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West Kentucky Community and Technical College president outlines plans for recent $15 million gift

West Kentucky Community and Technical College President Dr. Anton Reece has outlined a tentative framework for how the college could use a recent $15 million gift.

The historic gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott was donated last week to Paducah Junior College, Inc., which is the foundation for WKCTC. The donation is the largest gift from a single donor in the college’s history.

“I am recommending the following concept to the PJC Foundation Board, who will be managing the funds gifted by MacKenzie Scott, and to the WKCTC Board,” Reece told members of WKCTC’s Board of Directors and the PJC, Inc. Board of Trustees during a virtual meeting Monday afternoon. “The following concept is my vision of how the college can best align and meet MacKenzie Scott’s vision of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), which aligns with my 30 years of work in diversity, and it includes underserved, historically diverse underrepresented populations, including African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians and lower socio-economic groups, including Caucasians in rural areas of our region.”

West Kentucky Community and Technical College President Anton Reece has outlined a tentative framework for how the college could use a recent $15 million gift.

Reece said he had received a lot of questions about how the college would spend the gift and felt it was important to start the process by developing a conceptual framework as soon as possible.

“I believe the donor’s intent and vision is best utilized and maximized in seven key sectors for short term and long- term impact,” he said, adding that examples given in his framework were not “all-inclusive,” because he plans to get input from his cabinet, the boards and the college’s faculty, staff and students over the next few months.

Lee Emmons, WKCTC’s vice president of advancement and PJC, Inc., executive director, described how Dr. Reece learned of the gift and the steps that were taken to secure the donation. “We did not apply. The donor sought us out for specific reason,” she said, “including Dr. Reece’s leadership and work with under-represented populations.”

The conceptual framework Reece called “WKCTC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Guarante,” consists of seven key sectors for short-term and long-term impact of the gift and will best utilize the donor’s intent and vision for the funds.

The framework calls for the majority of funds – 81% or $12.2 million – to be endowed or invested to gain interest while keeping the principal intact to provide long-term, systemic impact. A smaller portion of the funds – 19% or $2.75 million – would be used in the short-term to have significant, immediate impact, Reece said.

The seven sectors described by Reece were:

• Sector 1 – Education which would include partnerships and support for WKCTC’s DEI Guarantee to offer scholarships and education enhancement initiatives, to address access, affordability and academic barriers to student success. It would include both secondary and post-secondary partnership such as working with Murray State University’s Paducah Campus, University of Kentucky College of Engineering, Paducah and Meharry and Fisk University.

• Sector 2 – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Lower-socioeconomic Serving Organizations which would include immediate support for community partnerships with focus on organizations, like United Way and the Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club, serving DEI populations and facing barriers to education and careers.

• Sector 3 – Rural Access (Hickman, Fulton, Fulton City, Carlisle, Ballard) which would focus on access and technology for lower socioeconomic populations and possibly address transportation challengers in rural parts of the region.

• Sector 4- Workforce training /Diverse and Small Business/Job readiness which could provide immediate support for businesses and employees, unemployed and underemployed through partnerships with area chambers of commerce and regional workforce partners.

• Sector 5- Student Success Academic Support Center which could incorporate a broader vision and comprehensive array of resources to launch a Student Success Academic Support Center, including additional diverse success Coaches who can model success for these students.

• Sector 6 – Student non-academic needs which would provide support for non-academic barriers faced by students

• Sector 7 – WKCTC Enrollment/Employee Morale which would include a one-time stipend/bonuses to full-time and part-time faculty and full-time staff, pending followup and clarification with the donor’s representative and PJC legal counsel.

Reece said the unveiling of WKCTC’s DEI Guarantee will begin in January 2021 and continue through May. He expects to have bi-weekly announcements about DEI organizations that will be receiving funds.

Emmons said Reece’s history work in diversity, equity and inclusion as well as his understanding of the needs of our region assisted in the development of the framework.

“In part what makes this so exciting … is that within the general parameters and focus of donor intent, the gift is unrestricted. That’s almost unheard of with very large gifts,” Emmons said. “That really has allowed Dr. Reece the flexibility to put that experience to work because very seldom do you get an unrestricted gift for whatever you decide best meets the purposes.”

Reece said he wants to dispel the idea that WKCTC is just a small college floundering somewhere in Western Kentucky.

“There are a lot of incredible things that we do already at WKCTC, individually and collectively. But there are associated challenges even with the great things that we have been able to accomplish,” Reece said. “WKCTC is a great institution and we’ve always known there was so much more we could do if we could expand what we do now.

“This gift is almost like a piece to the puzzle. We have all the raw material, if you will potential-wise, to really make WKCTC even more transformative for the entire region. Having resources to put behind it with that intentionality is a real unique situation we’re excited to be in.”

From West Kentucky Community and Technical College

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