DUBLIN – In 2011, the Board of Trustees for Bladen Community College dared to explore a visionary idea. Anticipating continuing growth at a time when unemployment in Bladen County was a staggering 13.5 percent, the trustees put into motion schematic plans for a new building on campus that could enhance opportunities for workforce and continuing education training.
With such a goal, the college could raise the level of instruction with advanced technology, train more students, and supply a highly-skilled workforce to the community and beyond.
Now, five years later, the vision may become reality. With funding from the successful passage of the Connect NC Public Improvement Bond, Bladen Community College is poised to receive $6.5 million. The funds will unearth a new building and make other grounds, building, and safety improvements on campus.
The college plans to nurture the vision by constructing a 20,000 square feet building on campus that houses science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with classrooms, offices, and a teaching auditorium. The tentative location of the building is the northwest side of campus where metal huts now stand.
“This funding opportunity will be immeasurably beneficial for the college and the county,” remarks BCC president William Findt. “A state-of-the-art training facility will allow the college to graduate highly-skilled students and improve the local workforce. It is an exciting opportunity.”
“BCC is well-equipped to welcome and train 1,000 students at any given time,” states Barry Priest, vice president for student services, “however; our enrollment has been hovering at 1,300 students per semester over the past five years. More than ever before, we need the additional classroom building.”
Bladen Community College continues to add programs and curriculum studies in response to student interest and the workforce trends of the area. In 2015, the College added Medical Office Administration in response to the growing field of health care. In July, accreditation was awarded to the Early Childhood Education program, allowing students to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree. The College’s expanding collaborative with high school students has also impacted the programs and facilities on campus.
“I assist in the Learning Enhancement Center at Bladen Community College and know firsthand how much a state-of-the-art classroom building would mean to our students,” said BCC student Robin Novak. “BCC has an amazing faculty and the advantages of improved facilities would really provide a first-class academic experience.”
“It is vital for Bladen Community College to evolve and expand to meet the needs of this community,” remarks Findt. “The investment we may receive from the Connect NC Bond is an expression of confidence in the community college system.”
To learn more about the Connect NC Public Improvement Bond, visit www.connect.nc.gov. For information about Bladen Community College, call 910 879-5500.
Cathy Kinlaw is the public informatoin officer for Bladen Community College.