Administration’s Budget Includes Significant Cuts for Higher Education

The information below is culled from the most recent Michigan Community Colleges Association (MCCA) weekly report.  There are significant cuts to higher education, which could negatively impact community colleges (an understatement).

Please read on….

Last Thursday, President Trump released his initial request for funding for fiscal year (FY) 2018. This ‘skinny budget’ provides some funding details and priorities of the Administration. The full budget is expected to be released in May. Ultimately, it will be up to Congressional appropriators to determine how to distribute funding for FY 2018. The Administration’s budget includes a 14% cut to the Department of Education and a 21% cut to the Department of Labor. Below is a summary of information provided in the skinny budget for higher education and workforce programs:

  • Current Pell Grant surplus is targeted with a $3.9 billion cut.
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) program is eliminated. SEOG provides aid to over 1.5 million students, a quarter of which are community college students.
  • TRIO (which includes Upward Bound) is cut by 10%, and GEAR UP is cut by 32%.
  • Budget includes unspecified but ‘significant’ cuts to Federal Work Study.
  • Funding for Title III (A) Strengthening Institutions is likely eliminated.
  • While the budget proposes $9 billion in cuts to education programs, not all of these cuts are specified. The budget notes there are 20 additional categorical programs that will be reduced or eliminated.
  • The budget includes over $2 billion in unspecified cuts to the Department of Labor, including a decrease in federal support for job-training grants, stating that states, localities, and employers should provide more funding.

Celebrating Women Today and All Month Long

March is Women’s History Month, and today, March 8, has been designated “International Women’s Day” around the world. As we celebrate today and during the whole month of March, please join me in showing appreciation for the historical and current contributions of women all over the world.

Today was designated as “A Day without Women”, and many women could have simply stayed home. How would any organization, especially Monroe County Community College, function without women?  The answer is, it simply would not exist (but then, neither would I – thank you mom!) So on this very special day and during this entire month, year, and forever, let us continue to express our gratitude to all women on campus and beyond. Women of the Monroe County Community College family and women of the world, I say thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to make MCCC and the entire world a better place!

Happy 60th Independence Day to Ghana: A Model of Political Stability

Exactly sixty years ago, March 6, 1957, the African nation of Ghana became the first Sub-Saharan African country to gain independence from a colonial power. Since then, the country has gone through its ups and downs, and is now arguably the most stable nation in Africa.

Certainly, Ghana has  had its challenges and its fair share of military coup d’états and “dictatorships”, but it has had democratically elected governments for decades. Ghana is unique in many ways, some of which include but are not limited to:

  • Freedom of press, religion and other freedoms
  • The co-existence of Muslims and Christians in a civil society
  • No civil wars or conflicts since independence
  • Low incidents of aids
  • Civilian governments that relinquish power when they lose an election
  • More slave forts than any other nation (a dubious distinction)
  • A major tourist destination with many five star hotels

There is much more to this wonderful African nation. Happy Independence Day to Ghana!

Knowing your Ancestry May Help you Better Learn your History and Shape your Future

Some years ago, scientists began to use DNA testing to determine a person’s heritage/ancestry.  Back then, there were probably one or two of these services available. Now, there is a proliferation of such services, such as,,, etc. Besides knowing one’s ethnic origins, it can help us determine “genetic predispositions” that are transmitted by the genes. For example the “sickle cell gene is peculiar to those of African and Mediterranean origin.

As we celebrate Black History Month this February and other ethnic months throughout this year, you may want to avail yourself of one of these services to determine your ethnicity and ancestry. In case you are wondering, no, I am not trying to sell any of these services nor do I collect a commission from any of them. I just want to make the point that it is worth knowing your ancestry so you can learn more about your history. I have African-American friends (Oprah, Spike, Denzell, etc.), who after taking these tests have discovered that their roots are in specific nations or tribes in Africa. As a result, some have begun making trips to these areas to connect with long-lost family members.

Whatever ethnicity you belong to, learn your history. Those who are African-American will find that their history does not begin with slavery.  Indeed, some of their ancestors were never slaves. They were kings, warriors, and scholars.  There is a certain amount of pride and self-esteem that comes with knowing that. So, as Black History Month comes to a close, we must continue celebrating our history, progress, and achievements (regardless of our ancestry) as we build on the past to secure a better future.


