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.
Achieving the Dream
The Achieving the Dream Core and Data teams were busy in March completing the CCSSE survey in over 25 classes. Thank you to the instructors who have adjusted their teaching schedules so the surveys could be administered in their classrooms. The surveying will continue through April, with the goal of reaching over 600 MCC students. The data collected from this effort will inform MCC staff on issues related to student engagement, and student persistence, the key theme of Achieving the Dream.
In addition MCC ATD teams are anticipating and preparing for an April 25 visit from our ATD coaches. On that date the consultant coaches will meet with numerous MCC stakeholders including staff, students, and Board members.
The efforts of the two research teams of faculty, staff, administrators, and students on the Developmental Education Strategy Team, chaired by JB Meeuwenberg and the First Year Experience Strategy Team, chaired by Renica Minott and Cathy Rusco, are ongoing. If you’d like to share your wisdom or experience with one of these teams, please contact its chair.
Fatigue at Work
In a recent statement, Thomas J. Balkin, vice chair of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), stated: "Studies show fatigue creates long-lasting changes to one's ability to think and function well during the work day."
According to the same study, prolonged workdays are causing many workers to fall asleep or feel sleepy at work. The report points out that Americans are working more hours and trying to cope with the resulting sleepiness. Astonishingly, 63% of those polled stated they simply accept this sleepiness, and just keep going. Unfortunately, where many of these workers are going is to the ER.
Spring Campus Safety Tips
Warmer weather is on the way, but its important to still be vigilant to keep our campus safe! We have had a number of car break-ins and thefts in the past and we need your help to stop them.
- Lock your car and don't leave valuables in sight
- Keep your windows rolled up when parked in MCC parking lots.
- Don’t leave windows open overnight.
- Don’t leave doors propped open unattended
- As always, report all crimes and suspicious activities to x545 or (231) 557-5648.
80 Participate in LEAD Summit
Thank you to all who supported and/or participated in the West Michigan LEAD Summit (Latino Education and Advocacy Day) last Monday, March 28, 2011. The first ever event of its kind for professionals supporting Latino youth in West Michigan, MCC’s LEAD Summit hosted over 80 guests and a dozen esteemed speakers from Muskegon, Oceana, Ottawa and Kent county K-12 school districts, institutions of higher education, and non-profit youth advocacy organizations. The day included a keynote address, break-out sessions, and a webcast all focusing on programs and policies that positively impact Latino youth in their access to and pursuit of education. A special thank you to Creative Dining for providing tasty fare and wonderful service for our guests’ lunch, Graphics and Community Relations for helping spread the word, and to the numerous folks in Conference and Catering and Student Services who assisted in planning and day-of logistics.
To collaborate on future MCC events supporting Latino youth, stay in touch with Eli by email at email@example.com or phone at x230.
Event Celebrates Craig Brown Legacy
On Wednesday March 23, over 50 MCC staff, students, and community members gathered to celebrate the legacy of Craig Brown with the dedication of his portrait to the Craig Brown Diversity Wall. It was a wonderful time of sharing stories about Craig and remembering his contribution to MCC and the greater Muskegon community. The speakers were Papa N’Jai, Beverly Hair, Harry Brown, Dan Yakes, Kurt Troutman, Kathy Tosa, Janie Brooks, Trynette Lottie-Harps, Kwame James, and Gloria White-Gardner. The Diversity Wall is located in the hallway between Rooms 242 and 244 outside the Social Sciences Department Faculty offices. For more about Craig Brown and the Diversity Wall, visit the Social Science website.
Each month the Records office is raising FERPA awareness by submitting a FERPA True/False Question to Campus Connections. The answer, and next month's question will appear in next month’s issue.
March 2011 question
An counselor does not have to allow a student to inspect and review his/her personal note about the student that are held in a file in the desk of the counselor's office. True or False?
True: “Sole Possession” records are an exception to the definition of “Education Records,” and are therefore not accessible by the student.
April 2011 question
A school does not have to send education records to another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll if the student has an outstanding balance to the current institution. True or False?
Don't go Postal! Reminders from the Mail Room
Regarding personal packages employees wish to have delivered to the MCC mailroom; It would be extremely helpful and more efficient if employees could inform the mailroom if a personal package is coming in. This ensures there is no misunderstanding when the proper procedure's are performed to check in the college's incoming merchandise. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call the mail room at x429.
