My first year as president of Mesa Community College has been exciting, rewarding and fulfilling. I am so grateful to be working with truly dedicated faculty and staff on transforming the student experience. I’d like to share some notable accomplishments.
MCC has made remarkable progress in the foundations we are building to achieve our benchmark goals in the transformation process. Our new fields of interest and pathway mapping allow students to find the most streamlined route to certificate, degree and transfer programs. Innovations in developmental education and integrated student support mean greater opportunity for student success. At the heart of the transformation process is the goal of providing an equitable education experience for all students by helping them meet their needs: academic, non-cognitive (time management, note taking, stress handling, etc.) and basic (food, shelter, transportation, etc.). With more than half our students the first in their families to attend college and a third from the Hispanic community, these transformative strategies and creative support approaches are vital.
Knowing that the foundation for college success begins in K-12, MCC is working with Mesa Public Schools to prepare more students to successfully achieve college. One such partnership has placed a full-time MCC advisor in each of six Mesa high schools. As a result, more MPS seniors are enrolling in college and Early College enrollment has increased as the advisors share how to earn college credits in high school through our dual and concurrent programs.
Our Red Mountain campus has seen an increase in enrollment for the first time in several years. New programs at Red Mountain include another MPS partnership called the Early College Academy. Students from select Mesa high schools are transported to the Red Mountain campus to take classes that meet both high school graduation and college degree requirements. The First Year Experience (FYE), new at Red Mountain, offers high school freshmen, mostly first-generation college students, support through study sessions, workshops and scholarships. Additionally, this fall semester, the Red Mountain campus welcomed a restructured Nurse Assisting program featuring an eight-week schedule so that more students can complete this popular career course.
The East Valley IT Institute, a collaboration among Mesa Community College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and Scottsdale Community College, has been created to meet the demand for an emerging technological workforce with classes in blockchain, iOS, Adobe and Swift/Xcode.
Dr. Lori Berquam has joined our team in the newly created role of Executive Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. With more than 25 years of leadership experience in higher education, she has a deep understanding of our vision to integrate academic engagement with educational experiences. On campus since late July, already she has shown her ability to lead our new model that combines academic and student affairs while ensuring we fulfill our goal of transforming into a guided pathways institution.
On the national stage, a team from the Higher Learning Commission completed a standard, mid-cycle accreditation review and reported that MCC meets all of the HLC Criteria for Accreditation, adding positive comments about our Guided Pathways and other student-focused achievements.
I would be remiss in not thanking our many active alumni for their important contributions to MCC. I encourage you to be ambassadors for MCC, sharing some of the accomplishments I mentioned as well as your own stories of MCC’s role in your lives. If you’d like to be more involved, there is an article in this newsletter about new ways for alumni to volunteer.
Dr. Rich Haney