Remarkable Resilience

As we begin a new semester at Lorain County Community College and a new calendar year, many are anxious to close the door on 2020 and return to “normal.” While I agree that last year presented a number of challenges that we continue to face, this is also a time of great discovery. Albert Einstein said, “In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity.” This year we have come together in new ways to meet unprecedented challenges. In doing so, we have created innovative opportunities and solutions. So, instead of a “return to normal,” I am optimistic and energized about a new, better future ahead.  This level of enthusiasm comes from the remarkable resilience I’ve witnessed from our students, our campus and our community.

Learning by Listening

With so much noise in the world right now, one of the most powerful actions we can take is to actively listen to those we serve. Listening allows us to not only determine how we can best fulfill our values to educate, adapt, lead and inspire; it allows us to reflect upon what has enabled our students and our community to persevere.

The resiliency of our students is inspiring, but it’s not surprising. LCCC students have bold goals and they have grit – that special strength of character that allows a person to dig deep during the most trying times and persist. Over and over again, our students break barriers and move boldly to determine their own futures. For some, that means changing plans in order to stay safe and save money in uncertain times. For other students, it means seeking career training in a new field after losing their job or juggling the role of mother, student and employee all at once. Whatever the circumstances that bring students to their community college, all have the opportunity to continue their education to earn a bachelor’s or a master’s degree from LCCC’s University Partnership.

Here’s more about Alesha Wilson, a nursing student who demonstrates grit every day:

The grit our students show is astonishing, however, grit alone is not required to find success at LCCC. Helping students break barriers is in our DNA. That’s why we made strategic changes based on direct student feedback, identifying the challenges that are impeding their academic progress – such as food insecurity and mental health needs. So, we extended hours and increased virtual appointments for both the Advocacy and Resource Center and the Commodore Cupboard food pantry. With the help of our community, we expanded the availability of emergency aid for students. Additionally, I’ve committed that every student will have access to the technology they need for their classes. These measures and more are working, as we see students persist from semester to semester, even during a global health crisis.

Mission Moments

What’s more, many students are shining their resilient lights outward into our community, lifting spirits and bringing hope in dark times. Students in LCCC’s Psi Beta psychology honor society spread kindness and joy to residents of a local nursing home. Recent nursing graduate Alexis Costello warmed the hearts and hands of those in need through a glove donation drive. And countless other students donated to food and clothing drives. I call these acts of caring “mission moments” – the true embodiment of LCCC’s mission in action. These students used their grit to continue their own education and found the strength of character to uplift others in need, doing their part to create a vibrant community.

Here’s more about Psi Beta’s mission moment:

Reimagining LCCC

Over the past year I have listened to our students through virtual coffee chats, surveys and open forums designed to check in and identify ways we can improve as an organization. However, I recognize that while our students are an extension of our community, there are many others that we serve in different ways that we hold equally close such as our community partners, local employers and citizens.

When I became president of LCCC in 2016, I leaned in hard on this conviction:
You can’t lead a community that you don’t love, and you can’t love a community that you don’t know.

I believe the best way to get to know a community is to ask questions. At the start of the pandemic, we reached out to each student to assess their needs. Based on their feedback, we were able to build or expand services to support them. Now, as we move past the emergency response phase, we rely again on our most basic principle: listening to our community to understand how to best serve their changing needs and help seize opportunities that will make our community stronger.

For this purpose, I reopened our strategic visioning process in a phase we call Reimagining LCCC. We last updated LCCC’s strategic plan in 2019 – just two years ago. But it is clear, given the events and accelerated change of the last 10 months, it was time to reconnect and better understand how this moment in time can and will shape our future. During the past three months, we hosted 54 Reimagining listening sessions with more than 500 stakeholders, including students, employees, community and industry partners and citizens. Each provided important feedback on how Lorain County Community College can best fulfill our mission as the community’s college going forward. This process will continue with a refreshed vision and plan emerging later this spring.

