Rock Valley College – My Perspective

“Raise your hand if you have taken a class at Rock Valley College” – this question was asked of the 400 attendees at the Chamber Education Outlook Luncheon in December. A large number of hands raised, including that of the RPS 205 Superintendent as well as folks from the trades, business, professional, manufacturing, non-profit, and political communities. This clearly illustrated the impact RVC has on our region.

Much has been said about RVC recently. At first, I was concerned that this could leave a casual observer with some misperceptions. I now believe it was the start of a conversation, one that we need to have as a community. Game On! 

–   Our community needs dynamic College Transfer AND Career and Technical Training options. We make no excuses for being extremely proud of our transfer programs and the talented professors teaching these classes. But a large number of RVC students are enrolled in a career or technical training program right now, and that number will grow as we add more programs.  When the discussion is framed as college-track vs. career-track; as if one is good and the other bad, it serves no one well. It is not the honest community dialogue we need and deserve.

–   RVC’s Transfer Programs AND Career and Technical Training lead to high paying jobs. The hands being raised at the Chamber event were by people who make more money because they continued their education past high school. The connection between educational attainment and income has been clearly demonstrated. RVC courses are geared toward workforce development as baby-boomer retirements create demand in all professions.

–   Students who transfer from Rock Valley return to Rockford and contribute to the community. RVC’s economic impact study shows that 94% of RVC students settle in the area. The alternative, unfortunately, is that people who do not continue their education past high school are unemployable and have no social mobility.

In 2014, let’s celebrate RVC for what it is:

1. The smart choice for many types of students: traditional, non-traditional, rich, poor, transfer-track, career-track, 1st generation college student, 2nd, and 3rd.  By the way, have you heard of Running Start for high school students?

2. A community asset for students, employers, and taxpayers. Community colleges are nimble and must respond to change. RVC is not the same institution I attended as a student, nor should it be. It will continue to evolve. In the meantime, let’s not forget to celebrate RVC the way we do other public entities like the Park District, Airport, and Library.

3. A driver of workforce development. Today’s RVC student could have a career in nearly any field, becoming an accountant, automotive mechanic, aviation mechanic, biologist, business owner, computer programmer, contractor, CNC Machinist, dental hygienist, doctor, educator, engineer . . . you get the idea.

Check out RVC today by visiting our website or by taking a campus tour.

I like our team!  You will too! 

Frank Haney is an elected Rock Valley Trustee, proud alumnus ‘93, and also coached basketball at the College.