If you spend any time at all at any Kirkwood location, you probably hear some version of these few words: “We are the community’s college.”
Within that key word—community—our college reaches out to help people learn, build skills and improve lives. It’s what we have been about since our founding in 1966, when a few dedicated people launched a new kind of higher education with little more than determination, toil and vision. We take that idea to heart and try our best to live the spirit of that idea every day. In many ways, we reflect the neighborhoods and towns throughout our seven-county service area. But we are also a part of a wider community, working in partnership with our many four-year colleges and universities, business and industry partners, and the wide web of active citizens from whom we draw strength, wisdom and guidance.
Today we provide education to nearly 25,000 students in college credit classes and another 41,000 people in our continuing education and training programs. During this last year we welcomed students from every county in Iowa, more than 30 other states and 90-plus other nations. But mainly we welcome our own to our dozen Kirkwood locations: Of every 20 students, 19 of them come from within 50 miles of Cedar Rapids. Some are too young to have a driver’s license. Hundreds more are members of AARP. Their common bond is that desire to learn that keeps them going. This spirit drives us to seek new learning possibilities for everyone we serve. It is that spark and desire that pushes motivated humans ahead and has fueled human progress for centuries.
That desire to always be a little better, to grow a bit wiser tomorrow than we are today is at the core of what Kirkwood Community College is all about in the second decade of a new millennium. This spirit of continuous improvement propels us in every aspect of student service, educational standards and community responsiveness, even to our approach to accreditation. This path is by no means easy. Nothing of great worth and deep importance ever is.
Many centuries ago an Eastern philosopher said, “No one steps into the same river twice.” That spirit is deeply true at Kirkwood as our flowing stream of knowledge, skills and shared values continues to shape our facilities, faculty, staff and students. If you attended Kirkwood some years ago, we invite you to visit our campus soon. You could be amazed at how we have changed and grown. If you are a new student with us, remember your classes and experiences this year. We guarantee that next year and the year after will be full of new things to know, better skills to fuel your future. Tools and technology you will take for granted then have not yet been invented. Ideas and solutions that will ripple through our planet are one “why not?” or “what about?” question away. Maybe you will ask them, inspired by a Kirkwood moment you are about to experience.
Let us head for exciting things together, asking good questions and sharing learning together. The best is yet to come here at Kirkwood, Your Community’s College.
Dr. Mick Starcevich