and faculty leaders. Like-minded teams
of faculty and administrators revisited
degrees and certifications, determining
that the pathway from prerequisite to
completion was too difficult for learners to
follow. Mesa now takes a "backward design"
approach to curriculum construction,
a method that emphasizes goal-setting
first, then concentrates on what course
sequence is needed to reach a destination.
"Administrators saw they had created
a structure where there wasn't an easy
way for students to choose a program of
study," Dadgar says. "So these faculty from
different disciplines worked together
on a solution. They brought in staff and
counselors able to communicate what
the students' struggles were."
Another California college, Santa
Barbara Community College, experimentally combined its separate vice president of student services and instruction
positions into one joint effort. After two
years, officials voted overwhelmingly to
keep the dual roles as one.
"Just having those joint meetings helped
bring more voices to the table," Dadgar
says. "Once they integrated the positions,
they realized they didn't want to go back."
DREAMING OUT LOUD
Skyline College in San Bruno, California,
is using its own comprehensive diversity
framework as a starting point to break
down the silos that had grown around
the ideas of successful course completion. Part of a multi-year research
process, the framework promotes social
justice throughout all policies, procedures and practices of the college.
"Before, we had our own sides of the
proverbial house," says Angélica Garcia,
Skyline's vice president of student services. "But students are our reason for
being here, and all of us have a skill set
that can inform how we do better as an
institution. Our strategy is helping our
faculty dream out loud."
Skyline's fresh departmental synergy
has translated into scholarships that
remove financial barriers for students
whose life circumstances wouldn't allow
them to attend college otherwise. The new
arrangement also launched a summer
scholar program that has increased stu-
dent placement in college-level English
and math, while a new lending library is
providing access to high school graduates
and others who recently completed a GED
or adult education program.
Discussion is now taking place into
how Skyline organizes its academic and
curricular programs. The process includes
the possible installment of metamajors,
which reflect common or related content
as an academic pathway. There's also
plans to utilize CUNY's Accelerated Study
in Associate Programs (ASAP), an effort
designed to help associate degree-seeking
students earn their degrees as quickly as
possible, with a goal of graduating at least
50 percent of students within three years.
"We're knitting all of these successes
together to get students in, get them
through, and get them out on time,"
Garcia says. "You can't be stagnant in
doing people-centric work. We have an
eclectic, open-access environment and
it's our responsibility to know who our
Nimble reforms have led to positive
early outcomes, school officials maintain.
At Mississippi Gulf Coast Community
College, the number of applications processed daily at its Jefferson Davis campus
has increased by 50 percent, says college
vice president Woodward. Office visits, a
major issue when MGCCC was operating
three pre-enrollment offices, were reduced
by 27 percent since the school opened its
service-based "one-stop shop" in 2016.
Anecdotally, there has been a drastic improvement in communication
between the college and its charges in
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College streamlined
its student services model, improving the customer
Image Credit: Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College