Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) President Dr. Devin Stephenson addressed the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) executive board during its meeting on Friday, February 5 at Pine Mountain State Resort Park.
“I am here to tell you that the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) colleges in the SOAR region are the doers and not the talkers,” said Dr. Stephenson, who serves as the lead for KCTCS schools that are in the SOAR region (Ashland, Big Sandy, Hazard, Somerset and Southeast Kentucky). About 45 percent of students enrolled in institutions of higher education in Kentucky attend KCTCS colleges.
BSCTC has created new degree programs in Industrial Maintenance, Electrical Technology and Engineering and Electronics Technology. They will begin new programs in Heath Science Technology, Physical Therapy Assistant and Dental Assisting later this year.
“Together, we are creating programs of possibility,” Dr. Stephenson told the SOAR executive board. “In doing that, we are working to better communicate with the communities we serve by being an institution that goes beyond our walls and the acreage we occupy.”
Dr. Stephenson highlighted BSCTC’s Broadband Technology Center, the first of its kind in Kentucky, which will begin construction later this year in Pikeville. The state-of-the-art facility will serve as a hub for fiber optic and telecommunications training in the southeastern United States. Three months ago, the college partnered with the Fiber Optics Association to launch the region’s first Fiber Optic training program. Since its inception, it has garnered national attention for its curriculum and attention to details. Students have traveled from eight states to participate in the program.
“When the idea of the Kentucky Information highway began, we started to align our resources to train a highly-skilled workforce in the careers associated with the construction, installation and maintenance of this vast digital network,” said Dr. Stephenson. “I want to thank Congressman (Hal) Rogers, Governor (Matt) Bevin, Jared (Arnett) and the SOAR executive board for their willingness to look forward at the opportunities that lie in front of us.”
Dr. Stephenson said SOAR is a platform of ideas and collaboration. “None of us can do this alone,” he added. “We need collaboration, innovation and meaningful dialogue to move this region forward. I have no doubt that our best days are ahead of us.”
Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College President Dr. Lynn Moore and Big Sandy Community and Technical College President Dr. Devin Stephenson, right, pose with Governor Matt Bevin following the SOAR executive board meeting on Friday, February 5 at Pine Mountain State Resort Park.