Gnage: Community colleges emphasize jobs - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Gnage: Community colleges emphasize jobs

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: All Northbound lanes open on I-77 at East River Mountain Tunnel

    UPDATE: All Northbound lanes open on I-77 at East River Mountain Tunnel

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:42 PM EDT2014-07-26 22:42:00 GMT
    All northbound lanes are back open after a tractor trailer that caught fire inside the East River Mountain Tunnel on Friday. It happened in the northbound lanes of the tunnel that divides Mercer and Bland around 2:00 Friday afternoon.
    All northbound lanes are back open after a tractor trailer that caught fire inside the East River Mountain Tunnel on Friday. It happened in the northbound lanes of the tunnel that divides Mercer and Bland around 2:00 Friday afternoon.
  • Sistersville Woman Crowned Mrs. West Virginia, Will Compete for National Title

    Sistersville Woman Crowned Mrs. West Virginia, Will Compete for National Title

    Tuesday, July 15 2014 4:17 AM EDT2014-07-15 08:17:38 GMT
    A Sistersville mother, wife, and soon-to-be teacher, holds another very impressive title as she gets ready to take on the competition on a national stage.Mrs. West Virginia, Melissa Smith, will compete for the title of "Mrs.United States," in September. Smith travels throughout the state right now helping to push her platform. "Right now, I'm very focused on improving literacy education. I'm going to be an elementary school teacher and I have been traveling throughout West Virginia reading to...
    A Sistersville mother, wife, and soon-to-be teacher, holds another very impressive title as she gets ready to take on the competition on a national stage.Mrs. West Virginia, Melissa Smith, will compete for the title of "Mrs.United States," in September. Smith travels throughout the state right now helping to push her platform. "Right now, I'm very focused on improving literacy education. I'm going to be an elementary school teacher and I have been traveling throughout West Virginia reading to...
  • Federal judge in Martinsburg, West Virginia, sends 10 to prison for violating probation

    Federal judge in Martinsburg, West Virginia, sends 10 to prison for violating probation

    Sunday, July 6 2014 11:00 AM EDT2014-07-06 15:00:12 GMT
    Nine Martinsburg, West Virginia, residents and another from Keyser were sentenced to federal prison for breaking the law while they were on supervised release or probation.
    Nine Martinsburg, West Virginia, residents and another from Keyser were sentenced to federal prison for breaking the law while they were on supervised release or probation.
  • EducationMore>>

  • Caridi spends a lifetime calling the Mountaineers

    Caridi spends a lifetime calling the Mountaineers

    Sunday, July 27 2014 3:00 PM EDT2014-07-27 19:00:23 GMT
    This year’s college freshmen have never heard another play-by-play announcer for West Virginia University. All of their lives, Tony Caridi has been calling Mountaineer football and men’s basketball games on the radio.
    This year’s college freshmen have never heard another play-by-play announcer for West Virginia University. All of their lives, Tony Caridi has been calling Mountaineer football and men’s basketball games on the radio.
  • ‘Voice of the Herd’ enters 19th season at MU

    ‘Voice of the Herd’ enters 19th season at MU

    Sunday, July 27 2014 3:00 PM EDT2014-07-27 19:00:20 GMT
    His first season as play-by-play sportscaster at Marshall University had remarkable results.
    His first season as play-by-play sportscaster at Marshall University had remarkable results.
  • College Summit marks strong decade

    College Summit marks strong decade

    Sunday, July 27 2014 11:00 AM EDT2014-07-27 15:00:13 GMT
    For more than 10 years, College Summit West Virginia has been helping make higher education more attainable for 37,000 students who have participated in the program.
    For more than 10 years, College Summit West Virginia has been helping make higher education more attainable for 37,000 students who have participated in the program.

The president of West Virginia University-Parkersburg has been named the chairwoman of the Association of American Community College's board of directors, and she sees some good things happening in the community and technical college system across the country.

Marie Foster Gnage is the first West Virginian to be elected chair of the AACC's board. And although her job at WVU-P keeps her busy, Gnage must also now make time for the many meetings and initiatives her new position entails. Gnage served as chair-elect last year before taking on the duties of chair this year.

"I serve on any committees, or any time there is an initiative, I usually am present to lend some support for those initiatives," Gnage said.

As chair, Gnage has participated in a roundtable on financial aid as well as a meeting to discuss veterans and challenges that population faces. Most recently, Gnage was a member of a 38-person commission that discussed the future of community colleges in the United States. A report came from that commission and included seven recommendations.

"That was part of my role as chair and chair-elect," Gnage said of the commission, "As chair, we are now implementing the recommendations and looking at those that were made."

Gnage had a lot to say on the future of community and technical colleges. West Virginia's own schools have made great strides in recent year, thanks in part, Gnage said, to the creation of a community and technical college system.

"Community colleges continuously review their portfolios of offerings to ensure they're aligned with what is needed by business and industry," Gnage said.

Better aligning programs to business needs was thing the commission addressed. Gnage said community colleges have always emphasized the need to match program offerings to business needs, but now schools are also looking at the types of jobs these students could get once they graduate.

"I think there has always been an emphasis on re-examining what is being offered as far as programs are concerned," Gnage said. "Even with this commission, there is a major emphasis on aligning what is needed by business and industry, by Marcellus Shale, by DuPont and chemical process companies — whatever they're needs are, we're trying to align with them and have programs that will prepare individuals for work with that industry. Whereas years before, you'd simply think we had a habit of looking at some of the programs we could have at community colleges, but we were not looking at whether or not the results would be jobs within our communities."

The AACC is also looking at completion rates. Although middle-skill jobs are available, getting credentialed is half the battle.

"We're now looking at how we get more people to a credential," Gnage said. "We need to get many more of our West Virginians to completion, to some kind of credential. That, too, is an emphasis. There's not a real difference in making sure you have programs and making sure the programs lead to jobs and completion. If you know you're going to get a job when you complete a program, you're more likely to complete. All of it is connected."

Now that the state has developed a community and technical college system, Gnage said students are ensured they can earn a degree in most fields, including some that previously required an apprenticeship rather than a degree.

"At one point, people would get out and learn the trade from the electrician or the plumber," Gnage said. "Now anymore there is a real need to actually give them the skills and provide credentialing for those skills. Having a community college system, what we did was put colleges in a better position address the needs of business and industry."