College Assembly of August 24, 2004

Amy Iseneker, chairperson, brought the assembly to order and reminded everyone about the Heart Walk, coming Sept. 18 to Mercer County Park. Walkers and donors are still needed to meet the college's goal of raising $6,000. She displayed red paper hearts that members of the administrative staff purchased on the spot for $1 each. She and Bob Pugh continued to take heart-walk donations during lunch.

Members of the administrative staff, including Jacky Sanders, Rose Nini, Walter Brooks, Mark Meara and Bill Mate, introduced all new full-time employees with a Power Point photo presentation.

Board Chair Wayne Griffith welcomed everyone. “One of the most exciting things as chair of the board is to come to this event and see the new faces. What we do collectively is very important to the students that we serve.”

Beverly Richardson and Carol Tosh presented an update on the Strategic Plan. "Teaching and Learning" must be accessible, affordable, marketable and transferable. In "Institutional Research/Assessment" we have the creation of a new unit to assess needs and outcomes. Regarding "Retention and Facilities" they emphasized the importance of creating connections for high-risk students and enhancing advising processes. They asked for everyone’s feedback.

Dean Mark Meara gave an update on technology at Mercer. Some highlights:

• The new Institutional Research and Assessment unit will be part of Information & Technology Services.
• Integrow will be web-enabled.
• New computers on campus include wireless computers in the Learning Center and many upgraded labs. Five new classrooms in the AD building will be wireless multimedia classrooms.
• There will be a new online help-desk system .
• T-relational data mining pulls data from Integrow and gives user-friendly tools to generate reports.
• The Conference Center website has been newly designed.
• We will be working on a "refresh" design for and MLink.
• A new grade roster feature was demonstrated by Professor Carlo Alfare.

Dr. Rose said “It really makes my job very easy to have an administrative team that is so creative and hard working, and so many of you who are willing to work with our administrative team. I thank each and every one of you.”

He observed that the country is still facing a learning gap. “Declining skills in the workforce are widening in relation to the increasing demands of the marketplace.”

Outlining new beginnings for 2004-05, Dr. Rose focused on three areas: institutional research, advising and facilities. “In institutional research we have put a new team together. We have data. It is in the system. We just have to mine it.

“Students say the biggest challenge is in advising. My challenge to you is that we can do more. Should we be doing things differently? Can we be more creative?”

Dr. Rose updated the group of facilities projects. There are newly upholstered seats in Kelsey Theatre. A new and expanded Learning Center has been completed In the Library. The pool is being refurbished.

In the Administration building, five state-of-the-art wireless classrooms are nearing completion. The second floor of the Administration Building will also be undergoing renovation so the president’s area will be more welcoming.

Bids are in for a new HRI lab. Firmenich will use the lab to demonstrate new products and will bring in people from around the world. The company will be helping us build it.

There are many changes at the James Kerney campus. Five architectural firms are looking at how to create a new entrance and welcome center, with added classroom space and improved heating and air conditioning in classrooms. At the Daylight-Twilight High School, located across the street on Hanover Street, we will have 30,000 square feet of classroom space. There are newly outfitted computer labs at JKC.

The college has a new member of its Board of Trustees, Skip Cimino.

Administrative staff changes announced over the summer included: Dean Al Porter will be leaving in 2005; Mark McCormick has been appointed Dean of Business; Eric Perkins has moved from administration to faculty. One of the challenges Dr. Rose presented is how the college can be more effective organizationally.

Two items that were not good news were a flood at the James Kerney Campus in early August caused by a broken pipe. Three levels of the building were damaged and had to undergo extensive repair. Telephone lines were out and there was no air conditioning in the building. The college's maintenance staff worked 16 hours a day to repair the damage. “Special thanks to the members of our maintenance staff,” Dr. Rose said.

Another incident involved a college airplane. Ed Eichert, a faculty member and an aviation student, had an unsuccessful landing. He broke his ankle and had other injuries. He is now recovering.

The college will be receiving a historically important torah to be displayed in our library’s Holocaust Center. There will be a dedication ceremony on October 18.

A Wild West Roundup for staff and faculty is planned for Oct. 15. More

The Assembly was adjourned and everyone was treated to a barbecue lunch prepared by the MCCC Food Services staff – burgers, veggie burgers, turkey burgers, sausage, hot dogs, all the trimmings, potato salad, coleslaw, fruit, pretzels, popsicles, cookies, drinks – the works.

Middle States Self-Study (MSSS) Update

Middle States Self-Study (MSSS) Steering Committee co-chair Al Porter was pleased to report that the college’s re-accreditation process -- initiated one year ago -- is progressing on schedule, with a key objective now fulfilled: a preliminary draft of MCCC’s 2005 Self-Study Report for the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

A “Synopsis of Preliminary Findings” culled from the preliminary draft was distributed at the college assembly and is also currently available on MLink. The full report may be obtained from either Al Porter or Al Leister, any member of the committee, or the library. Leister encouraged the entire college community to review the report draft and emphasized the value of prompt feedback. Porter advised to be on the lookout not only for errors, but for blanket omissions as well.

Leister invited all interested parties to one of two feedback hearings, to be held on Wednesday, Sept. 29 from noon to 1:30 in SC 108 and Thursday, Sept. 30 from noon to 1:30 at JKC’s Kerney Hall. He also reminded everyone that any member of the campus community could be subject to an impromptu interview with the visiting accreditation team. The visitation process will be discussed in greater detail at the January college assembly.

Porter shared the Mercer MSSS committee’s Guiding Principles:

* Candor -- honest identification of strengths and weaknesses to facilitate a constructive, open exchange of information and initiatives to fix what needs repair
* Brevity -- concise presentation of findings
* Communication -- generous opportunities for the college community to contribute to the process and react to the findings
* Self-improvement -- remain mindful of the ultimate goal: improving our institution

He also outlined key mileposts in the self-study process:

* First Draft – July 2004
* Synopsis – Aug. 2004
* FEEDBACK – Sept. 2004
* Hearings – Oct. 2004
* 2nd Draft – Nov. 2004
* Final Report – Dec.04/Jan.05
* Team Visit – April 3-6, 2005

Porter additionally noted that the Middle States visiting team chairperson, Dr. Charlene Nunley, President of Montgomery (MD) Community College, will visit Mercer on Nov. 9 to evaluate our preparedness for the visit by the full team in April.

Leister concluded the assembly’s Middle States update with a reminder that the thrust of our accreditation reporting should not be “all that’s good about Mercer”; the greater benefits will be derived from being critical of our institution’s shortcomings and a commitment to improve ourselves.