Dr. Carmen Simone, president of the Western Nebraska Community College Board of Governors, speaks with Alliance Mayor Mike Dafney about opportunities to collaborate during a business luncheon at the Knight Museum last Thursday.

The Knight Museum and Sandhills Center played host to a business luncheon on Feb. 6, where Dr. Carmen Simone, President of Western Nebraska Community College, met with business leaders to discuss opportunities for collaboration.

In an interview with the Alliance Times-Herald, Simone noted she has taken part in discussions with leaders throughout the Panhandle in the month since she has taken the reins as president.

“Part of my role really early in my tenure is to spend time listening and learning the landscape,” Simone said. “What we do going forward has to stay connected to our past. We have to learn to be informed about our past. I’m spending time doing that right now. I’m starting to see areas where we might think about reprogramming, and different ways to engage our students.

“I’m really impressed with how our powerline program has students engaged in the community,” said Simone. “I heard that time and time again from people around the table, and they very much appreciate that. Those are the kinds of things community colleges should be doing.”

Through her travels to communities in the Panhandle, Simone has discovered several needs. She hopes to take those needs into account as she shapes the future of WNCC.

“There is a crying need for workers, and trained workers, especially in career and technical areas,” Simone said. “Those are places where Western Nebraska Community College is poised to help. We’re also talking, pretty strongly, about partnering with Chadron State so that we have that full array of programming for students who transfer, to those really hands-on programs that get students jobs. We’re a comprehensive community college, and that’s what we need to be.”

Simone said the luncheon served as a positive welcome to the community.

“When I came on board, there was an idea that they would pull together a gathering of people in Alliance, just to meet and welcome me to the community,” said Simone. “This is actually my third trip to Alliance. It was a warm, wonderful reception. The love that the group has for the college is so apparent. There are things that we can do together in the future moving forward. The future is so bright. I’m thrilled to be here as the leader of this institution. We have fantastic faculty and staff who are ready to take us on that next step.”

The luncheon was organized by Box Butte Development Corporation and the City of Alliance.

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