About Macon State
Karen Collier teaches an accounting class at the Warner Robins Campus
By Sheron Smith
When Macon State College's permanent Warner Robins Campus opened in fall 2003, it was heralded as a can't-miss enterprise located in the heart of Central Georgia's fastest growing county and practically at the front door of the region's economic engine, Robins Air Force Base.
Suffice it to say that things have turned out as predicted.
Macon State's Houston County enrollment is 68 percent higher than it was the year before the WRC opened. (The College taught classes in leased space in Warner Robins prior to opening the permanent campus.) Enrollment this fall at the Watson Boulevard site is about 2,000, a record high.
Academic offerings have grown to include four bachelor's degrees (business, early childhood education, nursing and information technology) and the career nursing program preparing Registered Nurses. And Macon State's Institute for Business & Information Management, based at the WRC, is well established as a valuable economic partner with the Base, Houston County and the state's Intellectual Capital Partnership Program.
"We hit the ground running three years ago and still haven't stopped," said Mike Hale, the WRC's executive director. "That's how we like it."
In one way, the Warner Robins Campus - consisting of the renovated Thomas Hall and the newly constructed Academic Services Building - is becoming a victim of its own success, albeit in the "it's a good problem to have" category.
At prime instructional times - the morning and evening classes most sought after by students - the campus is nearing maximum capacity.
"For example, at 11 a.m. on Mondays there are 17 different courses being taught," Hale said. "That means we are using all of our general instructional spaces and most of our lab space during that time. Most of our class seat limits are set at the room's capacity."
Help may soon be on the way. The University System of Georgia's Board of Regents included a $5 million academic building for the Warner Robins Campus on a priority list of projects for which it will seek funding during the upcoming session of the Georgia General Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Business & Information Management continues to expand its activities.
One of the Institute's major partnerships with Robins is a co-op program that gives Macon State's top business and information technology majors the opportunity to work part-time on the Base while completing their bachelor's degrees, with the possibility of full-time employment upon graduation.
Base co-op students have been placed in fields such as contracting, human resources, finance, information technology and logistics. With about half of the civilian workforce at Robins eligible for retirement in three to five years, Macon State and the co-op program are well positioned to help supply the needed workforce replacements.
The Institute is also the responsible agent for the state's Intellectual Capital Partnership, or ICAPP. Currently there are two ICAPP programs in progress through Macon State.
One offers Base employees opportunities to enhance their workplace knowledge by earning certificates in management, process improvement management or information technology. Nearly 50 Base employees currently participate in this program.
The other ICAPP is an alliance with Houston Healthcare Complex to provide a means for selected LPNs to receive their professional nursing degrees from Macon State. This is a key project in helping Houston County address nursing shortages.
Also through the Institute, Macon State is promoting the College's Center for Economic Analysis and Forecasting, created by three members of the business faculty. The College sees the Center as an opportunity to expand its partnership with the Warner Robins Chamber of Commerce by providing economic analysis and forecasting in areas that would help community planners and leaders make sound decisions to affect the area's quality of life.
"One major advantage of choosing Warner Robins as the Center's startup site is that it is a rapidly growing community in need of better economic analysis and forecasting support," Hale said. "The community is very open to these kinds of partnerships with Macon State."