Letter to the Editor

October 30, 2017


The fall semester is in full swing at Kishwaukee College, with students on our campus and in our classrooms.  Enrollments are down slightly from last year, but the enrollment decline is primarily out of district students.  Kish is the college of choice for approximately 30% of the local graduates of the class of 2017.  Enrollment history shows that close to 50% of all area high school graduates will take a least one class at Kish within two years of high school graduation. 

Local athletes competing on our sports teams this year is nearly 50% of all athletes, up from 19% last year.  Our goal is to reach 75% of our Kougar athletes being graduates of our local high schools by 2019.  We have brought back women’s volleyball and basketball for the 2017-18 school year, and will have men’s and women’s soccer and cross country for the 2018-19 school year.

Given the number of local high school graduates choosing to attend Kishwaukee College to continue their education, it is important that we work with the area high schools to help students easily transition to our College after high school.  Programs with our high schools, such as dual credit, prepare students to be college and career ready.  Annually I host a K-12 Administrators Breakfast, which was recently held on October 26th.  Ten K-12 administrators, representing school districts from DeKalb, Genoa-Kingston, Hiawatha, Indian Creek, KEC, Paw Paw, Rochelle, and Sycamore, attended the meeting. Discussion focused on how we can continue to work together to build educational pathways for students from high school to college.  Acting President of NIU, Dr. Lisa Freeman, joined us at the K-12 Administrators Breakfast, the first time a NIU President attended.  The meeting was groundbreaking as we work to create K-16 educational programs and pathways for our local students.  I feel fortunate to be working with Dr. Freeman and the area K-12 Superintendents to enhance opportunities for the students attending our respective educational institutions. 

Many students attend Kishwaukee College with the intention of finding employment in our communities following graduation. Kish is proud of the Career and Technical Programs we offer, preparing students for our local workforce.  I serve on both the GREDCO and DCEDC boards of directors, which allows Kish to play a key role in local economic development for both current and future employers.  Businesses considering relocating to our area critically look at the local workforce, examining the opportunities that exist to hire and train employees.  It is important for us to demonstrate what we can offer in workforce development for prospective employers.  To support this effort, I am pleased to be involved in expanding workforce partnerships beyond our local area, working with five Community College Presidents in Northwestern Illinois. Together we are exploring how we work together to support the workforce needs of the region. 

It is by working with others that we build on the rich tradition of quality education at Kishwaukee College - Your Community College.  I am proud and honored to be serving as President. To learn more about the great things happening at Kish, follow me on my blog at drlaurie.kish.edu.

Dr. Laurie Borowicz
President, Kishwaukee College

August 7, 2017

Often people view summer as a “quiet” time in education.  While it is true that our halls are a bit quieter than during the fall and spring semesters, Kish has1330 students enrolled this summer, taking classes to prepare for the fall semester.  College employees are working on a number of activities in preparation for our students attending the College this fall. A few highlights include:

Services for “Undecided” students. When I am out in the community, I often hear that one of the biggest reasons students choose to come to Kish is because they are undecided on their program or major.  We are in the process of re-vamping our “Career Planning 101” class, designing the course specifically for those students that are unsure of what they want to do for a future career.  Students will take the course in their first semester at Kish, ensuring that their remaining semesters at the College are filled with courses they need to get them on their desired future pathway.

Earn and Learn Program. We believe it is important for our students to have real world experiences while being a college student.  Student employees are an important part of our campus community, and we are working to streamline and communicate employment opportunities.  We are also working closely with area employers to enhance our internship program, and help our students have workplace learning experiences related to their programs or majors.  

Local athletes participating in NJCAA athletics.  Coaches have been hired for both women’s basketball and volleyball, after a one-year break for both.  For fall, we are pleased to see over 50% of the Kish Kougars on our athletic teams being graduates of local high schools.  We are currently exploring bringing back men's and women’s soccer for Fall 2018, as well as additional sports such as cross country.  Community Colleges offer a great opportunity for local athletes to continue their athletic passions in college.

kish.edu. The College has embarked on a technology plan, providing updates and enhancements to be more efficient and support the needs of our students. One of the biggest changes is going from kishwaukeecollege.edu to kish.edu for our website and email.

Campus facility planning.  We are pleased to have a state budget, and are grateful for the financial support we will receive to meet the educational and workforce development needs of our area.  A number of capital updates at the College were delayed the last two years due to the budget impasse that are now being evaluated and implemented.  It is important that we maintain a quality learning environment for our students.

Classes start on Aug 21, and we look forward to welcoming students to our campus once again.  We are honored to help over 6,000 students each year achieve their educational goals.  I have learned in my time at the College how important Kish is to the residents of the local communities, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as President of Kishwaukee College. To learn more about the great things happening at Kish, follow me on my blog at drlaurie.kishwaukeecollege.edu.

