President’s Messages 2011

President’s Message, January 2011

Community members,

Happy New Year! I trust you had an enjoyable holiday season and are beginning the New Year with hope and optimism for a prosperous 2011.

Science education, as identified by the National Science Foundation is key to economic growth and development. Governments across the world have been demonstrating their agreement with this principle by investing heavily in science and technology education, and are quickly catching up to the leadership position long held in this area by the United States. Of particular concern to the National Science Foundation is lagging student interest in studying natural sciences or engineering, which affects the ability to acquire the technical skills and knowledge that are essential for knowledge-intensive economies.

In the developing world, the number of first university Natural Science & Engineering degrees, broadly comparable to a U.S. baccalaureate, is rising, led by large increases in China, from about 239,000 in 1998 to 807,000 in 2006.

Community colleges play an important role in the ability of the United States to maintain its leadership role in science as these institutions provide an important pool of students who go on to four year science degrees, as well as the fact that many two year science programs prepare students for science related occupations directly.

At MCC, the importance of science has been long recognized in the structuring of our academic programs and in the planning of facilities and equipment purchases. However, these facilities are aging, are only minimally handicap accessible, and don’t provide enough space or technology to provide our students an excellent science education.

That is why the 2010 Facilities Master Plan called for the renovation of approximately 20,000 SF of existing lab and classroom space into larger, technology-rich instructional spaces. The plan also called for the construction of a new two level addition to the current science wing which would create 21,000 SF of new space for six new labs, including preparation space, and six new instructional classrooms.

When the Board of Trustees recently met to prioritize projects listed in the Master Plan, the science addition was the number one choice of six of the Trustees, clearly making it their top priority. Also selected for prioritization were Health Education upgrades at the Bartels-Rode Gymnasium and Creative and Performing Arts facilities improvements.

MCC has already begun the process of realizing these building enhancements as the five year capital outlay plan of the college recently submitted to the State of Michigan listed the Science addition as the college’s number one priority for consideration of state funds in the fiscal year 2012.

Whether it is science, or any of our programmatic areas, we are striving to do our best to position our institution for success. Thanks for your participation in our mission here at Muskegon Community College and all the best on the New Year.

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D.
President

 

President’s Message, February 2011

Community members,

Welcome to February. While this is the shortest month of the year, it can sometimes feel like the longest, and we certainly got the month started with a bang. For us here at the college there is light at the end of the tunnel, or at least an oasis, as mid-semester break begins at the very end of this month.

This month I’ll continue my presentation of the facility needs that the Muskegon Community College Board of Trustees has prioritized as being in need of attention. After focusing on our top priority last month, science facilities, I’ll turn to recreation and athletic facilities this month.

Here at MCC we are all extremely proud of our HPER department and our athletics teams. These programs provide outstanding education and extracurricular activities for our students. Physical education and organized sports are key strategies to develop healthy and productive citizens according to the President’s Council on Fitness.

At MCC our recreation and athletic facilities are barely adequate to meet this high calling. Our primary facility is the Bartels-Rode Gymnasium, which opened to the public in 1967. It is the most heavily used facility on campus and was determined to be borderline in the 2010 Facility Master Plan. While the overall site scored well on the assessment tool used by the master planners, the gymnasium building itself was found to have numerous deficiencies. The building has no easily recognizable entrance, the roof is in need of replacement, and the finishes are aging and showing wear.

For these reasons, the consultants recommended the following regarding our recreation and athletic facilities:

  • Renovate existing outdoor tennis courts.
  • Expand the outdoor archery range.
  • Renovate the existing Bartels-Rode Gymnasium building, including new selected HVAC and electrical equipment, improved lighting, improved finishes and renovated locker facilities.
  • Expand the existing building by providing the following spaces:
    1. New non-competition gymnasium or recreation area
    2. New locker rooms
    3. New training room
    4. Five office spaces
    5. Three instructional classroom spaces
    6. New fitness center for student use
    7. Climbing wall
    8. Laundry facility
    9. New common lobby uniting the existing building with the new addition.

