To: Campus Community
From: Timothy J. Nelson, President
Date: January 5, 2017
Subject: 21st Century Learning Space
Good morning and welcome to the New Year! I’m excited to share with you the progress and preliminary process by which we together will design and build 21st century learning spaces in the renovation and remodeling of West Hall. I invite all of you to share in this once in a lifetime opportunity for NMC, our learners and community.
Over the past seven years, NMC has requested State of Michigan funding for the development of what we called the West Hall Innovation Center. Over that same period, our Board of Trustees has recognized the increasing role of libraries and central community learning spaces in learner and community success. As the old saying goes, “timing is everything.” We had intended to construct a new library connected to the core of West Hall and hoped a few years after that, we could construct the Innovation Center as the premiere 21st Century Learning Space.
You all know, we were successful last year in receiving permission to begin planning and designing this facility as ONE BUILDING. We envision an approximately 58,000 sq. ft. facility that is/has:
- Innovative learning environments
- Transformative learning environments
- Multiple academic and simulation spaces
Diagrams and descriptions of these types of spaces can be found by going here. I encourage you to open it.
We know these spaces will include some of these characteristics.
- Flexible, adaptable and reconfigurable
- Individual and community spaces
- Quiet and noisy spaces
- Serves the needs of NMC and multiple area constituent groups
- Adds to the “Community Core” of NMC consistent with our new residential living plans
- Has the potential to be used 24/7
At December’s Board of Trustees meeting, NMC contracted with STANTEC, an architecture and design firm, to guide us through a process to continue our journey to secure State funds. There will be multiple opportunities for guided input during this process. The first opportunity will be at Opening Conference on Monday, January 9 where STANTEC will make a presentation to the campus community.
The table below represents our initial thoughts on teams that will contribute to this design process. Our goal is to present design documents to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget and then to the State Legislature in the spring and secure funding that would allow us to begin construction in late 2017 or early 2018.
Members of the teams and user groups in the diagram below will be invited to join in coming days and weeks. We will provide both written materials and potential opportunities to visit other institutions. Please note the Steering Team – Innovators will include some of the most innovative educators (faculty and staff) at NMC as identified by peers and supervisors.
T’was the week before Christmas and across NMC
You can hear students shout, “No more classes for me!
They are loading their cars and returning their books
Dreaming of presents that will fill up a few empty nooks.
The faculty have graded final papers with speed
For those giving essays an impressive deed.
A night of support in the library found
You really can work in a building with sound.
We all find ourselves here on the shores of the Bay
Eating and drinking the evening away
Our colleagues and friends a team one and all
Worked tirelessly to find student success this past fall.
Now Kennard! Now Marilyn!
Now Michael and Ross.
On Rachel! On Chris!
On Douglas as well.
Your work as our new Board is given for free
Please know we value the service coming from thee.
Our contractors are placing new dorm walls with care
And this coming August we’ll find students there!
The Dennos is rattling and shaking as concrete is cast
And come sometime next fall will be completed at last.
Now I want you each to know how I feel
The way you change lives is a really big deal.
I can’t say it enough that I value you all
Thank you so much for another great fall.
As you visit with family or travel afar,
We’ll see you in January all ready to star.
Be safe and be rested and come back to us then
Because we’ll all be together and start over again.
– NMC President Tim Nelson, from the 2016 NMC Holiday Party
Thank you all for everything you do in pursuit of “Keeping Learning at the Center.”
Notable Accomplishments provided by Faculty and Staff
This section recognizes the good work being done and linkages to the Strategic Directions (SD) and Institutional Effectiveness Criteria (IE) are provided where possible.
