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Local Jeff State site to be called Chilton-Clanton Campus

Jefferson State Community College’s presence in Chilton County has steadily become stronger since the doors to its facility in Clanton opened in 2008.

In the last five years, enrollment at the Chilton-Clanton Center has increased by more than 500 percent, program offerings have expanded to include nursing and, most recently, the facility received accreditation to change its classification from “center” to “campus.”

Director of Community and Media Relations David Bobo said the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges approved the facility to be called Chilton-Clanton Campus and to serve as a full branch campus of Jeff State.

“This step kind of shows that we’re a full partner with the community,” Bobo said. “Our students will receive the support that they would from any of our other campuses.”

One requirement a facility must fulfill in order to be classified as a campus is adequate enrollment.

Although Bobo was unsure what the minimum number of students is for a campus, he said the site’s increase in enrollment of for-credit students was enough to upgrade it from its center status.

“It’s a great thing, and it’s something we can all take pride in,” site coordinator Julie Emmerich said.

In Fall 2008, the facility started with 100 for-credit students, or students intending to obtain associate’s degrees.

In Fall 2012, the facility had 606 for-credit students, marking a 506-percent increase in enrollment in four years.

“Growth has been tremendous,” Bobo said. “We’ve kind of been moving to that status of campus. That was our goal all along. It just takes a little while to do that.”

In addition to higher enrollment, Bobo said a site must have certain services available to students to qualify as a campus.

For example, it must have a library with media tools (e.g. computers) and a certain number of full-time faculty members.

Bobo said Clanton’s facility had a library long before it met the other requirements of being a campus.

Accreditation also means students may complete an associate’s degree at the Chilton-Clanton Campus instead of taking classes to earn credit hours that sometimes did not transfer to other accredited institutions.

“Now, students can start at that location and finish at that location and earn an associate’s degree,” Bobo said. “Basically, it allows our college to serve the community as what you would expect a college to do—not just a building where classes are being held. This is now a campus where students can receive support and complete their degree. It’s a big deal to the students.”

The facility admitted its first nursing class in Spring 2012 and granted degrees to 24 nursing program graduates this summer.

“That’s a great program that we’ve expanded,” Bobo said. “We still turn students away because it’s at capacity. That’s obviously a need that not only Clanton has but all of our locations have.”

Bobo said the facility could expand its program offerings in the future based on the needs of the community and feedback from local leaders.

“That’s what we use to dictate what we offer and how we offer it,” Bobo said. “We are really so proud of how the campus has blended with the community. Our goal is to continue to stay in touch and be a part of the community.”

The Chilton-Clanton Campus offers courses in English, humanities and fine arts, natural sciences and mathematics, history, social and behavioral sciences and nursing.