With the state of Michigan facing a tough financial situation, and with challenges to our local property tax revenues as well, the road to achieving these improvements is not as clear as we would like. However, the Board of Trustees and I remain committed to pursue every and any opportunity to make these improvements a reality. Our students and community are counting on an institution that provides excellent opportunity in this area, and one that leads our region to health and well being.

As usual, please feel free to contact me at president@muskegoncc.edu, at phone at 231-777-0303, or stop by my office at room 400, Main Building on campus.

Sincerely,

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D
President, Muskegon Community College

President’s Message, March 2011

Community members,

It’s hard to believe that MCC’s Mid-Semester break is behind us and we have entered the second half of the Winter 2011 semester. As the end of the semester draws near, I want to reemphasize MCC’s commitment to do what it takes to help you support our students.

After focusing my message on Science Facilities and Recreation/Athletic facilities the past two months, I’ll wrap up my focus on facility needs by turning to our Creative and Performing Arts facilities. As you may be aware, the MCC Board of Trustees prioritized facilities master plan projects in the order of Science, Recreation, and the Arts, in that order.

The Creative and Performing Arts have a long and proud history at MCC. Faculty have nurtured students in Art, Dance, Humanities, Music, Philosophy and Theater over the years. In addition, the department has enlightened the campus and the wider community through the presentation of cultural opportunities, such as art exhibits, plays, and lectures.

Regardless of these contributions, the facilities supporting arts education are lacking. In particular the Visual Arts building is separated from the main building and is inadequate to meet the department’s needs. As a part of the 2010 Master Plan Building Assessment, the facility received 502 of a possible 1150 points, earning a grade of “poor”. The building lacks proper insulation, is not handicap accessible, has soundproofing and structural issues with systems interfering with class activities, and has an inefficient or altogether lacking HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system.

The Frauenthal Foundation Fine Arts Center, our primary performing arts exhibition and performing center also has challenges, making it a less than adequate pedagogical resource. The building’s electrical, technology, stage, storage, and music performance areas are all cited by the MCC Facilities Master Plan as being problematic.

The Master Plan points to two solutions to these issues. One option is to construct an addition to the south of the Frauenthal Arts Building designed to support Creative and Performing Arts. The space would include five visual art studios, three instructional classrooms, offices for faculty, an exhibition gallery for display of artwork, as well as support spaces such as ceramics, fibers, and acrylics, and storage for bulk materials. The addition would also include an expanded scene shop and dressing rooms at the Overbrook Theater. The existing Overbrook Theater would be renovated, as would the vocal and instrumental music spaces.

A second option is the creation of a Downtown Muskegon Arts Center. As part of its new strategic direction, and in its position as an economic development engine for the greater Muskegon area, a new presence in downtown Muskegon provides an opportunity to relocate the visual art department on the main campus to new quarters there. This project includes a new building or renovated space of about 35,000 SF, to be built on a site within the downtown core or within walking distance of the downtown core.

The implementation of either of these solutions depends on the resources that become available to MCC, and will be weighed with funding opportunities for our other identified priorities including the Science addition and the Gymnasium renovation. We are committed to pursue every and any opportunity to make all of these improvements a reality and continue to make MCC a leader for higher education in the Muskegon area.

Again, as we head into the “make it or break it” portion of our winter semester, I am confident we are doing all we can to help students succeed in line with our commitment to Achieving the Dream. Please feel free to contact me at president@muskegoncc.edu, via phone at 231-777-0303, or stop by my office at room 400, Main Building on campus.

Best regards,

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D.
President, Muskegon Community College

President’s Message April 2011

Community members,

Here at MCC, April is a month to complete what we started, prepare to celebrate, and look ahead. Before the month ends final exams will have started and work from the semester will be evaluated. With Commencement set for May 4th, final preparations are underway for this key annual event; and with the wrapping up of the winter term comes thoughts of new fiscal and academic years here at MCC. To this end, I’d like to focus this month’s message on that last point, as we contemplate the budget environment we face for FY 2012.

It’s no surprise that the fiscal environment is challenging and somewhat uncertain this year. At the state level the budget has dominated the news. With new economic realities presenting themselves, significant changes face all of higher education, including MCC. In this context, I have been availing myself of every opportunity to discuss the impacts budget proposals may have on MCC with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Senators, State Representatives and community leaders.