Listening and responding to our community’s needs is who we are; it’s why we were founded as the first community college in Ohio in 1963. For nearly 60 years, the college has delivered on that promise, through the most prosperous times as well as the most challenging times. It is my promise that LCCC will continue to listen, adapt and act to prepare us for the best and brightest future we can imagine.

Season of Compassion

This Thanksgiving season, I want to take a moment to reflect upon this past year that has been filled with acts of kindness, collaboration, perseverance, innovations, and most of all – compassion.

I encourage each of us to look for the shining lights, acts of kindness that bring out the best of our community, our students, and our campus. Together, we will make it through stronger than before.

And throughout it all, you can count on your community college – Lorain County Community College.

Celebrating nurses in 2020 and beyond

There are some things in life that are meant to be. The designation of 2020 as the Year of the Nurse is one of those things. Even before the coronavirus pandemic struck in early 2020, this year was designated as the Year of the Nurse by the World Health Organization in honor of the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Nightingale revolutionized the nursing world with a focus on the patient experience and delivering medical care to the highest standards. While medical technology has advanced considerably over the past two centuries, what has remained constant is the need for high quality-health care in our communities, and for local people to have access to education programs in healthcare fields.

The need for local nurses

Providing our region with top-notch nursing programs close to home was so important to our community that when Lorain County Community College was founded in 1963, nursing degrees were among the first programs offered. Over the years, thousands of local residents have earned nursing credentials from LCCC, including the associate degree in nursing (RN), Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) and State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA). Our LCCC programs are delivered by world-class faculty members who are experts in their field, including 60% of LCCC full-time nursing faculty members with a doctoral degree.

Additionally, LCCC’s University Partnership delivers advanced degrees in nursing from Ohio universities, including Ohio University (RN to BSN), Youngstown State University (bachelor’s in allied health), and Western Governor’s University (RN to BSN, and several options for master’s degrees in nursing). These programs from LCCC and the University Partnership are tailored to meet the needs of local hospitals and healthcare organizations, leading to a high employment rate for LCCC graduates.

In fact, in just the last 10 years, more than 2,400 people have earned nursing degrees from LCCC. And because 85% of all LCCC graduates live and work in the region, the students trained on our campus become the nurses serving our community. Each day, LCCC nursing alumni answer the call to help their friends, family, neighbors and strangers navigate some of the most challenging health issues. This is true every year, but it is especially true this year, the Year of the Nurse and the year of COVID-19. Here is a video we created to thank our healthcare workers and first responders and show support during these trying times.

Nursing students adjust to changes

As the pandemic rages on, nurses have continually sacrificed themselves in service of others. And it’s the nurses who are coming up in the field – those who are taking on their training with the knowledge of what lies ahead – for whom I feel the utmost gratitude. To see our current healthcare crisis and feel compelled to step up to the challenge is truly remarkable.

Not only do LCCC’s nursing students face a career path that is evolving daily, they also are navigating an education landscape that changed overnight due to the pandemic. In the face of these changes and so many more, our LCCC nursing students have doubled down on their resolve to help others through their education in the nursing field.

Danielle Wagner was in her final semester of the LCCC nursing program when the pandemic hit Ohio full force in March. Despite changes to the delivery of her classes, Danielle felt an urge stronger than ever to complete her degree and help others during this trying time. Danielle graduated in May 2020 with her associate degree in nursing as part of the largest graduating class in the history of LCCC.  She passed her state exams soon after and is now working in her dream career at University Hospitals’ main campus in the neuro ICU stepdown unit. Earning her nursing degree at LCCC was challenging, but she says her professors pushed her to be the best and she is now applying those skills to help patients every day.

