Commonwealth Journal

April 29, 2013

SCC’s ‘smart growth’ saved it $3.4 mil

Special to the CJ
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

In an effort to control escalating costs and burgeoning enrollment, Somerset Community College (SCC) is focused on using data to maximize its faculty and academic space resources. In the process, the community college was able to grow without adding resources and related expenses, saving an estimated $3.4 million in adjunct teaching costs in the process.  The process has also made it easier for students to get conflict-free access to classes at registration.  
SCC is part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Kentucky’s largest provider of post-secondary education and workforce training. The institution will tell its success story to others at the Kentucky Ad Astra Summit, going on through today at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY.
SCC recognized it needed smart growth, supported by a more targeted alignment of faculty and classroom space with student needs. Tony Honeycutt, Ed.D., SCC Provost and Chief Academic Officer, was searching for data to support a new approach to academic scheduling. While Dr. Honeycutt knew that a wealth of data was buried in the stu?dent information system, he also recognized that there was no easy way to uncover it in order to make smarter resource allocation decisions. For that reason, in 2009, Somerset staff started working with Ad Astra Information Systems on a project designed to turn all of that data into actionable information.
“Exploding enrollment during a period of decreased state funding coupled with the national emphasis on completion caused us to rethink our academic scheduling model,” said Dr. Honeycutt.
What’s more, students have benefited too. In fact, the typical SCC student increased his course load by 18 percent due to the improved access to classes and ease of scheduling.  In the long-term, these changes reduced tuition costs, improved retention and decreased students’ time spent completing their degree.
“Data that is now provided in real time allows us to better plan for the academic needs of our students, to more efficiently plan our schedule of class offerings, and to ensure our students will have access to course offerings in a location or mode of delivery that meets their needs,” said Dr. Honeycutt.
Like many states, Kentucky struggles to adequately fund higher education needs. Since 1999, state support for public institutions has dropped approximately $260 million, according to the Council on Postsecondary Education.  Kentucky students are facing significant tuition increases over the next decade if lawmakers cut state funding. 
To combat escalating costs, several higher education institutions in Kentucky have experienced significant savings by implementing Astra Schedule, an interactive scheduling system from Ad Astra Information System that helps coordinate academic, event and resource scheduling functions in one enterprise-wide system.
“Most people don’t realize that class and event scheduling on campuses plays a strategic role in higher education and greatly contributes to improving student outcomes, building capacity for enrollment growth, and making college more affordable,” said Tom Shaver, Ad Astra Information Systems CEO and Founder.