At this point, I’d like to share with you the following factors that will impact the MCC FY 2012 budget and how we plan to respond:

  • Local Property Tax (millage) Revenues: We are estimating a three percent drop in property tax revenues next year, a change supported by major West Michigan economists. Our budget will present multiple scenarios, ranging from zero to five percent reductions in property tax revenues.
  • State Revenues Current Year and FY 2012: While Governor Snyder has asked the legislature not to reduce 2012 community college funding levels, legislative committees are considering reductions of up to 15 percent, or $1.2 million. I am asking that all of those interested in supporting our ability to provide excellent services contact your elected state officials to share with them why you think they need to continue to fund the college and what impact a reduction would have on you. Here are examples of what a 15 percent reduction in state funding could potentially mean to MCC:
    • 400 full student tuition/fee scholarships lost, or
    • 17 full time faculty positions lost, or
    • Elimination of MCC’s entire women’s and men’s athletic programs
  • Student Headcounts/Tuition and Fees: Flat to falling. While we are very early in the process, preliminary data show a drop in applications to the College. We are taking a conservative approach and projecting a three percent reduction in student headcount for next year, leading to a possible reduction in revenue to the College. Please keep in mind that:
    • MCC Tuition Rates remain comparatively low. At $77 per contact hour, MCC remains among the lowest tuition in Michigan for community colleges. Even with a modest increase next year, our tuition will remain many times less than four-year public, private, and for-profit institutions, which range from $360 to $800 per credit hour
    • Summer 2011 applications are converting to high enrollments, approximately the same as last year’s record numbers. This supports the contention that our strong programs and competitive pricing compare well when decision time faces prospective students
    • New and expanded programs and articulations are operational. MCC is not passively waiting for economic factors to drive enrollment. Our 25 plus new and expanded programs are engaging students, many of whom would have not considered MCC previously. You can learn about all these opportunities at www.muskegoncc.edu/new
    • Economic factors will have an impact on enrollments. $4.00 a gallon gasoline and an improving job market will impact applications, as evidenced by lower applications in the early stages of the 2012 recruitment cycle.

Clearly, much work remains to further clarify and solidify our financial position for FY 2012. As we navigate these uncertain times I ask for your support and encouragement. This will be of great assistance as we make our case, demonstrating the importance of our mission and our efficacy in carrying that mission out to the benefit of our community. As always feel free to contact me at president@muskegoncc.edu, via phone at 231-777-0303, or stop by my office at room 400, Main Building on campus.

Best regards,

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D.
President

 

 

President’s Message, May 2011

MCC’s recently held commencement marked the “end” of our academic year, and it was a wonderful celebration of the accomplishments of our students. With the number of graduates up 35% over last year, we are proud to be a part of a growing number students succeeding here in Muskegon. The participation of Governor Rick Snyder was a distinct honor and represented the first time in the 85 year history of MCC that a sitting governor served as commencement speaker. Student speaker Nicolas Chibanda stole the show. A native of Zimbabwe, Nicolas overcame incredible odds to succeed at MCC and looks forward to a future as a medical doctor. All in all, it was a memorable day for our graduates to celebrate with their friends and families.

The Governor’s visit and message to the MCC community was challenging and insightful regarding the future environment for community colleges in the state of Michigan. Clearly community colleges have an important role to play. It is additionally clear that in spite of this role, community colleges are part of the wider debate taking place in the state regarding funding levels for the various components of our educational system.

First, we agree wholeheartedly that community colleges are a key for people of all ages being able to access higher education, and earn a degree. The knowledge and skills gained through community colleges are critical to improving the quality of the state’s workforce. Further, we agree that education will enable our young people to compete and innovate in tomorrow’s global knowledge-based economy, which is critical for the re-invention Michigan is currently undergoing.

Second, the state’s fiscal environment remains a concern. The Governor asked the legislature not to reduce 2012 community college funding levels. In spite of this, legislative committees considered reductions of up to 15 percent, or $1.2 million in the case of MCC. The final budget will not be in place until, or about, June 1. However, last week the State House passed a budget bill which pegged cuts to community colleges at 15%.