Danielle Wagner shows off her graduation cap
Danielle Wagner earned her associate degree in nursing in May 2020

Danielle was one of 91 nursing students to earn their associate degree in May 2020. The graduating class also included Yecenia Rivera, who followed in the footsteps of her son, Anthony, who earned his nursing degree in December 2019. With decades of experience at various levels of nursing, Yecenia was excited to continue her life’s passion of caring for others. Beginning a healthcare career during a pandemic wasn’t a concern for Anthony. In fact, he says he’s thriving as an RN at Mercy Hospital in Lorain, where he has been working since March.

Yecenia Rivera and her son Anthony in their graduation caps and gowns
Yecenia Rivera and her son, Anthony

Current LCCC nursing student Carys Trubach also said the pandemic has shown her she chose the right career. Carys is on track to graduate in December and she can’t wait to get to work. She aspires to work in oncology, bringing relief and care to cancer patients. Thinking about her career, she says, “I look forward to helping patients each day through their hardest days.”

Carys Trubach in a graduation robe
LCCC nursing student Carys Trubach

Students like Danielle, Yecenia, Anthony and Carys have great role models throughout their education. The LCCC nursing faculty has worked around the clock to maintain the highest standards while observing COVID regulations for class sizes and social distancing. Our faculty members have proven to be role models outside the classroom, as well. In March, LCCC paramedic instructor and LCCC nursing graduate AJ Gray left the safety of her home and traveled to New York City, where she worked for two weeks in a field hospital helping COVID-19 patients.

As this unforgettable year nears a close, we look to the future as nearly 90 new RNs will graduate from LCCC in December. These resilient students will enter the workforce well prepared and more determined than ever to make a positive impact in our community. The future is unknown, but the stories of these brave women and men give me hope. I know that no matter what challenges lie ahead, our community will continue to rely on skilled nurses to keep us healthy and safe – and LCCC will continue to provide the education that prepares those nurses for their careers.

To learn more about how Northeast Ohio is celebrating the Year of the Nurse, visit the web page hosted by Case Western Reserve University. The page includes a new blog posted each day from a local nurse, including many LCCC graduates and current students.

Recent months have brought rapid change in nearly every area of life, work, and education. And while it can be easy to focus on the challenges, I find it is important to pivot to the positive. In this age of acceleration, Lorain County Community College is proving to be more adept than ever at serving the evolving needs of the community and our local economy.

A path to economic recovery

One of the many ways we do this is through certified apprenticeships and Earn and Learn models. These customized programs are developed through close partnerships with local industry and allow students to earn a wage and gain job experience while they complete their credentials. As the workforce reels from layoffs brought on by the pandemic, many students cannot afford to delay earning a paycheck while they retrain for a new career and these programs meet that need.

Students post by an ambulance.
Students in Ohio’s first paramedic apprenticeship delivered by LCCC.

LCCC’s employer relationships are especially important in our country’s current financial climate, as many people find themselves needing to retrain for a new career. A recent column in the New York Times highlighted community colleges’ role in economic recovery, with employer partnerships representing a critical piece of the puzzle. Community colleges can and must bridge the gap to train a new workforce, partnering with employers and innovators to train workers for careers that meet local needs and pay good wages. At LCCC, this is one of the things we do best.

Celebrating Manufacturing Month

As we begin Manufacturing Month, LCCC is celebrating more than 20 years of successful apprenticeship programs with local industry, including Ford Motor Co., General Motors and the United Auto Workers union (UAW). We also celebrate many new apprenticeships and Earn and Learn programs that are changing the way students train and the way companies recruit talent. In the past year alone, LCCC has developed new apprenticeships in several manufacturing areas, including masonry technology, pipefitting and boiler making.

Many of our programs connect students to careers with employers in the Lorain County Manufacturing Sector Partnership (LCMSP). This employer-led group is growing the talent pipeline while increasing opportunities for job-seekers. To highlight the many benefits of manufacturing careers, LCCC is partnering with LCMSP for a virtual Manufacturing Month event for students and adults on October 22.