- First offering of new Digital Marketing class was full for Fall 2016. In this course students will learn how to develop a digital marketing strategy, which may include display ads, search marketing, content marketing, email marketing and social media marketing. (IE1)
- Kristy McDonald, Business Instructor, offered a Mindfulness Initiative this fall semester on Tuesdays in HS 101 from noon to 12:30 for students, faculty, staff and the public. This was based off of her sabbatical research in India. (IE1, IE4)
- The CIT Department held a successful Industry Night Out at Inforth Technologies on October 20. Students in the CIT program are invited to attend a night out at a local company where they receive a tour, find out what the company does, and see how the industry works. This is an opportunity for students to supplement what they are studying in class. (IE1, IE5)
- The CIT Department held open advising sessions for students to get signed up for Spring 2017. (IE1, IE2)
- George Beeby’s Business 101 student team was a semi-finalist at Accelerate Michigan Competition on November 3. (IE1, IE2)
- Seven business students attended the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Breakfast on November 8. (IE1, IE2, IE5)
- The NMC Tutoring Center received their 3-year recertification with the CRLA (College Reading & Learning Association) for Level I, II, and III Tutor Training. CRLA is an international certification for programs that demonstrate the following high standards:
- Certification provides recognition and positive reinforcement for tutors’ successful work.
- Certification sets professional standards of skill and training for tutors.
- Certification augments program credibility for administrators and institutions. (IE1, IE2, IE3, IE4)
- Deb Maison and Taylor Nash, both professional academic and career advisors, held evening advising hours in East Hall to meet the needs of student residents as they prepare to continue their education at NMC for Spring 2017. With the help and cooperation of the Residence Life team, East Hall and Hawk’s Nest students, who had not yet met with an advisor, were given the opportunity to create an academic plan for spring semester and beyond, learn how to use MAP (My Academic Plan), and receive guidance in making academic and career decisions. (IE2, IE4)
- In cooperation with the Records and Registration Office, the Advising Center has created and executed a communication plan for students to encourage them to connect with their academic advisor, utilize NMC’s degree tracking tool (MAP – My Academic Plan), and to register for the coming semester. At specific intervals students received email messages to their NMC accounts with specific action steps for registration, messages were displayed across all campus monitors and on posters in buildings and classrooms, front-line staff wore buttons to encourage registration, and faculty made announcements in their classes regarding advising and registration. (IE2, IE4, IE5)
- Physics and mathematics instructor Taoufik Nadji’s article “Twitter and Physics Professional Development” appeared in the November issue of The Physics Teacher (TPT) magazine. Nadji was interviewed on Forbes Podcasts about changing his STEM courses into STEAM courses by incorporating the arts in his pedagogy. (IE1)
- For the first time ever, 100% of ENG 111 and ENG 112 classes received information literacy instruction at the library. Instructional librarian Ann Geht, and teaching librarians Michele Howard, Mary Beeker, and Tina Ulrich, provided instruction on how to find, evaluate, use and cite high quality sources of information from the databases and the web. Our goal is to have NMC students leave with the ability to spot unreliable information and find excellent sources for both their schoolwork and their personal lives. (IE1)
- With the help of librarians and Educational Media Technology staff, 29 NMC faculty saved their students over $150,000 in textbook costs for fall semester by teaching with open textbooks that are freely available online. Introduction to Sociology and Introduction to Psychology with a total of 582 students had the biggest impact. The choice of alternative textbooks has saved students over $350,000 since Fall 2015. (IE1, IE3, IE5)
- The library, along with the Writing and Reading Center, Tutoring, Student Success Center, and Student Life, hosted the “Long Night Against Procrastination” on December 1 to help NMC students study, write papers, and finish final projects. The library stayed open until 2:00 a.m. Free coffee, pizza, and snacks, along with WRC staff, tutors, and librarians, were available all night. At 10:00 p.m., there were 109 students studying in the library, with 30 still there at 2:00 a.m. Students expressed appreciation for the longer hours and free food. (IE1, IE3)
Activities of Note:
- Thank you to Kennard Weaver, Ross Childs, and Chris Bott for joining me, as well as several NMC staff and students at the Economic Outlook Breakfast, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce on November 8. The College also had a booth in the Chamber Business Expo that day at the Grand Traverse Resort.
- Congratulations to Chris Bott and Michael Estes who were elected to fill two open seats on our Board of Trustees. After being appointed to fill a vacancy in April 2015, Chris Bott has now been elected to a six-year term on the Board. The terms of both Bott and Estes will expire on December 31, 2022.
Steve Rawlings resigned from the Board on November 10, 2016, due to increased responsibilities and travel for his job. He shared that he “will forever remain in awe of NMC, its inspiring students, devoted faculty, committed staff and administration, fellow board members and donors alike- each of whom, dedicate so much time, treasure and talent to the betterment of our community.” Rachel Johnson, who received the third highest number of votes in the November 8 election process, was unanimously appointed to fill Rawlings’ position at a special board meeting on November 14, 2016. Her term will expire on December 31, 2018, at which time an elected candidate will complete the remainder of Rawlings term, which expires on December 31, 2020.
