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PHCC shuffling student services

Sunday, June 22, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) is taking steps to make its Martinsville campus more student-friendly as part of a reorganization.

Plans are for students to get a place to study, socialize and hold activities without having to deal with a lot of commotion.

A “student engagement center” called Patriot Pointe will be set up on the second floor of West Hall.

PHCC President Angeline Godwin said she anticipates the center will be set up by spring semester next year. It will take a while, she said, to design the center and figure out where to put things now.

She said she hopes it can be set up sooner. However, she said she has learned that with limited space on campus, when planning something new, “allow a little extra time if it deals with a facility.”

The engagement center is part of a restructuring and reorganization effort to put PHCC in a better financial position after college officials recently found a $1.8 million budget deficit for the new fiscal year that will start July 1.

To make up for the shortfall, the college is eliminating 22 positions and has trimmed spending not related to personnel by $754,000. Officials have said that because personnel costs account for about 74 percent of the budget, they could not make up the shortfall without reducing the work force.

Patriot Pointe will be an amenity to make students happier and possibly stay in school longer, officials said.

And the longer that PHCC keeps students, “the more revenue we will gain for our college,” said Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator Kris Landrum, through sources such as tuition and fees.

Right now, basically the only place where students can gather for socializing or group activities, such as club meetings, is the cafeteria in the Walker Fine Arts/Student Center. With many things going on in that building at any one time, including business activities, they have little privacy, officials said.

“No one area (on campus) is reserved specifically for students and their activities,” Landrum said. Students have said they would “like to have an area dedicated solely to them.”

Godwin said Patriot Pointe will be designed to make students almost feel like they are relaxing in a coffee house, but refreshments will not be served. Large windows will overlook the campus.

It will cost PHCC little to nothing to develop Patriot Point because “a little piece here, a little piece there” will be taken from furnishings elsewhere on campus, Godwin said.

As part of the reorganization, the college will create a “student entry hub” in the Walker building. Admissions and financial aid offices will be in the hub along with registration and placement testing services. It is intended to be the first stop for prospective students, officials said.

The college’s records office also will be in the hub.

Most of the services already are there, said Vice President for Institutional Advancement Chris Parker.

He said the intent of the hub is to help people who need those services to flow from one to another easier.

Current and prospective students have been doing “a lot of navigating (on campus) that wasn’t necessary” to find services they need, Godwin said.

A Student Success Center will be created in the Learning Resources Center. It will provide students with special help, such as tutoring in math and writing.

The success center also will house services for disabled students and those planning to transfer to another college.

A Student Career Center providing access to internship, apprenticeship and job placement services will be set up in the Frith building. Local businesses also will go there to seek services such as industry certification testing.

PHCC will combine its entrepreneurship programs, Artisan Center, “fab lab” (fabrication laboratory) and design center under one unit, the Center for Regional Excellence in Arts, Technology and Enterprise (CREATE). It will be based in the Artisan Center in uptown Martinsville.

Changes occurring as a result of the reorganization mostly affect programs and services already in place. They are being made to achieve efficiencies for students as well as the college, officials said.

For instance, students have gotten help in finding jobs from the Integrated Advising, Testing and Career Center in the Walker building, the operations of which are being spread around the campus. The job search help is moving to Frith where other workforce development programs are based.

By moving certain services, employees will be better able to help their colleagues provide services in the wake of eliminated positions, Parker said.


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