As the newly appointed president of Iowa Central Community College I would like to thank the board of directors for giving me the opportunity to help the college build upon the very firm foundation that is currently in place. On behalf of my wife and two children, we want to thank everyone for such a warm welcome to the community since our arrival.
From the strong administrative team that helped lead the college over the past several months, to our very dedicated faculty and staff, and most importantly our students, Iowa Central is very well positioned to help move our regional economy forward.
As I begin this job, it is my desire to work with the board of directors, our administrative team, faculty, staff and community to begin a comprehensive strategic and financial planning process so we can understand our current strengths and weaknesses and build upon them for an even more successful future.
As I see the college today, we have very strong academic programs, industrial technology/economic development programs, fine arts programs, health/bioscience programs, athletics and very talented faculty. We are also very lucky to have the Renewable Fuels testing laboratory and ongoing federal funding for its expansion. Who knows where that can lead us as the nation looks to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. In addition, we have a nationally recognized Homeland Security Training Center that helps build our top-rate criminal justice and fire science programs, while training first responders throughout the state of Iowa.
Because we will be facing serious financial and budget issues in 2011, the college must assess its current situation through the strategic planning process and our extremely important North Central Association accreditation renewal effort. Once we complete this, the college should have a very detailed road map for our future that aligns the college with the needs of our regional economy.
One more comment on the NCA accreditation renewal process. This is an ongoing college-wide effort that began last year and leads up to a visit from the Higher Learning Commission team in November 2010. This group will look at every aspect of our education process and hold us to a very high standard, which we have achieved in the past. I look forward to helping prepare Iowa Central for this critical assessment of our practices and methods of providing our students with the best possible college experience.
Also, I look forward to the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees annual conference, one of several big events coming to campus this summer.
The event is planned for the new Bioscience and Health Sciences building, which is expected to be opened in time to host approximately 200 guests from Iowa's 15 community colleges when they arrive for the July 29-31 event. Much of the conference will center around education, business and politics as the trustees consider what lies ahead for the state's community colleges.
Speakers will include Iowa legislative leaders, Richard Longworth, author of the book ''Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism," State Auditor David Vaudt and VJ Smith, author of the book ''The Richest Man in Town."
The new Bioscience and Health Sciences building is an impressive structure. It will feature a 250-seat lecture auditorium, fuels testing laboratory, and chemistry and microbiology labs on the first floor and Health Science programs including radiography, medical assistant and medical laboratory technician on the second floor, providing a sparkling, 21st-century backdrop for the IACCT Conference.
I've heard much about the state high school softball tournament that is played annually in Fort Dodge before big crowds. I am pleased that we will again be hosting many of the teams from around the state in our student apartment buildings during that big event next month.
On Aug. 18-19 we are pleased to welcome U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley's Ambassadors Tour to our campus and to Fort Dodge for an overnight stay. This tour, with representatives and diplomats from up to 70 nations, will visit our Bioscience and Health Sciences building to hear a series of presentations from Fort Dodge Animal Health and Tate & Lyle and on the role Iowa's colleges and universities play in worldwide educational leadership.
Not long after that (Sept. 1) we begin fall semester classes. Then on Sept. 8, we will hold a formal grand opening for the Bioscience and Health Sciences building and combine it with a groundbreaking ceremony for the second of our new campus buildings, the Learning Resource Center. We have already begun to ready the area north of the new Bioscience and Health Sciences building to begin the final phase of the core campus makeover.
My first couple of months on the job will be exciting and eventful and I can't wait to get acquainted with this community as we take on the challenges that lie ahead.
Dr. Dan Kinney is the incoming president of Iowa Central Community College.