I want to express my sincere gratitude to both Bob Brick and Steve Rawlings for their service on the Board of Trustees. Bob was on the Board of 12 years and served in all officer roles and on numerous committees. While only on the Board of Trustees for 2 years, Steve Rawlings was a very dedicated trustee, serving as vice chair, and on several committees. Prior to his service on the NMC Board, Steve volunteered on the NMC Foundation’s Annual Campaign, was an NMC graduate of the Aviation program and an Outstanding Alumnus. Both Bob and Steve will be greatly missed as NMC trustees.
- Veterans Day was celebrated November 11 with several events—veterans breakfast at the Hawk Owl Café, walk of honor, ceremony at the flagpole, and cake and coffee served in the West Hall lobby. Thank you to everyone for supporting our veterans that day and every day at NMC. A special thank you to Doug Bishop, a veteran himself, for sharing a few words with the crowd at the flagpole.
- I traveled to Frankenmuth on November 17 to speak at the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars & Admissions Officers (MACRAO) conference on legislative topics related to higher education. As I shared with them, a new federal administration will most likely bring many changes to the national educational structure.
- In place of a town hall meeting this semester, small group forums were held at each campus to address questions related to the Fall Update sent out in October and the state of the college. Most of these small group sessions were well attended and allowed for thoughtful discussion.
- Thank you to those able to attend the Mariners Memorial at the Great Lakes Campus on November 10. It was an unusually beautiful fall day for that event to remember and honor mariners who have perished on the Great Lakes and oceans. The Student Propeller Club, Port 150, of the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, sponsors the memorial.
- I am honored to have been appointed by the Governor to Michigan’s Building the 21st Century Economy Commission, and I participated in the first meeting on November 22. The commission serves as an advisory body within the Executive Office of the Governor and is charged with identifying priorities over the next 20 years along with short-term and long-term action items to achieve the vision of Michigan’s economic future. The commission will issue a final report to the governor by June 30, 2017.
The State legislature this month convened for what some veteran capital observers have termed a “lame – lame duck” session where numerous legislative items were brought forward, only to wither and die before gaining final passage. This included several bills that would have impacted NMC that include the following:
- The MPSERS legislation (Senate Bills 102/1178/1179), introduced by Senator Phil Pavlov (R- St. Clair) would have effectively closed the current hybrid system that provides some pension benefit and some defined contribution benefit to new members. The legislation would have instead replaced the system for new employees with a defined contribution plan with the same provisions as the State Employees Retirement System—a mandatory 4% employer contribution and a 100% match of employee contributions up to 3%. However, after being narrowly reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, facing an uncertain future in the full Senate and not having the support of the Governor, these bills were eventually scrapped for movement this year. However, it is expected that this legislation will be taken up next session.
- The House Commerce and Trade Committee reported two bills with implications for community colleges. Senate Bill 280 (Knollenberg) would prohibit community colleges from collecting union dues, as is already the case for K-12 schools. In addition, the bill retains language that would prohibit any public employer (including a community college) from paying for release time for employees to conduct union business. Senate Bill 279 (Knollenberg) would sunset the ability of Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) members to accrue pension time during professional services leave or release time, even if the member reimburses the system for payments during that time. Following passage in the Senate, both bills died in the House.
While these pieces of legislation were never enacted, there were a few bills that did pass in the final days of lame duck that will impact NMC, which include the following:
- Noncontiguous annexation legislation, HB 4265 introduced by Rep. Amanda Price passed both the Senate and House and is now on its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. This legislation would allow for the board of trustees of a community college district to initiate annexation of areas not geographically contiguous to a current community college district. The Community College Act already allows such an action in the Upper Peninsula.
- National Guard tuition assistance legislation, HB 6013, introduced by Rep. Bruce Rendon also passed both the House and Senate in the final days of lame duck. This legislation is a technical correction bill that would allow the Adjutant General of the Michigan National Guard to make a tuition assistance distribution to an eligible person or institution and deletes a provision specifying that the tuition assistance program applies, regardless of other educational benefits received by an eligible person.
