FHSU, DCCC consider merger to bring four-year programs to Dodge City

3/25/2014

DODGE CITY (AP) — Dodge City Community College could become part of Fort Hays State University under a proposal that would create the first public four-year degree-granting college in southwest Kansas.

DODGE CITY (AP) — Dodge City Community College could become part of Fort Hays State University under a proposal that would create the first public four-year degree-granting college in southwest Kansas.

The community college's Board of Trustees has been discussing the plan, which would include developing an Institute of Applied Technology at what could be known as Fort Hays State University at Dodge City.

The institute would include a cooperative curriculum program created in part by 10 corporate partners to serve the needs of students, the state and industry. Fort Hays faculty might teach other four-year programs in Dodge City based on demand, while courses typically taken by college freshmen and sophomores would remain essentially the same. The proposal also would require $10 million to build a technical institute and $5 million per year in state funding, The Dodge City Globe reported.

The board of trustees was expected to vote Tuesday to pursue the proposal, which would be only a preliminary step. The plan also would have to be approved by the Kansas Board of Regents, Legislature and governor.

The chance to bring four-year degree programs and a technical institute to southwest Kansas outweighs any concerns about college administration, said Dodge City Trustees Chairman Merrill Conant.

"We've had some spirited discussions among the trustees," Conant said. "Any kind of big thing like this you want to have open and thorough discussions, and we believe we've done that."

The proposed merger would solve a problem that state and Dodge City leaders have discussed for years — bringing advanced higher education to southwest Kansas without creating a new state university, said Fort Hays University President Edward Hammond.

Hammond said the proposal would increase the student population, enhance higher education opportunities in the region and help recruit businesses to the state. The merger also would not eliminate any jobs, with all full-time employees of Dodge City becoming employees of Fort Hays State, he said. Tuition and fees would be determined by the Kansas Board of Regents.

DCCC isn't the only community college in the area discussing the possibility of offering four-year degree programs.

Garden City Community College is considering offering baccalaureate programs through National American University, a private higher education institution with 37 campuses in 11 states across the country. The GCCC Board of Trustees earlier this month heard from officials from NAU, who presented information regarding some of the baccalaureate programs they can offer at GCCC.

GCCC President Herbert Swender said that NAU would bring in its own faculty, but that opportunities would be available to GCCC faculty to teach baccalaureate courses, as well.

NAU has similar partnerships with Cloud County Community College, Pratt Community College, Butler Community College and Cowley Community College.

The GCCC Board of Trustees is expected to decide at a later date whether to move forward with NAU.

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