Hinesville Rotarians were given an up-close look at the new fundraising campaign for Savannah Technical College during their meeting last week at the college’s Liberty Campus.
Dr. Kathy Love, the president of Savannah Tech, introduced the college to the Rotary members and spoke of its impact in the community, including the 116 students who are dual-enrolled, meaning they earn college credit while still attending high school.
With the area’s military-veteran population, the college leads the way in enrollment.
“We’ve got the largest student enrollment of military or military-related students in the entire Technical College System of Georgia. In fact, we’ve got 25 percent of the total state enrollment,” Love said.
The college is working with local business to make sure their programs keep these military students in the area. “We speak to our business and industry on a daily basis, and if someone is transitioning out of (the military) and they think they want to stay in this part of the country, there are jobs out there for them,” Love said.
The college also is now regionally accredited, “so classes that our students take, particularly in our general education area, can be transferred to a four-year university,” Love added. Savannah Tech serves 7,100 credit students each year across five campuses.
Ten years ago, STC served 846 students in Liberty County. Last year, it had 1,562 students, an 85 percent increase. The college has doubled its associate-degree programs to 14, including areas such as health sciences, industrial technology and public service.
“In 2013, that’s the last year that we finalized our placement statistics, we had almost 96 percent of our students have positive placement, and that includes those that continued their education or went into the military,” Love said.
More than 80 percent went to jobs directly in or closely related to their field of study.
“That is due to our close connection to business and industry,” Love added.
Then Gail Eubanks, the college’s executive director of institutional advancement and communications, introduced the “Where Excellence Meets Opportunity” major-gifts campaign at the institution. Of the $10 million the campaign seeks to raise, $1.5 million will go toward a precision-manufacturing center on the Liberty Campus. Since Savannah Tech announced the campaign last month, it already has raised $5 million, Eubanks said.
“The goal is to put in place a facility that your industries can help define for us. ‘Does it need to have welding, does it need to have machine tool, does it need to have industrial systems technology, does it need to focus on process flow?’ Whatever the combination of instructional programs your employer’s need, that’s what we want to build into the lab space there,” Eubanks said.
The college is also looking to expand in Health Science, with $250,000 of the campaign going to the construction of a biology chemistry lab at Liberty Campus. College-wide, technology will be upgraded, and student support initiatives such as scholarship funding will be increased.
The Liberty Campus is the only Savannah Tech site built in part from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funding, Love said. She credited the continued support of the county, local industry and manufacturers with the college’s growth and for seeing Savannah Tech’s importance to job growth in the community.