Mayfest at MCC
MCC is hosting the 22nd Annual Mayfest Saturday, May 21 from 10:00am - 4pm. Mayfest brings together our community’s civic, ethnic, social, and service organizations in a day-long spring festival of activity and cultural enrichment. Its purpose is to invite community residents to enjoy informal family style entertainment and active participation in the unique community college setting. The Office of Community Relations is looking for MCC departments and groups to host active display tables, informing the community of our opportunities. If your department is interested please all Dan at x569 before April 15 to reserve a spot. Also, if you are able to volunteer during the day of the event also call Dan.
Cultural Culinary Excursion
Expand your world by participating with other MCC faculty and staff for a Culinary Cultural Excursion on Wednesday, April 13 at 6:00pm at Thai Palace, located at 977 Butternut Drive Suite #3, Butternut Drive, Family Fare plaza, Holland Michigan. Contact Kathy Tosa at x376 for more details.
Join us in an afternoon of fun, fashion and fun. Share precious moments with your mom, sister, daughter, grand-daughter, niece, or friend. There will be entertainment, lite lunch, and fashion show. Vendors will be present. Adults: $15.00, Children: (7 to 16) $7.00, under 4 free.
Bike to Work Week
With gas prices spiking there's never been a better time to participate in Bike to Work Week. An event promoted by Access Healthy, the Employer's Association, and the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce, this initiative seeks to be active in the community by biking to work and living a healthier lifestyle.This year Bike to Work Week will take place Monday, May 16-Friday, May 20. Register at www.rideonmuskegon.com to be eligible for valuable prizes, to find park & ride locations for your area, access safety information, and find maps and suggested routes.
Institute for Healing Racism
MCC has reached our number of students who may attend the Institute at no cost according to our agreement. Anyone who would like to attend after this point will be charged at a 25% discount rate from the regular price of $75.00.
The Institute for Healing Racism at MCC presents both a Basic Institute, entitled "A Conversation on Race" and Institute II, "The Next Step" which focuses primarily on institutional racism.
Institute I Upcoming Dates
April 12 & 19, (Two Consecutive Tuesdays) 5 p.m.—9:30 p.m.
April 25 & 26 (Tuesday & Wednesday) 8 a.m.—4:30 p.m.
Institute II Upcoming Dates
April 12 & 19, (Two Consecutive Tuesdays) 5 p.m.—9:30 p.m.
For more information, or to sign up, call Larry Lundquist at x536 or visit the IFHR website at www.muskegoncc.edu/ifhr.
Here are three updates I expect will have a positive impact on students, faculty, and staff.
Performance Improvements for Student Use Computers
Recent upgrades and patches to student use computers have created a slowdown to five computer labs on campus. This impacted the library research area and overflow, the two second-floor library classroom labs, and the three group study rooms, for a total of ninety-five computers. The Office of Information Technology tested systems in different configurations to determine the most effective strategy to improve performance in the near term. Tests indicated that adding memory to the affected computers improved system performance, nearly halving the startup time. Based on this data, memory upgrades were performed on the affected computers during the last week in March. Feedback from both library staff and students has been immediate and positive. Additional efforts are taking place to improve computer performance in the longer term. Technology Council is presently discussing what applications need to be available in the open lab. Students who only need access to basic applications (Word, Internet, etc.) would benefit from faster login times on systems that only have basic applications installed. Special applications would be available on specific computers, and measuring application usage would make sure students have the applications they need.
President's Message continued
At this point, I’d like to share with you the following factors that will impact the FY 2012 budget and how we plan to respond:
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:
- 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
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. And as always, strive for excellence and please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, via phone at 231-777-0303, or stop by my office at room 400, Main Building on campus.
- 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.
Dale Nesbary, Ph.D.
Achieving the Dream cont'd
To begin working toward this future, MCC’s Achieving the Dream Core and Data Teams defined Developmental Education and students’ First Year Experience as the two priority areas to receive the focus of research and resources for the 2011-2012 school year. This decision was based on the results of both the November all-campus discussions and student focus groups held in December and January.
Currently, two research teams of faculty, staff, administrators, and students are forming with the purpose of researching best practices that would be most appropriate for MCC’s needs and resources. JB Meeuwenberg will chair the Developmental Education Strategy Team, while Renica Minott and Cathy Rusco will co-chair the First Year Experience Strategy Team. If you’d like to share your wisdom or experience with one of these teams, please contact its chair.
Fatigue at Work cont'd
The ramifications of a sputtering economy are that many companies have cut their workforce. Meaning, those left are working longer hours and, in some cases, performing duties unfamiliar to them without adequate training. Toss in the stress related with wondering if soon they will lose their job, and it's a lethal combination of fear and fatigue that is resulting in rising Workers' Compensation claims.
