Iowa Valley Community College held their Strategic Meeting last week. A diverse group of about 100 persons participated. Across eight question categories of ideas for improvement sought, a dominant theme emerged: increasing efficient communication on various information sharing platforms. Ultimately this boiled down to a need for a unified brand for all three campuses, e.g: Iowa Valley Community College – [insert name of city or county instead of “Marshalltown Community College” or “Ellsworth College”]. This was also the #1 recommendation of independent consultants in a recent report.
Goals for Tama County going into this meeting were that Iowa Valley Community College leadership would recognize that there is a need to move towards an even stronger integration into our rural county as it does not have the same impact as with the other three counties (Hardin, Marshall and Poweshiek) it serves. There are a number of reasons why proactively pursuing solutions are important:
- Equitably spaced out brick and mortar investment when serving rural population education needs can lead to greater impact: When the need for new facilities come up for consideration again, leadership would be strongly encouraged to fully evaluate locating inside Tama County similar to the multi-million facilities Iowa Valley Community College District erected in Hardin, Marshall and Poweshiek Counties to facilitate backwards and forward economic links and smart impact.
- Locating lower cost outreach campuses: approximately half of the Tama County area being served by Iowa Valley Community College has been deemed outside the reasonable boundaries of a basic commute to an educational institution by federal standards. Increasing economic capacity through education could also include increasing access to transportation or technology to remove barriers to continuing education.
- Link to identity of community: if a community is achieving overall high school graduation rates above the state average, and has a US News & World Report top school designation, there may be a local pride in quality education. In instances where a geographic region may not identify closely with the name or accomplishments of the post secondary educational institution there may be a need for extra effort in building trust and relationships via leadership networks in order to increase the possibility that industry/workforce continue to look towards formal education in capacity building.
In attendance to support a continued positive evolution of Tama County’s relationship to the post secondary education system were: Yvonne Mallory, Vice-President of the Iowa Valley Community College Board of Trustees, and State Representative Lance Horbach, in addition to Tama County Economic Development Commission.