An aerial view of Wayne State College's campus gives a great view of all it offers.

Relationships stressed by Rames as WSC grows

When Dr. Marysz Rames accepted the position as Wayne State College's 13th President, she knew she was coming into a smaller community, but she had no hesitations regarding the size thanks to the relationship between WSC and the community of Wayne.

That relationship is something Rames has continued to cultivate and grow in her short time here.

"I knew that I was coming to a smaller community, but I was excited to do that because I felt such a strong relationship between Wayne State College and the community," Rames said. "Everything I thought it was going to be about the relationships, camaraderie and the partnerships has certainly played out and even more."

Wayne State has continued to see growth in many ways, one of the biggest being the Center for Applied Technology (CAT) building. 

Slated for construction in late 2017, CAT will be the new hub for all things applied technology, such as industrial tech, construction, woodworking and manufacturing to name a few.

The Center for Applied Technology building will consist of 13 state-of-the-art industrial labs that allow students to make the most of their education which will consist of industry-based curriculum.

Plans for CAT had started mere months before Rames came into the picture and many conversations on how WSC could play a significant role in industrial technology were had.

"We asked how we could serve as a partner to help create pathways for more students to graduate in the industrial technology teaching endorsement," she said. "Wayne State College is the only four year institution to offer an endorsement in industrial technology in the state. There are 2+2 programs, but we are the only four-year."

With manufacturing being the third largest industry in the state, now more than ever a need for industrial technology employees and teachers is apparent. 

Rames discussed the career academies across the state, stating that the new Center for Applied Technology will serve as a career academy for several school districts in northeast Nebraska. 

In addition to serving as a career academy, Wayne State has opened the door to industry companies to potentially visit during the summer for their own employees to do some training and is discussing hosting a set of "manufacturing days" for students to learn more about the programs WSC offers.

"So this thing is bigger than anything I think we've done before, or at least for a long time," Rames said. "And I think it really supports bringing folks into northeast Nebraska, specifically Wayne."

In the spirit of partnerships, Rames said Wayne State has continued to capitalize on the Rural Health Opportunities Program (RHOP), with the latest selection day in early December. 

"We've had some great students accept our invitation to join us here in the fall," Rames said of the program.

Due to RHOP's success, Wayne State has broadened its offerings with implementation of the Rural Law Opportunities Program (RLOP). 

LHOP is a brand new collaborative with the UNL-Lincoln College of Law, with the same concept as RHOP where students earn their degree at Wayne and if they perform at a certain level, the student is guaranteed entry into the law school.

"We were thrilled to be able to be the ones that pushed that program forward with the help of an alumn out of west point -- Lyle Koenig. He was a great advocate for us to get that program off the ground and now that's a program offered here as well as in two other institutions in the state. We're thrilled we spearheaded those conversations."

The selection day for LHOP was also held in December where five incoming freshman students were selected to be a part of that program. Five alternates were also selected. 

In addition to those five students, 10 existing freshman and sophomore students are being selected to participate in the program along with 10 alternates.

Another program being worked on is a 3 + 1 program in the plant biology area alongside UNL. That, Rames said, will hopefully be in front of the Board of Trustees before too long.

"We're working on those kinds of collaboratives that are important to us to expand our academic programs," she said.

In addition to that, WSC has launched a strategic enrollment planning process, which focuses on recruitment and retention.

But it's not only recruitment and retention of traditionally-aged under-graduate students, it also looks at transfer, online, graduate, international and non-traditional students to cover the entirety of the student body.

An online student will not be looking for a campus teeming with activities, nor does a traditionally-aged under-grad student necessarily look for the international student aid.

Each group of people is looking to get something different out of the institution, which is why the college is focusing how to best showcase its numerous options in each situation.

With retention, Rames said the planning process will cover ensuring the students have the tools and resources to graduate.

"That work has been underway to look at those recruitment and retention pieces across all those different kinds of students and create a robust plan and what that would look like for Wayne State that would span 3-5 years, but it needs to be a living plan."

Rames said she expects that plan to be implemented by the fall after being fine-tuned this spring by the strategic enrollment council. 

This year has been a year focused on telling Wayne State's story of being a quality four-year institution with affordable rates and is accessible.

The 90-plus areas of study offered at WSC are definite selling points for the institution, and the nearly 100% placement rate is certainly something to brag about.

"We've made a concerted effort to extend our messages. We've been out advertising -- in papers, bill boards, commercials -- it's an integrated marketing plan that has been in full force since August and we will continue to tweak it."

Student success is something Wayne State takes seriously, which is why it offers opportunities such as Career Services and guidance for deciding students. 

"We have so many wonderful things in Wayne and we don't always stop to think about them, but I do think the partnership is strong within the community. I've always felt that, and I'm excited to be able to continue to build on that partnership."

This article was taken out of our special Community Pride section that was released earlier this month. 

The Wayne Herald

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