Manufacturing and beyond

Expanding the idea of apprenticeships beyond manufacturing careers is of utmost importance as our region navigates the current economic climate. To best serve additional students and the local economy, LCCC is trailblazing new focus areas for apprenticeships, such as health care and computer information systems. In fact, just this semester LCCC launched Ohio’s first paramedic apprenticeship with LifeCare Ambulance, Inc.  In 2019, we introduced the state’s first State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) apprenticeship.

LCCC is a trailblazer in many areas, and our Earn and Learn model is no different. LCCC delivers Ohio’s first and only microelectronic manufacturing (MEMS) applied bachelor’s degree offered by a community college, as well as associate degree and certificate programs, with paid internships serving as a key component of the curriculum. The college also offers Earn and Learn programs in automation engineering technologies and cyber and information systems. Each program gives students the opportunity to make meaningful connections with local employers who are looking to hire skilled workers, and many students are hired full time by those same employers upon graduation.

Earn and Learn programs can be life-changing experiences for students. MEMS student Corbet Keith landed a full-time job in the MEMS field while still enrolled in his associate degree program. And tool and die apprentice Louis Bernard discovered his passion for learning through LCCC’s partnership with Elyria Plastic Products.

The roots of apprenticeship and manufacturing run deep in Lorain County, and LCCC is proud to help advance manufacturing throughout the 21st century. Through apprenticeships, Earn and Learn, and other partnerships with local employers, we will continue to develop programs that benefit students, businesses, and the local economy.

A New Semester: Let’s Get Started

This is it. A new academic year and a new semester begins today at Lorain County Community College. And while this semester is a bit different than previous years, the excitement and energy in our students, staff, faculty and administrators remain high.

We’ve been working all summer to prepare for this moment, as we welcome back returning students who continue to work toward their goals; and we welcome for the first time our new students, just starting their educational journey.

And this year, we also welcome many students who planned to be elsewhere this semester but changed their plans in order to stay home and stay safe. With the option to take online classes through a four-university – with a four-year university price tag – or take online classes at LCCC’s low tuition rate, many students found choosing their community college to be an easy decision. Students like Paige Dillen, who a few months ago was prepared to attend a university and live on campus. The coronavirus pandemic caused her to rethink her plans, and now she’s looking forward to completing her first years at LCCC on a Trustee Award scholarship before she transfers.

“One of the biggest benefits of LCCC is how many opportunities you are presented with, at a low cost,” Paige said. “I would prefer to take online classes for free than for a couple thousand dollars.”

Paige Dillen poses on campus
Paige Dillen

And by staying on track, rather than taking a year off, LCCC students like Paige will graduate sooner and earn more during their careers. A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that delaying college for a year could cost those who would’ve graduated in 2024 $90,000 in lifetime earnings.

A career earnings gap that wide makes a significant impact on the upward mobility of our students, their families and our community. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve worked diligently to adjust and re-invent the LCCC student experience in this COVID world. To help our students persist in their education, we are navigating a new world, adapting to a new normal and blazing the trail for what the future holds. Through everything, the core of our focus can be summarized in LCCC’s Three Guiding Principles: Safety, Stability, and Student Success.

Safety

Health and safety are the cornerstones of each decision made for the new semester. To keep our LCCC family safe, the majority of classes this fall semester will be delivered online, including a new option for online live classes, which meet virtually at a designated time each week and allow students to interact with their professor and classmates.

LCCC Promise

These varied course delivery methods are one of the ways we’ve adapted this semester to meet the needs of our community. We know the pandemic has brought many hardships for our students, including food insecurity and financial struggles. To ensure every student has what they need to succeed, we’ve adopted what I call the LCCC Promise: a pledge that no student will go hungry or without the technology needed for their classes. These services and much more are available through LCCC’s Advocacy and Resource Center (ARC), our one-stop connection point for student resources.

