MBJ: Southwest TN Community College initiative targets ‘crisis situation’

MBJ: Southwest TN Community College initiative targets ‘crisis situation’

Southwest Tennessee Community College is restructuring its processes to improve the student experience.

Tuesday, May 9, Southwest unveiled the results of a six-month effort to make Memphis’ community college more student-centered.

The effort is part of a national initiative by higher education reform nonprofit, Achieving the Dream. Through support form the Hyde Family Foundations, Southwest was selected to be part of the 2016 cohort.

“Last October, Dr. [Tracy] Hall [president of Southwest] challenged us all to redesign, reinvent and reset the college,” said Sindy Abadie, associate professor and Achieving the Dream program director. “She asked for us to take a look at ourselves and figure out where the barriers for our students are, look across the country and see what other schools are doing well, and re-evaluate what we are doing here.”

Faculty and staff viewed “process maps” and recommendations compiled by Student Success Committees on ways to grow enrollment and improve graduation outcomes.

Speaking at the event was Dr. Kenyatta Lovett, executive director of Complete Tennessee, an education advocacy nonprofit developing strategies to increase post-secondary attainment for Tennesseans. Complete Tennessee assists in the efforts of the State of Tennessee’s Drive to 55 Alliance and its goal of 55 percent of Tennesseans holding a college degree or certificate by 2025.

In the past, Americans could go to high school, go to work, then retire and have a good quality of life, Lovett said. Today, those same jobs require post-secondary certification.

“Without that, our economy will crumble,” Lovett said. “We’re in a crisis situation.”

Tennessee estimates 38 percent of residents have some kind of post-secondary education.

Lovett encouraged the Southwest faculty and staff to see the initiative through.

Hall said the “big, audacious” goal of Achieving the Dream is to change the student experience, but the bigger goal for Southwest is to unite the internal culture created by the 2000 merger of Shelby State Community College and State Technical Institute at Memphis.

The “process maps” outline a streamlined and more proactive approach to recruiting, admissions, orientation, financial aid, academic and career advising, workforce development and academic support, among other steps toward graduation.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to review the student support and process maps on display at the Bornblum Library on the Macon Cove Campus and provide feedback to Sindy Abadie, associate professor and Achieving the Dream program director at csabadie@southwest.tn.edu.

MBJ: Southwest TN Community College initiative targets ‘crisis situation’

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