At White Mountains Community College, it's all about jobs
BERLIN - First-year White Mountains Community College student Simon Yacek and his fellow culinary arts classmates had a hungry crowd to feed Tuesday at the college's bistro, when the college held its annual legislative and advisory committee meetings and dinner.
WMCC's New Hampshire Culinary Institute is one of the 15 programs at the college that has an advisory committee. The two-year associate arts culinary degree includes an apprenticeship program at the Omni Mount Washington Resort, and Tuesday evening the proof as to the degree of professionalism in the program was in the eating, as the students served their creations: gyros, Pad Thai, sushi, Greek salad, sweets and pastries.
Although the annual event is meant to give state legislators an update on the college's importance to the region and its residents and its funding challenges, no legislators were able to get back from Concord quick enough to enjoy the delectable offerings.
Prior to the dining, Katherine Eneguess, WMCC president, outlined the college's challenges to the faculty, committee members and others, saying that cutbacks in scholarship funding have made it harder for students.
Enrollment has declined, she said, and students are taking longer to graduate, taking fewer classes a semester as the resources to pay for those classes are tight. She said that the college system is freezing tuition at $210 a credit and is looking for new scholarship funds.
"We need to do a better job working with our federal partners," Eneguess said, after noting that in the proposed biennium state budget, the system's operating budget remains whole at $40 million for fiscal year 2014 and $43 million for 2015. On the capital side, she said, the requested $28 million has been whittled to $8 million.
Eneguess stressed the importance of providing pathways to jobs for students, and she highlighted initiatives at the college, such as the WorkReady program, which helps participants acquire the skills they need to be successful in the workplace, and the redesigning of the welding lab, which is getting new equipment through a grant from the U.S. departments of Labor and Education.
Joyce Presby, WMCC entrepreneurial resources consultant, talked about Business Services North, a collaboration of the WMCC, Northern Community Investment Corporation, and the N.H. Small Business Development Center that helps small-business owners and entrepreneurs access programs and services through one phone call.