To make this simple percentage real, here are some examples of what a 15 percent cut could potentially mean to MCC:

• 400 full student tuition/fee scholarships lost, or

• 17 full time faculty positions lost, or

• Elimination of MCC’s entire women’s and men’s athletic programs

Here at MCC, we are committed to operating efficiently, and providing measurable outcomes for the resources allocated to our mission. As evidenced in our commencement ceremony, we are achieving great success and we are grateful for the ongoing support of the Muskegon community. With strong academic, co-curricular, and technical programs, we are well placed to respond to the needs of a 21st century economy and the specific needs of residents of our community. Moreover, with over 25 new programs and services, we are meeting the needs of our current students and those interested in being a part of what we believe is a special institution.

Please feel free to contact me at president@muskegoncc.edu, via phone at 231-777-0303, or visit our campus at 221 South Quarterline Road to learn more.

Best regards,

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D.
President,
Muskegon Community College

 

President’s Message, June 2011

Summer’s here! After a slow start, summer has arrived in full force with warm weather, sunny blue skies, and the first big Muskegon event of the season, the Hot Rod Power Tour. It provided a chance for the public to experience our new alternative energy and biofuel programs, as MCC students were showing off our biodiesel pickup, our electric dragster, and our ethanol powered NASCAR style racer, all built by students using home “grown” resources. MCC is fortunate to be a part of the Muskegon community, which is blessed by wonderful natural resources and a vibrant community that welcomes so many visitors over the summer season to enjoy our surroundings and events.

Summer also marks crunch time for academic year planning purposes, with the fiscal year budget being a major milestone that determines the course for MCC in the coming year. After several months, the state budget was adopted in May, the earliest in nearly 20 years. This has given MCC clarity for our budget, which begins in July, while the State fiscal year begins in October. After considerable debate and competing proposals, Muskegon Community College received a modest 4.2% reduction in state funding, less than the 15 percent cut initially approved by the State House.

Summer is a great time to welcome the community to enjoy our beautiful campus and we have already had a great start to the MCC community events calendar with a successful Mayfest and Annual Golf Outing. This year, MCC is adding a number of summer events to continue to strengthen our relationship to the community. On Saturday, June 18 from 6-9 pm in Collegiate Hall, we will host our inaugural ReunionFest, an “All Class” reunion that will feature fun, food, mingling and nostalgia. Participants will have a chance to take a tour, watch a planetarium show, take part in a theater workshop, browse a photo archive display, and more, all for $10 at the door. Be sure to RSVP at www.muskegoncc.edu/reunion.

And right at the tail end of summer, we’re planning Founder’s Day, an event that will celebrate MCC’s 85th Anniversary. September 15, 2011. This circa 1926 style reception, at The Lake House, will feature live jazz, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, and presentations including a State of the College address by me. Visit www.muskegoncc.edu/foundersday for complete information.

With fall planning, and all of the fun of summer, we’re not failing to remember our primary purpose here at MCC; serving students. As I’ve been out and about in the community, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting numerous exemplary students who are planning on attending MCC this fall. We are looking forward to their arrival and to serving them with excellence and helping them . They include,

Nicole Walsworth (Holton High School), honors student, student council leader and a basketball player attending MCC on scholarship this fall.

Chelsea Meloche (Grand Haven High School), a Top Honors student, a violin player in the symphony orchestra, and a softball player attending MCC this fall.

Drew Johnson (Reeths Puffer High School), a baseball shortstop, a soccer player, and a MCC scholarship recipient.

 

We’re grateful for the role MCC plays to touch the lives of our area’s students and we promise to continue to take our mission, and the needs of our community seriously. As always, feel free to contact me at president@muskegoncc.edu, via phone at 231-777-0303, or visit our campus at 221 South Quarterline Road to learn more.

Best regards,

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D
President,
Muskegon Community College

 


President’s Message, July 2011

Summer’s in full swing as we have reached the traditional summer high between the Fourth of July and Labor Day, though by September MCC will be back in full swing with classes starting Monday, August 29, and Welcome Days activities the week before that. Last month I introduced a number of successful high school students (see YouTube video) who will be at MCC on that first day of school. This month I’ll focus on our continued efforts to create an environment at MCC where those students, and all of our students, are ensured the opportunity to succeed through the creation of a student success committee.

