As you probably know, the college's enrollment (both in terms of student headcount and contact hours) increased between 1-2 percent this spring when compared to spring 2013. I can attribute this increase to several things. First and foremost, I'd like to thank the advisors, counselors, business office personnel, faculty and department chairs, and anyone else involved in helping our students through the admissions, advising, and registration process. I can't overstate the quality work that these employees do on behalf of our students. LSC-Montgomery is known for its innovation when it comes to helping students. We provide unique payment options. We host outstanding orientations for students. We actively encourage our existing students to register early via Avoid the Stampede. Combined, these efforts speak to the "Maverick" culture that our students experience every day at LSC-Montgomery. But special thanks for your hard work during our enrollment season. You are a big reason why our enrollment increased this spring semester. Awesome job!
Upcoming UEP retreat & institutional effectiveness cycle update
Another thing that LSC-Montgomery is known for is its annual cycle of effectiveness. Our unit effectiveness planning (UEP) process has been in place for four years now, and with each passing year it has become more ingrained in our culture. (Indeed, components of our UEP process have been incorporated into the overall LSCS strategic planning process!) This Friday, our administrative team will gather for a mid-year retreat, examining how we're doing with the goals and objectives we set for 2013-14. It is a chance to see where we are "hitting home runs," where we need to put additional focus, and how we can work together to achieve our mission. At our final retreat in June, we'll begin the process of "closing the loop" and setting new goals for 2014-15.
NADE advanced certification
Speaking of home runs, a tremendous blast was struck in our Developmental English department recently, when it was informed that it had received Advanced Certification from the National Association of Developmental Education (NADE). The college is one of just 17 community colleges nationwide-and one of just five in the state of Texas (LSC-CyFair, Vernon College, Northwest Vista College and San Jacinto College North)-to achieve advanced certification from NADE. To achieve Advanced Certification, the college had to demonstrate the effectiveness of its Developmental English program, but also how it is using continuous and systematic assessment to evaluate student success over time. In the acceptance letter, NADE commended the college's program for its use of promising practices such as an integrated reading/writing course, professional development-focused faculty cohorts, and incorporation of book-length readings.
Our faculty and administrators are constantly exploring new and innovative ways to help our students be successful, and this certification puts us in exclusive company among other community colleges nationwide. Most important, however, is that it shows we are doing the right things to lead our students into college-level coursework as quickly and efficiently as possible - all while maintaining high levels of student success.
I'd like to point out the efforts of English professors Beverley Turner, chair of the Developmental English department; and Dr. Lana Myers, who led the NADE application process, as well as all of the other English faculty members at LSC-Montgomery. They are not afraid to implement leading-edge components to our program, and they back it up with solid assessment and adjustments, as needed.
We will receive the official advanced certificate at the annual NADE conference in Dallas later this spring.
Next Generation Leadership Program update
After naming the first participants in our Next Generation Leadership Program in December, this cohort of four staff (Jackie Cooper, Katie Halbert, Karen Jones and Donna Smith Burns) and six faculty (Jared Cootz, Brandy Harvey, Juan Lebron, Matthew Samford, Heidi Smith and Joe Trackey) have begun the program in earnest. They will attend a portion of the administrative retreat on Friday, and will soon be paired with a mentor related to the area of leadership they possess. I am scheduling other leadership training sessions with this group, some of which is based on the doctoral classes in higher education leadership that I teach for Sam Houston State University. I am excited about the new NGLP program, as it serves as a great "grooming" process for the college's next leaders. It also addresses one of the issues that emerged from our 2011 visioning sessions - encouraging promotion from within the college. If you are interested and meet the criteria, I would encourage you to consider applying for the 2014-15 cohort next fall. For more information, you can contact Mike Devoley, professor of psychology, who worked with me to develop NGLP.
