College looking into changing name
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
The college name claimed the most attention during the first 2016 meeting of the Seward County Community College Board of Trustees in January. A discussion-only item on the agenda, the subject surfaced at the end of 2015 when board chair Ron Oliver received his annual tax bill.
"I noticed it said, 'Seward County Junior College,’ and I thought, 'it’s been a long time since we were a junior college,'” Oliver said in a previous meeting. Oliver asked various employees at the Seward County Courthouse why the outdated name continues to appear on tax statements, and learned that the wording is connected to legal definitions about property titles and deeds.
Extensive research through college records did not uncover solid documentation of when and how various name changes took effect over the years. The most recent name change happened with the addition of the Area Technical School to the college’s operations, in 2008 and 2009.
"In talking through the issue with legal counsel, Kerry McQueen, the question came up that it’s not a good use of resources to change the name on property deeds, only to have to come back and change it again later,” said SCCC/ATS President Dr. Ken Trzaska. "So that’s really where this item comes from.”
As the college examines its core values and strategic goals, Trzaska said, "that sense of a fresh start raises the question of 'What will be the name of our college?’”
The board discussed a time frame to tackle the issue, starting with the February meeting when the administrative team could present a roster of three or four options to the trustees. Trzaska also suggested the board ask for feedback from college employees.
"We should ask the team for their point of view,” he said. "I can say now that I would prefer Seward County Community College,” said Oliver. "That’s what we started with, and it’s a good and proper name. That’s my personal opinion. I would like to hear what others think, though.”
Trustee John Engel noted that he felt the inclusion of "County” in the name was important, since county taxes help support the institution. Dustin Ormiston expressed concern that people affiliated with the former Southwest Kansas Area Technical School not feel slighted.
"I remember there was pushback when the technical school joined the college,” he said. "I don’t want to revisit those hard feelings.”
Board member Sharon Hobble expressed a preference for including the term "Technical” in the college’s name.
"Well, in this day and age, it’s pretty common for a community college to include technical education, which may not have been true 40 years ago,” Oliver said. "I think people know that we offer these programs.”
Trzaska and Oliver said they are open to discussion from the public in the coming months.