Independence Community College: Innovation at ICC

Member Spotlight

Independence Community College (ICC) is regarded for its strong history of academic excellence with a unique flavor that makes this community college a stand out. Nestled in a rural community in Southeast Kansas, ICC has made it their mission to be all about community. Working through the ICC Successful Entrepreneur Program, the College is playing an active role in revitalizing Independence's Historic Downtown. ICC's Workforce Development efforts continue to reach out to area industry in these tough economic times. A move to help job seekers become valued employees brought about a new six-week training certificate program entitled the Manufacturing Skills Certification.

The smallest of the 19 community colleges in the state, ICC is a proud member of the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognizes colleges and universities nationwide that support innovative and effective community service and service-learning programs. The Presidential award, given each year to a handful of institutions, is the highest federal recognition a college can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. The 2008 honor marks the second time ICC has been recognized by the president of the United States with the Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

During the 2009 spring in-service day, the entire ICC staff, along with student volunteers, went out into the surrounding communities and offered their services to make a difference in the community. From spending time at local nursing homes to painting store fronts downtown, dusting at the museum, sweeping the downtown sidewalks, raking at the cemetery, and raking leaves out of the band-shell in Riverside Park, the volunteers made a difference.

ICC sophomore Sean O'Neill represented the state at the national AACC convention as Kansas's New Century Scholar and a 2009 Coca Cola Gold Scholar, the highest honors bestowed upon students through the Phi Theta Kappa scholarship opportunities for students who excel academically and are committed to service and willing to give of their time and talents.

April is a magical month on the campus of ICC as the annual William Inge Festival honors outstanding American playwrights and promotes the craft of playwriting. Now in its 28th year, the nationally known festival received statewide recognition this spring when the state legislature voted to make the William Inge Theatre Festival the official state theater festival of Kansas. Named for famous award-winning playwright and ICC alumnus William Inge, the festival has honored the likes of Arthur Miller, Stephen Sondheim, and Neil Simon. This year the honorees, who participate in the four-day festival of seminars, workshops, and productions, are Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt. The duo will be presented with the Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award, in recognition of their many musical creations, which include "The Fantasticks," "110 in the Shade," and "I Do! I Do!"

Through the Inge Center for the Arts, ICC began a totally unique certificate program in playwriting. Over the period of four semesters, students work with a minimum of eight professional playwrights, who come to Independence as artists-in-residence and work with the college students and area high schools classes. While here they work on their own projects, and Independence has been a part of the inspiration for many of the new plays being produced in America today.

ICC continues to think outside the box and is the only community college in Kansas with a female athletic director. Tammie Geldenhuys, award-winning athlete, former ICC coach, and local business owner, has been leading the Pirate athletic staff since fall of 2008.

The innovations coming to fruition are through an effective combination of long-range planning and newfound leadership. Under a new administration, Dr. Daniel A. Bain, ICC president, leads the college initiatives with Peggy Forsberg, dean of instruction, and Max VanLaningham, dean of student services. All three joined the ICC staff in these capacities in 2008.