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Friday
December 14th, 2018

ken trzaskaGUEST COLUMN, Dr. Ken Trzaska, President of SCCC

 

Liberal residents who pass Seward County Community College’s Epworth Allied Health Center, on the corner of Washington Ave. and Fifth Street may not realize they are observing the passage of time. Epworth was once the hospital that served Liberal and the outlying area. Later, it became the first site of the newly-formed Seward County “Junior College,” as SCCC was originally called. Today, it is the center for five cutting-edge Allied Health programs that serve a strategic purpose in the health of this region’s residents and its economic vitality.

All of that is the foundation of an institution that continues to flourish. As the college prepares to celebrate 50 years of serving students, we look to the future and at a new location for the health care professionals who begin their journey at SCCC.

Tuesday morning, we will break ground for the Colvin Family Center for Allied Health, and I invite the community to come out and be part of this historic event. Construction will begin in the weeks to come on the new Allied Health building, with a projected completion date of summer 2019. This is a celebration of a long-term, ambitious project that has drawn support from a wide range of friends in the community, and the region.

SCCC Foundation President, Duane Bozarth, has shepherded the project through a long process of planning, fundraising, and responsiveness. It’s fitting that he himself was born at the “old” Epworth Hospital, and now helps to usher in a new era at Seward. He has had good company in the Foundation Board, which currently includes Stephanie Ormiston, Jane Head, Sharla Light-Sallaska, Larry Mikles, John Engel, Al Shank Jr., Gary Dunnam, Lidia Hook-Gray, Ryan Farrar, and Omar Olivas. Along the way, leaders like former SCCC President Dr. Duane Dunn and former SCCC Development Director Tammy Doll kept chipping away at what must have felt, at times, like an unlikely dream with our final concept taking shape over the last several years.

Lead donors, the Colvin family, have also invested in the institution over a long span of decades, beginning with Bill and Virginia Colvin, and continuing with Kent and Molly Colvin, and the extended family.  Throughout the process, new supporters have joined, like keystone donors Melvin and Mona Winger, and many others too numerous to list. It’s my hope and vision that when the doors of the polished, high-tech building open to students, they will be met by a comprehensive list of contributors who have banded together, one dollar at a time, to make this expansion a reality.

Our SCCC Board of Trustees have also combined attention to detail with the big picture. Ever cognizant of the reality that this college belongs to the community and is supported through the community’s tax revenues, board members Ron Oliver (chair), Marvin Chance Jr. (vice chair), John Engel, Dustin Ormiston, Stacy Johnson, and Casey Mein, have prevailed in the sometimes tedious details to provide due diligence as stewards. And while countless individuals have contributed to the evolution of this project, Vice President of Finance and Operations Dennis Sander has tirelessly gathered information, numbers, and options to enable the board to make sound decisions.

Beyond the words of appreciation, however, I want to focus on the underlying meaning of this tremendous project. Along with its companion construction, the Sharp Family Champions Center, slated to begin construction in the near future, the Colvin Family Center for Allied Health exemplifies what SCCC offers to its people. We strive for excellence. We hold fast to values of integrity, trust, quality, valuing others, and student success. In these pursuits, we reflect the very character of Southwest Kansas and Oklahoma Panhandle culture. Some call it the “Seward Way.”

With completion of this new structure, SCCC will fuel the ambitions and potential of our students. We will enhance the delivery of cutting-edge classes and technology that makes our institution perpetually relevant. And, we will seal our commitment to life on the High Plains. The Colvin Family Center for Allied Health will enable people to flourish in body and mind, and it will help the region thrive as well.

Please join us Tuesday at 11 a.m. as we mark this historic occasion with a groundbreaking ceremony near the old cottonwood tree, just south of the Cosmetology Building. This site is where, a year from now, future nurses, respiratory therapists, medical lab technologists, surgical techs, and certified nurse aides and phlebotomists will begin their careers. It’s an event worthy of celebration, and the more that join in, the better.

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