State’s largest community college credited for fiscal management, transparency
Despite the downturn of Michigan’s economy, a national bond rating agency is shining a bright spot on Michigan’s largest community college that serves over 70,000 students.
Strong budgetary and fiscal management practices were key drivers in a Fitch Ratings upgrade of Wayne County Community College District bond ratings from A to A+. The credit ratings agency on Friday said that despite the challenges associated with the local and county economy, the District’s fiscal management has provided the District with the financial flexibility it needs to continue its mission and capital improvement plan.
The District is the largest urban community college in Michigan, and saw enrollment grow to more than 72,000 from 32,530 credit and non-credit students during the past decade, including a nearly 9 percent spike since 2008 as the recession brought many displaced workers to the District seeking retraining for new jobs.
The District has expanded its workforce development programs to more than 110 and has added two- to six-month certificate programs to expedite learning for job seekers. The District also has under way a $42 million expansion of its Northwest Campus, including the addition of a new academic building, an addition to its general arts building and ten acres of site improvements. That expansion will expand the campus’ capacity to serve an additional 9,000 students per semester.
“We approach our mission to create pathways to better lives for all of our students with the seriousness and intentionality that it deserves,” said WCCCD Chancellor Dr. Curtis L. Ivery. “Ensuring we have a strong financial foundation with which to operate is vital to that mission.
“We’re proud that Fitch is recognizing the discipline and thoughtfulness with which we’ve approached our financial operations, and the transparency with which we operate. We’re also thrilled to continue to expand our offerings and improve our campuses to fulfill our mission to our students and the many communities we serve.”
The District in 2010 launched its District Design Initiative to ensure a stable balance between student success and financial sustainability. That program provided a roadmap for the District to implement conservative budgeting practices with expense reductions and increased administrative efficiencies while still expanding its offerings to students. The District additionally maintains full financial transparency.
“The importance of having a strong, world-class educational institution to offer a real doorway to better careers, new skills and higher education is more important than ever,” Ivery said. “We’re determined to make sure that we can leave that door open to all who approach it by continuing to be great stewards of our financial house.”
Additional information about the upgrade may be found at www.fitchratings.com.
About WCCCD: WCCCD, the largest urban community college in Michigan, is a multi-campus district with five campus locations, University Center and the Michigan Institute for Public Safety Education (MIPSE), serving 32 cities and townships, spanning more than 500 square miles. WCCCD is committed to the continued development of new programs, hosting community-based training sessions, improving student facilities and services. For more information visit: www.wcccd.edu.