Alsobrooks gives EMCC update

East Mississippi Community College President Scott Alsobrooks speaks at the West Point Rotary Club meeting Thursday. (Photo by Charlie Benton, DTL)
Daily Times Leader

The West Point Rotary Club got an update on the current state of East Mississippi Community College Thursday, when EMCC President Scott Alsobrooks addressed the club.

Alsobrooks discussed the college’s current course, including ongoing financial and enrollment difficulties. He also discussed the college’s new $43 million Communiversity facility in Lowndes County. He also discussed potential future EMCC programs and the benefits of a community college education. Alsobrooks is a native of Picayune, and has led EMCC since early 2019. He served as vice president of community and economic development at Pearl River Community College prior to being hired to lead EMCC.
Alsobrooks holds a bachelor’s in industrial engineering from Mississippi State University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi.

“We had a phenomenal year in the classroom,” Alsobrooks said. “East Mississippi Community College is ranked in the top 150 community colleges in the United States of America That’s a very difficult achievement to get. It’s very difficult to get in the top 150 from the Aspen Institute.”

He said being in the top 150 afforded EMCC an opportunity to compete for the top 10, of which the top community college would receive $1 million. The rates are compiled based on graduation rates, achievement, job placement rates and other factors.
“We want that million dollars, and if we can make it into that top 10 and get that million dollars it would be phenomenal for our school and our state,” Alsobrooks said.

He discussed the Communiversity placing great importance on the need for increased enrollment. To meet the needs of local industry, the facility must maintain an enrollment of at least 400 at any given time. The current number of students is approximately 200.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Alsobrooks said. “We’ve got to do a good job of letting people know that there’s very good options outside of a four-year degree. You can come to East Mississippi and get a one year or two year degree in things like industrial maintenance, instrumentation and control and get out in the workforce and do really well for yourself without going and getting yourself in debt.”

He said the career technical certificates also helped keep students local after graduation, rather than requiring them to leave the region and state to find a job.

He also said many of the companies with plants fed by the Communiversity would pay for a student to complete a four-year degree if they desired to continue their education.

“We’re extremely happy in the investment the Golden Triangle made in helping us get that thing up and going,” Alsobrooks said. “Now it’s up to us to get those 400 students. Our goal is to build that pipeline and get those companies the workers they need.”
He said the number of skilled workers would also help attract new industry to the region.

“We’ve got to show these site selectors that we can indeed get people into these programs and give them the skills to get them out in the workforce,” Alsobrooks said.

In addition to the Communiversity, Alsobrooks discussed other pans for the college’s future including the addition of more allied heath and nursing programs.

“We have a small nursing school, and we have a couple of allied health programs, but I do not think we have enough to support great growth in the Golden Triangle,” Alsobrooks said. “I’d like to see us add more allied health programs.”

He said approximately 400 students of the nearly 4,000 enrolled in the EMCC system were from Clay County.

“About 10% of our enrollment comes from Clay County, so we’re very happy to work with Clay County,” Alsobrooks said.