Current DCC enrollment decline may be misleading

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

DANVILLE (WSLS 10) - Current numbers show that enrollment at Danville Community College is down about 9 percent, but the college's president said that's a bit of a misnomer.

"We're a little slow in getting two programs in that are not on the books yet," said DCC President Dr. Bruce Scism. "We think that our enrollment will be somewhere closer to maybe a 6 percent decline."

Scism said despite overall enrollment being down, the college is seeing huge growth in its precision machining program and that is really helping bring more attention to the college.

It's also helping bring more attention to Danville, with the growth in the precision machining program being directly responsible for the recent announcements of two international companies, Overfinch and Kyocera SGS Precision Tools, locating to Danville and investing more than $10 million in the area.

"Danville Community College, frankly, is an absolutely essential partner for our economic development strategy," said Linwood Wright, a consultant with the Danville Economic Development Office.

As more companies begin to take note of Danville, more jobs in various industries may become available and that makes DCC's ability to offer a competitive selection of classes important in order to continue to help keep the economy strong.

But, that can be a challenge with decreasing enrollment.

The college, like most community colleges in the state, has had to make cuts because of declining enrollment. Specifically, the college has not filled some vacant positions.

"Primarily, that's how we've handled the decline in enrollment is by becoming more streamlined," Scism emphasized.

He is confident though, like the economic development office, that the enrollment decline will be short-lived.

"We think we're about to turn around that downward trend," said Wright. "If we bring jobs to this region, the students will go to DCC for certification."

Scism pointed out that the state's low unemployment means more people are working and that means people have less time to go to college and less of a need.

Population, too, is declining and according to the U.S. Census Bureau will continue to decline until 2030. But, Scism said all of the work the college is doing to make its curricula more effective and to better reach potential students will help combat that trend.

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