Central Texas College Central Campus Dean Jan Anderson has dedicated her career to the rapidly growing community college near Fort Hood. Anderson started as an instructor 32 years ago and worked her way up to her current position. Anderson talked with the Herald about the college’s growth, its relationship with the local business community and future expansion plans.
Did you ever dream CTC would be as big as it is today?
I absolutely did not think we would grow as much as we have. Of course, a lot of it is due to changes in technology. I can remember when we had to go down the hall just to print the curriculum and then staple them all together. The technology has changed tremendously. Of course, when I started, people didn’t have PCs. It’s just been a huge change. It is incredible how much business has picked up. Everything is moving much faster. We are one of the pioneers in online learning now. It is incredible how much teaching and the way we do business has changed. Everybody has mobile devices. They study on mobile devices. It’s amazing. And the sheer size of the school ... we have grown so much. Our affiliations with the military have grown. Our community participation has grown. Our enrollment has grown. We have enrollments across the world, but we are up to 6,200 enrollments on central campus.
What are some of the challenges presented by growth?
We’ve kind of outgrown our buildings. ... We are just trying to find enough space. It is a big challenge for our physical growth to keep up with our enrollment growth. We are trying to renovate our campus. Our buildings are old. Some of them are the original buildings that have been here since we first opened. We’re trying to update everything. We’ve done a facilities assessment, and we’re ready to move in that direction now. Funding is a big issue, but I think we’ve got it figured out. And one of the things we want to be sure of is that our campus remains as beautiful as it is right now. I have seen the campuses at a lot of Texas community colleges, and I think ours is one of the prettiest. We’re kind of like a little oasis in the middle of the prairie.
How does CTC work to get students involved with the local business community?
ENACTUS is a really good example of that. That is an awesome club. We call it a club, but it is really more than a club because it is integrated into class instruction. They have done a marvelous job of networking with the business community. They do fundraising for shelters. They raise money for all different kinds of initiatives. They offer training for people who are trying to start out in their own business. They do resume writing. I can’t even name all the projects they do. But we’re very, very proud of them. They compete nationally and have done very well.
What does CTC do to ensure students have a leg up when they are ready to join the job market?
We’re trying to be very career oriented. We want to be sure that when our students finish that they are employable. We don’t just want them to be successful academically. We want to know they can get a job. We’re constantly checking the market to see where the needs are. We have a lot of the health profession areas, such as nursing and medical lab technicians, in really great need in Texas. We have kind of a service-oriented community here with the military. But one thing we’ve been noticing is a rising interest in robotics. Of course, robotics has been in the paper recently, especially talking about drones. So we are investigating that to see if there is employability in that field. We are always investigating new ideas and programs, but we have to determine if there are actually jobs out there in those fields.
What are some of the advantages and challenges of students currently entering the job market?
I think they have some advantages with some of the accelerated programs that we offer. I do think that they have a chance to move through school faster. And if they apply themselves in high school, they can actually graduate from high school with an associate’s degree at the same time, which is a big advantage. One of our challenges for the community in general is that we have a lot of people getting out of the military as the military downsizes. We want to make sure they get the training they need to be immediately employable.