In a response to a call from the White House to submit initiatives that will target low-income students and provide more opportunities for education, Knox has released a five-part plan that will fulfill the initiative and ultimately grow the college.
The plan, according to Dean of Admission Paul Steenis, was already in motion.
“I think the initiatives … for the most part were things we were already doing or planning on doing, and allow us to gain some recognition from the White House report from things we do well. We’ve been a leader in this regard,” he said.
The first part of the initiative will develop a position for a regional admission representative in Chicago, of which Knox already has two.
The second will double the number of transfer students from community colleges – specifically, students from Carl Sandburg College. The transfer students will be further assisted in taking classes that will transfer to Knox. This is part of the Illinois Articulation Initiative.
Knox will expand its TRIO Achievement program, which assists students who are either from low-income families or are first-generation college students. Now, Knox does not have enough staffing to serve all TRIO-eligible students, but the school is committed to expanding the staffing.
The other two programs Knox will expand are College 4 Kids, a summer enrichment program and a program that will support more STEM departments.
Though these programs may not directly help grow the college, the idea of growth may be an effect of the efforts. Last year, Knox saw a 20 percent growth in admissions, according to President Teresa Amott, though the college has not set a specific target for growth or applications.
“So far, our applications are still running higher than last year, which is a hopeful sign because it means there is interest in the college, which could mean growth,” Amott said.
The growth, she said, would not be too substantial and would maintain the ratio of faculty to students, which could potentially expand programs and grow curriculum.
“What I like about the idea of adding the students is it expands the programs,” Amott said. “We could potentially have growth in areas of the curriculum where we could hire new faculty where there’s a lot of demand, or we could add new areas.”
No growth will happen, however, without the base to do so. While the college is exploring opportunities to potentially purchase more residence housing or expand dining halls, the idea is still pending.
“We can’t grow unless we prepare to supply the resources for the faculty, the residence halls, the dining halls. We will not grow unless we have the base to do it on,” she said.
The college is meanwhile focused on answering the initiative and providing opportunities for potential students.
“The reason we answered the White House’s call is not because we think anything is broken, but because we thought it was a wonderful opportunity to join our fellow colleges and universities in pursuit of a national priority… to get more people to be highly educated so they can be full participants in our democracy,” Amott said. “And that’s a national priority, and we want to do our part.”