For example, a manufacturing company with very little history of injury claims, perhaps only five per year at the most, has seen in the last year a dramatic rise in the number of injuries, as many as 15-20, including lacerations, back sprains, broken ankles and so forth. The employer, confused by this change in the number of injuries, sighed that one of the injured "is such a good worker."
But performance isn't the issue. The human body is a machine, a machine with limitations. And what that employer may fail to realize is that his "good worker" is now going from a 40-hour week to a 72-hour week because there are fewer bodies on the floor to meet production demands. His employees are tired, fatigued, not moving as fast, and feeling more stress. It's a connect-the-dots to the next Workers' Compensation claim.
But there are simple ways employers can help fight the fatigue factor, keep employees safe and not impact their insurance premiums:
1. Rotate workers frequently during their shifts. Workers who do the same task for hours on end tend to become both fatigued and complacent. A change of surrounding can be a key step in rejuvenating their interest and attention in the work they are doing.
2. Initiate longer break periods. Instead of 15- or 30-minute breaks, give an hour break. Some companies even provide an area where workers can take a nap. It may seem like a long time for a worker to be "off the job," but it's a lot shorter than the time spent on disability leave.
3. Use split shifts. Instead of having a worker do a straight 16-hour shift, let them work eight, go home and rest for six, then come back and do the last eight hours. The time away from the job can be extremely beneficial.
4. Provide food. Refueling is key, and the $50 spent to have fruit and maybe even a pizza available for those working longer shifts is a good investment compared to the costly consequences associated with a prolonged disability.
5. Stretch or exercise. Most employees feel tired during the day because their muscles remain in relatively the same position and the oxygen levels decrease. Sometimes just some simple stretching or a short 10-minute walk can help rejuvenate the body, which will keep the muscles limber and help avoid injury or strain. Displaying posters with simple stretches provided by a local therapist could also help avoid the strain of a long day.
Fatigue and long hours in the workplace are serious issues. In its investigation of the causes of the BP Texas City oil refinery explosion in 2005, in which 15 workers were killed and approximately 170 injured, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board cited worker fatigue and long work hours as likely contributing factors to the explosion.
It's unrealistic to think that employers will suddenly restock their workforce overnight. The times are such that workplaces will remain lean and in some cases two people are doing the work once done by four.
So, be proactive in your precautions. Implementing these simple steps could go a long way in keeping productivity up and injury claims down. And with companies still cutting back, can you really afford to lose another employee?
Ottawa-Kent - Work Comp Advisory, Dec. 2010
CIO Message continued
Interactive Classroom Technology Assessments
Presently, Muskegon Community College utilizes technology known as interactive boards in six locations to supplement classroom presentation. They allow instructors to annotate presentations, draw, and write notes directly onto a projected image. These boards use touch sense technology send information to a connected computer. Some drawbacks to the existing interactive boards on campus are the inability to use the surface as a traditional whiteboard, so writing space is reduced. Another problem is a presence of a “hot spot”, or glare that appears from the projector when working up close to the board. Touch sense interactive boards are costly when compared to other classroom technologies. The Information Technology Council, the LIFT Institute, and the Office of Information Technology are working together to investigate technologies to improve interactive classroom environments. Some new offerings include interactive boards that can also be written on with traditional dry erase markers, eliminating the reduction in traditional whiteboard space. To capture drawing, these boards rely on the position of a digital pen rather than touch sense, which helps to keep costs down. Also being reviewed are interactive projectors. These projectors can sense the location of the pen and send the image to a computer, so an interactive board is not needed to capture and draw an image. Standardizing on an interactive classroom presentation technology makes it easier to learn how to use it, and also lowers support overhead.
Reporting Solution Assessments
Datatel utilizes a program called Query Builder to allow users to perform ad hoc reporting. There are some limitations to this tool. For one, there is a learning curve to developing reports using the Query Builder tool. Additionally, complex queries involving multiple files usually cannot be performed without assistance from OIT. Compounding these problems is Datatel’s announcement of an upcoming End-Of-Life for Query Builder support. In an effort to streamline and decentralize ad hoc reporting, members of the MCC Datatel Administrator’s Group and OIT have begun comparing reporting solutions. The intended outcome is to determine a cost-effective reporting solution that will provide an easy to use interface, and a secure method for rapid report development.
On behalf of everyone in OIT, we look forward to continuing to serve you.
Chief Information Officer
Muskegon Community College