- SB 992 also passed the legislature and is headed to the Governor’s desk for signature. This legislation would create a new act, the Unmanned Aerial Systems Act, which creates a regulatory framework for the use of unmanned aircraft in the state. This includes setting allowable use and prohibited uses and penalties. The legislation also sets out the development of an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force to develop statewide policy recommendations on the use and regulation of unmanned aircraft systems in Michigan.
On the federal side, the U.S. Congress also convened for a “lame duck” session post-election and passed a short term funding bill that continued FY16 levels of funding, with a small decrease, through April 2017. Unfortunately, the previous short term funding extension that passed the Congress in September also saw a cut to Perkins Loan funding, important for NMC students. Because of the way Perkins funds are budgeted and dispersed, the cut (a total of $5.5 million dollars overall) impacted Perkins Basic State Grant advance funding that began flowing to states October 1. For Michigan this resulted in a cut of $196,480. This cut could be restored if Congress approves a full year funding bill in April. The short term funding bill also did not include several other of our federal priorities, the funding of year round Pell grants and an increase in funding for student loan servicing.
The Presidential transition also continues to move forward with the recent naming of Betsy DeVos as President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary. You can read more about President-elect Trump’s pick here in this article from the American Association of Community Colleges.
- Happy Holidays! Enjoy time with family and friends, and safe travels to those traveling.
Timothy J. Nelson, President
October 13, 2016
Let me start the update by thanking you all for what you do to create a great learning environment that helps to prepare our students for success in this rapidly changing global society and market. Each of you plays an important role in achieving this success. Together, we model values and help create experiences that will have a lasting impact on those we serve.
This communication is intended to provide our NMC campus community an update on the state of the college. As the 2016-2017 year gets underway, it is important to review where we’ve been and where we’re going. The goal of this letter is to provide detailed information on many of the critical initiatives and programs affecting our campus. Some of these topics are included below:
- Updates to “Opening Conference”
- Student Enrollment
- Community Engagement
- International Relationships
- Employee Professional Development
- Compensation and Talent
- Higher Learning Commission Accreditation
- Leadership and Governance
- Legislative and Regulatory Issues
- Board of Trustees
- Spring Semester Opening
Community engagement is important for our continued success. I invite you to reach out with questions and thoughts on any of the items discussed in this update.
Updates to “Opening Conference”
During the summer, I was approached by the AQIP Learning Outcomes Team co-chairs about a proposal from the faculty members on the team to expand the normal time for the August faculty professional development day to include the time normally devoted to Opening Conference. The faculty wanted to invite a presenter on active learning and significant learning outcomes to campus who could assist all instructors over a two-day period. I welcomed the faculty request, as it aligned with our goal to improve student learning outcomes. The faculty and staff from the Center for Instructional Excellence along with the Learning Outcomes Team then worked to make this two-day professional development event a success. The event was funded from the president’s office strategic fund.
As a replacement for the traditional Opening Conference breakfast, we hosted an “end-of-summer-beginning-of-fall campus picnic.” This allowed many staff and faculty members who often struggle with serving students during the final registration weeks the opportunity to engage in a campus event.
In the spirit of check-and-adjust, we have decided to replace the town hall originally scheduled for October 12 with small group meetings. In place of Opening Conference, I committed to providing this written update to the campus. The small group meetings will provide a more accessible space to discuss questions or concerns related to the state of the college. We will send out appointment times for these meetings. Thank you all, again, for all you do to help make our learners successful.
Students and Enrollment
Total enrollment this fall is 4,167 students, which generated 43,956 contact hours. We budgeted for a 6% decline and ended with approximately a 4.6% decline in contact hours. There are two major trends influencing enrollment at the college. The first is a decline in the traditional student age population that is predicted to continue past 2020. The other is the improved state of our local economy where older, potential students choose employment over education. These trends require us to continue to seek students from outside the region to take advantage of our specialty programs. This year, we saw growth in the number of students from out-of-state, international and our non-service areas of Michigan.
Another observation about our enrollment is that we continue to see a decline in the average age of our students. One reason for this is that the combination of dual enrolled and early college enrollment is up from 282 in 2013 to 497 in 2016. This is reflected in the increase of students aged 17 and under and contributes to a declining average age, now 23.7 years old. These gains have been made, despite the decline in the population of this age group across the region.
