Kirkwood closing two of 14 locations due to ‘significant decrease’ in use

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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Cedar Rapids-based Kirkwood Community College has announced plans to close two of its eight regional and county centers due to declining enrollment and a “significant decrease” in use of the locations.


The college’s 28-year-old Tippie-Mansfield Center in Belle Plaine and its 31-year-old Cedar County Center in Tipton will permanently close in two weeks on June 30, according to a Kirkwood news release.


The closures will bring Kirkwood’s total Eastern Iowa locations from 14 to 12 and eliminate its physical presence in Cedar County, among the seven counties in its service area. The announcement this week comes less than a month after Kirkwood announced plans to re-evaluate use of its 97,094-square-foot Iowa City campus, possibly downsizing and moving it, per a consultant’s recommendation.


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“Since its inception, Kirkwood has always prided itself on providing quality, accessible education to the people of our seven-county area,” Kirkwood President Lori Sundberg said in a statement. “Over the years, how we have accomplished this goal has transformed with the times. When the need for change has come, Kirkwood has made the necessary adjustments to continue to provide excellent service and allocated college resources to ensure they are as effective as possible.


“Once again, the educational landscape in Eastern Iowa has changed, and Kirkwood needs to adjust in order to best serve our region.”


Although Kirkwood’s total fall 2021 enrollment of 12,607 was up 300-plus students over fall 2020, when its student count dropped 13 percent amid COVID-19, it remains 32 percent below a peak enrollment of 18,456 in fall 2010, when the recession drove students back to class.


Where the Tippie-Mansfield Center reported a fall enrollment of 28 in 2014 and the Cedar County Center reported 46 students that fall, enrollment trickled down to eight and one, respectively, in fall 2019 — pre-COVID.


In 2020, with the pandemic raging, both centers reported no fall enrollment — as did Kirkwood’s Benton County Center, according to Kirkwood enrollment documents. Enrollment stayed at zero for those centers in fall 2021.


“While both centers made an impact in their communities over the years, the changing needs of their surrounding areas have led to a significant decrease in the use of the locations over time,” according to Kirkwood’s closure announcement this week.


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“Both buildings are smaller, utilize an older model of educational delivery, offer limited options, and serve a very small number of students — most of which are dual enrollment learners.”


According to an April report on the demographics of Kirkwood’s seven-county service area — Linn, Johnson, Jones, Washington, Iowa, Benton and Cedar counties — Linn and Johnson account for most of the population, at a combined 78.6 percent.


Benton comes in a distant third with 5.3 percent, and Cedar accounts for 3.9 percent of the served population.


Already challenged enrollment trends across Iowa and the Midwest could face more pressure in the coming years, with high school graduate numbers expected to decline. In Iowa, updated projections actually show a 6 percent uptick through 2025.


But high school graduate numbers between 2025 and 2037 are expected to plummet 12 percent in the Midwest and 7 percent in Iowa, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.


High schools in Iowa’s Benton and Cedar counties affected by the Kirkwood closures have experienced enrollment declines in recent years. Vinton-Shellsburg High School, for example, reported 488 students a decade ago and 450 in the last school year.


Benton Community Senior High School reported 525 students in 2011-2012 and 498 last year, according to the Iowa Department of Education.


Kirkwood has notified community leaders in both affected counties about the closures, but noted “students in those parts of the college’s service area will still be able to get an education from Kirkwood.”


“In addition to dual credit, students in these communities looking to take credit classes can do so with online learning options,” according to Kirkwood officials. “High school completion programs will also still be offered to those that need them.”


Officials did not immediately say how much the closures are expected to save, although a news release noted both centers have had “minimal staffing needs for many years.” The closures, according to Kirkwood, will affect one full-time employee who’s retiring and three part-time employees.


The Tippie-Mansfield Center, once the Belle Plaine library building, debuted in 1994 thanks to gifts from entrepreneur Henry B. Tippie and the Wesley and Irene Mansfield Foundation. The Cedar County Center opened in 1991 and has been housed in a rental space in Tipton since 2019, after selling its previous location to Cedar County Emergency Management in 2020.


Officials did not immediately disclose plans for those spaces.

 

Jim Grizzly

HR Legend
Feb 24, 2010
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Rigor at kwood is laughable but it's a good way for folks to get the AA/job training. Tipton isn't that far from the CR campus.
 

Old_wrestling_fan

HR Legend
Mar 2, 2009
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Iowa City
Rigor at kwood is laughable but it's a good way for folks to get the AA/job training. Tipton isn't that far from the CR campus.
?? FWIW, I went to both Kirkwood and Iowa and if there was any less rigor required at Kirkwood...I didn't notice it. I had a great experience at Kirkwood, IMO, my teachers there, ON AVERAGE, were better than my teachers at Iowa.

Now then, my very best teachers, generally full Professors, were at Iowa, but I had a lot of classes that weren't run by full Professors and on balance, that group was worse than the KCC teaching staff.

Granted...this was 40'ish years ago now, maybe it has changed.
 

Jim Grizzly

HR Legend
Feb 24, 2010
11,934
4,848
113
?? FWIW, I went to both Kirkwood and Iowa and if there was any less rigor required at Kirkwood...I didn't notice it. I had a great experience at Kirkwood, IMO, my teachers there, ON AVERAGE, were better than my teachers at Iowa.

Now then, my very best teachers, generally full Professors, were at Iowa, but I had a lot of classes that weren't run by full Professors and on balance, that group was worse than the KCC teaching staff.

Granted...this was 40'ish years ago now, maybe it has changed.
You're like 80. Things have changed.
 

Joes Place

HR King
Aug 28, 2003
121,334
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But high school graduate numbers between 2025 and 2037 are expected to plummet 12 percent in the Midwest and 7 percent in Iowa, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.


High schools in Iowa’s Benton and Cedar counties affected by the Kirkwood closures have experienced enrollment declines in recent years. Vinton-Shellsburg High School, for example, reported 488 students a decade ago and 450 in the last school year.


Benton Community Senior High School reported 525 students in 2011-2012 and 498 last year, according to the Iowa Department of Education.

Has to be due to Covid........Amirite?
 

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