Month: May 2019

East Central College Increases Retention and Completion Rates

May 7, 2019 | Campus News

Faculty and staff are working diligently to support students who are in danger of falling behind in class, and it’s producing real results. That was the message from Dr. Michelle Smith, executive director of institutional effectiveness, at the May 6 Board of Trustees meeting.

“East Central College has increased student completion and transfer rates by ten percent in just two years,” she explained. “We’ve also increased retention rates in the same period.”

A new early intervention program launched at the beginning of the school year is helping the cause. It allows faculty to identify students who are not attending class, missing assignments or otherwise not succeeding. Those students are then referred to support services on campus to help them improve.

“This initiative would not have been possible without our dedicated Retention Committee,” added Dr. Smith. “They spent countless hours implementing this program to help support our students.”

Dr. Smith also gave an update on several other key areas regarding our current college strategic plan. The number of online students has increased nearly five percent, with online credit hours growing nearly twelve percent. The College also saw positive numbers regarding workforce development.

“We experienced year-over-year enrollment growth in our apprenticeship program and Center for Workforce Development training opportunities,” Dr. Smith said. “The number of businesses and industries we served jumped more than 45 percent.”

While enrollment numbers have fallen the past few years, Dr. Smith noted that enrollment numbers are trending upward for the Summer 2019 semester, as well as the Fall 2019 semester.

East Central College is currently developing a new strategic plan. The SOAR to 2024 initiative has been a collaboration of community members, business leaders, faculty and staff. It is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval in August 2019.

Years Later, Sisters Graduate Together

May 7, 2019 | Campus News

Marcy Baker first started college in 1985. She was the first member of her family to attend.

“I was on my own,” she said. “I had to figure out how to enroll and pay by myself. I was very shy back then, so I never asked anyone for help.”

While she had managed to save enough money for tuition, bad habits started affecting her college experience.

“I skipped classes a few times,” she admitted. “I ended up with some bad grades and even dropped a class or two. I regretted it later when I had to pay to retake the classes and work to get my GPA up!”

A few years later, Marcy had a son. College was put on hold. She enrolled again in 1991 and 1995. Each attempt in jumpstarting her educational journey was derailed by unfortunate life circumstances.

“I never gave up my dream of getting a college degree,” she said. In 2012, she started taking classes once again at East Central College. “I came back to show my children that it is never too late to chase after your dreams.”

Nearly 35 years later, Marcy will finally walk across the stage – earning her associate of arts in the process. She won’t be alone. Her sister Kathy Minks will be at her side.

“Better late than never I always say,” Kathy explained jokingly. “I am beyond excited to graduate with my sister. We definitely did not plan it this way. It just happened!”

Kathy, like her sister, had enrolled in college before. She had taken many general education classes a few years ago, but didn’t complete a degree.

“I had to return to work,” she said, “but I didn’t give up on college. I kept a close eye on online offerings in order to work and still complete my degree.”

She became an East Central College student once again in 2018. After a year of hard work and dedication, Kathy will earn her associate of arts with an emphasis in business administration.

As Marcy and Kathy are handed their diplomas on May 11, one of their biggest cheerleaders will be in the crowd watching – Kathy’s daughter Gwen. She’s an East Central College student too, though she’ll have to wait until next year for her graduation.

“I’m extremely proud of them both,” explained Gwen. “Not only did my mom raise me as a single parent, but she also showed me that you can do whatever your mind wants to achieve. She also taught me the importance of constantly growing as a person and expanding your horizons.”

Marcy and Kathy started this journey years apart – taking different paths along the way. On May 11, they will get to finish it together.

“I’m very proud of my sister and myself for graduating college,” said Marcy. “It was a dream I wasn’t certain would happen when we were teenagers.  Now here we are – 50 year-old women getting college degrees!”

“They both show such strength and determination and have worked hard for years to get to where they are now,” Gwen added. “I have wonderful role models and bigger shoes to fill as I transition into adulthood.”

Judy Bieker Honored with 2019 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

May 1, 2019 | Campus News Inspiring Excellence

Not only has she educated more than 500 students in her 25 years as an East Central College nursing faculty member, but Judy Bieker has also mentored numerous master’s students and new faculty members without hesitation. Her colleagues describe her as someone who “embodies the true spirit of nursing education” and “never turns down a challenge.” In recognition of her tenacity and disposition inside the classroom, she has been honored with the 2019 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The award is presented to an outstanding faculty member from each participating higher education institution in Missouri. Winners are chosen based on effective teaching, effective advising, service to the college community, commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement.

In her nomination form, Bieker was described as an “out-of-the-box thinker who always holds her students to the highest standards in providing excellence patient care. She instills a spirit of curiosity and educational excellence.”

Bieker will be presented with his award at the annual Missouri Community College Association Awards and Recognition Ceremony in Kansas City in November.

Congrats to Judy Bieker!