Happy New Year from Lewis-Clark State College! With each passing year, momentum seems to build at Lewis-Clark State College – goals grow larger, milestones draw nearer, and aspirations soar to new heights. Last year certainly was not an exception to this rule as accomplishments in 2016 have laid an extraordinary foundation for success in 2017.
I may sound like a broken record, but if I had to choose the three biggest highlights from last year they would be identical to the year before. LCSC graduated a record number of students in the spring, won a national baseball championship to kick off the summer, and then welcomed another increase in enrollment in the fall. If this trend continues, and I don’t see any reason it won’t, Lewis-Clark State College will need to expand both its campus and its athletics trophy room very soon.
In May, it was my great pleasure to see a record 795 students graduate. This far eclipsed the record 713 students who received diplomas in 2015, and was the sixth time in the past eight years we’ve set an all-time high. In just 10 years, LCSC’s graduate total has risen by 299, up from 496 in 2006 (a 60 percent increase). More and more students are achieving their higher education goals at Lewis-Clark State College and this is something to be proud of. It’s also an excellent trend for the state of Idaho as it pursues its ambitious goal that 60 percent of Idahoans ages 25-34 will have a degree or certificate by 2020.
A number of LCSC’s graduates exchanged their mortarboards for baseball caps a couple weeks later to help the Warriors win their 18th national title at the Avista-NAIA World Series at Harris Field. Championship night was especially thrilling as the Warriors hit six home runs to defeat Faulkner University (Ala.) 12-11 in front of 5,020 fans, including many of you who are reading this I’m sure. The wild contest ended in the bottom of the ninth when Faulkner had the game-tying run thrown out at third. What a finish. LCSC has gained national prominence through its baseball program and head coach Jeremiah Robbins has continued the tradition with a second straight title. I thank the baseball program and its outstanding student-athletes for being exceptional ambassadors of the college both on and off the field.
With enrollment numbers trending downward across the nation (down 3.2 percent according to a National Student Clearinghouse spring report), LCSC has been doing its best to make sure that prospective students, from both inside and outside the state of Idaho, are well aware of the quality programs we offer. Thanks to these efforts and our track record of keeping tuition as low as possible, providing excellent instruction and personalized attention, offering meaningful degrees that match the needs of society and industry, and focusing on individual outcomes and placements, Lewis-Clark State has been able to buck the enrollment trend – and buck it significantly.
Spurred by an unprecedented surge in both transfers and students coming straight from high school, enrollment at Lewis-Clark State College jumped 8 percent this past fall to 3,924. This was an increase of 291 students from fall 2015’s total of 3,633, and is the second highest total in school history, falling just 75 students shy of the record 3,999 set in 2011. And it is important to note that Lewis-Clark State’s enrollment growth continues to be broadly spread as we had a 13 percent increase in Idaho students coming directly from high school, a 7 percent increase in transfer students, and a significant increase in dual credit students. The across-the-board growth and the headcount increase despite having lost so many students to graduation are excellent signs that LCSC’s enrollment upswing is sustainable.
As far as logistics go to accommodate current and future enrollment growth, LCSC has begun and is planning a number of capital improvement projects. Projects currently underway or soon to begin include the renovation of Spalding Hall, the replacement of Harris Field’s grandstand, and the construction of a multipurpose playfield as well as the North Idaho Collaborative Building in Coeur d’Alene. Lewis-Clark State is also looking at the possibility of building a brand new multipurpose residence hall, which we’re calling the Living and Learning Complex, and building a Career & Technical Education (CTE) facility in the Lewiston Orchards. The latter project is especially exciting as there is a possibility it could be a joint facility with the Lewiston Independent School District – a regional CTE center of sorts, serving both local high school students and those from surrounding rural communities. These projects are a testament to both past successes and future aspirations, and we are thrilled to be in a position to pursue them.
In 2017, look for LCSC to keep its foot on the gas. Look for new buildings to begin going up and for historic ones to be renovated, for programs to expand and new degrees to be developed, and for more records to be broken and milestones to be reached. But, most importantly, look for LCSC to continue to serve its students with the same care, sincerity, expertise, and determination that has been the hallmark of its success since 1893.
Yes, we are very proud of our 124 years of service in higher education, but LCSC has its eye firmly set on the future. With the continued support of alumni and friends, the diligence of faculty and staff, and the energy and exceptionalism of the nearly 4,000 students we’re now serving, the future of our institution is bright.
President J. Anthony Fernandez