2019 was all about celebrating 150 years at Weatherford College, its long history of achievements and looking forward to the next 150 years. Then 2020 derailed plans across the globe.
But 2021—this is the year of a new dawn at WC.
The exterior view of the Weatherford campus continues to grow with the addition of the Emerging Technologies and Workforce Building, while inside programs are expanding. WC has added a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree and a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Degree in Organizational Leadership and is seeking approval for a Bachelor of Applied Technology Degree in Medical and Health Service Management.
Two more bachelor’s degrees could be coming to WC in the future as the Texas Legislature increased approval to community colleges for up to five baccalaureate programs during their last legislative session.
For now, WC is preparing to graduate the first BSN class in August and start the first cohort for BAAS in Organizational Leadership this fall, all at community college prices.
“Looking at the price, a four-year university could be double if not triple the cost of Weatherford College,” said BSN student Elisha Schoonover.
And with a long-standing history of excellence, the line to enter the online BSN program will only grow.
“We’ve been graduating students for quite a while [from our healthcare programs], and they are a diverse group,” said Kathy Boswell, dean of health and human sciences. “I don’t go into any hospitals and do clinical checks where I don’t see a Weatherford College graduate working at those facilities.
“I’m very proud of our programs. We take care of them. We have high standards, and when they graduate, they are prepared to go in as a beginning practitioner into whatever field they choose to go into. Hospitals and clinics have told us they prefer our students and will hire them over other programs. We take pride in that, and we make sure they are ready to go before they graduate.”
With the addition of the new Emerging Technologies and Workforce Building and the BAAS in Organizational Leadership, the sun really is rising on a new day at WC. The administration is currently looking into new programs like robotics and automation engineering that will best serve the community and future employment needs.
“We could not advance doing what we had always done,” said Mike Endy, vice president of instruction and student services. “So new programs like CyberSecurity, the BAAS, BSN and Vet Tech, along with an evening cohort in Associate Degree Nursing, are strong indicators of our commitment to growing the college.”
The new building will open just a few months after classes begin for the new BAAS program, and when they take their seats in the three-story, 70,000-square-foot facility, they will have a front-row view of the new Weatherford College, Endy said.
“The BAAS in Organizational Leadership changes things for WC in a significant way,” he said. “The BSN program was created for working, licensed nurses to advance in that field. The BAAS in Organizational Leadership provides high-quality local access to baccalaureate degree completion for people in a variety of professions. The program serves working people who can complete the BAAS while remaining active and employed in Parker County and our five-county service area.”
The program is designed for students to “build upon their valuable two-year degrees to compete for higher-paying jobs and promotions, while employers get the rounded skill sets they seek in bachelor’s prepared employees—all at an affordable price point,” said program director Dr. Philip Mathew.
Students in traditional freshman and sophomore classes now have the option to challenge themselves even more with the addition of WC’s new Honors Program. Students can build lasting relationships with instructors for letters of recommendation and mentorship with even smaller class sizes.
“For the Honors Program, we want students to have a different experience,” said Michelle Burt, program coordinator. “In high school, they may not have taken this opportunity to take advanced classes before, and maybe now they do. They see these different classes to challenge themselves, and they want to be a part of that.”
The program offers an advanced curriculum based on inquiry, research and a dedication to lifelong learning and leadership.
“The Honors Program isn’t about if you’re smart enough; it’s about the time and effort that you are willing to put in to achieve something greater,” said student Stephen Beare. “If there’s a class you think you want to pursue and you’re really passionate about, go for it. Look more in-depth and further your endeavors.”
As students returned to campus last year, an activity period was implemented near the lunch hour to provide increased access to student life, including clubs, organizations, campus cookouts, career and transfer fairs, and other student events. With face-to-face interaction returning, those offerings are expected to grow more in the 2021-22 academic year.
“Student life and student involvement play a big part in student recruitment and retention,” said Doug Jefferson, associate dean of student development. “Our department provides events designed to assist with the holistic development of our students, including guest speakers, novelty shows, career events, university transfer fairs, cookouts, pep rallies and student professional development workshops. These activities are designed to keep the students engaged.”
Having this dedicated activity hour allows students time to participate in events that will enhance their student resume, encourage individual and social responsibility and provide additional time to meet with instructors and advisors to take care of crucial academic business.
To ensure students are aware of opportunities during the activity period, the Honors Program and the vast array of academic programs at WC, the Quality Enhancement Plan Committee has developed Weatherford College ROOTS (Resources Open Opportunity To Students). The ROOTS project is aimed to make sure students make the most of their time at WC and set them on a path to success both academically and for their future careers.
ROOTS has revamped the incoming student orientation program, rebranding it as CORE, the Coyote Orientation Registration Experience.
Rather than one large orientation day near the start of the fall semester, incoming students can pick from eight CORE days during the summer, providing more schedule flexibility and smaller groups for more of a one-on-one orientation experience.
Looking toward the horizon, more changes are coming for WC. A new five-year strategic plan outlines new dorms, tennis courts, parking garages, a new student center, and many more potential projects.
The first of five new teams join the Coyote athletic roster this fall: men’s golf and women’s tennis. Volleyball will come on board in Fall 2022, and women’s golf and men’s tennis will be added in Fall 2023.
“We are now an institution better equipped than ever before to positively impact the lives of our students and the communities they serve,” said President Tod Allen Farmer. “Like the monarch butterfly, Weatherford College is changing for the better. The marvelous metamorphosis has empowered us to improve the human condition, and we are just getting started.”
By Crystal Woerly