Emergency Taskforce recommendations/update
In December, the recommendations from the Emergency Preparedness Taskforce were presented to the Executive Council. After meeting five times in October and November, the task force, composed of 20 faculty, staff and students, grouped their recommendations into five categories: training, communication, organization, facilities, and technology. While there are further details behind each recommendation, they are listed below. One of the main recommendations EC approved was the creation of an ongoing committee that replaces the former Health & Safety Committee. This new committee, named "SET" (for Safety & Emergency Taskforce) will concentrate solely on campus emergency preparedness and safety issues. It will begin meeting early this semester and develop a comprehensive, campus wide emergency plan, based primarily on the existing LSCS Office of Emergency Planning structure. That plan will be widely communicated to faculty, staff and students upon completion by summer. SET, with input and guidance from Executive Council, will work through the following recommendations:
Nominations are already being submitted for the Shining & Rising Star Awards, as well as the new Constellation Award. These awards will be presented at the 5th annual Heights of Excellence ceremony on Friday, April 25, when we recognize those individual and group efforts that contribute to the college's strategic planning goals and objectives. I know that so many of you are doing great things for our students and the community. Please make sure that your efforts are considered for one of these prestigious awards. For more information and to nominate, visit http://www.LoneStar.edu/hoe-montgomery. The deadline to submit nominations is Wednesday, March 26, at 5 p.m.
Conroe Job Fair a Success
Congratulations to Becky Duncan-Ramirez, director of LSC-Conroe Center, and the rest of the team who planned for (and pulled off) a tremendous, results-oriented job fair at the Lone Star Expo Center in Conroe last month. A great article in the Conroe Courier newspaper captured the success of the job fair: http://bit.ly/1hbTKtI. One of the goals of LSC-Conroe Center is to make solid connections with the surrounding business and industry in the Conroe area, and events such as the job fair go a long way toward building these partnerships. In spite of some really bad weather, more than 500 attendees and 32 businesses were on hand to make it a success. Additionally, five job fair attendees will receive $500 scholarships to further their education with workforce skills training via LSC-Conroe Center.
College Set to Support United Way
Our college has a close partnership with Montgomery County United Way; it has for years. MCUW refers hundreds of its clients - via the agencies it funds - to LSC-Montgomery. In return, we have supported MCUW with an annual campaign. Above all, it's the right thing to do. After serving as the chair of the countywide MCUW campaign in 2012-13, I can assure you that the money generated is put to good use to improve lives.
Welcome Back, Professor Ristow!
The LSC-Montgomery music department welcomed back one of its own, former professor of music Gregory Ristow, who brought his Chamber Singers from DePauw University to perform in our Recital Hall last month. Ristow, who taught at LSC-Montgomery from 2004-2009, led the music program to new heights during that time, spending his final year here helping plan for the design of the Music Hall. Pictured, along with the Chamber Singers, is Ristow (center left); Deborah Ellington (center), academic dean; and Earl Holt (center right), professor and chair of the music department.
Nothing speaks louder than the voice of a student who has overcome an obstacle (or two) on their way to achieve great things in Maverick Country. Each year, our college selects a student essay on the topic of "How My Lone Star College Experience Has Influenced My Life." This year's selection from LSC-Montgomery is Sarah Gauteson, a freshman who began taking classes here at the age of 15. Sarah, a homeschool student, overcame the stigmas and challenges that often accompany students who begin college at such an early age. She read her essay yesterday at the Chancellor's Breakfast, an annual event hosted by the LSC Foundation that showcases each campus's essay winner and honors our endowed scholarship donors.
"I am constantly exploring strategies to encourage student involvement in the class and ways to help them become critical thinkers," said Iyer. "Teachers play the dual role of instructor and friend. As an instructor, we guide students to set higher standards for themselves, and as a friend, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder to inspire them to learn something new every day."
Iyer holds dual master's degrees; one in applied botany from Mangalore University in India, and the other in plant pathology from Texas A&M University. She has been with the Lone Star College System since 2003 as an adjunct faculty member and joined LSC-Montgomery full-time in 2009. She has been involved since 2010 as a co-coordinator of the annual Communicating Across the Curriculum (CAC) Student Conference.
"Every time I step inside a classroom, I always learn something new," she said. "My journey has just begun, and along the way, I hope to help students create their road map to the future in the true Maverick way."