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Press Release



November 7, 2016


Cowley College gets unanimous support from the Kansas Postsecondary Technical Education Authority


Hoping voters of Sumner County support a half-cent sales tax increase to construct and operate a new campus in Sumner County as well as expand workforce training opportunities across the county at the upcoming general election on Nov. 8, Cowley College personnel and several Sumner County community leaders converged at the October meeting of the Technical Education Authority (TEA) in Topeka, KS to share this highly collaborative and innovative message.


Joining Cowley College president Dr. Dennis C. Rittle were Cowley College vice president of academic affairs, Dr. Harold Arnett, and Tina Grillot, associate vice president for business and industry. Also, in attendance were Jessica Lucas, the Campaign Manager, four members of the Sumner County Economic Development Commission (SCEDC), representatives from key Sumner County industries, and Linda Chase, the an esteemed Wellington High School instructor.


Dr. Rittle, Dr. Arnett, and representatives of Sumner County spoke about the new agriculture, manufacturing, computer science, first-responders and education programs Cowley College would be able to offer at the Wellington campus. They also shared results of the more than 1,000 people they surveyed or questioned in regards to what the College would offer at the Wellington campus.


While asking the TEA for its support in this project, Dr. Rittle mentioned every city council, school district, and major industrial company in Sumner County, as well as the Sumner County Farm Bureau support this collaborative enterprise.


After the presentation, the TEA offered unanimous support of the College’s efforts, deeming this a model for higher education moving into the future.


Brad Klinge, Kansas Commerce Deputy Secretary of Workforce Services, said the fact that Cowley College is taking the time to help its community is representative of all that can come from collaboration.


“This partnership is a model that could be replicated across the state,” Klinge said. “It will provide the area with a workforce that can achieve its overwhelming potential and will allow fantastic communities like Sumner County to keep their best and brightest.”


If this initiative were to pass on Nov. 8, it could potentially be used as a new model for higher education in the state of Kansas. If successful, the Cowley College may be solicited to present this model to the Kansas Department of Education for possible duplication of principles and best practices across the State.


Stacy Davis, director for the SCEDC, spoke to the TEA about the return on investment in the form of the economic impact on Sumner County.


“It was an honor for me to personally present to the TEA,” Davis said. “My goal was to share the value SCEDC sees in the partnership with Cowley College to build the campus and provide programs specific to the needs of the students and adult learners of Sumner County. This minimal investment provides a far greater return on our investment seen in the economic development of retail, restaurants, and industry which is ready to grow the county simply by having the college located here. I believe the TEA was surprised and invigorated by the collaboration and support shown by those in attendance.”


This initiative would open doorways to change individuals’ lives by being able to offer an accessible, affordable education in Sumner County. Rittle shared, “This journey has been ongoing for more than a year; however, it takes patience, resilience, and perseverance to develop these types of innovative and collaborative initiatives so that a workforce is assembled, industries are equipped, a communities are strengthened, and residents of south central Kansas win.”