Officials celebrate education center re-opening

Published 2:55 pm Monday, August 24, 2015

A special ribbon cutting was held Tuesday celebrating the grand re-opening of the Demopolis Higher Education Center that will be operated by Shelton State Community College. Pictured are, from left, Diane Brooker of the Marengo County Industrial Development Board; SSCC Chancellor Dr. Mark Heinrich; SSCC President Dr. Andrea Mayfield; UWA President Dr. Ken Tucker; Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson; and Chuck Smith, member of the Alabama Community College Board of Directors.

A special ribbon cutting was held Tuesday celebrating the grand re-opening of the Demopolis Higher Education Center that will be operated by Shelton State Community College. Pictured are, from left, Diane Brooker of the Marengo County Industrial Development Board; SSCC Chancellor Dr. Mark Heinrich; SSCC President Dr. Andrea Mayfield; UWA President Dr. Ken Tucker; Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson; and Chuck Smith, member of the Alabama Community College Board of Directors.

The Demopolis Higher Education Center will soon be bustling with activity after officials with Shelton State Community College and the University of West Alabama hosted a grand re-opening of the facility Tuesday.
The facility, located within the Demopolis Sportsplex, will offer educational opportunities through a partnership between SSCC and UWA. The two institutions will share resources and offer coordinated programs for students. Through a reverse transfer agreement, the courses completed through Shelton State can be credited to a degree program at UWA, allowing students to earn an associate’s degree at SSCC and then progressing to a four-year degree from UWA.
SSCC President Andrea Mayfield said the facility would offer a variety of programs from dual-enrollment for high school students to continuing education for adults.
“The City of Demopolis has worked closely with us and offered us use of this great facility,” Mayfield said. “UWA has agreed to partner with us to offer services on all levels, from baccalaureate and master’s programs to adult education. We certainly want high school students to take advantage of dual credit and there are scholarships available. If they want to take college courses they can do that right here in Demopolis — get their high school diploma and earn credit toward a college degree.”
The Demopolis Higher Education Center has been vacant since the end of 2014 when UWA pulled out. Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson said that while UWA is involved with some of the courses to be offered at the center, that SSCC is the “managing partner” over the facility.
“UWA and SSCC already have a working relationship on some programs they are doing in Livingston so it was a logical progression for them to be here together at the Demopolis Higher Education Center.
“This is one of the pieces of the puzzle we’ve been trying to put together in terms of getting Demopolis prepared for work force development and future business development. It’s a partnership we’ve been working on between the city, four-year colleges, two-year colleges and industry. Thank goodness we finally have it in place,” he said. “UWA and SSCC already have a working relationship on some programs they are doing in Livingston so it was a logical progression for them to be here together at the Demopolis Higher Education Center.”
The facility’s first course is a partnership with Demopolis High School in offering a dual-enrollment electric technology class that begins Monday. There will be a full-time instructor and the class is the same offered to students at SSCC’s Tuscaloosa campus. In time, academic classes, such as English Composition and Psychology, will be offered.
“We are just getting started and we will be building our courses over the next few semesters,” said SSCC Director of Workforce Outreach Mike Fields. “We’ll be offering training for area businesses and industries, truck driving, and adult education classes.”
Fields said space would still be available at the facility for groups such as businesses and industries that may need it.
“A lot of time and effort went into this and we’ve received tremendous help from the whole community. Mayor Grayson and Chuck Smith (of the Community College Board of Directors) have been the driving force behind this and we appreciate their commitment to the project,” Fields said.
The educational opportunities made possible through the facility could be the difference when it comes to the area landing more jobs, according to Marengo County Economic Development Director Brenda Tuck.
“One of the keys for any area when it comes to economic development is whether an area has a workforce that is trained or can be trained specific to an industry. That’s what we have with this partnership. We’re very excited about the partnership between the city, SSCC, and UWA to help meet the goals of our community’s short-term and long-term educational goals and work force development goals,” Tuck said.