Board Meeting Highlights Building Plans & Presidential Search

The Manatee Community College (MCC) District Board of Trustees, at its Jan. 16 meeting, paid tribute to the Schroeder-Manatee Ranch (SMR) Board of Directors for a 5-acre land gift that doubles the size of the College's Lakewood Ranch property; learned that 31 applicants thus far have completed applications for the MCC president's position that will be vacated June 30 when Dr. Sarah H. Pappas retires; approved the replacement of a presidential search committee member; watched a demonstration of eLearning; and heard updates on new building projects.  

Rex Jensen, SMR president and CEO, accepted the College's thanks in a special presentation. Along with MCC trustees, Dr. Pappas and MCC Board Chairman Steven Harner were joined by Morgan Thomas, vice president of the Student Government Association and Lakewood Ranch resident, and Amanda Merriman, a Student Ambassador who takes classes at MCC Lakewood Ranch.

The land will be the site of a second building at MCC Lakewood Ranch, 7131 Professional Parkway East. The 5 acres, worth approximately $1 million in fair market value, are located adjacent to the original 5 acres donated by SMR for the existing Center for Innovation and Technology (CIT).

MCC already sought and received $919,759 in state Public Education Capitol Outlay (PECO) funds for the planning phase of the new Medical Technology and Simulation Building. The selection process for an architect and engineering firm and a construction manager has begun. It is anticipated that contracts will be approved in May.  Construction of the 40,000-square-foot building is expected to begin in February 2009 and be completed by March 2010. It is anticipated that another $8 million in PECO funds will be needed from the Legislature for construction.

A second major construction project, renovation of the Music and Theater Building at MCC Bradenton, is expected to be completed this July.

President Pappas provided an update on the record high Spring Term enrollment, saying that the College is experiencing unprecedented increases. Although final figures are not yet in, enrollment for the term at the end of add/drop period was up nearly 16 percent in load hours and headcount. While enrollment growth is welcomed, state budget shortfalls mean MCC is currently serving 1,200 "unfunded" students this Spring since tuition covers only one third of the cost of education. Balancing the demands of increased enrollment and the impacts of decreasing state funds will become more of a challenge as time goes on, Pappas said.

An annual report on MCC's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) also reflected substantial growth. Two Certified Business Analysts now offer workshops, individual counseling in marketing and finance, and other services to clients in Sarasota and Manatee counties. A total of 518 businesspeople attended more than 80 workshops last year and the SBDC team provided 1,386 hours worth of individual counseling to 363 clients, and assisted in the startup of nine new businesses.

Applicants for the presidential position include several Florida residents. More applicants are anticipated as a deadline for accepting applications has not been set. A complete profile, job description, ad, timeline and supplemental information are available on the Presidential Search Web page,

The MCC Board ratified Harner's recommendation that presidential search committee member Rose Carlson be replaced, due to Carlson's scheduling conflicts, by Jacki Dezelski, vice president of East County and Community Development for the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and a Lakewood Ranch resident.

The Board was updated on a new name for the College's rapidly growing online courses. Formerly known as distance learning, the College adopted eLearning to better convey the reality that a classroom is as close as a computer.  

MCC is offering 95 online courses in the Spring term. A total of 1,490 students taking online courses represents an increase of 28 percent over Spring 2007 and 14 percent of all MCC students. To ensure the quality of online teaching, the College implemented a certification process for online teachers. As of December 2007, 48 faculty members were certified and 22 are completing the certification process. All except one course is offered online and the last one, Public Speaking, will be offered online by Fall of 2008, fulfilling the plan to offer an online degree program.

MCC also continues to expand online student services, including an online tutoring program.

With a $75,000 state grant, MCC is implementing a strengthened security system that includes a pilot project of a public address system and a mass emergency notification system that can send phone, text and e-mail messages within minutes to students and employees.  

Dr. John Rosen, vice president of academic affairs, announced curriculum changes, the most significant of which is making a "Strategies for College Success" class a requirement for students placed in two or more developmental classes which prepare students for subsequent college credit classes. The class is designed to help ensure a successful college experience and will impact approximately 1,200 students.

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