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Carroll President talks 'Best in the West' and changes in recent years

Carroll College
Posted at 11:08 AM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 13:08:51-04

HELENA — For the 11th year in a row, Carroll College has been named “Best Regional College in the West” by U.S. News and World Report.

“It’s incredible,” said Carroll’s President Dr. John Cech. “No other college in the United States in any category has been able to keep the #1 status for 11 consecutive years so we are absolutely thrilled. It’s a testament to the incredible work our faculty and staff do to service the students, as well as just the quality of students we have here at Carroll.”

Carroll has changed over the past decade, but there have been some significant alterations happening in the last few years.

In 2019, the private Catholic college made the decision to reorganize their programs, which included the discontinuation of five majors and ten minors.

The intent was to allow the college to grow programs that are in high need right now in Montana and the country at large.

“Our new graduate programs are an outcome of that. We just launched this fall our new master of social work program, which is a hybrid program so we’re serving students all across the state for an area where there is such a high need,” explained Cech.

Carroll College nursing student providing COVID-19 vaccine

The nursing programs have also seen large changes, with Carroll investing over $2 million — thanks to a $1 million donation from the E. L. Wiegand Foundation — to create a state-of-the-art simulation hospital setting on campus. The college also launched an accelerated nursing program this summer to help address the current nurse shortage.

Last year, Carroll's nursing grads earned a 100% pass rate on the national licensure exam.

Carroll, like most colleges and universities in the nation, saw a drop in freshman enrollment attributed to the pandmeic, although they were still higher than their 2018 low. The college was also part of 27 percent of colleges and universities across the nation that never needed to go to full remote learning, and kept the classroom experience intact.

This year Cech reports Carroll’s freshman class is up around 5 percent over last year. He also noted the graduate programs are doing well with around 40 students enrolled, and another 20 in their health leadership certificate program.

Carroll College first day of Fall Semester 2021

The pandemic has had notable impacts on college, namely financially due to the pandemic drop in student numbers. In December Cech announced the Realign, Reinvest, and Reimagine for Our Future (RRR) plan to help address the budget gap for their fiscal year.

Cech told MTN that the college has been following their reorganization plan and RRR plan and believes they are working well to meet the needs of the college.

“The liberal arts are our foundations so we need to strengthen that and sustain them, but also we have tremendous workforce needs in Montana, the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest, particularly in health care. Carroll is very strong in that area,” explained Cech.

2021 Carroll College Grad

Although the College is still in a transitional period, Cech says the horizon is looking bright and is eager to see what the future holds in the coming years.

“Our students are critical thinkers, they’re communicators, problem solvers, team builders, they know how to show and display empathy. And I think that just carries forward in everything that they do. Whether that is preparing to be nurses, or attorneys, or business individuals, or entrepreneurs, or writers. You name it,” added Cech.

Carroll is getting ready for their "Homecoming and Family Weekend" from October 8-10, 2021. More information about planned events can be found here.