Stability

Delivering top notch academic programs and student services while operating on a modest budget is a cornerstone of our institution. In the current economic downturn, state funding for higher education remains uncertain – especially for community colleges. To meet this challenge, our administrative team has prepared for continued reductions in state funding, while continuing to offer high quality programs to our students at a low tuition rate. This financial stability is what has driven LCCC’s long history of serving our community, and I have every confidence that it will continue.

Student Success

By applying resources with a focus on equity, we are prepared to meet each student where they are and ensure they have every opportunity to achieve their goals in this new semester and beyond. These ideals were reinforced by Dr. Karen Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, in her keynote address to LCCC faculty and staff during our virtual Convocation program. Dr. Stout’s wisdom and enthusiasm reignited in each of us the drive to reimagine what the future holds for our college and our students.

“This is the moment for community colleges,” Dr. Stout said. “This is the moment for Lorain County Community College. This is the moment for you to bring leadership and excellence to your community and to the country. This is the moment to make more Dreams come true.”

This is an unprecedented time, and it’s also an exciting time. As each student begins class today, they are seizing the moment and investing in a better future – for themselves, for their families and for our community. I can’t wait to see what they achieve.

Let’s get started.

Here is a video message I shared with students earlier today to welcome them to the new semester.

When all Ohio college campuses closed in March, higher education changed on a dime. In a matter of days Lorain County Community College (LCCC), along with every other educational institution in the state, moved our entire curriculum online. From course lectures to advising sessions to our campus bookstore, everything went virtual.

And when we anticipated this shift presenting challenges for our students, we got creative. Like our students always do, we showed our resolve and innovation and came together to help them succeed in this new environment.

Together, we made it through a time when every day seemed to bring new changes, challenges and uncertainties. As we move into summer and then a new fall semester, many students and members of our community are left wondering, what’s next. What will this institution look like and be in the days, months and even years to come?

While no one holds all the answers or complete foresight into our future, I know what will drive LCCC now and in the future – our steadfast focus on students’ success.

Being steady amid the swirl

The uncertainty COVID-19 hurtled into our community months ago remains. According to the American Council on Education, 17 percent of students nationwide do not plan to return to a college campus. And a Simpson Scarborough report states that 1 in 10 high school seniors who were planning to attend a four-year college or university before the pandemic have already made alternative plans – nearly half of those have said they will enroll at a community college. This “swirl” movement has caused many to take a closer look at the strategy behind attending community colleges.

But LCCC and community colleges across Ohio have a response to the swirl: Year 1 at Home. This new state-wide effort among two-year institutions will help 2020 high school graduates find certainty and safety as they enter college. LCCC is ready. We are ready to welcome students who, just a few weeks ago, were prepared to call another college or university home for the next four years. Students like Sydney Contreras.

Sydney Contreras sits by the LCCC fountain, wearing her graduation cap and gown.
Sydney Contreras

Sydney graduated in May from our Early College High School program and was going to attend a four-year university. Her application was accepted, she had paid her enrollment fees, and she had submitted her housing application to live on campus.  But the impact of COVID-19 has led her in another direction. Sydney decided to continue to stay at home and enroll at LCCC. She plans to earn her associate degree in nursing here, then transfer all of her LCCC credits to Ohio University.  She’ll earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Ohio University through LCCC’s University Partnership program, all without leaving home. This wasn’t the plan Sydney had in place, but she’s remaining safe at home, saving thousands on tuition and housing costs, and staying on track toward her education and career goals. Read more about Sydney.

Like Sydney, many recent high school graduates had other college plans. But this pandemic has its grip on so many aspects of our lives. On-campus living is raising health concerns among students and their families, four-year university tuition rates are triggering financial doubt as our economy struggles, and a universal lack of face-to-face instruction is causing students to question the need to leave home at all.

The Year 1 at Home effort will help so many Ohio students put aside their questions about where and how to continue their educational path, alleviating the need for a gap year. But at LCCC, being at home doesn’t have to end with year one. Our University Partnership program lets students continue on in the safety and certainly of home. But the biggest factor at play in students’ hesitation to attend college is financial doubt.

