Clark College no longer state supported, now state assisted - The Reflector: News


Clark College no longer state supported, now state assisted

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Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 9:00 am

President’s State of the College address held Jan. 19

As state funding has declined and tuition has gone up, the impact has been dramatic, said Clark College President Bob Knight during his annual State of the College address held Jan. 19.

Giving his speech in Gaiser Hall at Clark College, Knight spoke to attendees about promises – promises that have been made and kept and the promises that need to be made to ensure that students at the college succeed. 

“To truly fulfill the promise of learning, you need three things: access, quality and completion,” Knight said.

Last fall, Knight said nearly 16,000 students attended Clark College, with 10,332 of those being full-time equivalent students. That was a 2 percent increase from fall 2010 and he said this quarter, Clark’s enrollment is up 1 percent from last winter. 

However, Knight said, he knows there are a lot of people who would like to attend college, but can’t afford it.

“Just a few years ago, as our college celebrated our 75th anniversary, the State of Washington provided 61.6 percent of our total operating budget,” Knight said. “One year later, state funding had declined to 52.5 percent. It’s now 41.5 percent and will likely drop below 40 percent by the end of this academic year. Instead of being state supported, Clark is now state assisted.”

Knight also addressed the constant increases in student tuition. He said the past three years, they have experienced tuition increases of 7 percent, 7 percent and 12 percent. Another 12 percent increase will take effect next year. Knight also said they are seeing more and more students taking out loans, a 38 percent increase in the past year, going from $16.5 million to $22.8 million.

Through the college’s financial aid staff and donor support, Knight said the financial aid staff has kept its promise to their students. The amount of financial aid increased from $48.5 million to nearly $59 million in one year – a 21 percent increase. Knight said Federal Pell grants increased from $24.3 million to $26.7 million.

Knight announced during his speech that he had earlier met with the Clark College Board of Trustees chair, the president and CEO of the Clark College Foundation and representatives from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington to sign an agreement that provides a path for some members of the Boys and Girls Clubs to enter and complete their education at Clark College.

The new scholarship program is called Penguin Promise.

The program will pay for certain students to attend Clark for up to three years if they meet certain criteria during their earlier schooling from eighth grade on. If they succeed in gaining community support, Knight said a pilot program will begin this fall and up to 25 students will be accepted the first year. He said they envision students entering the program in eighth grade and continuing through 12th grade. 

“During that time, the Boys and Girls Clubs will provide mentoring and programs to help these students learn, strive and achieve their educational goals,” Knight said. “Once they are admitted to Clark College, these students will receive scholarships for tuition, fees and books. They’ll also each have a program mentor.”

The program does have some requirements. Students must be residents of Clark County who participate in the Boys and Girls Clubs; they must take math and English classes during all four years of high school and must have an average attendance rate of at least 90 percent; they must enter Clark College within two years after they graduate from high school; they must attend Clark full-time and maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or better; and they will have three consecutive years to complete their degrees. 

When these students graduate, they will be eligible to compete for a transfer scholarship to a four-year university. 

In addition, Knight also discussed several other private-public projects at Clark, expansion of some college programs and more. He also announced inductees into the Clark College Athletic Hall of Fame and those being recognized with Iris Awards.

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