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Dual credit communication from VP for instruction, deans

Feb. 25, 2014

To the BHC Community:

Higher education is a learning laboratory that provides the student with a unique learning experience. That is exactly how the Black Hawk College catalog begins its description of Journalism 230 Newspaper Production; a “Laboratory experience in the design, assembly and publishing of the college newspaper.” It states the class is “designed to give instruction and experience in all phases of production; editing, procedures, rewriting, composition, heading and cutting.”  The college newspaper, The Chieftain, is the vehicle by which that experience is realized. Even though Black Hawk College does not offer a journalism degree, it has supported the Chieftain over the years by providing budget dollars and tuition waivers to enrolled students. In fiscal year 2013, the College provided more than $5,600 for operating expenses and nearly $12,000 in tuition waivers to students. In the current fiscal year the College has provided more than $4,000 in support for operating expenses and more than $7,000 in tuition waivers. This clearly speaks to the commitment Black Hawk College has to the Chieftain and the laboratory experience this class provides.

The American Association of University Professors states on its website that academic freedom is “the indispensable quality of institutions of higher education.” It further states that “institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole.” Black Hawk College believes academic freedom is integral to learning but with academic freedom comes responsibility. Having spent numerous years in the classroom, the deans and I support and understand the role academic freedom plays in higher education. We believe our faculty responsibly exercise this freedom for the intellectual growth of our students. At times situations arise where our belief is tested.

Dual credit is a partnership between the high schools in our district and Black Hawk College. This year that partnership will yield more than 12,000 credit hours or approximately 10% of total credit hours enrolled. Faculty from Black Hawk College and our high school partners provide instruction on our campuses and at the high schools with outstanding results. As a community college, Black Hawk College serves a diverse audience, from career and transfer students, to adult and optional education students, to GED and ESL students. Dual credit is another audience we serve. If the College ceases to offer dual credit, as was called for by the Chieftain news editor, another college or university will step in to fill the void. Dual credit is part of higher education and will continue to be.

As you may be aware, The Chieftain has published numerous critical articles since last fall about the dual credit offerings at Black Hawk College. Much of the reporting has been based on Illinois Freedom of Information Act requests, including requests sent to our high school and area hospital dual credit partners. The College has attempted to provide all requested documents to Chieftain reporters. Given the Chieftain editorials, social media posts and email communications we understand dual credit has become an emotionally charged issue for the Chieftain reporters and some faculty. It is our desire to offer the best dual credit program possible and we will continue to work with our faculty and our high school partners to do exactly that.

In closing, we wish to thank our Board of Trustees, our high school and area hospital partners, the BHC faculty and staff and the residents of District 503 for their support of our dual credit offerings. We believe the residents of our district know the great work that goes on every day at Black Hawk College by our dedicated faculty and staff. We look forward to continuing to serve our dual credit high school students now and in the future.

Sincerely,

Bettie Truitt
Vice President for Instruction/Interim Vice President of Student Services

Ken Nickels
Dean of Math and Sciences
Don Smith
Dean of Business Development and Technology
Betsey Morthland
Dean of Health Sciences
Glenda Nicke
Dean of Adult and Continuing Education
Lee Weimer
Dean of Arts and Humanities