Opening the doors on a new era for PPCC

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When students flood into our hallways on Monday (love that sound!), they will see a different college.

Pikes Peak Community College has made some significant facilities upgrades, particularly at our shiny new Centennial Campus’ Learning Commons. But our most significant changes might not be immediately apparent to those rushing off to their first classes.

The most momentous development is that we are no longer strictly a two-year school. This fall, on our 50th anniversary, we offer our first bachelor’s degree. It’s in emergency service administration, a program that will intersect with police, fire science, EMTs and others who plan to manage crises.

This will be the first of many four-year degrees we’ll be offering in the coming years. One of the big ones will be nursing. We received legislative approval this summer, and now we’re hard at work developing the program and hope to have it up and running in a year or two.

The other major development is the expansion of our cybersecurity programs, with our first cyber associate degrees, and non-credit certificate courses now being taught at the Catalyst Campus, near downtown. PPCC has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education by the National Security Administration.

We’ve also expanded our business programs, with a new emphasis on social innovation, a partnership with the Better Business Bureau that focuses on not just making profits but also making a difference.

Students who walk through our doors this fall will have more choices and opportunities than ever, and our team will do everything we can to ensure they succeed. Those who know PPCC well, know that everybody here carries our college’s vision with them like a mantra: “Students Succeed at PPCC.”

In fact, we’re seeing college success rates reaching higher than ever. Our latest retention numbers show two amazing facts: At 54.4 percent, PPCC’s retention rate is the highest in our state system, and we’re the only college in our system to have seven straight years of retention increases. Those facts are especially impressive when you consider that our college also has the highest percentage of Pell Grant-eligible students. In other words, we’re working with some of the most economically challenged populations in the state, and yet we’re seeing greater success.

Those students coming this fall have the opportunity to become part of that success story, and no matter how modest or ambitious their dreams, PPCC is dedicated to making those dreams into something real, something tangible — rewarding careers.

Lance Bolton is president of Pikes Peak Community College. He can be reached at lance.bolton@ppcc.edu.

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