A recent Forbes article discussed college loan debt – second to only mortgage debt – and how “in light of the uncertainty surrounding higher education for the 20-21 school year, the plunge into student loan debt is becoming less attractive by the minute.” The primary alternative to amassing student debt while this pandemic continues to stifle our economy is attending community college. With the second lowest tuition rates in Ohio and credits guaranteed to transfer, LCCC can be new college students’ alternative.

I know many students in our community are hesitant. They are holding out hope for last-minute certainty in an uncertain time. Whatever students decide, I hope they maintain their momentum and move forward on their educational path. And I hope they see a steady option for year one – and maybe beyond – at LCCC.

Restarting careers and our economy

Our economy is facing a steep downturn. U.S. employers cut 20.5 million jobs in April alone, pushing our nation’s unemployment rate to 14.7% – the highest level since the Great Depression. When our economy struggles, community colleges serve as a safety net and launch pad for those who need to retrain.

Some who attend will be among the millions who have lost their jobs because of recent lay-offs and know that when they look for new employment, they’ll need more education or credentials. Some will use this time to move into a high-demand field that’s weathered the pandemic, like health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing or cyber security.

And some have been inspired by the front-line workers keeping our community safe during a national crisis. LCCC has been the top educator of nurses, EMTs, police officers and firefighters in Lorain County. These careers will always be needed and in turn, LCCC will continue to do its part in training those who keep our community safe and healthy.

Remaining flexible and nimble

LCCC has always evolved to meet the needs of our dynamic community. Today, our agility is more important than ever. Most of our students were already juggling important roles outside of learner, including parent, employee or caretaker. But now our students face even more barriers as they pursue their education.

To meet our students where they are and adapt to the current state of our world and higher education, LCCC will offer flexible learning formats that let our students choose the learning environment that works best for them.

  • Online only courses will be delivered with no scheduled class times, allowing students to learn remotely and complete their coursework when their schedule allows
  • Online Live Conference will offer live web-conference style courses that meet at designated days and times
  • Blended courses will be part online, part scheduled face-to-face following physical space guidelines on campus
  • In-person classes will be held at specific times following physical space guidelines on campus

We’re implementing these flexible options because this pandemic should not stop any students from reaching their higher education goals. And neither should the struggles our students face outside their coursework, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Our culture of care will continue in any and every delivery method necessary. Whether our students need curbside food pick-up from our on-campus pantry, the Commodore Cupboard, or a refurbished laptop from our Computer Recycling program, we will continue to provide our students the wrap-around services and resources they need to succeed.

Two women load bags of food into a car.
Commodore Cupboard staff load donated food on to a cart to be taken to the campus food pantry.

Reimagination and reform

Mandatory campus closures hastened LCCC’s move toward full programs being offered online. But we will not move backward. Instead we will use this progress we have made as a catalyst for positive, permanent change.

We know that challenges lie ahead. Among those is a decrease in funding from the State of Ohio for all public education institutions. At LCCC we are preparing for at least a 20% reduction from the State during the next fiscal year. This is our economic reality. But our leadership’s strategic foresight has guided our organization through many trying times and it will guide us through this, too.

We know what to do – we must lean in hard to what is core to this college, core to our mission: delivering high quality higher education to our community. We are going to tighten our focus on the most critical aspects of this mission. And we’re going to deliver on this mission while keeping our students safe and healthy.

In all we do, we will keep an eye toward the future. There’s a report out by McKinsey & Company called, “Beyond coronavirus: The path to the next normal.” It lays out a framework for how leaders of businesses and institutions can look beyond the current crisis and navigate their organizations into a new normal. The report talks about the five Rs: resolve, resiliency, return, reimagination, reform.

