Letter to the editor
As members of the Advisory Council for Trinidad State Junior College (TSJC), we are excited to share our support for the college’s efforts to change its name. The college is pursuing dropping the word “Junior” from its title, making the new name “Trinidad State College.” This change addresses a long-standing effort to increase the perception of value among students and potential employers and to help foster enrollment growth, build partnerships, and convey a sense of pride among students.
Enrollment at TSJC has dropped dramatically over the last decade, from 1,556 FTE in FY 2011 to 1,137 FTE in FY 2020 – a 27% decline.
The challenges of the COVID pandemic have only exacerbated the trend, with the college projecting a 10% enrollment decline for this academic year alone. The word “junior” inhibits TSJC’s ability to attract new students because it carries a negative connotation. Students ask whether the college is, in fact, a real college -- as the word “junior” implies it is something less than a college. This is why the vast majority of two-year colleges nationally have dropped “junior” from their titles. Out of 1,465 two-year institutions, only 15 still have “junior” in their titles. Additionally, over half of community colleges nationally have dropped “community” from their names for similar reasons.
As we know, TSJC serves a critical role in the San Luis Valley as well as Las Animas and Huerfano Counties. It trains nurses, EMTs, medical assistants, dental assistants, police officers, welders, and diesel mechanics, among many other occupations. It also provides an important entry point for students to get started and when ready to transfer to Adams State University or other four-year universities. It is important to note that less than 5% of degrees conferred from TSJC’s Valley Campus are Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degrees (those that transfer), which means the Valley Campus is primarily focused on Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. TSJC is focused on its current mission and does not aspire to compete with or become a university.
We are pleased to share that as TSJC has vetted this change within the college community on both the Valley and Trinidad campuses, it finds nearly universal support. Some students have said they are somewhat embarrassed to have “Junior College” on their transcript, especially those planning to transfer. Students and faculty have expressed excitement over the possibility of updating the name to better reflect a modern institution – one that offers outstanding academic and CTE programs. Trinidad State’s mission will remain the same; and its new name, if approved, will be one of which students, community members, and alumni can be proud.
Trinidad State Junior College is preparing for the future by strategically branding the institution, and this much-needed name change is an important step. Let’s help ensure Trinidad State remains competitive among two-year institutions to prospective students and employers, and in turn, help our communities in the San Luis Valley as well as Las Animas and Huerfano Counties thrive.
Trinidad State Junior College Advisory Council
Heather Brooks, Donna Wehe, Jason Medina, Cy Michaels, Erin Ogletree, Raymond Odum, Jim Blecha