On The Issues: Student Success

Student success should always be College of the Mainland’s focus. The board of trustees' role is not to create programs to further this, but to surround ourselves with professionals and monitor their progress. Is enrollment increasing? Are we retaining students from semester to semester? Are students achieving success in the workforce once they move on from COM? These are example of the measures the board should evaluate to determine the effectiveness of the institution.
College of the Mainland is fortunate to have a group of dedicated professionals that help our students succeed. We have excellent faculty that educate students in and out of the classroom. Staff members work tirelessly to assist students. This may include walking them through the admission process, providing tutoring services, or advising them on a course of study. The college should ensure faculty and staff have the resources they need to help students succeed. We also need to ensure our employees know they’re valued. Constant changes in the administration and the failure of the college to move forward on the passage of a bond have done little to improve employee morale. 
Our students and employees deserve better:
  • Passage of a bond has to be our top priority. The college president should review the recent master plan and ensure it meets the needs of our students. Community and business leaders should be involved in this process along with students, faculty, and staff. The bond proposal must be clear with all expenditures laid out for the taxpayers. If a portion of the bond is set aside for “miscellaneous” expenses, the board needs to ensure that the eventual expenditure of these funds be clearly detailed to the public. Such a process will create an improved learning environment for our students and a better working environment for employees.
  • The board must eliminate the micromanaging that has been the hallmark of their management style in past years. The role of the board of trustees is not to manage the day to day operations of the college or tell the president how to do his job. The role of a trustee is to establish and monitor broad goals for issues such as student success or the financial health of the college. Trustees should hold the president accountable to achieve these goals, but should allow him the freedom to determine how best to achieve them. The president and college employees are experts in the field of higher education and the trustees are not. The board is responsible for putting a professional staff in place and then should step back and monitor their performance.
  • College of the Mainland provides high quality academic and workforce education, but it must constantly strive to remain effective. The college must constantly collaborate with business and labor leaders to ensure we are meeting the economic needs of the community and that our programs are adequately preparing students for the workforce. This is key to ensuring that our students have the job skills needed to obtain good paying jobs.
  • Increasing student enrollment should be one of the major priorities for College of the Mainland. Enrollment has been relatively static over the last several years and the board must charge the president to craft a strategy to steadily improve enrollment. Increasing enrollment provides additional students with the opportunity to pursue an education and increases the college’s revenue at a time when state appropriations will likely continue to diminish.
  • Recruiting and retaining top quality faculty and staff is vital to promoting student success. The college should evaluate it’s employment policies and compensation from top to bottom. Salary and benefits adjustments should be considered so long as the college can remain fiscally sound and continue to perform critical facility maintenance. For instance, the college lacks a paid parental leave policy despite such policies being common in the professional world. Such a policy could be established economically and would serve as an incentive to potential and current employees. I would strive to balance the priorities of employee retention with the need to remain fiscally responsible.

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