Monday Morning Millage Message

This weekend, as I continued to internally celebrate our millage victory, I was reminded of the lesson we learned two years ago (when the millage did not pass) and the message I sent after that to the campus and community. I remained positive in the face of our loss and stated in my email to the campus that I was “eager” to confront new challenges. I was criticized for saying that.  I also stated at the State of the College Address to the community that we did not lose the millage, we were simply learning a lesson from it. I said “sometimes you win, sometimes you learn”. I was criticized for that statement in the paper.

You see, leaders have to remain positive, even in the face of the direst of circumstances. Without that positivity, we would not be victors today! Vindication!

Below is part of my email to the campus after our “lesson” two years ago.

Dear MCCC Family,

 I hope you are all well on this post-election day. I am sure you may know by

now that our millage request was unsuccessful. I was disappointed by the

results but remain enthusiastic (and positive) about the future. This election

was not a referendum on MCCC  and the quality of programs we provide here

and the many lives that we continue to transform and enrich.

 Thanks to all of you who worked so hard on this campaign. This is a quality

institution with quality people in a quality community. I woke up this morning

eager to come to work and face new challenges to take MCCC and this entire

community to the next level.  We fought the good fight, the struggle continues,

and we shall overcome (l know, lots of clichés)….

 Sincerely,

 Kojo

 We have overcome!!

 That email was followed by an article published in the Monroe News on November 7, 2014. The last part of the article is below.

….

The college has a significant maintenance backlog in major areas of the

physical  plant, such as major heating and cooling, plumbing and electrical

systems that will have to be addressed.  Roofs are already leaking and

basements have flooded. Delaying repairs is no longer an option. 

The information technology infrastructure at MCCC is in need of major

updating and also must be addressed.  Lack of investment in this area will

have a major impact on student success.

We understand that the election was not a referendum on MCCC. 

The quality  of the programs we provide and the many lives that we

transform and enrich have never been in question.  The college

continues to be a vitally important resource in the community.

I can assure you that MCCC remains committed to providing

high-quality  higher education for the residents of Monroe County. 

But we must maintain this commitment within the limits of the

funding we have  available. As we re-evaluate the MCCC budget

to meet our new challenges,  I value your input and welcome you

to share any questions and concerns with me. Please email me at

kquartey@monroeccc.edu or call theOffice of the President at

(734) 384-4311.

 Dr. Kojo A. Quartey is president of Monroe County Community College.

Yes, indeed. This is a quality institution in a quality community, and by voting “YES”, our community has entrusted us with the safeguarding of this community gem, which is MCCC.  We listened, we engaged, we embraced our entire county, and they have come through for us. We must remain fiscally responsible and accountable and utilize the funds responsibly as we take this college and the entire community to the next level.

I am Thankful for….

Next week is Thanksgiving. Wow! What happened to summer? The elections are over, we have a new president of the United States, and Monroe County Community College now has a capital improvement millage. We won! I am thankful for a lot of things during this Thanksgiving period. They include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. God for protecting, guiding, and blessing me to have a family that I love and a job that I love
  2. God for giving MCCC a victory in our millage campaign and the faith to persevere to victory
  3. All my friends and relatives
  4. The gift of life
  5. All those who assisted, supported, and voted yes! for our millage
  6. All those who paved the way for me to be in the position that I am in now – Dr. Ron Campbell, Jerry Welch, Audrey Warrick, and Dr. David Nixon – the first four MCCC presidents.

As our nation transitions from one president to another, I pray for peace to prevail. These are difficult and trying times all over the world, and our nation needs to be a stabilizing force.  What is happening now, in the greatest nation in the world, is not setting a good example for other nations.

I am thankful for the freedoms that we enjoy in these great United States, and did I mention that I am thankful for our millage victory?

Voting Intelligently and Supporting your College

We have six days until Election Day! Last night, we held the sheriff’s town hall here at MCCC in our cafeteria. It was literally standing room only! The two sheriff candidates are, Sheriff Dale Malone and Mr. David Uhl. Our format was very simple.  I served as moderator and began by asking the audience to “vote yes!” for our millage. I then asked them to make opening statements, asked a couple of questions, and then took questions from the audience. To avoid controversy and back-and-forths, we asked the audience to write down the questions on note cards, and I read the questions. There were more questions than I could ask in the hour-and-forty-five minutes,  so I used my discretion to vet and purge the questions.

There were times during the town hall when things got a bit contentious, as would be expected.  However, overall it was civil and controlled. We ended by again asking the audience to “vote yes!” For MCCC. When I left that evening, I was much more knowledgeable of their positions/platforms. Are you? As Tuesday approaches, please go online and read more about the platforms of the various candidates so you can vote intelligently. Whatever be the case, please encourage everyone you know to exercise their vote and vote to support MCCC. While I cannot say “vote yes!” for MCCC in this email, I did say it to them yesterday in my capacity as a private citizen.

