Last month, Patrick Lowry, Hays Daily News editor and publisher, penned an editorial critical of Dodge City Community College President Don Woodburn.

As Mr. Lowry speculated about a potential DCCC and Fort Hays State University merger in his article, he mistakenly stated it would give "Dodge City a four-year institution for the first time since 1992 when St. Mary of the Plains College closed."

In reality, Newman University has been meeting the higher education needs of southwest Kansas residents for more than two decades with its Western Kansas Center, featuring quality undergraduate and graduate programs.

Newman offers students in western Kansas undergraduate degree programs in elementary education, early childhood unified education, criminal justice, nursing, business studies and pastoral ministry. We also offer master's degrees in education and theology.

Hundreds of teachers in western Kansas have taken our five-course English as a Second Language endorsement program and now instruct thousands of non-native English speaking students. Many teachers stay on to complete their master's of science in education degrees.

The Teacher Education Program is one our most popular offerings. The program features evening classes for greater convenience and can be completed in just 16 months. A partnership with several area community colleges (Dodge City and Garden City included) allows community college associate degree graduates to enter Newman's TEP to pursue a bachelor's degree in elementary or early childhood education. Since 1992, more than 800 students have graduated from the TEP in western Kansas.

Thanks to a partnership with the Diocese of Dodge City, Newman established an Interactive Television Network to bring Newman's undergraduate and graduate programs to several remote communities in western and central Kansas, including Liberal, Ulysses, Great Bend, Garden City, Goodland, Hutchinson, Syracuse, Sharon, Pratt and others.

Our graduates are respected in the business community by employers who need critical thinking, well-trained workers.

In addition, many of the region's schoolchildren benefit from Newman-trained teachers and administrators. And speaking of teachers, a recent study shows 75 percent of Newman's teacher education graduates are still teaching in the classrooms five years after graduation -- well above the state and national average of 50 percent.

We value our western Kansas students and alums, and are proud of our longtime service to the region. When considering your four-year higher education options in western Kansas, remember Newman and our longtime presence in the area and our reputation for quality, private education. I encourage you to visit us at 236 San Jose, Dodge City.

Noreen M. Carrocci is president

of Newman University.