Millage News

The MCCC millage is what I am living and breathing these days, as we approach Nov. 4 – election day. On this campus alone, we have a potential 3,000 plus votes! That can make or break any election in a town such as Monroe. It is imperative that we go out, vote, and encourage our students to vote also. It is a civic right and responsibility for which many have died.
I have been speaking everywhere I can about this millage. The last one we asked for was 34 years ago, and it passed by one vote! Yes, one vote! What does that mean? Every vote counts. I have spoken to every civic group in Monroe – Kiwanis, Exchange, Rotary, Altrusa, Soroptimist, and several leadership and political organizations. I have visited and spoken to three senior citizen groups and to anyone who will listen to my story about the value of MCCC to this community. We are the only college in this county and as MCCC goes, so goes Monroe County – this county would not be what it is without MCCC and it cannot rise to the “next level” without MCCC. Most people understand that.
Believe it or not, I have received no negative feedback and do not expect any because individuals in this county realize the value of higher education. Next week, I begin visiting our libraries to speak to and hear from anyone who shows up; perhaps that is where I will hear some negatives, but I do not expect to.
Monroe County believes in and has supported MCCC for the last fifty years, and I expect them to continue supporting MCCC for another 50 times 50 times 50. MCCC is this county’s college and come November 4, county residents will show why they founded this college 50 years ago.

How to Change the World

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the greatest weapon with which we can change the world.” We must continue to invest in education if we want to change the world. Recently, I have been speaking at every function I attend (when allowed to), I am doing radio, television, and the street corners too. What am I speaking on? I am, simply put, selling education! The cure for ignorance, the cure for poverty, the key to success, the great equalizer, and the road map to prosperity. That is what I am selling!
Now, having said that, those who know me probably are aware that I am as apolitical and non-partisan as they come. I eschew politics to the extent that I can and only deal with politics in economic terms. I have never run for political office and do not plan to. Now I find myself heavily involved in a form of politicking. Why? Because I want to change the world, I want to transform and enrich lives; I want to make a difference in my community. How do we change the world? We must begin at home. We must continue to believe in and invest in education, realizing its transformative power. As we invest in education, our community will gradually begin to rise to the next level, which will then have a positive impact on its residents and businesses and the entire world — community by community. That is where it all begins.

An investment in education will change the world; we have the weapon, let’s use it!

The Most Important Day of Class — Day One!

The most important day of class is the first day of class. As a former economics professor, I knew that was the day to really impress and capture the students’ attention. That was the day that I reviewed the syllabus, and attempted to really inspire and motivate students. As educators, the most important work we do at institutions like MCCC is inspiring and motivating students to dream, to hope, and to believe, primarily in themselves.

I read somewhere that community colleges lose up to 20 percent of their students during the first week of classes; I believe that. While I am not teaching now, I spend time visiting classes to try to motivate and inspire students. I visited several classes on the first day of classes last week and have visited a few today (between meetings). I had the opportunity to sit in Professor Lana Shryock’s Web Design class last week. I participated and actually created my first webpage in her class. Needless to say, that class is off to a great start. I left her class feeling motivated and inspired to begin building webpages (not exactly), but I did have a greater amount of technological self-confidence.

I encourage all educators to continue teaching and motivating on day one, and I encourage students to take their classes seriously from day one. That is the how we can ultimately ensure STUDENT SUCCESS.

It’s Millage Time!

I have not posted on my blog for over a month now. So, it is about time that I did so. Over that period of a month, I did take a couple of weeks of vacation time — very necessary for decompression and life/work balance purposes. Also during that time, I have attended conferences in Traverse City and Boyne Mountain and traveled to Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. There has also been a State of the College Address to the Community (my first). There have been the corporate visits and the continuation of the “50-50-50, for the 50th” campaign, among other things. Lest I forget, also during that time, we have held Board meetings, met with consultants, and planned a millage campaign. Now, as we continue to plan for the millage, we continue to seek input from all constituencies. Over the course of the next week, we will solicit millage ideas from faculty, staff, students, the Board, and other stakeholders.