MCC has had a number of initiatives over the last two years aimed at student success. Our re-accreditation process, strategic planning process, and particularly our participation in the national “Achieving the Dream” program have created committees and stakeholders at MCC with an eye to improving our results in helping students succeed. This new committee will now house all of those efforts, as well as launch new initiatives, that will move the College to the next level of getting students to start, stay, and succeed at MCC.

Chaired by our new Vice President for Student Services, John Selmon, and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Teresa Sturrus, the committee brings together students, staff and faculty with the purpose of measuring and increasing student success. The major activities of the committee will fall under three initiative areas; Achieving the Dream, College-Readiness, and Early Intervention. Achieving the Dream activities will continue to focus on Developmental Courses, Orientation, College Success Course Redevelopment, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, the Survey of Entering Student Engagement and Student Satisfaction surveys. Campus based College-Readiness activities will include ensuring that 100% of the students who test into development coursework enroll in the appropriate courses right away, as well participating in the Muskegon Area Teachers of English curriculum concept, and implementing Adult Student Bootcamps. Early Intervention activities will include developing an Early Alert system, implementing Course Signals, creating a First Year Experience Program, focusing on student engagement by encouraging club participation, and an increased focus on volunteer experience and mentorship, among others.

In addition to helping students succeed when they are at MCC, we are also taking unprecedented steps to make sure MCC is accessible for anyone interested in continuing their education. Our Student Services division is extending the hours of MCC’s Student Welcome Center, where students can accomplish all tasks related to enrolling and registering at MCC, as well as holding Welcome Wednesday open houses to provide answers and walk prospective students through the process one-on-one with college personnel. These actions are particularly important as MCC is facing the dual challenges of reduced state funding and the potential of limited Pell Grant funding and workforce funding at the Federal level. I want to thank all of you for the efforts that you have given and will continue to give.

So, as summer continues, know that our eyes are fixed firmly on our mission and the students we will receive in the fall, and we are doing all we can to make the community aware of the educational opportunities we offer as well as ensure that students who begin classes here have a great experience and are successful..

As always, feel free to contact me at president@muskegoncc.edu, via phone at 231-777-0303, or visit our campus at 221 South Quarterline Road to learn more.

Best regards,

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D.
President,
Muskegon Community College

 

President’s Message, August 2011

Students, Faculty and Staff:

Muskegon Community College suffered a great loss the last week of July when Board of Trustees Chair Larry Wright passed away. Wright started his first elected term on the Board of Trustees in 2005, and progressed to Secretary, then Vice Chair, and most recently, Chair of the Board. Wright was a strong advocate for creating affordable access to education and having businesses and MCC partner to create a skilled work force. The MCC Board of Trustees plans to recognize Larry Wright’s service to the College and greater community. On behalf of the college community, our thoughts and prayers go to Jane Wright and the Wright family.

MCC continues to prepare for the Fall 2011 semester. We are on track for the second highest enrollment in the history of MCC and are pushing to meet or exceed last year’s record numbers. To get the academic year off to a good start, Welcome Week begins on Monday, August 22 with classes beginning on Saturday, August 27. The week will focus on orienting our students, faculty and staff to MCC’s student success agenda. Faculty Seminar Days will continue its long-running and successful orientation sessions for full time and adjunct faculty.

On a related note, I want to applaud faculty and staff on the efforts to bring in a strong class of incoming students for the Fall semester. You have been creative and innovative (phone calls, yard signs, parade walkers, and more) in your work to assure that our faculty have classes filled with motivated students and learners. Particularly innovative was the yard sign planted on the deck of Kim Vanderlinde’s boat in Wolf Lake (nicely done ;-). Due to your efforts, please keep the following in mind:

  • Enrollments are running at the second highest level in our history, shy of only last year
  • There still is a chance that we will hit our budgeted headcount, if not our budgeted contact hours, so please keep up your efforts
  • Per research done by Dr. Selmon, our fall enrollment efforts are among the best in the state. We are doing relatively well in a difficult year for community college enrollments
  • This has been accomplished in the face of reduced federal funding/programs, reduced state funding, lower property tax revenues, and a declining number of high school graduates in our service area

Bringing in a strong fall class remains among the most important tasks that we all have. The more students we bring in the fold means a better educated workforce, a stronger regional economy, and a demonstration that, yet again, MCC is a leader in higher education in the State of Michigan.

