Boeing, Southside Join Hands for Unique Partnership
Boeing-Wichita’s move into the Southside Education Center in south Wichita,of which Cowley is a partner, was officially completed Oct. 11 with a ribbon-cutting and open house. About 100 people, including representatives of the Southside partnership, Boeing, and other organizations, were on hand as the Southside Education Center Boeing Education, Training, and College Partnership officially opened.
The SSEC, located at 4501 E. 47th St. South, is a partnership of Cowley, Wichita State University, and Wichita Area Technical College. The center officially opened in fall 1995, and Cowley’s FTE has since grown from two to 855 today. "Boeing’s very pleased to have the opportunity to strengthen our educational partnership and serve the needs of our employees with WSU, WATC and CCCC under one roof," said Jeff Turner, Boeing Wichita’s vice president-general manager. "Having these resources nearby to help our employees further their education is vital to our future success as a company." WSU President Dr. Don Beggs, Cowley President Dr. Pat McAtee, and WATC President Camille Kluge also spoke during the afternoon. "On behalf of Wichita State University, I want to thank Boeing for being an organization that pushes universities into doing things," Beggs said. "And to Pat McAtee, our partnership with Cowley in terms of what this community college has done to reach out has been tremendous. As a university, we’re thrilled to be a part of this."
"This is a proud moment in education today," McAtee said. "We would not be here if not for Jeff Turner and his employees, and if not for Don and his beliefs in the partnership, and for Camille." Cowley Vice President of Northern Campuses Sheree Utash said it was nice to see the collaborative efforts of so many partners become a reality. "This is a unique relationship—perhaps the most unique in the country—where a company has moved into an educational facility and is in a partnership with those institutions of higher education to provide the training needed in the work force."
Twenty new larger classrooms have been added to the facility and are used for classes by partners in the consortium. With the recent expansion, Southside now occupies the second floor of the building, and provides classes for about 3,500 students enrolled there. Approximately 20 percent of the students at the Southside Center are Boeing employees. About 1,000 employees have graduated with an advanced two-year or four-year degree since on-site college partnership education services were implemented in 1995.
Turner said the Southside partnership offered another source of learning for his employees. "Through my jobs at Boeing, I’ve run into incredibly smart people," he said. "They are tremendously successful, smart people, but a lot of them have no formal education. Now people have the opportunity to go back to school who are already doing tremendous things." Turner said Southside was a true model for partnerships.