BIRMINGHAM – Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker visited Jefferson State’s Shelby-Hoover Campus on Monday, Nov. 2, for a conversation with college administrators and community leaders about the ASPIRE 2030 initiative.
ASPIRE 2030, a system-wide initiative to inspire community-focused strategic planning for capital improvement projects, was launched in June.
Baker said he believes the Alabama Community College System can be a catalyst for positive change in the state.
“The Community College System, if we do our job, and we are going to, is the best tool we have to change the state,” Baker said. “We must find a way in this state to upskill a significant population if we’re ever going to be the kind of state we want to be.”
Jefferson State President Keith Brown told Baker that three committees have been involved in formulating the college’s plan, which will include proposals for capital projects. Nine meetings so far have been held as part of the effort.
“The acronym ASPIRE (Achieving System-wide Potential through Increased Resources and Engagement) aptly captures the initiative’s intent—for our system to realize its potential for improving Alabama through strategic investments in local college projects; projects that will engage the local community, strengthen relationships with key stakeholders, better align services to business and industry needs and, ultimately, increase student success,” Baker wrote in a memo announcing the initiative.
Baker is visiting the colleges in the system for conversations about ASPIRE. Attendees at the Jefferson State meeting included representatives of Shelby County, the city of Hoover, Shelby County Schools, 58 INC., the Chilton County Industrial Development Board, St. Clair Economic Development, the Birmingham Education Foundation, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, the Jefferson State Student Government Association and more.
Attendees praised the responsiveness and cooperation Of Jefferson State staff, including the partnership for the construction of a new Welding Center at the Shelby-Hoover Campus.
“We’re excited about how this project will meet the needs of our community going forward,” Shelby County Manager Chad Scroggins said.
Another recent example of collaboration that was discussed was the formation of a new Lineworker Program in conjunction with Alabama Power.
“Jefferson State is really the gold standard,” said Melanie Bridgeforth, director of The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.
Other topics of discussion included communicating the system’s mission to community stakeholders, facilitating dual enrollment.
“I really do feel we’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg and there is a lot more opportunities for us,” Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Hobbs said.
Brown said there are lessons to be learned from the coronavirus pandemic that can benefit the college and its students in the future.
“We need to deliver services that are convenient,” Brown said.