporters, key officials and the public at large.

We hope you will be watching for your copy of the GCCC Annual Report on or around Monday. You are also welcome, shortly after that date, to pick up a free copy at the Office of the President in the GCCC Student and Community Services Center, or the Office of Public Relations in the John Collins Vocational Building. The report will be posted in PDF format at also, and you can see it there after Monday by clicking on the Board of Trustees link at the lower right-hand side of the page.

This is an era of opportunity and challenge in higher education, and GCCC is an institution on the move. Please accept my invitation to digest our 2011-12 annual report, and review our progress thus far.