OTTAWA — This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Neosho Community College’s Ottawa campus.
Prior to the move in March 2011, all programs had been housed since 1995 in an outdated metal building. NCCC President Dr. Brian Inbody reflected upon the move.
“We did it in nine, excruciatingly long days,” he told The Tribune.
Inbody said those assisting had to navigate around nearly 100 contractors and sub-contractors who were putting the finishing touches on the building.
“It looked like ants on an anthill,” Inbody said. “We got it finished, and opened up the Monday after spring break. It was quite exciting. The students were just flabbergasted at the quality of the new campus. It was really a lot of excitement that day.”
Inbody was in his first year as NCCC president when the move took place.
“It was a high point of my career,” he said, “being able to cut the ribbon on that building.”
The new campus was primarily funded by monies from a bond issue. Ottawa campus students have a higher rate of tuition than NCCC students. Ottawa students are assessed a building fee and an out-district fee since they don’t reside in Neosho County.
“Those fees pay for the bond payment on that building, so the costs don’t come back to the people of Neosho County,” Inbody explained.
The new building features a community room that’s heavily utilized (pre-COVID) by outside groups and organizations.
It also includes a learning resource center, student lounge, bookstore, and classrooms.
“The most common thing students said was, ‘It feels like a real college now,’” Inbody said of the 2011 grand opening. “In the old days, we were in a metal building next to the highway and didn’t have enough parking. So people had to park across the street at the ballfield and dodge cars trying to get across the street.”
Arguably, the crown jewel of the new campus is the Nursing program’s simulated hospital.
“It’s one of the nicest simulated hospitals in the state of Kansas,” Inbody said. “I’m really proud of it.
“The simulated hospital was designed by a different architectural firm than the main campus building. It was designed by a health services architect. It really paid off. It’s beautiful.”
Now, 10 years later, Inbody said the new campus is everything he had hoped for. He originally envisioned it being a lively center for the community, and one that can draw students from the area.
“It gives a sense of quality that goes along with our name,” he said. “It gives (the area) a lot of educational capabilities, having a university and a community college in town, as well as a really wonderful school district in Ottawa.”
Inbody said NCCC has recently embarked upon a recruiting initiative dubbed the Northern High School initiative. Students from surrounding Unified School Districts bus to NCCC’s Ottawa campus and take classes during the day at a reduced tuition rate.
“That’s been successful,” Inbody said, adding that the initiative is primarily geared to their new HVAC program. “We’re hoping the new program becomes successful over time.”
In addition to Nursing and HVAC, the other programs available at the Ottawa campus are Occupational Therapy Assistant and Surgical Technology.
“We always want more,” Inbody said. “But it serves that community very well, and is a base of operations for a lot of our programs around that area.”
Inbody said a new “mystery” program is tentatively slated to be added in Fall 2022. The program is being funded by a Title III grant. Inbody was unable to divulge the name of the program, as the final details are still being hammered out.
‘We’re not ready to announce it yet,” he said. “It’s a program expensive enough that we wouldn’t attempt to do it without the grant.”
Pre-COVID, Inbody traveled to the Ottawa campus at least once a month. He frequently attended First Friday, an event that allowed a forum for community members to voice their opinions on topics important to Franklin County. Inbody also enjoys distributing diplomas for the school’s robust adult basic education program, as well as being on-hand for the Nursing program’s pinning ceremony.
NCCC’s Ottawa branch dates to 1979 and was originally housed in a former junior high school building. In 2003, the NCCC Foundation purchased the Ottawa campus.
“The junior high building was still occupied by brown recluse spiders,” Inbody said with a chuckle.