Crowder College Cassville celebrates 20 years

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Director: ‘Crowder is open and prepared for whatever comes next’

The Crowder Cassville campus has been building up to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and staff, students and the community are all excited to share the joy.

Angela Seymour, director of the Crowder Cassville campus, said she started working Crowder Cassville in 1999, when it first introduced classes to the community.

“One of the biggest changes over the last 20 years is our new building,” she said. “But, I think some of the significant changes along the way include when we got our first science lab.

“That was the first time we were able to offer an entire degree in Cassville.”

Seymour said before there was ever a campus for Crowder, classes would be held at the high school in the evenings.

“Then, we were approached by Jerry Watley, who said he was going to be moving his manufacturing business to a different location and had some space available,” she said. “He came in and actually did renovations for Crowder Cassville campus and built classrooms for us inside of that facility that was located at the corner of Fair and East 13th streets.”

Seymour said Crowder Cassville was able to expand quite a bit that first semester with a new campus.

“But, to offer an entire degree, we had to get that science lab,” she said. “We built the science lab probably six years after we got the campus.”

Seymour said programs started to expand, and Crowder Cassville was offering a handful of degrees.

“First, it was just general education and a couple of others,” she said. “But, we had a lot of students interested in nursing.

“We didn’t really have the space for it, but Jerry Watley came through one day as the students were getting out of classes. It was hard to get through the hallways, and he said, ‘It is time for some more space.’”

Seymour said they started construction on where the campus is located now, and that finished in 2009.

“We doubled our square footage and added so many classrooms,” she said. “Because of that, I was able to offer so many more classes, and our enrollment jumped with a 45 percent increase in 2009 for fall classes.”

Seymour said in 2009, Crowder offered summer classes at the old building and fall classes in the new building.

“When we got completely moved to the current location, I was able to add many more sections of classes,” she said. “That offered so many more degree and opportunities for our students.

“We knew we wanted to add a nursing degree, and the move allowed us to plan ahead.”

Seymour said when everything was in place for the nursing degree, her last hurdle was funding.

“We landed a grant for the nursing program and for some other things,” she said. “We started nursing in January 2012 and have had eight graduating classes with a 100 percent pass rate the last two years.”

Seymour said nursing was the first degree that was a two-year degree, so the students could do it in two years and then get a job.

“Another significant thing that happened was partnering with Missouri State University and getting MSU classes in Cassville,” she said. “That started August 2012, and that was huge because students could finish their bachelor’s degrees right here in Cassville.”

Seymour said now, Crowder Cassville has also partnered with Drury University, and those classes started last week.

“Now, we have MSU and Drury here for bachelor degree completion,” she said. “Crowder Cassville now offers six degrees and several certifications on campus.”

Seymour said the campus is expanding again at the current location, to the tune of about 5,000 square feet.

“Our offices and student lounge are moving out to the new addition,” she said. “A big plus about the expansion is that students will be able to have indoor access to both academic buildings.”

Seymour said where the offices are now will be renovated into two large classrooms and a large bookstore.

“When I talk about the bookstore, some of the things that students are really excited about are more Crowder merchandise, better food choices and the biggest one is fountain pop,” she said. “Even the teachers are excited about it.

“It is kind of funny, but really we are so happy to be able to offer to our students things that make it a college life for them.”

Seymour said she forgets some of those simple things that make college life more enjoyable, and having a slushy machine in the bookstore just happens to be one of those things that Crowder can give its students.

“For the longest time, we did not offer those things because we were a satellite campus,” she said. “But now, we have grown so much, into a fully functioning campus.

“It has progressed every year, and we are always meeting as a staff to improve the student experience and success at Crowder Cassville.”

Seymour said because of all the rain through the spring, the building additions will be completed in early October, and the renovations inside the current administrative building will be completed by December this year.

“I expect to be able to use all of the space for the spring semester,” she said.

Seymour said looking forward into the next 20 years, she fully expects there to be more growth and opportunity.

“I see our potential as a university center,” she said. “Where we can bring in courses from universities that our students are transferring to, we are already working that but I want to see it get stronger.”

Seymour said Crowder has already made huge steps in that direction by partnering with MSU and Drury.

“I want to see more opportunity for students, and also help meet the local needs for our businesses,” she said. “I want us to be able to offer the training for that local economic development as well.”

Seymour said a lot of people have been pitting college and trade schools against each other, but really, college is trade school.

“Crowder College is a major tech school,” she said. “I would love to see some partnerships with industries where we can offer technical training to get students into the position that pays better than starting wage.

“These types of opportunities are very expensive to start up, like to open up a diesel mechanic shop or a welding school is just so expensive,” she said. “And that is what we struggle with — finding the funding.”

Seymour said she would also love to have a FEMA shelter for the facility and to open fire academy.

“Right now, for people to get fire training, it is an hour away,” she said. “Our training officers are recognized as some of the top in the state.”

Seymour said it is hard to plan for the next 20 years because right now, Crowder is training people for jobs that don’t exist yet.

“The workforce is evolving faster than education at times,” she said. “Being that hub for the community, helping the community grow and helping people get the skills they need to be successful and provide for their families is what’s important.”

Seymour said Crowder is open and prepared for whatever comes next.

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