Endless energy seems to be the highlight of Dr. Kojo Quartey’s first year as MCCC president.
Faculty, staff and students say that it’s because of his enthusiasm that he was able to accomplish as much as he did.
“I think he transitioned well; when you have a work ethic like his you’re going to be able to ramp up pretty quickly,” said Joe Verkennes, di- rector of Marketing and Communications. “It’s a lot to take on, but the Board of Trustees obviously saw from his background that he had the ability to do that.”
Quartey has taken on several projects since he began one year ago. They include starting a tele- vision show, making the college more aware of global concerns by hosting panel discussions on current affairs, launching an Ambassador Club, updating MCCC’s strategic plan, starting classes at Monroe High School and asking voters for a new millage. According to Verkennes, Quartey has helped MCCC by making the college more involved in the community and by being available.
“I think he’s great, he’s 24/7 and he’s all about promoting the college everywhere he goes,” Verkennes said. “And that’s really the life of a college president, that’s the expectation and he definitely fulfills that role.”
However, Quartey has faced some challenges along the way.
He said among the hardest decisions he en- countered were the lack of filling staff positions due to the budget, asking for a millage, and nego- tiations with faculty on a new contract. As a former teacher, Quartey said he could empathize with the faculty regarding their contract.
“That was probably the most difficult to walk into, and it resonated with me because I could understand where they were coming from.”
However, since the contract was resolved late last year, Quartey said the relationship between himself and faculty has improved.
“I think it’s blossomed. I have a great relation- ship with faculty,” he said.
Quartey’s list of priorities for this coming year includes focusing more on involvement with students, fundraising, corporate visits, and being more engaged in current issues and with busi- nesses in the community.
“It’s the constant and consistent interaction on campus as well as in the commu- nity to build better relations among all constitu- encies, and I think we have been very successful at that,” he said.
Quartey said he wants to build relationships with local businesses so employers know that MCCC is an option to retrain their employees to keep up with today’s technology. However, Quartey isn’t all work and no play. He not only spends time with students in the classrooms but also in the cellar, hanging out.
“I interact with students very much on a regular basis, visiting classrooms, interacting with them in the classrooms and interacting with them in the cellar,” he said. “I visit the cel- lar; I shoot pool with them, I play ping-pong with them.”
Quartey also plays soccer with students and community mem- bers on a weekly basis. So far, the reaction from students and faculty is positive.
“He did try to make connec- tions,” MCCC student Benjamin Bowling said. “He was engaging and gave everyone equal respect and attention in regards to asking and answering questions.”
William Bacarella, president of the Board of Trustees, agrees that Quartey has spent a lot of time getting to know not only students, but faculty and staff as well.
“I think he has done a credible job of trying to meet all of the college employees, to get close to the students, to make himself avail- able to any of our constituents,” he said. “He goes to a lot of meet- ings.”
Quartey explained what a day in his life entails. It mainly con- sists of e-mails, reading, meetings and driving. He said that the first thing he does every day is check his e- mails. He then sends out any per- sonal e-mails to employees, like ‘happy birthday’ messages. He also does daily readings and attends meetings — both on and off-campus. He said he likes to stay socially active by blogging and interacting on facebook.
“I wake up in the morning and I can’t wait to get here, and I mean that sincerely. It’s from one to the next to the next,” he said. “Some of those meetings are in Lansing, sometimes in Detroit or Toledo, so you’re zipping from meeting to meeting to meeting. I’ve put a lot of miles on my ve- hicle since I’ve been here and it’s a good thing.”