We’ve shown resolve and resiliency in weathering this pandemic. Now as we slowly, thoughtfully, and responsibly enter into the return, we must grasp the opportunity presenting itself – the opportunity to reimagine and reform.

This pandemic has changed us all forever. LCCC will never be the same institution that we were at beginning of 2020. In just a few weeks and under great pressure, we became more flexible, more nimble and more focused than ever. I’m excited about what’s to come, because what the future looks like, is up to us.

A message to the Lorain County Community College campus and community:

I am grieving with you. I am deeply saddened, angry and overwhelmed by the horrific recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others that are rooted in racism and hate. These tragic events and ensuing violence have shaken our community and our nation, leaving us all mourning, outraged and utterly astonished. To our communities of color, I want you to know that Lorain County Community College denounces these actions as racially motivated violence that will not be tolerated. My heart aches for you and the fear and burden you endure in the continued presence of racism, and as an institution we stand in solidarity with each and every one of you.

These racially motivated acts of hate are merely one representation of the racism that still permeates our world. Recently, the pandemic began exposing those inequalities with a disproportionate amount of cases striking our Black communities. These tragedies, and the reasons behind them, cut against everything Lorain County Community College stands for. Lorain County Community College was founded on a core belief that all people deserve the opportunity to access and succeed in higher education. Our values are stronger than ever with a deep commitment to not only providing opportunity, but ensuring equity, inclusiveness and diversity in all we do. In recent years, we’ve taken on intentional work to nurture a culture of care that values diversity, equity and inclusion. This work is formally embedded into the College’s strategic plan, Vision 2025, which we developed in collaboration with our community. Our strategic plan puts forward one simple vision: create a vibrant community for ALL.

I am proud of LCCC’s commitment to equity and the fabric of diversity represented on campus among our students, faculty, staff and administration that mirrors the composition of our community. I am proud that LCCC can serve as a safe environment for individuals of varied backgrounds to pursue a better life. I am proud that in Lorain County Community College’s name you will find the word UNITY, and that our campus can bring us together to make our community a better, more equitable place. I am proud that our community has modeled the way with peaceful protests. I am proud that we are willing to recognize that our work in ensuring equity and inclusion and fighting racism and hate is not done. I am proud that we are truthful and willing to own the fact that we have much more work to do. I am proud that we, as a college and a community, have the courage to change and to fight for what is right.

Amidst all the emotions we are experiencing, we must, more now than ever, stand strong together to challenge such injustices, to combat hate, to support healing and to drive change. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

I pledge to you, as the community’s college, we will do all we can to help our students, employees and citizens heal and drive the change necessary to avoid future tragedies and loss of innocent lives due to hate. We can do better; we must do better.

Finding hope in these challenging times

We are all facing challenging times during this unprecedented crisis. For all of us, our world has been turned upside down. Our workplaces are different. Our schools are different. Even our home life is different.

And yet, there is a layer of hope.

At Lorain County Community College, we are finding new ways to serve our community. Our faculty and staff are transforming education and services to make sure that our students, our graduates and our community come out of this even stronger.

We are and we will always be Lorain County Community College proud and we are all in this together.

 

Are you finding hope during these times? Please share on social media with #CommodoresComeTogether and #LCCCproud

As we begin National Community College Month, it’s safe to say this is not the April any of us expected. The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the entire nation into a new reality, including higher education and Lorain County Community College.

This nationwide crisis has given me a new perspective on Community College Month and the role of LCCC for our students and the community. As always, the health and safety of all students and employees are our top priority. In the face of this emergency, we remain guided by the principle that every student’s dream matters. By wrapping our students in a Culture of Care we can help them reach their goals, even in these uncertain times.

A banner at Lorain County Community College reads, "Overcome" and a street sign says, "Innovation Drive."
Signs on campus remind us with innovation we can overcome any obstacle.