Recent activities at the federal level have been a concern to our educational mission at MCC. The recent debate over the debt ceiling led many, including those of us in higher education, to clearly articulate the continuing need for programs such as the Pell Grant, Perkins, and many others critical to our students’ success. Federal student aid programs provide over 3,200 of our 5,500 students with direct financial support to attend MCC each year. If student aid is reduced, many students would have few or no options to continue to attend college. We urge the community to be informed on this issue and let your elected representatives know that we believe cutting programs such as Pell will do significant harm to our students’ ability to attend college. Nonetheless, the College continues to create efficiencies to ensure that external threats to our financial viability are minimized.

The month of July also saw a number of long time faculty and staff retire. On behalf of the College, I say thank you to all for a job very well done. Others have moved from one position to another. One example is Dan Rinsema-Sybenga, formerly of the Office of Community Relations, now serving as Director of the Lakeshore Business and Industrial Service Center. As was the case last year, we have a number of newly hired faculty and staff already on board. Good luck to you all, and may you spend a long and successful career here at MCC!

As we move into the 2011-12 academic year, rest assured that we are focused on our mission and are excited to be welcoming students back and to MCC. We will do all we can to ensure that students have a great experience and are successful. As always, please feel free to contact me at president@muskegoncc.edu, via phone at 231-777-0303, or stop by my office at Room 400, Main Building on campus.

Best regards,

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D.
President

 

President’s Message, September 2011

Students, Faculty, and Staff:

This is a special year for MCC. We are celebrating 85 years of service to our community as an educational, cultural and economic gateway to opportunity. Across the decades, the College has continuously offered relevant programs to meet the ever-changing needs of our students and the complex world in which they live and work.

As we mark our founding as Muskegon’s first college in 1926, I am proud to share our most recent accomplishments in our 2010-2011 Annual Report. The document will be available online at the end of the month at www.muskegoncc.edu.

The Annual Report details the many ways that MCC has adapted its academic and co-curricular programs and developed new opportunities that anticipate emerging trends. When you read this publication, you will discover how we value our close working relationship with local educators, community partners, businesses and foundations in our ongoing efforts to guarantee we are creating the first and best choice for success.

The vitality of our campus is reflected in the many student life activities and supportive services that lead to achievement of goals and the experience of personal success. Meanwhile, our exceptional and caring faculty members ensure that MCC retains the high standard of academic excellence that has been its hallmark since its inception.

Through our outstanding fine arts programs and facilities, MCC has taken pride in our role as a cultural center for Muskegon County. Economically, MCC graduates form an educated and trained workforce vital to our region’s employers.

For 85 years, the history of MCC and that of Muskegon County have been inexorably intertwined. Our alumni have left an indelible imprint on the community as business leaders, educators, nurses, professionals and trained workers in every field imaginable. Generations of family members have studied in our classrooms. MCC has opened the doors of opportunity. With your support, together we will continue to make a difference.

Best Regards,

Dale K. Nesbary, Ph.D.
President
president@muskegoncc.edu

 

President’s Message, October 2011

Students, Faculty and Staff:

As we approach the midpoint of the Fall semester, I hope that you are enjoying the beautiful fall colors as well as the summer-like temperatures. In this message, I will describe a number of programs offered by the College that maximize the likelihood for student success. These programs highlight the responsibility that we have to our students to assure that they leave the College prepared to compete individually, in the West Michigan region as well as globally.

Under the leadership of Vice Presidents John Selmon and Teresa Sturrus, a Student Success Initiatives Committee was established this past summer. An initial presentation was given to the College community during Welcome Week. The committee, comprising faculty and staff and students, oversees several ongoing major success and assessment programs on campus. These programs include Achieving the Dream, the Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation process, and our Strategic Plan.