Dr. Laurie Borowicz
President, Kishwaukee College

April 28, 2017

Moving Kishwaukee College Forward through Challenging Times

When I first starting talking with the Board of Trustees at Kishwaukee College in December 2015, the State of Illinois was 5 months into the period of no state budget. Now it is 16 months later, and still no state budget.  While we have received some stop-gap state funding, the College for the past two years has operated with an average of 41% of the state revenue it received in FY15.  That has meant significant change for the College.  Things cannot remain the same with millions of dollars less in revenue.

I applaud the staff at Kishwaukee College for the hard work they have done, and to make necessary changes to continue to serve the needs of our students.  Since my arrival at the College, it's not only been a time of reducing expenditures, but it's also been a time of change in our services and processes to best serve our students.  As we examine how we do business at our organization, we are looking at what we do and how we do it, while staying focused on our students. Through all of these changes and hard work we need to make sure that we are retaining our excellent faculty and staff to ensure we continue to support the rich tradition of the College by providing an excellent education to our students.

Nationwide, enrollments at community colleges have been declining for several years, and Kish is no exception. Unemployment is down, and there is an inverse relationship with enrollments at community colleges and the economy; when people are able to find employment, fewer people look at going to college and choose instead to work.  Kish will be here during the ups and downs in the economy, serving the needs of the community. 

There are over 6000 students this year that will attend Kishwaukee College.  Our goal is to serve our students as best we can, helping them achieve their educational goals.  There are key "success" measures for institutions of higher education, such as graduation, transfer, and job placement rates.  These are our focus.  Increasing enrollment is important, but our main objective is serving the students attending Kish, now and into the future.

I am honored and proud to be serving as President of Kishwaukee College.  To learn more about the great things happening at Kish, follow me on my blog at drlaurie.kishwaukeecollege.edu.

Dr. Laurie Borowicz
Kishwaukee College

January 25, 2017

Kishwaukee College President Reflects on First Year

As I look back on my first year as President of Kishwaukee College, I am amazed by the challenges, and resulting changes, the College faced in 2016.  We are vastly different in many ways than we were a year ago, but also very much the same College that our communities have relied on for higher education for the past 49 years. 

Reflecting on what initially drew me to Kish, it was the sense of family at the College, and there is no doubt that has not changed over the past year.  We might look a bit different, but the passion and commitment demonstrated by faculty and staff every day in service to our students is second to none.  Over the past year, we've learned how to work more efficiently with each other in our processes and services.  This became necessary with having fewer resources, but out of the financial challenge has come a positive in working closer together for our students. Change has become the norm at Kishwaukee College, and we have figured out how to stay focused on what matters most to our students and the communities we serve.

One thing that has become very clear is that with less resources, partnerships become even more important to our College.  We have worked to strengthen our partnerships with local K-12 school districts and the business community, to make sure we are focused on what matters most to those we serve.  By working closer together, we can be more efficient and effective, helping students in our communities be ready for college and a career.

Over the course of the past year, I have had the pleasure of getting to know many residents of the communities the College serves. I have learned that people are very proud of Kish, and I have yet to meet someone who did not either attend the College or have a family member that attended Kish.  Kish is beloved by those who live in the district, and rightly so.  The College has, and will continue to help many local residents, whether they chose to start their college career locally, are undecided on their college major, or want to learn a skill or trade for the local workforce.  Our goal is to continue the Kish pride that exists inside and outside the College walls.

As I start my second year of serving as President of Kishwaukee College, I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish and the services we have provided to our students and community. We have set a course for the future, with a strong, solid Board of Trustees helping to guide us.  While challenges still lie before us, we are ready to face them together. 

To learn more about the great things happening at Kish in the upcoming year, follow me on my blog at drlaurie.kishwaukeecollege.edu.

Dr. Laurie Borowicz
President, Kishwaukee College


November 28, 2016

Kishwaukee College Partnerships Help to Prepare Youth for their Future

Recent reports show that nearly 90 percent of millennials who graduate from high school attend college within eight years.  The college experience has become the norm for younger Americans, and Kishwaukee College is proud of its partnerships with area high schools to help students be college ready.  This fall, 515 students from area high schools are enrolled in the dual credit program, with students taking college classes in high school and earning both high school and Kish College credit. Dual credit is an excellent opportunity for high school students to earn college credit at a significantly reduced cost, experience the rigor of college coursework, and explore college majors and career opportunities.

As the cost burden of higher education continues to shift to students due to less state funds, it becomes even more important that we partner with our area high schools to help young people explore programs, majors, and career opportunities before entering college. Many students begin college not quite sure what they want their major or future career to be.  Students without a declared major drop out of college at a higher rate, struggling with the time and money commitments of college and not having a clear direction.

