From ‘good to great’ – Greenville Daily News

Posted: February 1, 2021 at 6:48 pm

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SIDNEY TOWNSHIP With a history spanning more than five decades to its founding in 1965, Montcalm Community College (MCC) has long served the community as an institution of higher learning.

Throughout that history the college has also grown and expanded, from offering new educational courses, placing a focus on community programs and even expanding outside its boundaries of Sidney with a campus in the city of Greenville.

With a firm grasp of that history in one hand, the college continues to look ahead, reaching out to the future with the other.

As the first step to solidify that focus on the future, MCC has unveiled its official 2021-2024 Strategic Plan to the public today, solidifying a number of goals to accomplish in both the short and long term.

For MCC President Stacy Young, developing the new plan involved a balancing act of both respecting the colleges past and embracing a progressive future.

I think about the people who started the college, the foresight they had to know the college would impact the community in such a positive way and it takes my breath away, she said. Whether it be making sure more of our students go to the college full time or that our facilities are more up to date, thats what this plan is about to make sure everyone is taken care of and that we continue to grow and serve the community.

Vision, mission and values

The plan places renewed definitions on the colleges core focal points vision, mission and values.

According to the plan, the colleges vision is to focus on community inspiration, exceptional education and personal empowerment.

Its mission is outlined as transforming lives through quality education, and in establishing values, the college will place an emphasis on student success, empowerment, relationships, visionary, inclusion, community and excellence.

Its that last list regarding values that has Young most excited, as it was designed by college Board and Foundation members, as well as students, to create an acronym spelling out SERVICE.

Servant leadership and serving others is very important to me, Young said. We are rolling out a year of service in the community and challenging our employees and students to 10,000 hours of community service in the year.

Young said in her year of experience as the colleges president since being hired in January of 2020, shes witnessed enough to believe the goal of reaching 10,000 hours of community service by Dec. 31 of this year is well within reach.

We hope these 10,000 hours allow us to be out in the community more than we are now, she said. We are there to serve our community, whatever that looks like, be it providing a place to learn or go on our nature trails. Our hope is, and we believe we already have a great relationship, but were looking to go from good to great.

Young said she believes the college already impacts the greater Montcalm County community well beyond the walls of the college and she hopes those efforts only continue to increase as outlined as a priority within the plan.

Increased enrollment

Within the strategic plan are four specific goals that have been established: Increase enrollment, improve student success and access, enhance facilities and (increase) community engagement.

The subject of increased enrollment is one that will likely be most challenging, as community colleges across the state and country deal with a current decline in students amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

With enrollment hovering around 1,400 students for the current spring semester, that number of students is among its lowest recorded at the college in the past 20 years down about 15% over the past two years.

However, Young is confident those numbers can begin trending upward once again, with her personal goal to see enrollment climb back above 2,000.

The last time MCC had a fall semester with enrollment surpassing 2,000 students was in 2012 the last of nine consecutive years, beginning in 2004, in which enrollment was at least that high.

My goal is 2,000, but its going to take us a while to get there, Young said. Enrollment is key, but its not just about getting new students, but making sure our current students progress and graduate. We want to make sure they take as many classes as they can and try to move to full-time status.

According to Young, of the colleges entire student population, 76% of those students only attend the college on a part-time basis (less than 12 credits per semester).

Were actually trying to flip that, she said. Most of our students are 18 to 22 years old, and while we know they have certain life circumstances, we really want to help them get in and get done. The faster they get done (with MCC), the faster they can transfer on to another college or begin supporting themselves and their family.

Young said shes hopeful that with the development of a Strategic Enrollment and Marketing Plan, as well as promoting a better awareness of student scholarships, those numbers will begin to trend upward in the near future.

Improve student success and access

In looking to improve student success and access, Young said a number of steps will be taken, including the implementation of a concierge service for students, along with new efforts toward improving diversity, equity and inclusion through the curriculum.

Additionally, the plan calls for more hands-on learning opportunities, as well as a goal to have the college adapt more to the needs of students.

We know we have some work to do there, but we want to lead in this area, Young said. So were starting with our faculty and staff. That concierge service is really something that weve already started the first steps of and its just about helping people who dont know what to do, who dont know what that first step might look like.

Young said those first steps could be as simple as questions about how to buy textbooks or working to overcome early struggles in class.

In looking to add more hands-on learning opportunities, Young said studies have shown that is exactly what the current and upcoming generation of students are looking for in a college environment.

This generation (Generation Z) likes to be involved. They want to help and we want their input, she said. I think thats going to make us stand out among other schools were going to be very hands-on. In a dream world, wed have a student-run coffee house where they are not only managing it, but the marketing class is preparing the marketing materials and the accounting class is handling the books.

Enhance facilities

One of the more costly goals, looking potentially within the next year and also further years down the road, is renovations of current buildings and the potential to construct on-campus housing facilities.

First on the agenda, according to the plan, is to renovate the Kenneth J. Smith Instructional Building.

The Smith building includes classrooms, laboratories and instructors offices and serves as a primary instruction area for the colleges health-care programs.

As one of the founding buildings of the Sidney campus, the Smith building consists of two levels, is approximately 24,752 square feet in size and was originally built in 1966 and was last updated in 1999.

According to Young, renovating the facility is crucial if the college wants to continue offering competitive, modern instruction for its students.

All of the buildings on our campus get rated every year and this one definitely needs some work, she said. Even with COVID, 766 students took classes in that building last year, so we know its a super important building on our campus. It hosts classes for some of the hottest careers and industries right now, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and nursing, so we need to provide our students some up-to-date upgrades.

Young said those upgrades would include new learning spaces, laboratories, and most importantly, important upgrades to allow for nursing simulation programs.

We need to show the community that we have these resources, to show the hospitals that we have them, she said. If you have the equipment, you can simulate actual medical issues and replicate it in the classroom, whereas if you go to the hospital to do your clinical rotation, you may or may not have the opportunity to experience some things.

Young said initial estimates at this time call for approximately $5 million in total renovations to the building.

Thinking a little more outside the box regarding new facilities, Young said the college will also open up conversations regarding potential on-campus student housing.

Community engagement

In regards to the last of the four goals, Young said a focus on community engagement means improving upon current relationships with the community.

Additionally, she said that means exploring more fundraising and grant opportunities for future college projects, as well as educating the community at large on the value of the college.

Young said the new 10,000 hours of service project will be a big part of stressing the colleges focus on community engagement.

I dont want to say that community is important to us, I want to show that it is, she said. We are there for the community as much as it is there for us community is in our name.

In having reviewed the plan, members of the Board of Trustees said they are not only on board with the initiatives and goals going forward, but impressed with the efforts it took to draft the plan in a year engulfed in the coronavirus pandemic.

The enormous upheaval caused by the COVID-19 crisis affected nearly every facet of everyones life, Board Treasurer Kurt Peterson said. The strategic plan that was in place at MCC was not spared. The members of the new strategic planning committee led by President Young did a fantastic job of reprioritizing the schools most important needs and objectives on our campus in light of the Pandemic and developing a new short-term strategic plan. The board was kept well informed and supports the revised plan.

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From 'good to great' - Greenville Daily News

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February 1st, 2021 at 6:48 pm