Ozarks Technical Community College continues to transform its main campus in Springfield and improve other spots where students go for classes or special training. Ozarks Technical 2024 Plans.
There are numerous projects in the works and others will be added in 2024.
In mid-December, the OTC Board of Trustees agreed to spend $2.2 million to add parking on the northwest corner of Pythian Street and Hampton Avenue.
The 201 spaces will be near the former Mount Carmel United Methodist Church property, which the college bought this year. A final plan for how that space will be used is expected.
In a recent interview, OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon discussed changes in the works or coming soon.
“We are finishing up our infrastructure. We’ve done sidewalks and everything leading up to and into the area of the Plaster Manufacturing Center,” he said.
Here are the major projects:
Building an aviation maintenance facility
In late October, OTC broke ground on the new Airframe and Powerplant training facility, which is being constructed at the old Springfield-Branson National Airport terminal.
The program, set to open in 2025, will teach students to how to service, maintain and repair aircraft including the body, mechanical systems and engines.
The $13.2 million project received significant federal, state and local funding. There is high demand regionally for students with skills that the program will provide.
Higdon said by securing external funding, the college was able to move quickly.
Adding to Richwood Valley campus
A new 15,000-square-foot facility on the Richwood Valley campus will provide space for two programs: agriculture and electrical distribution systems — more commonly known as lineworkers.
The project is $5 million and half of the funding came from the MoExcels Workforce Initiative. The college also received a federal grant.
“Out of $5 million, our cost is less than $1 million,” Higdon said. “We are happy about that.”
The lineworker program, already offered in the OTC center in Lebanon, has its first two female students.
“We’ve been looking forward to the day it was not linemen but is now lineworker. They enrolled this fall,” he said.
“The demand is so high that the salary is really good coming out.”
Exploring a cosmetology program
Citing demand, OTC announced interest a year ago in starting a cosmetology program on its main campus.
It is not unusual for community colleges to offer the program in other parts of the U.S. but in the Springfield area, it has only been provided by for-profit schools.
Higdon has said the program would be less expensive at OTC but there have been challenges, including finding the right space.
“We are continuing to look at that and hope to get that going in the next year,” he said.
Debuting a new plumbing program
This spring, OTC will start offering short-term training in plumbing. A space was renovated in the ITTC building on the main campus.
Higdon said a new employee, expected to start in late spring, will help develop the curriculum and determine what equipment is needed.
“That project is just about wrapped up and the first for-credit classes would be fall of 2024,” he said.
Breaking ground on ‘Student Success’ building?
Higdon said Gov. Mike Parson and the Missouri legislature appropriated $11.5 million last year for a new OTC Center for Workforce and Student Success, which will be built on the Springfield campus.
More state funding is needed for the project to break ground.
“We are asking for the additional appropriation this year. We’ll hopefully see that in the governor’s budget and the State of the State in January and then make its way through the House and the Senate,” Higdon said. “Assuming that those monies come to fruition, then we’d have a groundbreaking, potentially, in summer.”
Building a new disc golf course
Each year, as part of the Innovation Celebration, OTC gathers with all full-time employees to celebrate trailblazers, award mini-grants to boost student success and announce the recipients of “Game Changer” grants.
The celebration started in 2000 and at the fourth one in February 2023, the college awarded $10,000 grants for each of the three winning “Game Changer” ideas.
One was the nine-hole Flying Eagle Disc Golf project at the Richwood Valley campus.
The disc golf course will run along the current walking trail and provide an outside activity for students, employees and community members. That course will be open this year.
“That trail is used tremendously by the community and so the disc golf will go along with the trail,” he said.
One winner included replacing fixed furniture with mobile pieces to create an “active learning” classroom at the Norman K. Meyers building. The other called for repurposing a room on the Springfield campus to expand career services outreach to students.
Launching an inaugural cohort for healthcare alliance
In August, four local institutions — OTC, Springfield Public Schools, Missouri State University, and CoxHealth — made public the new Alliance for Healthcare Education.
They are partnering to revolutionize the way health care professionals are trained in southwest Missouri.
The first tangible piece of that will start in the fall with 50 high school students starting a new track within the OTC Middle College program.
“The Middle College students through SPS will be able to pursue CNA, EMT (certifications),” Higdon said. He added they can also work on an associate’s degree toward pursuing a nursing career.
“That will be at no cost to the student,” he said.
The alliance plans to build a seamless pipeline to provide training starting in high school. Higdon said the entities are working through the accreditation process. “It’s like fixing a car engine while you’re driving down the road. We’re moving quickly but we’re still working.”
Source: Ozarks Technical 2024 Plans
Claudette Riley covers education for the News-Leader. Email tips and story ideas to email@example.com.