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2008 May 6 - 12:00 am

News Briefs

  • W.V. Aims To Boost Test Scores by   Cutting Admissions

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Blue Ridge Community and Technical College is cutting enrollment in its nursing program by more than 73 percent to improve students’ performance on a national certification test.

The West Virginia Board of Examination for Registered Professional Nurses recommended the reduction because less than 65 percent of the last two graduating classes passed the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse test on the first attempt, said Laura Rhodes, the board’s executive director.

Rhodes said the standard is 80 percent.

“It’s an examination that measures minimal competence and the expectation is the educational program would accomplish that goal,’’ Rhodes said.

Enrollment in the program will drop from 60 last year to 16 for the upcoming academic year.

Carol Plautz, dean of health sciences at Blue Ridge, attributed the low passage rates to the college’s transition from being part of Shepherd University to being independent. She said students in the last two nursing classes had to transfer between the two colleges.

“The class that’s going to be graduating this May ... is actually going to be the first class of our nursing graduates who have done their entire program with us,’’ Plautz said. “It was a lot of difficulty with the transition from Shepherd to CTC and I think we’re going to see wonderful things from the class that is graduating this year.’’

Students who are not accepted into the nursing program are encouraged to take other health-related courses to either prepare them to reapply or to pursue another area of health services, said Leslie See, director of enrollment.

“The changes that we are having to go through with this program are truly to the betterment of our community ... because we will be better able to produce quality nurses,’’ See said.

  • Delayed College Funding Raises Concerns in Wyo.

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) - The president of Central Wyoming College says she’s worried about a proposal to delay some funding for community colleges.

Jim Rose — executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission — has told colleges that the commission plans to release only half of the Legislature’s appropriation for community colleges for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

Rose says the rest will be distributed after the newly created Community College Task Force releases its findings and recommendations. Those findings are due by November 1.

Central Wyoming College President Jo Anne McFarland says the decision to hold back 50 percent of funding introduces uncertainty and anxiety for the colleges.

She says it makes it difficult for the colleges to do any long-term planning for salaries, staffing, recruitment and other operational expenses.

  • Son of Former  College Head    To Plead Guilty

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The former head of the Alabama Fire College’s son has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud and to repay $66,000 he received from a bogus contract with Gadsden State Community College, according to a court filing.

William L. Langston Jr. “provided virtually no services’’ while being paid $2,000 a month or more as a consultant to Gadsden State President Renee Culverhouse, according to the plea agreement filed in Birmingham federal court.

The deal with Gadsden State was arranged by his father, former Fire College executive director W.L. Langston, over a two-year period ending in Sept. 2004, the plea agreement said.

He was paid $2,000 a month for the first year and $3,500 monthly for the second, but there was no record of any work completed at the college, according to the court filing.

The elder Langston is awaiting trial on a 37-count criminal indictment. He is accused of bilking the state out of $1.5 million through fraudulent contracts, jobs for friends and money spent on himself and his family dating back to 1998. He has pleaded innocent.

The former deputy director of the fire college, Robert Nix, pleaded guilty in December and admitted to scheming with Langston to take more than $500,000 meant for the fire college. Nix was sentenced to a little more than 2 1/2 years in prison.

Former state Rep. Bryant Melton pleaded guilty in July 2006 to funneling $86,000 in state money to the Fire College Foundation to pay off gambling debts and his daughter’s education.

Melton, former director of the C.A. Fredd Campus at Shelton State, is still awaiting sentencing.

 

  • Ore. Colleges To Get Emergency  Text System

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — An emergency text message system could in place this fall at Oregon State University and other state colleges and universities.

The system would use personal cell phones to notify students of an emergency, such as an earthquake, severe storm or campus gunman. Faculty and staff could sign up for the service.

“It’s about the safety of our students,’’ said Shay Dakan, the university’s director of network services. Partners in the system — who finalized commitments to its purchase this week — include the Oregon Institute of Technology and Eastern Oregon, Western Oregon and Southern Oregon universities.

The University of Oregon and Portland State University are looking at their own separate systems, but Portland Community College is considering the partnership.

“We really would like to find a system that is fast and reliable,’’ said Dana Haynes, a college spokesman. “Until we know more about the cost, we’re not committed.’’

Oregon State and the other regional universities also have extended an offer to the Oregon Independent Colleges Association, which includes 19 institutions such as the University of Portland, Reed College and Willamette University.

“More partners mean lower prices for everybody,’’ said Jon Dolan, Oregon State’s assistant director of network services. “If it’s convenient for them and convenient to us, that’s great...But we’re going to move forward and get a system in place.’’

  • Newsman Named S. D. College President 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The news director at KELO-TV has been named the new president of Kilian Community College in Sioux Falls.

Mark Millage begins full duties at the Sioux Falls institution on May 19.

On May 16, Millage, a Sioux Falls native, will have 25 years under his belt at KELO-TV. At the station, he manages a team of more than 40 full- and part-time workers and a $2.2 million budget.

More than 40 people applied for the job at Kilian, a post-secondary, two-year institution established in 1977 to meet the needs of adults in the area.

 

  • Salt Lake College Tops Fundraising List

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) --Salt Lake Community College leads the country in fundraising among community colleges.

A report from the Council for Aid to Education says the college raised more than $26 million in fiscal 2007, earning it the No. 1 spot nationally. That was $9 million more than the No. 2 institution.

Only Brigham Young University raised more money in Utah last year.

President Cynthia A. Bioteau says local businessman Larry H. Miller is due much of the credit for the college’s fundraising success. Miller has been a longtime supporter, having financed the addition of a new campus in 2001.

 

  • Minn. Helicopter Program Seeks Faraway Recruits

HIBBING, Minn. (AP) — Those behind a helicopter training program here don’t want people to overlook their Iron Range city of about 16,000, even if they’re coming from as far away as Europe.

Hibbing is home to the largest helicopter training center in the state, two years after Northern Helicopters and Hibbing Community College joined forces to offer a rare program.

Students are taught how to fly helicopters as they earn an      associate of applied sciences degree in aviation. There are no other similar programs in Minnesota and only a handful in the Midwest.

Students from throughout the region are already looking to Hibbing, said Brian Johnson, Northern Helicopters’ founder and owner. The program hopes it can even bring students in from as far away as Europe.

“There’s a huge market to tap, and we’re trying to figure out the best way to reach out to it,’’ Johnson said.

The program’s German-born flight instructors Falko Baguhl and Fabian Miche say recruiting Europeans to learn helicopters in Hibbing isn’t out of the question.

The strength of the euro compared to the dollar could attract Europeans. Also, helicopter flight time is cheaper in Hibbing, they said.   

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