PTC Recognized for Lean Implementation for Second Year

Piedmont Technical College’s work to implement the Lean methodology in a community college setting has won the College a second national recognition.

PTC has been selected as a finalist for a prestigious 2013 Bellwether Award, which recognizes outstanding, innovative programs and practices that are successfully leading community colleges into the future.

“We’re honored to be chosen to present again,” said Dr. Ray Brooks, PTC president. “The Bellwether conference hosts some of the top community colleges in the country and it’s a huge compliment to be chosen two years in a row.”

The awards are part of the Community College Futures Assembly, established in 1995. Sponsored by the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida, the assembly focuses on cutting-edge, trendsetting programs that other colleges might find worthy of replicating.

The Bellwether Awards are given annually in three categories: Instructional Programs & Services; Planning, Governance & Finance; and Workforce Development. The Bellwether has been called “the award of awards,” and has been compared to football’s Heisman Award because it is competitively judged and is an award given by community college peers, with no cash award. 

PTC is one of 10 finalists in the Planning, Governance & Finance category for “Lean in Higher Education: How it continues to Change Our Culture.” The finalists have been chosen from nominations submitted for community college programs across the United States.

Piedmont Technical College began its organizational change with the Lean program in the summer of 2008. Lean was made famous by Toyota and has been widely adopted throughout the private sector.

“In 2008, we were working to determine how to continue to deliver high quality programming in a time of declining revenue. The question was, and remains, ‘With our budget challenges, how do we get better instead of entering into a downward cycle of retrenchment and cutting?’” said Brooks.

“By choosing Lean, we picked the right tool to move forward,” said Keith Lasure, associate vice president of process development and dean of engineering and industrial technologies. “It’s about eliminating waste and increasing efficiency—two critical factors in an economy like this one.”

Grounded in data-driven problem-solving processes and the empowerment of faculty and staff to drive change, Lean methodology is allowing the College to increase efficiency, trim costs without cutting services and to be more responsive to students and customer needs. PTC is undergoing a complete cultural change with a focus on continuous improvement—a direction vital to the College’s future.

“Our strategic plan is our roadmap through the next few years, and Lean is the vehicle that’s going to get us there,” said Brooks.

The Bellwether Award winners will be announced at the 2013 Community College Futures Assembly, to be held Jan. 26-29 in Orlando, Fla.