La Clair voices students’ concerns

Professor Edmund La Clair lectures during a Fall 2018 class. -Archive photo by Vanessa Ray

An MCCC professor is taking the pledge to be student focused very seriously.

On Nov. 19, Edmund La Clair, assistant professor of history, presented the Faculty Council a tentative list of student issues that he has collected from faculty and students.

The council did not take action on the list of issues as some council members said they preferred to take a more methodical approach.

La Clair said he will draft a proposal to create a faculty study group to collect more information, review the issues and work with the college’s institutional researcher to prioritize the list of issues.

“Our college’s mission is centered upon the idea of being student-focused, but very rarely have I been part of an effort to really talk to students about what they need from their education beyond the content of my own class,” he said during an interview with the Agora. “So, I thought I should make that effort.”

From a list of 12 main student concerns, he said the top three things that have emerged so far are more study areas, on-campus mental health services and more tutoring resources such as the Math Den and Writing Center.

The Math Den is a service offered to students for help in math courses.

The Writing Center is a tool to help with any form of college writing from speeches and essays to lab reports.

Samantha Scheffler, an MCCC student, said science classes are often more difficult than math and English classes. She said the campus needs a science den for those subjects.

La Clair said some of the students’ concerns are already being addressed, such as access to tutoring services.

President Kojo Quartey said students are encouraged to ask questions.

“If a student is in need of help, they can ask for it,” Quartey said. “While there are only the Math Den and Writing Center for primary tutoring resources, there are individual tutors for subjects all over the campus if students ask for them.”

He said the college has also hired success coaches this semester to help guide students through the transition to college.

Three coaches help academically at-risk students and one focuses on students focused in STEM-based courses.

MCCC is also working to hire one for career and technology-based coaching.

Quartey said these additions are all about student success.

The college is also in the process of revising its five-year strategic plan.

La Clair said he wants to get the entire college involved in making improvements.

“All of this affects every group in the community, from students, staff and faculty, to our administrators and community partners,” he said.

La Clair said he does not think of himself as the leader of this project, but simply as the voice for students’ concerns.

“My goal is to help get voices heard and pass along ideas to people who have the skills and authority to make things happen,” he said. “I’m just a history professor. I cannot change things on campus. I can help.”