Pacesetter - Winter 2010 - Casting a Vision for Kettering College's Future

Casting a vision for Kettering College’s future

by Julie Thompson
Every organization strives to create its own vision — what it hopes to be in the future and how it wants the world to be as well.

That vision can be powerfully conveyed in a string of sentences or just a few words. It inspires those inside the community and defines their purpose for being a part of it.

A year ago, the executive board at Kettering College sat around a table and decided it was time to reshape, fine-tune and better craft its vision statement. Its statement, which consisted of 20 words in two sentences, didn’t seem progressive enough for where the College was already headed.

Once known as a two-year technical school, Kettering College has transformed over the years. Today, it is regarded as a higher learning institution, offering certificates to master’s degrees. The College’s faculty and campus have advanced as well; it was time to create a vision that reflected these changes.

The board’s discussion spawned a series of lunches and small-group meetings between Dr. Charles Scriven, College president, and various members of the College community. The College’s vision was discussed over food, between classes and one-on-one. In the end, it came down to eight words: Innovation. Superior graduates. Passion for service and health.

While most won’t ever see the school’s vision statement, they’ll see some of its effects. Perhaps the most noticeable will be the school’s name, which officially has become Kettering College, shedding the words “.”

“This is who we are and where we are going,” Scriven said. “Innovation is seen in our classrooms, where teachers are creating curriculum to effectively prepare students for an ever-changing health care environment. Those students are then graduating, most of the time poised to be the best among their peers, but most importantly eager to serve with a God-given passion.”

INNOVATION

Innovation is happening every day at Kettering College, from the technology being used to new methods being created in the classroom.

“If you’re not innovating, then you’re not teaching,” Scriven said. “Professors have to think of fresh ways to communicate material all the time.”

It’s an important approach for Kettering professors as they begin to teach classes aimed at higher degrees. Kettering continues to expand its offerings. Most recently, it added a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography, which is one of the only degrees in the nation that offers all modalities of the skill on the bachelor’s level. The College is in the final stages of approval for a three-year bachelor’s degree in nursing.

As the College begins to broaden its offerings with more bachelor’s and master’s degrees, it becomes increasingly important for Kettering College faculty to be ahead of the game.

One important aspect of staying ahead concerns the degrees that the faculty themselves hold. It’s required that 25 percent of Kettering’s professors have a doctorate in order for the school to teach courses at the bachelor’s level. The number of professors who have that degree or who are getting it has significantly increased over the past several years, said Bev Cobb, dean for assessment and learning support.

“Twenty-five years ago, when I started here, I could count on one hand the number of people who had doctorate degrees,” Cobb said. “Now to see that number more than double is both heartwarming and encouraging. It is a major part of our transformation from what people have perceived as a school giving technical training to one of higher education.”

Currently, more than a dozen professors have doctorates. That number is expected to double in the next year or so as other professors graduate from the programs they are in right now.

Professors who have completed their doctoral work also bring a level of knowledge with them regarding research. While Kettering College is not a research institution, it is an important skill that professors can pass on to their students, who will need to know how to effectively do it
in order to stay ahead in their profession, Cobb said.

The increasing quality of curriculum and faculty matches the College’s commitment to investing in facilities. One of the most significant facility improvements was the building of the Boonshoft Center for Medical Sciences, a five-story, 41,000-square-foot addition that houses a student center, learning center, computer labs and science laboratories. The building not only gave the school a new face along Southern Boulevard, but also allowed the school to expand its offerings in the sciences and offer a baccalaureate program in human biology.

Since the completion of the $22 million Boonshoft Center, the College has made $3 million in additional facility improvements, including the creation of the Anna May Vaughan Center for Nursing Education and renovation of several other classrooms and labs. In 2011, the school’s underground connection with Kettering Medical Center will have a whole new look, signaling the shared commitment of the hospital and the College for health care innovation.

SUPERIOR GRADUATES

Every year, an average of 250 students are handed their diplomas at Kettering. While graduates leave with expertise in their chosen areas of study — sonography, nursing, respiratory care, radiology, physician assistance and medical imaging — they join professions that far exceed the boundaries of disciplines they’ve studied. Over the years, Kettering College graduates have entered into a variety of professions and held impressive positions. Some have gone into business and become executives and owners. Others have moved into leadership roles in hospitals, including presidents, chief executive officers, chief financial officers and chief nursing officers. Many have taken their Kettering degrees and pursued additional education to become physicians, dentists and lawyers.

There are graduates who have opened their own businesses and others who have become published in textbooks and in books focused on health care. Many have given back to their community by taking public office as a county commissioner, judge or public health official. It’s not uncommon for graduates to be recognized at national conferences and by governing bodies.

Kettering College has recognized 26 outstanding graduates with its Alumnus/a of the Year Award. It is a lifetime achievement award presented to those who have demonstrated leadership in their fields, continued their education, supported the College and carried out Kettering’s values and mission.

“The achievement of our alumni is really what tells Kettering’s story best,” said William Nelson, dean for academic affairs. “We can offer a competitive, quality education, but not until our students walk out the door do we know that we are doing it right.”

PASSION FOR SERVICE AND HEALTH

If all Kettering College offered was a good education, then it wouldn’t be much different from many other medical schools across the country. Kettering’s goal is to help its students make service a life’s calling through several means including their health care professions. It’s a natural outgrowth of the Seventh-day Adventist faith.

In 2010, students took their growing health care knowledge and helped at homeless shelters, health fairs and road races held for various causes. Many gave training to increase the awareness of health issues such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Students who excel in the classroom and want to take their passion for service to an even higher level are invited to become a part of the Vaughan-Beaven Service Learning Honors Program. The program, started 10 years ago, provides students with a variety of service opportunities such as domestic and international mission trips.

Laura Willis, coordinator for the honors program and assistant professor in the Division of Nursing, said the program is a testament to Kettering’s commitment to service.

“We are fortunate to have this program at a college the size of ours and to have it so well-supported,” Willis said. “The College will do whatever it takes to get its
students out there and doing good things.”

The most recent international mission was to Belize; the next will be to Trinidad. Students help educate people on health issues and perform minimal procedures, all with what they are able to carry in a suitcase. Students who traveled to Belize worked with a sonography machine the size of a laptop. In five days, they did more than 300 procedures and were able to detect many problems that would otherwise have been unknown.

“It has certainly strengthened my faith to be able to lead these students and to be the hands and feet of God,” Willis said. “They are learning to provide for people who have less than we do and to do it with minimal tools.”

Part of the vision statement that Scriven would like to see grow is the College’s commitment to better health.

“If we are going to be a health care business, then we have to be attentive to health and start to think in terms of exemplifying a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “I want all of our students and leadership to know that we stand for and expect healthier lifestyles than the average worker in the industry.”

Scriven said the change can come in simple ways. At Christmas, he changed his traditional gift to his staff from candy to nuts. He also wants to see programs that offer incentives to students and staff to work on improving key health indicators such as body mass index and cholesterol.

Sometimes, those who deliver health care don’t practice what they preach; Scriven wants to see Kettering College lead the way in changing that trend. It’s part of a vision he believes in and one that is already unfolding.