The decade began with Barack Obama in the White House. The Occupy Wall Street movement protested what many felt was the undue influence of corporations on government. The Patient and Affordable Care Act is signed into law in 2010, designed to make health accessible for more Americans. In 2011, Osama bin Laden, leader of militant Islamic group Al-Qaeda, was killed. Reality TV shows grew in popularity, and the box office saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” engage in a new generation of fans. Donald Trump was elected president and took office in 2017.
The second decade of the new millennium has seen the continued change at the College. At the outset of the decade, a renovation was underway to Justin Whiting Hall – the first classroom building on Central Campus in the 1960s. Following completion of the Rawal Center for Health Professions in the center area, renovation continued on the east and west wings and the addition of a 42,000-square-foot health learning center. The project was completed in 2011. The Health Laboratory Center includes laboratory spaces for nursing and allied health programs, in facilities including additional learning studios, a seminar studio, high-tech conference rooms, office areas and student study areas.
College enrollment continued its climb through 2011 and 2012, then started a decrease. A variety of factors contributed to the decline, including smaller high school graduating classes, changes in Pell Grant availability for summer and the conclusion of programs like No Worker Left Behind that had been available from 2007 to 2010. Cuts in programs and personnel were made to bring the College’s budget back into balance.
To broaden access to local students, in 2012 the Jackson Community College Foundation purchased a 42,000-square-foot building to lease back to the College as a new campus. The building, located near the crossroads of Interstate 94 and US-127. Originally called the North Campus, it provides an easily accessible option to students from the northern areas of Jackson County and to non-traditional students who may take classes in the evening. It provides high visibility for college marketing as it is easily seen from I-94. In 2013, it was renamed the W.J. Maher Campus in honor of alumnus William J. Maher, a longtime local businessman and pilot who had served both the College Flight Center Advisory Board and the JC Foundation Board of Directors.
A momentous change came in June 2013, when the Board of Trustees voted to rename the institution Jackson College, from Jackson Community College. President Daniel J. Phelan suggested the name change because of the changing ability for a community college to offer a limited number of bachelor’s degrees, as well as an emphasis on drawing more international students. Focus groups and advisory meetings were held in the months leading up to the name change, and feedback was positive on the change, as well as keeping “Jackson” in the final decision. This marked the third name change in the College’s history.
In 2014, Jackson College received authorization from the Higher Learning Commission to offer its first-ever bachelor’s degree program, the Bachelor of Science in Energy Systems Management. It prepared students for professional careers in the energy industry. The College saw its first bachelor’s degree graduate in 2017.
The decade has seen continued campus growth with a third student housing unit, Campus View 3, opening in 2015. With three facilities, the College’s resident capacity is near 500 students. To help both campus residents and all students connect on campus, a new recreation area was created in 2015 in the former Community Events Center, now the Jets Hangar. The Hangar provides meeting and recreation space for students, computer access, offices for security and campus life, as well as a Subway restaurant.
In 2015, work began on the renovation of Bert Walker Hall. Space was added for a large community room, and the building was reconfigured to house all of Student Services. With the College’s emphasis on student success, the decade has seen a shift to hiring more student success navigators – beyond an advisor, a total resource person and coach for students throughout their college experience. Walker Hall houses navigator offices, as well as financial aid, the Center for Student Success, Veterans Services, Multicultural Affairs and more. In addition, it houses classrooms and faculty offices for language, literature and arts department.
In 2017, Jackson College gained approval for its second bachelor’s degree, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Culinary Management and Hospitality. With society’s trend of eating out more and more, there is growing demand in both the culinary and hospitality fields for qualified professionals.