 

Monday Morning Musings — Millage or Million?

This past Saturday, as I prepared to begin my door-to-door campaign efforts, I reflected on the impact of what we plan to do with this millage, if it passes. I thought about the thousands of students whose lives will be enriched and transformed, and the overall impact of the impending projects on the Monroe County community, the region, state, and nation.

For some reason, as my mind drifted and as I thought about the challenges we are currently facing here at MCCC, I asked myself, if it were an either or situation (and I realize that it can be both) “would I rather win a million dollars or pass this millage?”  Anyone who knows me knows that my answer is unequivocally, undoubtedly, the MILLAGE! There is simply no comparison for me. It is a no brainer. It is all about the greater impact.  Those are simply the values I have developed as a result of my background, experiences, and spirituality.  This millage is bigger than all of us and will transform not only this college and community but the future of Monroe County. None of this is about Kojo, it is about changing the world. One million dollars would change my life, but I want to change the lives of hundreds and thousands, that’s what a successful millage will do. Its impact will be felt for the next 52 years and beyond. No, I do not want a million dollars, I want a successful millage because I care more about my college and community than I do about myself.

A Millage Message

Over the course of the last several months, we have sought and obtained input from all stakeholders – all three councils and the entire community, and we had a series of meetings to strategize with our entire community and campus around the millage. We have an active media campaign and have received numerous endorsements, including from united Way, the Business Development Corporation, Senior Center, Monroe Bank and Trust, the farm Bureau and many others. All our legislators are supportive and so are our township leaders.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to present to the Monroe City Council. It was a short presentation highlighting the value of Monroe County Community College and the dire needs we have to upgrade our facilities. There were no questions, however there were comments from the mayor and other council members. Every comment was positive! They provided examples of how MCCC benefits this community – that was refreshing, especially in light of some of the negatives in some quarters. By the way, we won the City of Monroe two years ago and lost everywhere else.

Even as I crisscross the county going from business-to-business and door-to-door, I hear very few negatives, have been chased by only one dog, and turned away by only one or two businesses and people. A special thanks to Dr. Ed Feldman (Trustee) for walking with me and canvassing by himself, and Chris Holmes (alumnus) and Les Austin (current student) for canvassing with me. Also thanks to Jim Ross for championing our canvassing efforts.

This millage is not only about the future of Monroe County Community College, it is about the future of the entire county, for as goes Monroe County Community College, so goes Monroe County. There are thousands and thousands of homes in Monroe County and a few people cannot cover them all. A little help would be greatly appreciated.

From Business Pitch to Social Entrepreneur — Lawrence White

Yesterday, while I was on the “Eastside” of town, going from the Learning Bank to the Oak of Righteousness Church warming shelter, I had the opportunity to engage Mr. Lawrence White in a conversation. You see, Mr. White placed second in our inaugural Business Pitch competition two years ago. I recall that Mr. White’s idea had to do with real estate and development. It appears that he is involved in development of the “Eastside” of town, more as a social entrepreneur.

Now, before I expound on what Mr. White is doing, let me tell you a little about the “Eastside” – the “other side of the tracks”. I live on the eastside (small ‘e’ but close enough) of Monroe, granted, I do not live on the other side of the tracks, so it would not be true if I said I live on the real “Eastside”. The actual “Eastside” is a neighborhood with a large African-American and Hispanic population, Orchard High School (Monroe’s alternative high school), the Arthur Lesow Community Center, Navarre Library, the Learning Bank, Oaks of Righteousness Church, and other African-American churches, the Salvation Army, two community gardens, and much more.

The “Eastside” is a lower income area, has worse roads than the rest of Monroe and in need of much more development. Now, back to Mr. White. Mr. White has purchased an entire block of land and has worked with the community to convert half of that block into a community garden that is verdant with all kinds of vegetables. He told me that the local police department provided the water spigots for the garden.  What a wonderful collaboration. It is a joy to see community members of all ages and races tending to their gardens at all hours of the day. The garden has a social, cultural and economic impact on the community.

Mr. White is African-American, young (about my age – yes, young!), and committed to making a difference in his community. He is also still a Monroe County Community College Student whose life has been enriched and transformed by this College. His next project is to develop a farmer’s market and purchase additional land to further develop the “Eastside”. An entrepreneur whose involvement in our Business Pitch competition served as a catalyst for his social entrepreneurial spirit and efforts.  I told Mr. White how proud I was of him and his efforts to develop the “Eastside”. His response, “I have no choice but to do my college proud; I am putting my education to good use”. MCCC, enriching and transforming lives and whole communities, that’s our mission.

Statement on Latest Terrorist Attack

Last night there was another terrorist attack. This one was in Nice, France. They used a truck to mow down innocent people.  The death toll continues to rise. Our hearts go out to the people of France, even as we mourn our own and deal with our own tragedies in this nation. Let us continue to keep all the victims in our thoughts and prayers in these most difficult times.