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.

Giving Thanks for our Culture of Caring

This is the season for gratitude, caring, and reflection. As president of Lorain County Community College, I’m thankful for the culture of care demonstrated by our faculty, staff, students and the community. Together, we’re focused on building brighter futures.

Each year on Thanksgiving Eve, LCCC’s Office of Student Life hosts a free community Thanksgiving dinner that is open to all who wish to come – and especially to those unable to spend the holiday with friends or family. It’s my hope that this dinner brings together those who may not otherwise have met and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s always heartwarming to see people who arrive as strangers leave as new acquaintances. I’m often reminded that as joyous as the holiday season can be, it can also bring hard times. It’s during those times that our LCCC family comes together to lift up each other and spread our culture of caring.

Just last week I heard an incredible story about a student in LCCC’s nursing program who went the extra mile to improve the spirits of a patient. Christina Bray is completing her clinical rotations at Cleveland Clinic Avon Hospital on her path to become a registered nurse. She met a patient who was struggling after the recent loss of her mother. Christina took the time to talk with her and learned that the patient and her mother shared many special traditions, such as celebrating the first snowfall of the year with hot cocoa and Bing Crosby music.

Christina took those details to heart and when the first snowflakes of the year fell a few days later, she knew what to do. Instead of going straight home after her shift, Christina stayed on the floor and surprised her patient with a warm mug of cocoa and those special songs that brought back so many memories. What a wonderful display of caring and compassion! It speaks volumes about Christina that in the midst of her busy schedule she took the time to sit with her patient, listen to their story, and take action.

It’s those precious moments that make the most impact, and I am so proud of Christina. The caring she showed for her patient is a wonderful example of the quality of instruction that LCCC faculty cultivate to create such empathetic graduates. Dr. Rebecca Starck, president of Cleveland Clinic Avon Hospital, heard about Christina’s good deed and presented her with a special recognition at the hospital.

Nursing student Christina Bray, middle, stands with Dr. Starck and nursing faculty. Christina showed our culture of caring to her patient.
It’s that perspective of what’s important that makes Cleveland Clinic Avon Hospital a wonderful partner to LCCC in so many initiatives. On November 3, the hospital hosted their Avon Hospital & Richard Jacobs Health Center 5K run and 1 mile walk and this year’s beneficiary was LCCC’s Commodore Cupboard  food pantry. Thanks to the generosity of the hospital and the many runners and walkers, I was honored to accept a check for $11,000 on behalf of Commodore Cupboard.

LCCC President Marcia Ballinger holds a giant check with representatives from Commodore Cupboard. The donation spreads our culture of caring.
The donation from Cleveland Clinic Avon Hospital will provide 500,000 meals for our students and community.

Our food pantry is a staple on our campus, providing emergency food to LCCC students and their families. For the many people in our community who are struggling with hunger and food insecurity, the holidays are an especially uncertain time. Through this donation, more than 500,000 meals will be provided to people right here in Lorain County at a time when they need it most.

Taking care of each other is something we do all year round at LCCC, but I am especially thankful for the caring and compassion that happens during the holiday season.

I invite you to take a moment and watch our LCCC video for this Thanksgiving season.

 

Transfer Success by Strategic Design

This week is National Transfer Student Week, providing an opportunity to celebrate the many students who begin at LCCC and transfer to a four-year institution.  As the community’s college, the educational goals of our students are as diverse as the communities of Northeast Ohio we serve and we understand that many students have aspirations for bachelor’s degrees and beyond. Some of our students begin at LCCC already with a firm plan to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree or higher, while many others decide to continue on for a four-year degree after they find their passion in an associate degree program at LCCC. However their baccalaureate plans take shape, the fact is that 25 percent of our students will transfer to a four-year institution, and LCCC has programs to make it possible to reach their goals quickly and affordably.

To best serve the needs of our students and the community, in 2018 LCCC took the bold step to become one of the first community colleges in Ohio to offer an applied bachelor’s degree. LCCC students can now earn an applied bachelor’s degree in microelectronic manufacturing (MEMS) – the only bachelor’s degree program of its kind in Ohio – right here from their community college. This degree is even more remarkable when you factor in earn-and-learn opportunities, including paid internships that offset the already low cost of the program. It’s my vision that this the MEMS degree is the first of many applied bachelor’s degrees to be offered by LCCC. (Read more about why community colleges should be offering applied bachelor’s degrees in this piece by Education Dive.)

The groundbreaking venture into applied bachelor’s degrees follows LCCC’s long-time trajectory of connecting Northeast Ohio with bachelor’s degrees. In 1995, LCCC was the first community college in Ohio to offer a University Partnership. This revolutionary program has grown to include more than 50 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs from 14 Ohio universities – all available right here in Lorain County and for a fraction of the cost.

Graduates celebrate following the LCCC graduation ceremony.
The 2019 LCCC Commencement ceremony included 353 students earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees through LCCC’s University Partnership.

For students who prefer to transfer and attend a four-year university on their main campuses, advisors and LCCC’s transfer center help students connect the dots for a streamlined transfer experience. Additionally, LCCC is continually developing enhanced transfer experiences, such as the new UP Express CSU program, which makes transferring to Cleveland State University’s downtown campus even easier for LCCC students.

Each of these transfer and baccalaureate programs and options directly align with LCCC’s new strategic plan Impact 2025, which includes the future-focused priority of efficient and affordable transfer opportunities. These options happen concurrently with the many student resources and support services available at the college that help students overcome barriers.