Achieving the Dream is funded by the Kresge Foundation and focuses on students who are most at risk of failing, particularly economically disadvantaged and minority students. The Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation process is an extensive 10 year review of the College which will soon transform into an ongoing continuous improvement process designed to improve the effectiveness of colleges, including MCC. Finally, our Strategic Plan is written to guarantee that all areas of the college are aligned with our mission, and offer all who attend the absolute best education, period. The Student Success Initiatives Committee will make sure that these and other initiatives on campus keep student success front and center. Simply put, the Committee will help all of our students finish what they start.

Student Success at MCC is not a static concept. Many practical programs and activities have been launched, including:

College Bootcamp. This is a free, 6-week seminar designed specifically for adults who have been away from the classroom setting for some time. Bootcamp is provided in a welcoming setting and students receive a Certificate of Completion. The instructor-led sessions allow students to:

  • Receive a personalized career assessment
  • Learn how to brush the rust off of study skills
  • See how college works—from an adult’s perspective
  • Gain the confidence to become a college student

While there is no cost to attend, registration is required. Call (231) 777-0216 or visit the MCC website at http://www.muskegoncc.edu/pages/476.asp to register for Fall, Winter, or Summer sessions.

Early Intervention Initiatives. Several programs were launched with the specific intent of identifying students facing challenges and to quickly respond to those students. Course Signals is a software application designed to help instructors across campus identify students having trouble regarding grades and attendance. Course Signals is expected to be very helpful during the fall semester pilot and will be launched more broadly during upcoming semesters. Maxient helps faculty and staff identify students with challenges outside of the classroom. Whether a student is having challenges acclimating to the college environment or needs a way to identify resources on campus, this software program is a valuable new tool to help MCC serve our students more effectively.

Achieving the Dream has already produced results. Developmental Math (036 – 038) has been identified as challenging for many students. Piloted by instructor J.B. Meeuwenberg, Math 036 and Math 038 — which focus on mathematic concepts up to pre-algebra have been combined into one course. Having proved successful at other colleges, it is expected that students at MCC will pass at a higher rate and move on to college level math.

Information on these and other programs may be found on our website at www.muskegoncc.edu. Please contact me at president@muskegoncc.edu, via phone at 231-777-0303, or stop by my office at Room 400, Main Building on campus with any comments or questions and, as always, strive for excellence.

Best regards,

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D
President

 

President’s Message, November 2011

Students, Faculty and Staff:

The Muskegon Community College 2010-15 Strategic Plan lists academic foresight as its first priority. The College seeks to anticipate, analyze and justify existing and new academic programs. Each program must be viable, sustainable and financially feasible. Special emphasis is placed on liberal arts and general education, distance education, health care/core sciences, fine arts/visual arts and continuing education.

To me, this initiative requires MCC community members to focus on those activities that help our students leave us as more effective individuals than when they arrived on campus.

Along these lines, I was recently asked the question, “Why do we focus on programs like ethics, history, or social sciences?” The implication was that these core liberal arts programs do not or cannot prepare students for the real world. As you might imagine, I begged to differ. In defense, I shared my perspective on why a strong liberal arts core is exactly the training that the 21st century workplace requires of our students.

Let me share some of my reasons.

First, given the rate of technological change, it is essential that our citizenry have grounding in ethics, critical thinking, decision making, and a basic understanding of our society and economy. No matter the job, these skills will serve one well.

Second, to provide training in very specific technical disciplines, without an underpinning in the above areas, places our students at an extreme disadvantage. MCC educates students in programs as diverse as nursing and computer-aided manufacturing. They will use devices that did not exist 10 years ago. Similarly, these same students when employed will be asked in the future to master apparatuses yet to be invented. They need decision-making and critical-thinking skills to make the transition. Without them, our students would find themselves severely challenged to function effectively in this changing economy.

Third, our changing economy and society require creativity, innovation and good judgment. Our citizens must be able to predict changes, implement effective policies to address the changes and have the creative abilities to respond to unanticipated events.

