Handle gives college update

Published 11:02 am Monday, November 19, 2018

By Jeremy Weldon

Panola County is vital to Northwest Community College and the school hopes to expand its strong relationship to include more specific services uniquely tailored for Batesville and surrounding communities, according to the college’s new leader.

NWCC President Michael Heindl, in his first year at the head of the college, spoke to the Panola County Board of Supervisors this week, thanking the county for its historical support and praising efforts to strengthen the partnership with more opportunities for local students.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Heindl was Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College before being selected president of the Senatobia-based college in early summer. He had also worked for the state’s Community College Board in the workforce and technical division in Jackson.

Heindl thanked Dorothy Kearney Wilbourne and Jamie Howell for their service on the college’s board of trustees. His visit to Batesville Tuesday was to give county leaders an update on NWCC, the third largest community college in the state.

Northwest covers 11 North Mississippi counties and serves 7,600 students, including the ever increasing enrollment of e-Learning students who take most of their courses online. The average age of Northwest students is 22 and 1,830 degrees were conveyed by the college last year, Heindl said.

Panola County students received $2.6 million in financial aid last year, Handle said. “That’s not just money for tuition, books, and housing, that’s money for gas and other expenses that often is spent right here.” Additionally, Panola County residents employed by the college earned more than $4.6 million in salaries and benefits last year. “All that is direct financial impact for Panola County.”

Heindl said beside the many career and technical choices at NWCC, the college also offers a host of adult education opportunities and advanced workforce development plans that allow residents of the county to improve their education relevant to their current careers giving rise to increased wages and career advancement.

NWCC has five locations: the main campus in Senatobia, the DeSoto Center in Southaven, a division at Olive Branch where aviation maintenance training and commercial truck driving programs are housed, the Lafayette-Yalobusha Technical Center in Oxford, and the Benton County Technical Center in Ashland where practical nurse training and cosmetology curriculum are taught.

Heindl said college administrators recognize that training for specific skills special to local industry is an open field of opportunity for NWCC to provide workforce improvement.

About 65 of Northwest students are on what he called “academic tracks” that mean they are taking courses at the community college level in preparation for transfer to Ole Miss, Miss. State, Delta State, and Memphis University. Others, he said, take full advantage of the technical programs that provide students with the training and skills to enter the workforce right away.

Welding, associate nursing, and computing skills are just part of the curriculum. Many NWCC students are in the elementary education, criminal justice, and business administration fields. A new physical therapist assistant program is now offered.

“At Northwest students can begin with us and complete their studies and get a great paying job,” Heindl said. “These are the programs we want to continue to grow and expand at our college and we want you to be a part of that also.”

The college will continue to encourage area high school students to participate in the dual enrollment programs offered to achieving students who want to earn college credits through their school’s academic program. “Dual enrollment is something we’re very excited about and always want to keep growing,” he said.

Panola County students received more than $122,000 in scholarship money at Northwest last year, and Heindl said he wanted to see that number continue to increase.

“Currently we are out meeting people in every county that we partner with and making plans for the next four to five years and we would love to have your input.”