The results of these multi-targeted transfer and support efforts are clear: students who begin at LCCC and then transfer to a four-year institution earn bachelor’s degrees at a higher rate than students who attend a university straight from high school. In fact, 43 percent of students who begin at LCCC and transfer to a four-year institution earn a bachelor’s degree within six years of taking their first LCCC class, and another 30 percent or more will earn their bachelor’s degree over time. The rate of bachelor’s degree attainment is even higher for LCCC students who begin taking college classes in high school through LCCC’s College Credit Plus program; 62 percent of students who take LCCC’s CCP courses earn their bachelor’s degree within six years of graduating high school.

This data is impressive, but the real story is found within the students who make these numbers possible. Students like Alexandra Moen, who grew up across the street from LCCC but didn’t plan to attend here until she realized the overwhelming cost of going away to college. She instead looked close to home and found her community college. At LCCC, she found her passion for improving her community, serving as president of LCCC’s Student Senate. Alex earned two associate degrees from LCCC before earning a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Cleveland State University through LCCC’s University Partnership in June 2019.  Today, she’s using her skills in a full-time role at United Way of Greater Lorain County. Learn more about Alex.

Alex Moen wears her graduation cap and gown, holding two degree covers.
Alex Moen shows off her degrees from LCCC and Cleveland State University.

For Allyssa Earl, LCCC’s SAIL (Students Accelerating in Learning) program served as a springboard to her success. Allyssa began taking classes at the LCCC Lorain Center because she could walk to the campus from her Lorain home. When she learned about SAIL, she jumped at the chance for additional support and resources for her education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cleveland State University through LCCC’s University Partnership in May 2019. Learn more about Allyssa.

Allyssa Earl stands in the library between shelves of books.
Allyssa Earl earned a bachelor’s degree through LCCC’s University Partnership.

It was professors at LCCC who first inspired Nicholas Sutfin to explore the intersections of art and science. He earned an associate degree in universal arts at LCCC before transferring to Cleveland State University and later to Boise State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in geoscience. He continued at Colorado State University, where he earned his master’s degree and then Ph.D. in earth science – fluvial geomorphology in 2016. Sutfin credits LCCC with starting his path of self-discovery.  “LCCC can help you determine where you go, instead of just ending up somewhere,” he said. Learn more about Nicholas.

Nicholas Sutfin stands among green trees in the LCCC courtyard.
Nicholas Sutfin earned his first degree at LCCC. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in earth science.

For our top students who transfer to elite colleges, their success is even more prominent. A report by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation recently found that 75 percent of students to who begin at a community college and transfer to an elite university complete their bachelor’s degree within six years. I’m willing to bet that 2019 LCCC graduate Eleana Cintron will be among those who bolster those statistics. Cintron completed the Lorain County Early College High School program in May and during her four years of high school on the LCCC campus, she racked up honors such as being the youngest intern hired at Cleveland’s NASA Glenn Research Center. She was also awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, which will fund her education as she works toward a bachelor’s degree from the prestigious Case Western Reserve University. Learn more about Eleana.

Eleana stands in front of a white board.
LCCC graduate Eleana Cintron will attend Case Western Reserve University in the fall.

For our LCCC students who are just beginning their transfer journey, I have every confidence they will continue their success – and their community college will be here to support them each step of the way.

Did you get your start at LCCC before transferring to a four-year institution? I want to hear your story! Find me on Twitter or email me at president@lorainccc.edu.

A New Semester of Supporting Students

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Today marks the start of a new semester and a new academic year at Lorain County Community College.

The excitement on campus today is palpable. The hopeful energy of nearly 14,000 new and returning LCCC and University Partnership students is in the air, swirling with the excited anticipation of our faculty and staff who have been preparing all summer for this moment. When you put it all together, the atmosphere is downright exhilarating.

As we welcome students back this week, here is my message to LCCC students who are beginning their new semester:

A fresh start.
At a community college, a fresh start comes in many forms. For many of our students, this week marks their first-ever taste of college life. They may be coming to us straight from high school, with their futures wide-open. Others are taking their first college classes in their 40s or 50s after deciding to embark on a career change after years in the field. Still others are returning to college after an extended absence, and are now ready to complete what they started.

No matter what past brought them through our doors, one thing’s for certain: their future is theirs to write. Helping students reach their goals is a privilege we take seriously. Every student’s dream matters and our campus is ready to wrap our arms around each student and guide them to their finish line – whether that’s an associate degree, certificate or bachelor’s degree.

Tailored support.
At LCCC, we pride ourselves on being student-ready; that means meeting students where they are and providing the tailored support they need to reach their goals. There is no one-size-fits-all method for supporting students. Over the past decades, LCCC has cultivated a culture of caring by adopting a holistic approach that helps our students achieve success and stability.  In 2018 our efforts were recognized nationally by the American Association of Community Colleges, who named LCCC the first the nation for student success. This academic year, we are taking student support a step further with the creation of our new Student Advocacy and Resource Center (ARC), a one-stop connection for students to find assistance in overcoming obstacles like hunger, emergency car repairs, child care and so much more. Our campus recently hosted Donna Beegle, Ed.D., president of Communication Across Barriers, and a champion for ending poverty. As Dr. Beegle told us, it’s the community’s responsibility to “fight poverty, not the people who live in it.” I know the ARC will do that just – help students overcome barriers on their way to success.

Here’s more about the ARC:

Let’s get started.
No one knows exactly what the future will hold, but at LCCC we know that our students will be prepared for whatever comes their way. Our programs prepare students for the jobs of the future, while our support systems guide them through the realities of today. As I walk on campus, surrounded by our students and their boundless possibilities, I’m hopeful, excited and ready to see each one reach for their dreams.