Purchase photos

Partnership continues to form with Dodge City

8/10/2014

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

DC3 is another step closer to becoming a version of FHSU2.

Plans are underway for Dodge City Community College -- a two-year college in southwest Kansas commonly known as DC3 because of its acronym DCCC -- to merge with Fort Hays State University.

The community college's board voted unanimously twice in four months to form a partnership with FHSU, which essentially would make it Fort Hays State University at Dodge City.The proposal is to form an "industry-education" partnership and create an Institute of Applied Technology on the Dodge City campus, offering four-year programs through Fort Hays.

While the entire process could take several years, FHSU's Edward Hammond said he hopes legislators have it on their agenda by its next session that begins in January.

First, the proposal must be approved by the Kansas Board of Regents and the governor.

As FHSU president, Hammond was front and center with the proposal, which began several years ago. Hammond retired from the presidency this summer but remains at Fort Hays as a consultant and will continue working on the project along with FHSU's new president, Mirta Martin.

The Institute of Applied Technology would 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.

The proposal calls for a $10 million facility to support the expected increase in enrollment, as well as an additional $5 million more in state money to FHSU for operating expenses.

DCCC currently has between 1,500 and 1,700 students enrolled. The creation of the new center could at least double those numbers.

The proposal is asking for the $10 million investment for the new building during the first year of the next biennium budget, which begins in January, and the $5 million increase in Fort Hays' state general services budget during the second year.

Martin has made four trips to Dodge City since taking over the presidency on July 1, meeting with the DCCC president, task force, faculty and other constituencies.

"I really think this is a union that makes sense," Martin said. "At the core of the mission of a community college is to provide affordable and accessible education to the individuals it is serving. And that's our mission at Fort Hays State University. So being able to bring a senior institution to the area of the state that doesn't have one so that individuals can have access to the American dream in their back yard is the right thing to do."

It would give the Dodge City a four-year institution for the first time since 1993 when St. Mary of the Plains College closed.

The closest four-year institution to the southwest quadrant is Barkley College in Haviland, a private Quaker college of approximately 300 students 50-some miles east of Dodge City. The nearest four-year public institution to Dodge City is Fort Hays, nearly two hours to the northeast.

Hammond said the next step in the process is for the Kansas Board of Regents to put the $10 million and $5 million price tags into the budget requests at its September meeting. The budget director then will make a recommendation to the governor, who in turn will make his recommendation to the Legislature in January.

"Since we are at the end of this biennium," Hammond said, "we'll know whether or not the money is going to be there by this time next year."