IRONWOOD - Gogebic Community College is looking to increase its appeal with a new logo and website, as well as improve its social media presence, to attract more potential students.
Some of the college's degrees have seen a growing interest, such as its welding program, for which administrators are in the process of finding an additional instructor.
However, in April three of GCC's programs - sociology, paraprofessional in education and a certificate of childcare - were suspended for having no enrollments or graduates for the past two academic years.
At its meeting Tuesday, GCC's Board of Trustees suspended two more programs for the 2014-15 academic year because of low enrollment - graphic communications and mechanical design and engineering technology - though second-year students already enrolled will be able to finish their degrees by May 2015.
"During the upcoming academic year, we will explore opportunities to improve recruitment of students into both programs and market as appropriate to regain enrollment for the 2015-16 academic year," said Ken Trzaska, dean of instruction.
Better marketing was recently deemed one of GCC's goals, and to improve its brand image and appeal, the board of trustees approved to revamp its marketing strategy and entered into a three-year contract with Interact Communications, Inc ., of Onalaska, Wis.
Part of the project will include marketing to specific demographics by targeting individuals through social media sites.
Jeanne Graham, dean of students, said the cost of the project would be around $100,000 and well worth the money.
"With that there's going to be a lot of different social media buys that we just frankly haven't done a whole lot of before," Graham said. "So this will expand our market enormously as far as recruiting students. ... It's a whole level above what we've been able to do currently."
Within the first year of the contract, Interact is expected to create a strategic plan to develop a new brand and logo for GCC by conducting internal and external focus groups, a community survey and researching competitors.
Interact will then create a marketing and community awareness plan and redesign GCC's website the following year.
The third year of the contract will include the completion campaign and plan, along with a project agreed upon by Interact and GCC, such as program evaluation.
This past year the college participated in a rebranding and marketing campaign with the Michigan Community College Association to increase enrollment at community colleges statewide, which Interact was involved with.
"Partnering in this manner, we have available to us a wealth of research that's been done on the part of MCCA in the western U.P.," Lorenson said. "It puts us into the social media realm where we've not had a strong presence before, and that is, in fact, the medium source for the demographic we are targeting. It allows us to better compete in areas, such as northern Wisconsin and others, where we need to be more competitive ... This is really going to ratchet us up significantly."
-The board on Tuesday approved a bid of $70,878 from Nasi Construction, LLC, of Hurley, for construction of a new Forestry Lab that will be housed in the former cafeteria area in the lower level of the Rutger Erickson Academic Building.
-The board also approved the hiring of Cynthia Anne Brandon-Slocum, of Coon Rapids, Minn ., as the new full-time English instructor for GCC's Copper Country campus.
The college received 89 applications for the position.
Brandon-Slocum has more than four years of full-time experience teaching English at the institutions of Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Gonzaga University, North Idaho College and Northern Michigan University.
She also offers additional experience as a professional editor and newspaper correspondent.
Brandon-Slocum received a Bachelor of Arts from Grand Valley State University and a Master's of Fine Arts from NMU.
-Trustees also conducted their annual evaluation of President Lorenson.
"The board wishes to express its deep trust and confidence in Jim Lorenson's leadership in directing the college in fulfilling its mission," John Lupino, board chair, said in a statement. "President Lorenson is a very strong leader who is guiding the faculty and staff in meeting the needs of students through growth and innovation. Under Jim, GCC is ranked highly among community colleges nationwide. He has also promoted a very effective continuous improvement process into the culture of the college. The board wishes to thank Jim for his leadership and dedication to the college and community."