For a man entering his 41st year of education — and who has been at South Central College for more than a dozen years — 61-year-old President Keith Stover hasn’t lost his enthusiasm.
He’ll talk your ear off about technical education, and is bearish on the future of manufacturing, agriculture and the college’s ability to meet the local workforce needs.
As you may have seen earlier in the day, he’s pretty proud of the Mechatronics Technology Education Center and its $2.5 million in equipment, and says he wants to be “on the cutting edge” of technical education, in which about two-thirds of his students are enrolled.
So what’s he concentrating on for the future?
Here are three main areas:
- Improved completion rates. Seventy percent of the students who enrolled in 2008 are either still in school or have graduated, and Stover hopes to increase that by a few percentage points over the next three years.
- Better access for underserved students. Although South Central is much less diverse than schools such as Saint Paul College, more than a third of its students are low-income, first generation or of color. The number has increased 15 percent since 20102 and 60 percent since 2008, and Stover wants to now concentrate on making sure a high number of those students stay in school until completion
- Expanded offerings. Stover wants to develop more course offerings for ag students and professionals so that they learn more about the business side — in business planning, financial and enterprise management, commodity prices, record keeping and so on. (Ag enrollment is at its highest level since 1946, he said.) He also envisions a center of agriculture at the college that would eventually include studies in areas such as grain production, animal sciences and plant systems. He also wants to work with Minnesota State University – Mankato to develop a program in the biosciences, as well as in civil and mechanical engineering. And he’s also looking to expand the range of course offerings in the health care field.