Even as we seek to expand enrollment in our region and beyond, it is important to remember that a significant percentage of our students are first generation college students. This means they need additional guidance, mentoring and wayfinding assistance. It is critical that we recognize they are not familiar with our systems and processes.
Student success and degree completion continue to be a paramount goal for NMC. Every new level of regulation and monitoring is placing more emphasis on this outcome. While we have made progress over recent years, we have much to do. I am asking our planning groups to establish additional metrics, which will help us to both succeed and to manage our performance. Achieving these goals is directly connected to government support. Financial Aid that NMC students received in 2015-16 totaled over $19 million.
NMC Student Financial Aid Sources
Extended Education Services (EES) has been refreshing its catalog, pricing models, and preparing for a stronger online registration presence over the past few years. Specialty enrichment programming such as “College for Kids” is often a family’s first experience with NMC. Participant comments indicate great enjoyment with the challenging and new content, and high marks for a setting in which they can build new and lasting relationships. Area learners over the age of 50 continue to discover and use Life Academy programming in record numbers. These learners praise the great content from highly experienced instructors, gaining new sharing communities in the process. We will continue to see strong use of EES for personal and professional learning opportunities.
Training Services provides significant contributions to the community. It is the regional office for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Corporation, the leader in our Michigan New Jobs Training Program, a regional leader in LEAN programming, and now coordinator of a new stackable credential precision machining program with regional manufacturers. Training Services is a net positive in its revenue/expense profile. Below are some specific achievements:
- New Jobs Training Program results
- 495 jobs created with a minimum of 175% times minimum wage
- 31 participating employers
- $3.2 million of training
- MMTC Employers served during the last 12 months reported the following results
- $14.5 million of increased sales
- $16.3 million of retained sales
- Net new investments made $9 million
Service Learning is yet another way in which students can connect their career aspirations to global concerns through targeted projects with their instructors. Examples at the local level with faculty members Kristy McDonald and Brandon Everest have earned important local and state recognition. Other similar projects include construction technology students participating in Habitat for Humanity, business students helping to install wi-fi technology in an Andean community and culinary students assisting a startup restaurant in Ecuador.
The International Affairs Forum (IAF) is another example of community engagement. IAF brings the experience of the world to our region through its annual lecture series, specialty ‘hot topic’ events, providing access to specialists on global policy for credit and noncredit presentations, and facilitating a growing network of professionals who now know Traverse City and NMC. Their membership program provides free admission to lectures for NMC students and their instructors.
NMC continues to be a leader in creating global learning experiences for students, faculty and staff. We are well into the implementation of our global endorsement, which is being reviewed as a model for other community colleges in Michigan and a potential MCCA submittal for a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. We are finalizing plans to provide joint degrees/certificates with Yellow River Conservancy Technical Institute. Our faculty could begin delivering short-format courses in China in the next 18 months, and we could see more international students from this endeavor in about 12 months.
Employee Professional Development
The August learning outcomes professional development days were well attended and a great addition to this important project. Regional and national accreditors have made this a prime directive, and we will continue to make this a priority for the college.
Last spring, the Higher Learning Commission passed new regulations that require certain levels of graduate education for those teaching college. While I believe our faculty and instructional staff are excellent teachers, a number of our regular faculty do not meet these updated standards. As a result, NMC is paying for 80 percent of the tuition and fees to help current faculty secure appropriate credentials. This is in line with the fact that NMC is in the top 6 percent of all reporting community colleges for the investment in professional development.
Compensation and Talent
Staff and Administration Classification and Compensation implementation is in progress. We continue to complete work as identified on the implementation plan. I expect us to continue efforts to align staff salaries with their national benchmarks. As you recall, staff and administration, including the president, have been classified and benchmarked against national scales, as part of the implementation plan that started a few years ago. I am proud to call the faculty, staff and administrators on this campus my colleagues and believe this process will ensure NMC maintains its commitments to employees and taxpayers and students.
Fair Labor Standards Act changes will go into effect on December 1. The Human Resources office will be working with employees and their supervisors to prepare for these significant changes before the December 1 implementation date.
