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NCK Tech prepares for celebration





There's been a lot of changes from the college's humble beginning in 1964, when a vocational technical school was started and classes took place in a variety of locations in the north-central Kansas town of Beloit.

Now featuring a full campus complete with student housing, a satellite campus in Hays and a new brand -- NCK Tech -- the North Central Kansas Technical College is kicking off a year of celebrating its 50th anniversary.

A dinner and auction on the Beloit campus Saturday night will serve as the inaugural golden jubilee event.

There also will be other anniversary activities scheduled throughout the year, with a finale at the Hays campus in the spring.

Just years after its start, Beloit/Vo-Tech, as it became known, partnered with former St. Anthony Hospital to start a pilot program in Hays. That evolved into a full-fledged satellite campus in Hays.

The vocational school was elevated to technical college status in 1994, and two years ago, the college took on a new brand with the shortened name NCK Tech.

The school that began with six programs now serves more than 600 students in 20 different programs.

Eric Burks, current president of the technical college, wasn't around when the school started -- he was born in 1973 -- but he still has had several connections to NCK Tech for years.

"My closest connection to 1964 was that I drove a '67 Mustang in high school, and my dad is a 1970 grad of the electrical program (at NCK Tech)," said Burks, who grew up in Jewell County north of Beloit and now lives in Jewell with his wife, Deidra, and their five children.

The college -- which still carries the same philosophy it always has, and its current slogan is "Hands-On Skills. High-Tech Careers" -- has been recognized by numerous national organizations, which ranked NCK Tech in the top 10 for a variety of categories, such as including sustained achievement outcomes, learning outcomes, cost-to-value outcomes and more.

More information about the college can be found at www.ncktc.edu.

"I'm honored to be the lead administrator at a place that's had so much success and had such high standards for people who work here," Burks said. "There have been so many people who have contributed to the success of the institution for a lot of years, and I think it's great we have a chance to celebrate those successes."

Burks said the year of celebration also is a good way "to pay tribute to those people," and he is "looking forward to more of the same.

"It's exciting for me for the next 50 years and what is to come," he said.

Several past administrators and former instructors will be present at Saturday's anniversary kickoff event, including Bob Severance, who has been involved with the school in one way or another for its entire 50 years.

Severance taught in the vocational agriculture department for the first three years before taking over in 1966 as director, a position he held until his retirement in 1992. He and his wife, Dorcas, remained living in Beloit, and he has stayed involved with the college since. Two years ago, the swimming pool in the student union on the Beloit campus was named after severance.