With the cutting of a ribbon and the grand opening of the new PJC-Sulphur Springs Campus located on Loop 301 in the newly remodeled building that once housed Foxworth Galbraith Lumber Company, Paris Junior College President Pam Anglin’s vision for expansion of educational opportunities in the region took one more step forward. Dr. Anglin told KSST News that the junior college experience in both academic and technology play a vital role in rural Texas. Yet, she is concerned about that future thanks to Texas legislature cuts in funding for junior colleges.
Dr. Anglin states, based on information made available to her, that medium and small sized junior colleges are in troubled times and that some institutions will be closed in a few years unless changes are made. She is not waiting on any changes. Paris is medium sized college. The funding cuts to PJC will affect the Sulphur Springs campus, which is not breaking even with the student tuition and state funding that is received. However, the cut in funding will drop the campus into negative funding.
Dr. Anglin’s vision for the Sulphur Springs campus is evident in the classroom space given to technical training. The center features 11 classrooms, testing facilities, and library. She spoke with KSST News in the 3-D printing classroom. The classroom is state of the art and has already been used by a local industry to print a machine part that was needed long before it could be delivered by a manufacturer. Dr. Anglin stated that 3-D printing and welding are also offered in Paris. However, there is another technical training in mechatronics.
Mechatronics is only located on the Sulphur Springs Campus. Dr. Anglin stated there were two reasons for this. One reason is that industry locally will profit from the training but the second reason has to do with the campus location near I-30. She expects industry in the Dallas area to utilize the training as well. With these courses and academic studies, PJC-Sulphur Springs Campus has positioned itself for future growth.
Currently 500 students are utilizing the campus. For students who live in Hopkins County, tuition is near $100 per course hour. Students who live in the college district currently pay $55 per course hour. Even with the larger tuition fee, funding remains a concern.
One solution to the funding problem would involve bringing Hopkins, Lamar, Red River, Delta, and Hunt counties into the PJC District. Dr. Anglin stated that she is seeking to put together an advisory committee in each of those counties to look at how people would feel about being in the district and to hear what is wanted in the future for and from the school. In a coffee meeting/work session Tuesday, Hopkins County Commissioners Court, city officials, and others meet with Dr. Anglin to discuss a proposal that would add Hopkins County to the PJC District.
In May, PJC Regents will finalize the proposal for incorporating these areas into the district. At that time, Dr. Anglin and Regents will present the proposal to the counties. They hope at that time to prepare a proposition for the November General Election that will give Hopkins County voters the opportunity to vote on being included in the college district. There will be a cost to be a member of the district. However, the cost of losing an area junior college would be worse according to many. Some area students attend Northeast Texas Community College in Mt Pleasant but according to sources, NTCC is facing greater obstacles in finance than is PJC. NTCC is considered a small college.
City Manager Marc Maxwell said, “It seems the state is continuing their efforts to force the burden of service to the local level.” He said there is some reason to believe that a number of junior colleges are in trouble. Noting the value of the college to the local economic structure for technical training as well as developing a trained workforce, he stated he would hate to lose PJC and its influence in the area. County Judge Robert Newsom concurs with Maxwell in that the college does offer much to the county.
Dr. Anglin’s passion for junior college began with her college career. Although she is degreed from Texas A & M-College Station, she began her college life in a junior college where she said there were those who could hold her hand and help her begin the college experience. She said that if she had gone to A & M first, she isn’t sure that would be where she is today. Dr. Anglin said there are those students who need to have the support of small classes and caring faculty to provide their start in post-secondary education. She also has a passion for education for those students in high school who take college level courses. Classrooms at the PJC-SS campus are equipped and do televise lectures to area high schools. She points to high school students who end their high school career with college hours already on transcripts. In fact, some have graduated local high schools with their Associates degree bestowed prior to walking high school graduation.
Dr. Anglin and the Regents of Paris Junior College will announce their solution and plans for the future funding needed following their May meeting. In the meantime, Dr. Anglin will continue lead PJC with a vision for continued quality service and future growth.