This weekend, Garden City Community College will celebrate its 100th anniversary, honoring the institution’s journey from an extension of Garden City High School to where it stands today.

And, GCCC President Ryan Ruda said, the college is already looking forward to the next century.

Moving forward, the college wants to enhance its STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) programs, expand its technical and career education opportunities, enhance communication and transparency with the community, better serve students who are “place-bound” through expanded distance education and online courses, and prioritize the college’s affordability.

“Finally, the college will seek to reengage the alumni and community members whose stories are the history of GCCC with alumni engagement and fundraising opportunities that will ultimately increase the scholarship opportunities, academic programs, and capital improvements that the institution needs to move into the next 100 years of service,” Ruda said in an email.

Ruda said staff are already considering new technical programs at the college, but considerable discussion and approval processes will come before any official program announcements. He said staff will also analyze which technical education programs have employment demand in western Kansas.

The college is also partnering with the GCCC Endowment Association to find funding for the renovation of the Pauline Joyce Fine Arts Auditorium, which will ideally jumpstart the college’s fine arts programs, Ruda said.

In regards to GCCC humanities programs, he pointed to a new track the college is building with USD 457 to help prospective teachers earn their four-year degrees and teacher certification while working as a teacher. The college has also developed a pathway to complete several levels of degrees, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees, in social work while remaining in Southwest Kansas, Ruda said.

Other higher learning pathways could connect students to opportunities through “short-term certification, up-skilling current job duties, or developing pathways into an associate degree program or articulation into a four-year degree,” Ruda said.

“We are pursuing other degree completion options for students to remain in Southwest Kansas and continuously working with community and industry partners to identify needs and other programs for consideration,” Ruda said in an email.

The college is also looking to expand the “non-credit side of our business,” such as work preparedness training and industry specific training, Ruda said in the email. GCCC is also considering bringing back the “Kids College,” a variety of arts, science, technical, music and cultural activities offered to local youth during the summer, by summer 2020, he said. Planning for the program is already underway.

As the college moves into its next 100 years, Ruda said students and staff alike will be “humble, hungry and people smart,” focused on the greater good, innovation and the needs of the community. And it will be driven by the heart of the college — the community itself.

“GCCC has a great deal of things to be excited about and we are proud to be a part of this thriving and progressive community,” Ruda said in the email. “There are great things going on at GCCC from having the No. 1 LPN nursing program in the state, 27 student organizations to be involved and engaged in on campus, great community partnerships such as those with Buster Red Meats and Klaus Wood Pellets, fantastic fine arts programs, highly trained and dedicated faculty and staff and a great student body.

“GCCC is a very progressive and comprehensive community college that provides students with the likes of a four-year experience, while maintaining the focus on access and affordability and being student-centered.”