Innovation in the face of challenges

When faced with great challenges we often find the most hope and innovation. This is the case at LCCC with our faculty and staff, students and the community. The steely resolve and entrepreneurial spirit that are the hallmarks of our community have become abundantly clear during the coronavirus outbreak.

Within hours of learning of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s recommendation that all colleges move the remainder of spring semester to remote delivery, LCCC’s faculty and staff were already creating solutions to meet the needs of each student. I’ve been inspired daily by the determination of everyone involved in transforming the college during this time. By the time classes resumed after spring break, the physical location of LCCC shifted. Anywhere there is a student is now the classroom. The kitchen tables and home offices of faculty and staff are now the offices of the college.

Tweet screenshot of Vince Granito using online platform to connect with students.
Faculty members quickly adjusted to reaching students online. Psychology professor Vincent Granito, Ph.D., even included his dog, Jose.

Continuity of service

We are working to make the transition to remote classes as smooth as possible, while also understanding that our students may be dealing with unexpected issues. Through surveys emailed to students, we identified the specific needs of each student and connected with them directly to address their concerns and challenges. For students who are struggling with the transition to online classes, our professors and advisors are reaching out to personally assist during this time.

With uncertainty abounding in many areas of life, it’s my goal that the college remain a pillar in our community, solid and strong. It’s my promise that no student be without technology or food during this crisis. For students without a proper computer at home, LCCC provided refurbished laptops. LCCC’s Advocacy and Resource Center (ARC) is helping students to access food, financial help, counseling and other resources. Our on-campus food pantry, Commodore Cupboard, remains open as an essential service. Students and community members can call ahead to the pantry and their orders are filled through curbside pickup by our amazing pantry staff.

Serving the community

The food pantry is just one example of our commitment to the community’s wellness. With in-person labs canceled for the remainder of spring semester, LCCC was able to donate supplies to Lorain County hospitals that would have been used in classes such as nursing and microelectronic manufacturing. Over the past 10 years, more than 4,000 students have earned degrees from LCCC in health care fields. Sharing these needed supplies with them and all health care professionals was the right thing to do.

Two men unload boxes from the back of an SUV for use by community hospitals
LCCC security delivered boxes of medical supplies to local hospitals.

And when the need for personal protection equipment (PPE) for health care professionals was beyond what the college had in stock, our Fab Lab employees got to work to create new products. LCCC Fab Lab employees are 3D printing headbands for safety visor kits that are being delivered to the Lorain County Office of Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security, for distribution to local medical facilities.

A reassuring voice

As a college, often the most important thing we can share in the midst of turmoil is reassurance. A key part of the college’s COVID-19 response has been the steady and reassuring voice of our own virus expert, Harry Kestler, Ph.D. Kestler has shared daily video updates since March 11. Kestler has 35 years of experience as virus expert, including serving as faculty at Harvard and at the Cleveland Clinic’s world-renowned Lerner College of Medicine. His COVID-19 video series has more than 60,000 views on YouTube, helping people in Ohio and across the country better understand the coronavirus and the country’s response.

LCCC was founded in 1963 as the community’s college. Over the past 57 years, the college has adapted to meet the changing needs of our community. In the weeks and months to come, I know we will continue to transform to best serve our students and the people of Lorain County. I am #LCCCProud of the positive impact the community’s college is having during this difficult time.

#LCCCProud #Comm_College   #CCMonth

On this Valentine’s Day, I want to take a moment to share with you what I love about Lorain County Community College as captured in this video.

This level of impact, where 50% of families have been served by LCCC since its creation as Ohio’s first community college, wouldn’t be possible without our students, faculty, staff, and our longtime supporters.

It is with  great pride and gratitude I thank everyone for making Lorain County Community College the institution it is today: a true resource for all that is guided by one purpose … to serve the needs of this community as “the community’s college” in the best possible ways.

After watching this video, I hope you will join our social media pages to share why you love Lorain County Community College.

Find LCCC on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Linked In and use #LoveLCCC and #LCCCproud.