Faculty and faculty chair contract negotiations are continuing to move forward with the help of MERC appointed mediators. Additionally, we have requested a fact finding analysis, which will identify items of possible compromise in order to reach a final contract. The NMC administration and Board of Trustees remain strongly committed to reaching a fair agreement that is in the best interest of NMC faculty, students, the college and the community.
To offer additional facts, below is a summary of the negotiations thus far. Since the faculty voted to unionize in March 2015, NMC has done the following:
- Presented numerous written proposals and counter proposals for the union’s consideration, the first on June 12, 2015; a comprehensive proposal and set of tentative agreements on August 19, 2016; and, most recently, on October 12, 2016.
- Followed established negotiating practices, engaging in 17 collective bargaining sessions with union negotiators between May 15, 2015, and March 7, 2016.
- Requested mediation through MERC on March 7, 2016.
- Participated in eight sessions with MERC mediators between March 22 and September 29, 2016.
- Petitioned MERC on August 8, 2016 for fact finding analysis to advance negotiations.
- Reached at least 18 tentative agreements with the union.
Maintenance and Custodial Contract Negotiations with the SEIU union that represents maintenance and custodial employees are proceeding well and should come to conclusion soon.
Campus security installed a number of security upgrades over the summer. This includes blinds/shades and security film on windows. As part of our current campus upgrades, we will be bidding out enhanced security camera systems. I thank everyone who has been involved and engaged in building security practice events, and ask everyone to remain observant and diligent in this area.
Residence Hall and Fitness Center has broken ground. The new 140-bed residence hall and fitness center has the target opening date of August 2017, and we will be recruiting students for this hall. Rental housing in the region continues to be in short supply. Students coming to us from our region, outside the area or the country expect to have access to housing as they complete their studies. This project is critical as we work to expand enrollment in certain areas and specialty programs. Additionally, the facility is designed to accommodate other uses for example internships, workforce and/or married housing, as our college and community demographics change.
The Dennos Museum Center is breaking ground on a 14,000 sq. ft. addition beginning in October 2016. This is made possible because of kind contributions from Richard and Diana Milock and Barbara and Dudley Smith. Additional funding is being raised as part of larger efforts from the NMC Foundation.
Okerstrom Fine Arts Building updates and improvements are coming. We are in the selection process for an architectural firm to schedule facility repairs for this building. Windows, drainage, exterior siding repairs and internal restroom redesign are a few of the items on the list.
Funding sources for NMC, in addition to gifts named above, include funds in the plant fund reserves and the housing fund balance. NMC has issued general obligation bonds earlier this summer to fund these projects. The NMC Foundation is actively engaged in securing additional resources for the college that includes these projects. Residence halls are self-liquidating and will generate resources to retire their debt.
Facilities planning activities include selecting design firms for two more projects centered on the current site of West Hall. These two new facilities will result in an approximate 53,000 sq. ft. modern learning facility that will serve both our students and faculty, as well as the community at large. Combined with new housing, we envision this new learning facility to be open 24/7. Faculty, staff, students and community members will be involved in the design process. The innovation center is authorized for planning through the state, and the library is an internally funded (through bonding) project.
Higher Learning Commission Accreditation
Regional accreditation is required for NMC to provide access to federal and state funding for the college and our students. NMC follows the AQIP pathway offered by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Our cycle requires submission of our system portfolio by November 2017, a strategy forum in Chicago for a team of board, administration, staff and faculty in February 2017, and a campus visit in late 2018 or early 2019. Our last accreditation visit outlined four strategic challenges in need of improvement:
- Aligning our continuous improvement processes for learning outcomes at the course, program, and general education levels
- Expanding institutional awareness, accessibility of, and the use of data in terms of metrics, targets, and goals
- Developing deeper understanding of student needs related to developmental education
- Developing a more robust peer benchmarking process in order to inform future planning
NMC already had initiatives in place for strategic challenges (1) and (3) to address the concerns identified by the HLC review team. For strategic challenge (1) NMC identified a strategic goal in the FY15 strategic plan to “develop and implement an integrated and aligned learning outcomes system that includes the articulation of and means of documenting learning outcomes, assessments, results, and actions for improvement at the course, program, and institutional levels.” NMC began operationalizing this goal by chartering an AQIP action project, Learning Outcomes, by forming a team for implementation. The most recent Learning outcomes summary was reviewed in October 2015. Additionally, the course outlines and instructions were revised so that all courses will have been reviewed and revised, if necessary, in order for course level learning outcomes to align with program and general education outcomes. For strategic challenge (3), NMC chartered an AQIP action project, Enhancing Developmental Education. The team implemented several initiatives in developmental English and math, closing the project in 2015.
