College Assembly of January 12, 2005


Amy Iseneker called the session to order.  She announced that Mercer’s participation in the Sept. Heart Walk was a huge success, with 50 participants raising a total of $6,000.  On Feb. 4 students will host a “Go Red Day.”  The theme for this year is that heart disease is the number one killer of women.  Employees are asked to wear red in observance of this event.


New employees were introduced.  JKC Provost Beverly Richardson announced new full-time employees at the James Kerney Campus: Ha Nguyen Cao, an education specialist in the Language Institute, Esvidy Cornely, also an education specialist in the English Language Institute, Darius Dove, a counselor in Upward Bound, Barry Kirsch, an education specialist in the ABE/GED program, Gwen Lockhart, a senior education specialist in the Career Training Institute, and Stephanie Schmitter, a senior education specialist in the English Language Institute.


Dean Mark Meara welcomed new employee Nina May to his division.  She will serve as an institutional research analyst in Institutional Research and Assessment.


Dean for College Advancement Bill Mate introduced Frances Furlong, executive assistant in Facilities and Security, and Arnold Marx, project manager in Facilities.


HR Director Vanessa Wilson introduced two new employees: Erika Worthy, manager of Employment, and Margaret Tsui, manager of Benefits and Insurance.


The next item on the agenda was Dean Meara’s update on information and technology services.  The new online grading system introduced during the fall semester was successful.  Outcomes included more grades received earlier, fewer grades outstanding at the deadline, and elimination of scan sheet misreads.  There were many positive comments from faculty and Mark thanked the faculty for their cooperation and support of the new system.


Mark reported a great deal of activity in the area of Institutional Research, including developing a system for collecting data on graduates and transfer students, developing a graduating student survey and a classroom renovation survey.  Data will support grant applications and the timely completion of state and federal filings.


Mark noted that the Information and Technology Strategic Plan, completed before Christmas, is available on MLink.  It includes the background and history of the department, its organizational structure and current challenges.  Feedback from staff and faculty would be appreciated.


ITS projects for spring include introducing automatic assignment of advisors, student SSN conversion, which will touch every area of the campus, and web-based student admissions applications.  Longer-term goals include continued expansion of wireless technology capabilities in many areas, offering more remote computer devices such as PDAs, and the increased use of broadband media.  Computer security, improved reliability and reduced downtime present ongoing challenges to the staff.


Mark’s group has set up a Tsunami Relief Fund drive and asks anyone interested in making a donation to call Carol Andrejcik (x3621) or Susan Busch (x3623).


Dr. Rose next presented his update.  After wishing everyone a hearty new year, he focused on the Strategic Plan, posing the question of how to tie the plan to the budgeting process in order to allocate appropriate funds to the projects identified as important.  He thanked Carol Tosh, Beverly Richardson and all the staff members who contributed to the plan.  He called for volunteers to work on the next plan, which will cover 2005-2010.


Dr. Rose reported that the Middle States process is in its final stages and commended Al Leister, Al Porter, committee chairs and all others who helped us identify our strengths and weaknesses.  Several targeted areas are: continuing to modify policies and procedures, and the continued growth of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (see above).  Increasingly the emphasis must be on outcomes: what we do, how well we do it, what can we improve on.  Other areas identified for improvement include the quality of student advisement, creating a more diversified faculty, college organization, number of academic deans, and which positions need to be filled.  Dr. Rose asked departments/divisions to invite him to one of their meetings in the next few weeks to get their feedback.


Two outcomes emerged clearly at the Forum meeting in December:  Student Services will be split from instruction and there will be an effort to connect the James Kerney and West Windsor campuses in new ways.  One change is that in addition to her role as JKC provost, Beverly Richardson will serve as vice president of Student Services.  The other significant structural change is that all instruction, both credit and noncredit, will be organized under Tom Wilfrid.  Dr. Rose noted that while this is not a new concept at community colleges, it is new for Mercer.


Dr. Rose noted that he is troubled by the number of remedial students we lose and asked how we can be more successful in helping these students achieve their educational goals.  Foundation courses make up 1/7 of what Mercer offers.  Should we have a faculty member exclusively responsible for that area?


Turning to facilities, Dr. Rose reported that the state has committed $18 million in Chapter 12 money, to be used over the next three years for improvements.  The county must step forward with $9 million.  The county was good to Mercer in the fall and Dr. Rose expects it to be again.


JKC renovations are expected to begin shortly and renovations to the Administration Building are nearing completion.  The Accounting Department has relocated to comfortable new quarters on the first floor of the AD building, while HR will soon move to the refurbished area below the President’s Suite.  That area will also house two conference rooms.  Two new conference rooms in the President’s Suite are also available for seminar/classroom use.


The HRI Lab is scheduled to open in time for the start of the semester.  It will primarily be used as a baking lab.  Some use of the lab will be given to Firmenich, who helped fund the renovations. The pool renovations are still not completed, but should be finished in March.  Renovations will begin shortly in the WWFM studios.


The Job Analysis Questionnaire project is just being launched and is designed to assess internal equity and market competitiveness.  This process should be completed by the end of the spring semester.


A “mini-grant” program is being reintroduced by Marianne Reynolds, Debbie Kell and Fran Davidson.  A faculty committee will listen to proposal ideas and then recommend release time or added compensation to develop new courses and pursue special projects.  The application is on MLink.  The submission deadline is March 15.


Among the challenges facing Mercer this year, Dr. Rose noted budget concerns, ongoing facilities improvement projects, and improving student advisement and student outcomes, particularly retention of students in the foundations program.

Return to E-Bulletin of Jan. 24, 2005