By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
The Dodge City Community College Board of Trustees on Tuesday night unanimously voted 6-0 in favor of an "industry-education partnership" with Fort Hays State University, which will give academic control of DC3 to Fort Hays and the Kansas Board of Regents.
After hearing the news of the vote, the first step in creating the Fort Hays State University at Dodge City satellite model, FHSU President Edward Hammond confirmed plans to make a trip to Dodge City on Friday to speak with the DC3 faculty and staff.
It will be the first stop of a whirlwind weekend for Hammond, who will make presentations to FHSU alumni in Houston, Dallas and Tulsa, Okla., as part of the Power of One Scholarship Campaign.
Hammond announced during the fall semester he would be stepping down as president this summer but would remain at FHSU as a consultant for at least a year.
The Power of One campaign, whose goal is to raise $8 million for scholarships and set to run through December of this year, will be one of Hammond's projects after leaving the presidency. So, too, will be the FHSU satellite campus in Dodge City, something he has been working on the past two years.
The new academic center at Dodge City is proposed to feature three academic units — a lower division college containing the existing programs of DC3, an upper division college that offers baccalaureate degrees and a technical institute, featuring corporate sponsors.
It would be the first four-year institution in Dodge City for the first time since 1993, when St. Mary of the Plains College closed.
"I think there's a lot of excitement in the community for this concept," Merrill Conant, chairman of the DC3 Board of Trustees, said by phone Tuesday night. "It entails change and something new. I certainly see it, myself, as a win for Dodge City and southwest Kansas. It will only enhance what our community college already is doing."
All employees of DC3 would become Fort Hays employees.
The proposal now will go to the Board of Regents for approval.
"Now that we have approved the concept, it's in the Board of Regents' hands," Conant said.
A lot of details still have to be worked out, Hammond said.
"To make this work, we need to commit to a $10 million facility to house these partnerships," he said, "and the state would have to give us $5 million more in state money."
Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature also must give their approval.
But Tuesday, the DC3 trustees took the first step with their 6-0 vote.
"It was essential that we decide to move forward," Conart said. "Without this decision tonight, nothing was going to happen. It's a big first step in the process, a very important one."
"I believe it will be a win-win for Dodge," Hammond said, "and a win-win for Fort Hays State."