Dear Alumni and Community Colleagues,
As we transition into welcomed fall weather, the Thunderbird spirit at Mesa Community College is soaring. Fall 2020 may be like no other in our history, but it is still filled with the hopes and excitement of students pursuing their dreams. I would like to share with you a few of the many extraordinary ways MCC staff and faculty as well as our community partners have joined together to help our students and neighbors through their challenges.
SUMMER TO FALL SEMESTER
While the campuses remained closed to all but essential services, a few students and faculty whose Spring courses were unable to move to remote instruction returned to campus June 15 through Aug. 6. A task force developed and continues to hone policies to ensure anyone coming to campus follows protocols exceeding CDC and other government guidelines for health, safety and physical distancing.
Our fall classes are underway with 90% being held virtually or online. Students select from four class formats, with the hybrid variety providing on-campus labs for subjects such as welding, nurse assisting, languages and sciences.
For more than 50 years, MCC has been part of the economic and cultural tapestry of the East Valley. Of the more than 2,300 who work at MCC, nearly 1,000 reside in Mesa and Tempe, reinforcing the commitment of our employees to the community we serve. Our partnerships with the City of Mesa, business, industry and educational institutions benefit students at all levels of education as well as providing a skilled and knowledgeable workforce.
Reinforcing the college’s long-standing role as a contributing partner in Mesa, I was invited to be a part of the City of Mesa’s April 2020 Facebook Live Digital Education Summit. Our Senior Associate Vice President Nora Amavisca Reyes participated in the Spanish version.
I also joined a panel of community leaders as well as government, youth, policy and policing experts at The HeroZona Foundation’s Bridge Forum Time for Change series to address systemic racism and ways to achieve equity. It reaffirmed the creation this summer of the MCC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, formed to ensure that the college’s new Mission, Vision, and Values are a lived experience for everyone.
Pride and excitement characterize so many of our partnerships with the City of Mesa. The city announced that a portion of the $90 million provided to them by the COVID-19 relief fund is going toward education and the Mesa Promise Program (MPP). Approximately $50,000 of the funds have been specifically allocated toward MPP, a program created this February by Mayor John Giles and a task force of community members including MCC leadership. After applying for federal and other scholarships and grants, the remaining scholarly expenses will be covered for graduating Mesa high school students enrolling at MCC, who come from low-income Mesa families or need the additional resources.
MCC is partnering with The City of Mesa and the Mesa Chamber of Commerce in the Mesa CARES Small Business Technical Assistance Program for the city’s businesses affected by COVID-19. A complimentary technology series includes two-hour sessions weekly for five weeks and a limited number of free laptops plus software subscriptions.
Working with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, as the population of the endangered Gila Topminnow in the Red Mountain Campus cienega became large and healthy, the fish were donated to other refuges. On August 17, 100 topminnow were collected by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and transferred to Pima County’s Roger Road Nodal Park pond. This is part of the Red Mountain’s ongoing collaboration with the Phoenix Zoo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and AZGFD.
We have turned our stadium parking area into a 24/7 drive-thru COVID-19 testing location for Embry Women’s Health, with assistance from the Arizona National Guard. Through August, more than 98,000 tests have been conducted since the site opened in July. Mesa Public Schools referred teachers and parents here rather than conduct its own testing as some schools have done.
At this time, you will see some limited on-campus activity as both the Red Mountain and Southern & Dobson campuses have one-stop centers for information, student Wi-Fi use and computer access. We are continually reviewing the best options for safely opening our facilities, but are not planning to fully return employees and students to campus in the near future.
Gratitude and compassion are two qualities that nurture the best in our lives. I am thankful for the college’s time-honored and enriching relationship with our community and for our staff, faculty and the alumni who contribute so much and make us proud.
We remain Thunderbird strong!
Lori M. Berquam, Ph.D.
Mesa Community College