Celebrating Black History and Other Months

Today, February 1, marks the beginning of Black History Month. A month when we focus on the history and achievements of Blacks in the diaspora. Black History Month was originated in 1915 by Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland. In 1926 the first Negro History Week was celebrated in the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.  As the years went on and as the Civil Rights Movement evolved, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976 ( rest is history (pardon the pun).

As we celebrate Black History Month, let’s remember that the United States is the greatest nation in the world because of our diversity. We will have a series of activities throughout this month and hope you will join us in our celebrations.  Please also take note that there will be other celebrations of our diversity and culture throughout the year. These include but are not limited to:

March – Women’s History Month, Irish-American Month, and Greek-American Heritage Month

April – Arab-American Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and Celebrate Diversity Month

May – Asian Heritage Month and Jewish-American Heritage Month

June – Caribbean-American Heritage Month and LGBT Pride Month

July – French-American Heritage Month and American Heritage Month

August – Family Heritage Month

September – National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct 15) and German-American Heritage Month

October – Filipino-American Heritage Month, LGBT History Month, and Italian-American Heritage Month

November – Native-American Heritage Month

December – Human Rights Month

Please make a special effort to join us in celebrating all of our history, culture and achievement. After all, that is what has made this nation what it is today.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – A Day on, not a Day off: A Commitment to Community Service

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is undoubtedly one of the most influential people of the 21st century, if not of all time. Monroe County Community College will observe Dr. King’s birthday as a holiday for the first time this coming Monday. It is just the right thing to do to honor this great American. The evening that our Board voted in support of this holiday, we had more community members at our Board meeting than I have ever seen at any meeting – that is how important Dr. King’s legacy is to many members of the Monroe community.

As we observe Dr. King’s birthday as a holiday, I encourage all of us to observe it as a day of reflection and a day of service, i.e. “a day on, not a day off”.  Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” I encourage all of us to find a project in OUR community that weekend and during that week (it is not limited to that day or week) to impact others positively. There are so many individuals in our community who need our help and can benefit from our generosity of time, talent, and treasure. There are opportunities to mentor youth, volunteer at a food bank or hospital, visit the elderly, deliver food to the sick and shut-in, and volunteer at a church or any place of your choosing. Once you have done this, you may decide to commit to doing it on a regular basis. More specifically, here is a limited list of some local organizations that need your help:

God Works! – serves meals to community members throughout the week at various locations

Oaks of Righteousness – also serves food and has numerous volunteer opportunities

Arthur Lesow Community Center – opportunities to tutor and mentor youth

Bed Race to Aid Children, Inc.  – opportunities to deliver beds to needy families

Habitat for Humanity – opportunities to build homes and help organize at the ReStore

We at MCCC will celebrate Dr. King’s legacy throughout the entire week with a Diversity and Service Fair, a march, and various diversity presentations during the week.

There are many more opportunities and I encourage you to look in your local paper or search the internet for them. I end with one of my favorite quotes, from Marian Wright-Edelman: “Service to others is the rent we pay for living on this planet.” We all have something to contribute to our community – time, money, talent, love. So, please resolve to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate in 2017.

Monday Morning Musings — Service to Others…

Until a couple of weekends ago, my weekends had been filled with millage campaigning for several months. Now that I have my weekends back, I find that they are filled with numerous community activities, so sometimes I say “Thank God it’s Monday!” (TGIM). While my community activities are all self-imposed, I cannot help it because that is my orientation.  I have so much to be thankful for that I cannot help but to continue giving my community a portion of my time, talents, and treasure.

This past Saturday, I  stood on Telegraph Road hawking Good Fellows papers as part of my duties as an Exchangite. My goal was to raise $50 in two hours; I raised over $100. Most of the funds raised will go towards student scholarships. The weekend before that, I was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, as part of my duties as a Rotarian. There are so many opportunities to serve my community that I cannot keep up. Truth be told, I prefer this to campaigning door-to-door.

I do what I do because I strongly believe that to whom much is given, much is expected; and I have much to be thankful for. Marian Wright Edelman said, “Service to others is the rent we pay for living on this planet.” There are so many “others” who need our services, and so as we go into the Holidays, let’s remember the less fortunate and give whatever we can to support them.