For strategic challenges (2) and (4), we continue to work through our cycle of the aligned planning process using the A3 metrics and planning tool. We expect to see our processes related to using data and benchmarking metrics to be refined and expanded. As with everything we do, we will follow a plan, do, check and adjust cycle.
HLC accreditation is important to each and every one of us. Many of you will be involved in the process and all of us will be affected by the outcome.
Leadership and Governance
Our goal is to maintain a collaborative community and we believe in the power of engagement. That is why faculty, staff and students are invited to participate in dozens of NMC councils, committees, task forces and project teams. I believe it is important that we, as a college, review and recommend any modifications to our shared governance and leadership systems. An unanswered question for staff and administration remains as to what the future of employee groups is within the leadership and governance processes. These groups are currently foundational to representation on governance councils and many committees. The Leadership Group has been key in aligning planning processes at NMC. I have asked employee groups to remain intact as they continue their participation and representation on councils, committees and taskforces.
We have begun a clarification process with PBC and will review that with the campus. A more comprehensive review calendar for leadership and governance review will be established prior to the end of the calendar year.
Last year we built the budget on moderately increasing revenue, reducing cost, and shifting priorities. The budget reductions included; $450,000 reduction in salary expenses, $200,000 reduction in COAT purchases, $250,000 reduction in professional development and $300,000 reduction in transfers to the plant fund. It is important that NMC operates in a responsible way to students and taxpayers, and the budget plays a key role in our commitment to both constituencies.
Right sizing and adjustments
When we built the budget last year, I stated that I did not want to take budget actions that might later have to be reversed depending on fall outcomes. We have a long history of reviewing all vacant positions, asking whether positions can be combined, eliminated or revised to result in cost savings. We have done this in a number of areas during the summer and early fall. In all of these cases, we have committed to monitor the impact, review the decisions and welcome your feedback.
We recognize we have approximately 1,200 fewer students today than we had at the peak of the recession. We also continue to see more competition from online and other education delivery methods. Consequently, we must continue to review and revise how we accomplish our work and make adjustments in our budget. Our projections last spring indicated we needed to remove over $1 million from our budget. We set a target of $450,000 of that to come from salary costs. Our hope was to achieve some savings through employee attrition and consolidations; and we continue to work toward our targets. An update on the targeted savings will be provided at the October Board of Trustees meeting. The budget will continue to evolve. I ask you to stay engaged, ask questions, and offer suggestions.
NMC Foundation and Resource Development
Four years ago, we began a comprehensive redesign of the NMC Foundation and Resource Development department. We know that we need significantly more resources to fund scholarships, programs, people, facilities and equipment. We also know that more of this needs to come from NMC Foundation efforts. To that end, we are executing a plan that will provide those resources. You will see additional personnel in this department as we continue down this path. In the coming weeks and months, you will begin to hear more about this exciting effort on the part of our Foundation, its volunteers and employees. Funding for this effort is shared by the Foundation and the college’s strategic fund, fund for transformation and reserves.
Legislative and Regulatory Issues
We continue to engage and inform our state and federal elected officials about the breadth of work that we are involved with here at NMC, as well as some of the challenges we face. So far this year, we have convened several legislative roundtable discussions both in Traverse City and in Lansing, hosted a legislative campus tour, welcomed Governor Snyder to NMC and showcased a real world implementation of NMC’s technical education capabilities for a U.S. senator.
As a result, we have found success in raising legislative awareness of all that we do at NMC and appreciate the legislative support we have received to move forward with important projects, such as the West Hall Innovation Center.
As we look forward to a legislative session at both the state and federal levels following the election in November, as well as what the legislature and administration might be focused on in 2017, there are several legislative and regulatory items that we continue to track and monitor. These include the following 2017 State Legislative Advocacy Issues:
- State FY18 Budget – Community College Base Appropriations
- We will continue to press for additional increases in state base appropriations in FY18.