Business, government agencies, nonprofits, and the broad array of social organizations seek multi-talented individuals with the “soft skills” required to function in our changing world. The New York Times reported on a survey conducted by HR.com and the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) of hiring managers and HR specialists. The survey results revealed that 67 percent of those polled would hire an applicant with strong soft skills whose technical skills were a little short. Only nine percent said they would hire someone who had strong technical expertise but weak interpersonal skills.

Clearly, colleges need to continue to provide the skill set – liberal arts and the sciences -necessary to equip our students well.

A recent InsideHigherEd.com article posed the question, “Given the choice, would you rather produce worker bees or the next generation of leaders?”

The article explains that many grant-funded workforce development programs are “quick hits” rather than core components of academic programs/curricula. The author challenges college faculty and administrators to be more flexible in quickly incorporating the best ideas into programming. These two points cut to the core of why MCC equips our students with all the necessary skills and remains flexible in helping our business partners respond to community needs. We maintain a robust array of advisory boards serving our various departments to help us understand the needs of our constituents.

I would like to hear more from our community regarding what more we can implement or change to help in this regard. Please contact me at president@muskegoncc.edu, via phone at 231-777-0303, or stop by my office at Room 400, Main Building.

Best regards,

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D.
President

 

 

President’s Message, December 2011

Students, Faculty and Staff:

In November, I began a discussion of the five priorities listed in the Muskegon Community College 2010-15 Strategic Plan. Priority #2 of the plan is Services to Students and Community. This includes a focus on career development, diversity, and student success. Of the five priorities, this one most closely aligns with MCC’s mission to offer programs to our students “that respond to individual, community and global needs.” This means to me that the College needs to first and foremost understand its students before they arrive on campus and develop programs that ensure that they are successful here at MCC and when they move to our four year partner institutions or return to the workforce.

In my October Message, I discussed a campus initiative led by Dr. John Selmon, Vice President of Student Services, and Teresa Sturrus, Vice President of Academic Affairs. I reported that a broadly cast Student Success Committee had been established to consolidate student success and assessment programs on campus. The Committee had by that time already created a College Bootcamp designed for adults returning to the classroom, established programs designed to help students succeed during the first weeks of the semester, and coordinated with the College’s Achieving the Dream initiative.

The following reflects what the committee has accomplished since, and where we expect it to go in the future.

On December 12, Dr. Selmon and Ms. Sturrus presented “Student Success: Pathways to Completion” to the MCC Board of Trustees. The Pathways to Completion initiative provides guidance to students regarding the most effective and efficient way to complete a degree or certificate, using every resource available on campus, including faculty, staff, fellow students, the Board of Trustees and the greater community. Ultimately, the Project prepares students to enter the workforce, transfer to a four year partner institution, or continue their education through lifelong learning. Moreover, in 2010, the American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees and several other organizations released The Completion Agenda: A Call to Action (http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Publications/Reports/Documents/CompletionAgenda_report.pdf) upon which many tenets of Pathways to Completion was based. By reading this and related research, you will better understand the College’s completion agenda, including:

  • Student commitment and how to get it
  • Accountability for outcomes
  • Our completion toolkit (the Pathways to Completion Project), and
  • Obstacles and how to overcome them

It is also critical that our greater community understand the value and importance of having our students complete, remain in the area, and fill the many jobs that go unfilled in the state. On December 1, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder launched a Talent Dashboard (http://www.michigan.gov/midashboard/0,4624,7-256-59624—,00.html), designed to measure the alignment of talent produced by the state (education, workforce agencies etc.) and the employer community at large. In launching the Dashboard, the Governor noted the lingering mismatch between what STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) employers require and the ability of education to meet their needs. He explained that well over 70,000 STEM positions could not currently be filled. If the positions could be filled, Michigan’s unemployment rate would drop two full points, from 10.6% to roughly 8.6%.

These are exactly the fields in which community colleges are strong. Our community needs meet this challenge head on.

The Pathways to Completion initiative is a key tool in helping us fill these and other jobs critical to our economy and making Muskegon and West Michigan strong in the foreseeable future. Representatives of the College will be sharing Pathways to Completion with the broader community over the next several months. I urge you to work with us and help our students to succeed.

Dale Nesbary, Ph.D.
President