When Northwest College planned for the future in the 2015-16 school year, leaders adopted a new strategic plan, christened Vision 2020. At the time, it was easy to look upon 2020 with a sense of hope …
When Northwest College planned for the future in the 2015-16 school year, leaders adopted a new strategic plan, christened Vision 2020. At the time, it was easy to look upon 2020 with a sense of hope and clear vision toward a bright future.
But as we all know, 2020 has turned out more bleak than bright. Northwest faces a host of challenges: Steep budget cuts, declining enrollment and aging facilities, along with other issues wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The college is facing unprecedented challenges,” NWC leaders said in a recent online post. “We must work together to ensure sustainability through the ups and downs in enrollment and economic trends and to position ourselves for the future.”
The path forward may not be easy, but NWC shouldn’t have to trek it alone. After all, it is a community college — and Northwest needs the community’s input and support now more than ever.
The college invited community members to participate in multiple focus groups in recent weeks under the tagline, “The Future of NWC.” The events culminate with a half-day summit on Thursday, which will bring the community and college together to help chart the future of NWC.
Whether you’re a student, parent, alum, employee or community member, we encourage you to take part in Thursday’s summit, which begins at 8 a.m. at the Yellowstone Building on campus.
As college leaders have said, the community must work together to help transform NWC. Perhaps that entails doing away with the name “Northwest College.”
The idea of changing the name to Yellowstone College has gained traction, and it’s a concept worth exploring. Yes, a name change and rebranding would be costly and take time to adjust to, especially for longtime Trapper supporters and alumni who hold the Northwest name dear. But the college stands to distinguish itself in a crowded and competitive market while highlighting the fact that it’s located on the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park — a world-famous destination drawing millions of visitors each year.
In advocating for the name Yellowstone College, assistant professor Morgan Tyree called it a “unique identifier in who we are and where we are.”
“Short of creating a recruiting army, I think there is nothing more effective in recruiting than this simple name change — especially when it comes to attracting students from beyond Wyoming (where we have no recruiting),” Tyree wrote in 2018.
At a time when more people are looking to leave urban areas, an affordable two-year college in a beautiful small town just outside of Yellowstone is an attractive option — as long as prospective students hear about it.
Attracting new students is a main focus of the college’s Vision 2025. Other key components to the new vision include championing student success, innovating academic programming and revitalizing facilities.
We believe Northwest College has much to offer through quality academic programs, activities and athletics. It’s a college worth investing in, starting with your input.
As it looks to the challenges and opportunities ahead, let’s come together as a community to support our college and help it thrive into the future.