- We expect the Governor to announce his FY18 proposed higher education budget in early February 2017.
- Capital Outlay – West Hall Innovation Center
- Following NMC’s successful capital outlay planning grant request in FY17, we are hopeful that the legislature will approve construction funding for our West Hall Innovation Center project in FY18.
- The total project cost was reduced by over 20% from the proposed project cost in FY16 and once complete will transform and renovate 38,000 square feet of space to accommodate the use of simulation, team-based and project learning across all curricula.
- Community College Baccalaureate Legislation – Offering New Credentials of Value
- To meet the needs of the business community, our region, state, nation and world, NMC must have the flexibility to offer new credentials from technical certificates to baccalaureate degrees.
- SB 98 would expand the ability of community colleges to offer a baccalaureate degree in nursing, a credential that is needed by healthcare employers in the region and state.
- Guided Pathways – Start with the End in Mind
- Support the implementation of the Guided Pathways Design Principles.
- These principles include helping students with goal-setting from the start and simplifying their choices with clear roadmaps.
- The principles also include a redesigned intake with the goal of helping students choose and successfully enter a program of study while monitoring students’ progress, giving frequent feedback and support as needed.
- The principles would also empower faculty and staff to lead the redesign process.
- Transfer Management and Community College Collaboration
- The Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA) provides every student in Michigan access to earn 30 college credits at a low-cost community college with the guarantee that all 30 credits will transfer to a four-year institution and count towards a bachelor’s degree
- We are supporting expanding this opportunity by creating career pathways to guarantee seamless transfer of an associate degree.
2017 Federal Legislative Advocacy Issues
- FY18 Federal Budget
- We will be watching closely as the next administration releases its FY18 budget proposal and the levels at which higher education is funded.
- One specific issue that we will be advocating for will be the reinstatement of year-round-Pell Grants.
- Higher Education Policy Positions of the New Administration
- This year, President Obama outlined an ambitious agenda to combat rising college costs and make college affordable for American families.
- We are actively tracking the policy positions of the presidential candidates as they relate to higher education.
- Department of Education Oversight
- We will continue to monitor issues related to rules and regulations from the U.S. Department of Education and how they might affect the operations of NMC.
Board of Trustees
The NMC Board of Trustees is a volunteer body that continues to do critical work for the future of the college and community. The election in November has two open seats. One seat is due to the retirement of Bob Brick, who has been a tireless supporter of NMC first serving on the Foundation Board and then on the Board of Trustees. I thank him for all he has done and have been assured he will continue to support NMC. The second seat is currently held by Chris Bott, who was appointed to the Board following Cheryl Gore Follette’s resignation. Trustee Bott is one of six candidates seeking this position. The League of Women Voters will hold a Board of Trustee Candidate Forum in Milliken Auditorium on October 18 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm.
Following, are the six candidates in alphabetical order:
- Chris M. Bott
- Carolyn Collins
- Christopher Dailey
- Michael Estes
- Michael Haynes
- Rachel Johnson
Spring Semester Opening
We have not made a decision on the nature and design of spring semester Opening Conference. I want to talk with a number of groups, including the Learning Outcomes Team, CIE, and Staff Development Team to get their recommendations. I hope to have a decision by mid-November.
We live in a time of not just change, but transformation. Whether talking about society in general, or the college as a microcosm of society, I think the following is true. We have the technological capability to be more connected than at any other time in history. Yet, we seem to be less connected than any time in recent history. It is far too easy to blast off an email or text without regard to factual basis. It is far easier to use technology to support a position than it is to listen to a colleague and examine our position. It is more comfortable to talk only with people who have a like mind. It is hard to feel uncomfortable. Everyone, close your eyes, breath deep breaths and consider for a moment all the gifts we have in our lives.
I ask each of us to understand the discomfort that accompanies transformation. I ask each of us to learn to embrace today, work to build tomorrow and truly live out the values adopted by the NMC community in 2007. Never forget, it will take all of us to get to the future. It will take all of us to make a difference in our learners’ lives. It will take all of us to make a difference in our community. We have a proud history of service and innovation. I believe this college, this community, more than many others has the will and capacity to continue growing to meet new needs within our world. It is up to us.
Thank you for all you do, have a great semester.