The millage polling shows that the community is positive about MCCC and would likely support a millage. That is good news. However, in order to secure victory, we will need everyone’s help. Please join me as we campaign for our millage, which will ensure that MCCC continues to transform and enrich lives in Monroe County and beyond.

Please see our website for additional information. It’s millage time and we need your help!

Serving the Underserved

Serving the underserved is essentially a key mission of community colleges. In many instances, community colleges such as MCCC take students who would not be successful elsewhere, shapes, and molds them to compete globally.
In the past two weeks MCCC has continued the tradition of serving the underserved with the Learning Bank Commencement and the Upward Bound completion ceremony. The Learning Bank provides many individuals with the opportunity to complete their GED, which, is a credential of economic value. My own father earned a GED at the age of 42. Upward Bound is another service program that focuses on first generation college students. While in high school, these students are given the opportunity to receive the appropriate training that prepares them for success in college and in life. I was part of an Upward Bound bridge program in my freshman year in college.
If MCCC did not serve these underserved students, then who would? While we cannot be all things to all people, we can certainly be something to the underserved population of Monroe County. Like anyone else, they deserve the opportunity to have their lives enriched – that is our mission.

The Power of Positive Thinking

What has been on my mind the last several days? Simply put, having a positive attitude about life –the power of positive thinking. It is part of my DNA, my upbringing, and my spirituality. I always have a positive attitude about everything significant! If I did not, I would not have survived the Washington DC public school system; I would not have made it through high school; I would not have made it in the inner city of Baltimore after leaving home at 19; I would not have survived the rats in the Baltimore ghettoes; I would not have completed my bachelor’s degree in less than three years; I would not have survived being homeless after I moved to Mississippi to pursue a Ph.D. degree; and I would not be where I am today. That is my story, a positive one. That is how I live my life and that is how I do my work.

All of us could stand a little more positive thinking. I cannot imagine any coach, or for that matter, players on any sports team going into a game thinking they are going to lose. In terms of more recent international events, I cannot imagine that the U.S. soccer team ever conceived of losing to the great soccer nation of Ghana, who had knocked them out of the last two World Cups. The USA won because they believed they could and would win, and they did, even though they were outplayed.
I have always said that as an educator, the most important responsibility that I have is to get students to dream big dreams, keep hope alive, and believe first and foremost in themselves – that is the educator’s greatest responsibility – inspiring and motivating students. Inspiring and motivating his/her team is also the coach’s/leader’s greatest responsibility. In order for the leader to be successful at motivating the team, each team member must have that internal confidence/belief. That is what makes organizations successful and moves them from good to great.

MCCC family, we must remain positive in these challenging times. We must believe that we can be and will be successful in our recruitment, retention, fund raising, and millage efforts. We must ALL have a positive attitude.

The Entrepreneurial Educator

The word “entrepreneur” is a French word, which means undertaker — a person who undertakes a venture for the purpose of earning a profit. The very first organized “school” of economists, the French Physiocrats, coined this term, perhaps because they believed that profiteers were essentially non-productive or sterile individuals who benefited at the expense of others.
That said, we know today that entrepreneurs are not sterile, and are largely responsible for income generation in the global economy. Entrepreneurs are the innovators and creators who make the world go round.
Educators are those individuals who impart knowledge to others. I have always believed that education and entrepreneurship are the two E’s that lead to economic development and growth. The two are not mutually exclusive. The best type of educator is one who is creative, risk-preferred, innovative, nimble, agile, and quick. However, education, by its very nature, tends to be methodical, regimented, risk-averse, calculated, and slow. So, educators do not tend to be very entrepreneurial in nature.
Would it not be great if we could marry these two E’s? That would mean educators who continually and constantly think out-of-the-box. Yes, creative, innovative and agile educators who are willing to take risks to provide better education to those individuals thirsting for knowledge. Individuals who constantly ask questions that lead to answers about how we make something happen, not why we cannot make it happen.
If we do not fit that description of an entrepreneurial educator, then that is what we should aspire to be.