A significant problem for students leaving college without a degree is student debt. Recent sources cite that student loan debt in this country is now over $1.3 trillion. In 2012, approximately 60 percent of college students took out loans, and those that most often default on student loans are those that leave college without a degree. A small number of college graduates default on their loans, but many more default if they attended college and did not graduate.

Kishwaukee College is working to help students discover their passion and the educational program or major that will help them meet their career aspirations by strengthening our high school partnerships and College counseling services. In the end, we all seek the same outcome for our students - to be successful and financially healthy members of our local workforce and communities. 

I am honored and proud to be leading Kishwaukee College.  Follow me on my blog at drlaurie.kishwaukeecollege.edu to learn more about the great things happening at Kishwaukee College. 

Dr. Laurie Borowicz
President, Kishwaukee College

September 8, 2016

The fall semester has started at the College, and once again we begin our important work of helping individuals achieve their educational goals. We are pleased with our enrollment numbers, with nearly 4,000 students choosing to attend Kishwaukee College this fall. Enrollments are critical - not only do they help our fiscal position, they also signal that we are helping meet education and workforce needs in our region.

Funding challenges are at the forefront of many discussions on higher education, and this is especially true in Illinois for the past year and a half. The scarcity of resources has caused us to consider priorities and how we best serve our communities. We can no longer afford to do things "the way we've always done it." Current funding and past enrollment challenges are forcing Kish to change, and change is hard. But it also provides an opportunity for us to be creative and imaginative, and be clear in our mission. Our college priorities and program offerings must be focused on student learning - what and how our students learn, and understanding that everyone at the College has a role in supporting the learning experience. What happens in our classrooms, student organizations, enrollment and counseling services, how we maintain our facilities, and how we work with our external partners is all focused on enhancing the student experience. As an institution, we have the ability to become what we want and need to be for our students and stakeholders.

Building on our vision, faculty and staff are setting department goals related to enrollment, private-public partnerships, and continuous quality improvement. We are moving together as a college to support our students and ensure they have a quality experience at the College.

A fellow educational leader recently commented in a public forum that I was "thrown into the deep end" when I first arrived at Kish. The good news is that I know how to swim, and have been fortunate to work and live in an area extremely supportive of their community college. We will use the challenges as opportunities, and continue to serve those attending Kishwaukee College as part of their higher education learning journey. I am honored and proud to be leading Kishwaukee College during this time of challenge and transformation.

Dr. Laurie Borowicz
Kishwaukee College

August 8, 2016

In just three short weeks, the fall semester will be upon us, and the College will once again be bustling with students.  While enrollment is down slightly for fall, we had a strong summer session, which helps the College financially going into the fall term. The Board of Trustees has set three thematic College goals for the year, based on the feedback heard at the community and business listening sessions. These include reducing the College dependency on state aids, building the philanthropic support for the College, and reconfiguring athletics to emphasize district high school graduates.  From these goals, employees will begin to set their goals for the year at in-service on August 24.  We need to continue to look at opportunities to meet the needs of our constituents now and in the future.  One of the most interesting things we heard from a business leader recently is that the College not only needs to prepare students for current jobs, but help prepare them for the jobs that don't yet exist.  We need to teach our students to be lifelong learners, and able to learn new skills as technology changes. 

This past year, 84% of the students attending Kishwaukee College were residents of the College district at the time of application.  Some of our unique programs - Diesel Power Technology, Horticulture and Truck Driver Driving - attract students from outside our district.  We are happy to serve students and businesses on a regional basis, but our primary focus continues to be on our local students and those who pay the property taxes that support the College. 

The Board of Trustees is very committed to ensuring we continue to focus our efforts on serving local students, and one of the College goals for the year is to change our athletics program to one that primarily recruits local athletes.  We want Kishwaukee College to be a place for our talented local high school athletes to have an opportunity to continue to play sports in college.  Having more local students on our team rosters will support community engagement and the success of our athletic teams. 

In the past three years, 155 area businesses have hired a Kishwaukee College graduate.  Meeting the needs of the local business community has long been a goal of the College, and we are working to make this connection even stronger during the coming school year.  By developing a strategic workforce plan, the College will enhance its customized training for businesses, continuing education for working individuals, and additional internship and other work-based learning opportunities for college students.

It is by listening to our stakeholders that we will enhance the sense of community we are striving for at Kishwaukee College.  A feedback link has recently been added to the College web page at www.kishwaukeecollege.edu/suggestion.  I am proud to be leading the College during this exciting and transformative time in higher education.

Laurie Borowicz, Ed.D.
Kishwaukee College