La Clair steps down as Honors Program coordinator

Edmund La Clair, assistant professor of history, continues to teach MCCC courses from home rather than hold in-person or blended courses on campus. As La Clair’s time is dedicated to holding classes, Michael Fuertes, professor of chemistry, has been instated as the new coordinator of the MCCC Honors Program (Courtesy Photo).

Edmund La Clair, assistant professor of history, has relinquished his role as the MCCC Honors Program coordinator after the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving room for new leadership to fill his place.

The Honors Program started its test run in the Winter Semester of 2017 with La Clair as the inaugural coordinator. This program was built on the pillars of scholarship, leadership and citizenship.

Grace Yackee, vice president of Instruction, said this program was created initially to offer prepared and motivated students the opportunity of advanced study, leadership activities and service.

When La Clair first took charge of the program he said his vision was to work on transfer agreements to ensure that when the honors students leave MCCC they will be able to be accepted into the honors programs at other institutions.

La Clair stepped down from his position this year.

He said this was always the plan, but the transfer of power was not supposed to happen until 2022. This change came one year prematurely due to COVID-19.

La Clair said he is a firm believer that one person should not be in the same position for too long, and people should always be training others to take over for them.

“It’s the idea of bringing in new ideas and making sure that you diversify your own experiences,” he said.

When COVID-19 struck, Yackee was looking to give faculty members, whose classes may not fill up, additional responsibilities on campus, La Clair said.

La Clair said Yackee asked him to release his position as coordinator one year early so one of those faculty members could fill his spot.

A number of candidates were considered for this position, Yackee said. The candidates were decided upon based on their qualifications of availability and preparation.

Ultimately, Michael Fuertes, professor of chemistry, was chosen to succeed La Clair.

Yackee said Fuertes is anticipating the program’s marketing through the Admissions and Financial Aid offices and working with faculty members to open the opportunity for more Honors experiences.

She said Fuertes and the Honors Program will benefit from the foundation that La Clair built throughout the years.

La Clair said he hopes Fuertes achieves whatever vision he has set and wishes Fuertes success.

Fuertes declined to comment on his plans and the future of the Honors Program.

La Clair said he hopes once Fuertes has completed his plans, he passes the position on so there will be continual growth with the Honors Program.

He said even though he is no longer coordinator, he will still be somewhat involved on the task force.

There are a couple meetings per year, called by the coordinator, to discuss ideas and get approval of plans.

La Clair said he will be at those meetings to offer guidance as the former coordinator.

This shift in responsibility should not affect the students of MCCC.

“I do not expect a change in the faculty coordinator to affect students in and of itself.” Yackee said. “However, Dr. Fuertes will not need to spend the bulk of his time developing policies and procedures as well as piloting the program,”La Clair and Yackee said they have faith Fuertes will be successful with his new position as coordinator.