In December 2016, I retired from Delaware Technical Community College after serving for 37 years.
Last week, I received an extremely special retirement gift when I learned of Senator Ernie Lopez’s announcement that he supports legislation to create the Community College Infrastructure Fund (CCIF) legislation that is vital to the future of the college and our students.
I congratulate Sen. Lopez for doing what his constituents need and standing up for a solution to a very serious problem that cannot be deferred any longer.
In Sussex County, Sen. Lopez joins Representatives Steve Smyk and Dave Wilson, who have been faithful Delaware Tech supporters since this CCIF bill was introduced during the last legislative session.
During my final two years as vice president and campus director, I spent a great deal of time reaching out to policy makers and telling our story: the future of Delaware Tech depends on a solution to fix our aging facilities. This initiative provides a funding mechanism that will allow the college to address almost $90 million in deferred maintenance statewide – a number that continues to grow exponentially.
There is no doubt that Delaware Tech plays a key role in our state. Delawareans make up 97 percent of our student population. Last year’s graduates went to work for over 550 businesses and organizations statewide.
In fact, 96 percent of our 2016 graduates are employed or continuing their education … and 58 percent are doing both.
Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Delaware Tech, and there are exciting plans for the future.
The college’s new Bachelor of Science in Nursing will provide our hospitals with highly qualified professionals.
The college’s Pathways programs, which are expanding statewide, allow high school students to graduate career and college ready.
And last fall, the college had nearly 1,500 students in 33 high schools taking our dual enrollment courses.
Despite progress in many areas, Delaware Tech simply cannot continue to operate with leaking roofs, HVAC systems that are more than 40 years old, and severely damaged parking lots and sidewalks.
I want to express my sincere appreciation to Sen. Lopez and Rep. Smyk and Rep. Wilson for their leadership in supporting the solution to this very serious situation, and I ask others to join them for the sake of our communities and our great state.
Editor’s note: Dr. Ileana M. Smith is the former Vice President and Campus Director, Delaware Technical Community College Owens Campus.