Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College is rolling out a computer program designed to lead to greater student success.

The system will let faculty track student academic progress and better provide resources to at-risk students.

“It touches every faculty and they can very quickly identify students that are at risk. We are rolling it out in stages,” Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs Richard Murphy told the OCtech Area Commission during its Feb. 20 meeting.

The college began trying out the system over a year ago, Murphy said. It will fully roll out the system later this spring.

A teacher or staff member will be able to see if a student is at risk, generate alerts for students about academic progress, refer students to college services or provide students with praise reports for a job well done.

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For example, Murphy said a criminal justice teacher could look up all enrolled students with a grade point average of less than a 2.5 and send a message to them through text or email, if needed.

Faculty will be able to attach comments when referring a student to another faculty member or department, detailing background on the student and the student’s needs.

The platform will also allow students to create appointments with faculty and staff members, Murphy said.

In other matters, commissioners unanimously voted to give Vice President of Business Affairs Kim Huff the authority to put together a bid proposal of up to $300,000 toward the replacement of 80 windows in the college’s nursing building.

President Dr. Walt Tobin said the sealant that connects the windows together is beginning to erode. Typically, the windows have a cover over the sealant, but in the case of the nursing building, the sealant cover was never installed, he said.

Commission Chairman Landy Weathers said there were some discussions with the contractor and it was determined, “the best thing to do is just fix it and move on.”

The college cut the ribbon on the $12.5 million, 30,000-square-foot nursing building in March 2020.

Commissioners also unanimously voted to approve adjustments to the 2023-24 operating budget now that they have a better understanding of the amount of state funding the college will receive.

“You can see that we are using about $400,000 of contingency,” Huff said. “Some of that was for computer lab replacements.”

Huff said some of the contingency funds were also used for salary adjustments to bring them more in line with other technical colleges in the state.

“There is a plan over the next couple of years to continue to do that. This is a step in the right direction.” Huff said.

Huff said the adjustment takes the college’s contingency funds down to $223,000, but noted there is additional tuition revenue that is not included in the numbers.

“Our budget is still in very good shape for the current year,” Huff said.

Huff also gave an update on various building projects on campus.

The college continues to wait for equipment to be delivered so it can move the machine tool laboratory to the college’s transportation Building T.

“The goal is to possibly be down in that space for the start of the fall semester, but equipment procurement may cause some of the delay,” Huff said. It could take four to six months to get the equipment.

Huff said work on the student commons and kitchen area in Building S continues with a projected opening date sometime in June.

Huff also said renovation work on the college’s health science Building K is on hold as the college waits for additional money from the state.

The bids for the project were higher than the college anticipated. College officials hope they will know how much the state can provide for the project this summer.

The renovation project is expected to cost between $3 million and $4 million. The project could start in the fall if money comes from the state, Huff said.

In other business:

• The college’s Home and Garden Symposium is scheduled for Wednesday, May 8.

The keynote speaker will be Bryce Lane, a professor from North Carolina State University with more than 34 years of experience teaching horticulture.

• The college recognized its own South Carolina Technical Education Association Teachers of the Year at its Feb. 9 spring convocation.

Teachers honored were Frances Andrews, radiation technology coordinator, and Amanda Dempsey, assistant director of financial aid.

The college also recognized its own merit-based Educators of the Year at the convocation, including: Waylon Ulmer, welding program coordinator; Tammie Jenkins, TRIO director and David Palecek, adjunct instructor in the automotive department.

TRIO is a federal outreach and student service program designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

• Commissioners unanimously approved the revision of five policies related to externally funded contracts and grants, identity theft, employment practices, withdrawal from courses and cross registration.

There were no substantial changes to the policies.

• Commissioners unanimously reviewed and approved nine policies. The college is required to review policies every three years.

The policies approved included: the utilization of building and grounds, security services, college employee work schedules, faculty workload, employment background, employment investigations and student identification cards, to name a few.

There were no changes in the policies.

• Faculty will be attending an artificial intelligence training series in the near future.

Topics include effective AI prompts, levering AI to develop course resources, teaching with AI, AI-resistant learning experiences and empowering students to use AI responsibly.

• Commissioners entered into closed session to discuss a contractual and personnel matter.

• The next commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 19, at 3 p.m. at the South Carolina Electric and Gas executive boardroom in Building S on campus.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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