Month: April 2020


Instructors, Students Adjusting to Online/Remote Classes

April 16, 2020 | Campus News

East Central College Nursing instructor Connie Wissbaum logs into Zoom shortly before class starts and greets her students as they chick into a remote meeting site.

Wissbaum, like many instructors at ECC, is teaching live over Zoom, a cloud-based video conferencing service.

After chatting with students and taking attendance, Wissbaum begins the class period with an explanation of what the day’s instruction will be. During a Nursing of Adults and Children 1 class last week, Wissbaum taught about diabetes and other endocrine disorders.

Wissbaum sees her students in individual boxes on a computer screen instead of at tables in the classroom, a new concept for most faculty and students.

“If you do have a question, wave your hand in the camera,” she told them. “That way when I see the movement I can, maybe, focus on it.”

Remote instruction prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic has required adjustments for students and instructors.

Wissbaum explained that a major difference in teaching remotely compared to in the classroom is the need for greater flexibility from faculty for our students, some of which are at home with children.

“We have to be very accommodating,” Wissbaum said. “There are a lot of parents in class and they are all at home trying to do homework.”

Many instructors take a team approach with a second faculty member to test remotely. Students are required to download exam software before taking a test, Wissbaum said.

She noted that students then use two devices, one for Zoom and the second to actually take the test. Then one faculty member is a proctor overseeing test takers while the other administers the test.

“We are trying to make it as close to the classroom setting as possible,” Wissbaum added.

Wissbaum has been a full-time faculty members since 2017. Prior to that she was a nurse in the emergency room at Mercy Hospital Washington.

She recently defended her dissertation via zoom while working toward a doctorate.

Wissbaum added that she has contacted the ER director at Mercy Hospital and she is ready to help during the COVID-19 pandemic if she is needed.

Check out a video below of Wissbaum opening and beginning her class:



ECC to Begin Medical Lab Technician Program

April 15, 2020 | Campus News

East Central College will roll out a new Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT) program beginning in the fall.

Dr. Jon Bauer, ECC president, said students completing the program will earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Medical Laboratory Technician. This program will be administered through the Allied Health Division.

Last month, the ECC Academic Council approved the recommendation to initiate the new program. The ECC Board of Trustees approved the new program Monday.

The college will offer the MLT program through the Missouri Health Professions Consortium (MHPC). It will be coordinated through Moberly Area Community College (MACC).

“By utilizing the MHPC we will be able to offer this specialized program with a shared enrollment and expense model,” Dr. Bauer said.

Robyn Walter, vice president of academic affairs, said students would complete the program after taking general education classes their first year and then apply for the program. Those accepted would work toward the MLT degree in their second year at the College.

“The students will be ECC students and they will graduate with degrees from ECC,” Walter said.

MLT lectures will be online, however, the labs will be conducted three times throughout the program at the MACC campus in Mexico and students will be placed in various clinical sites within 90 minutes of their home campus/residence.

Walter added that University of Missouri–St. Louis has shown interest in an articulation agreement with ECC for students seeking a four-year degree.

Walter added that MLT clinical rotations will be done locally at the ECC health care partners.

“The gives students the opportunity to do something in the medical field other than bedside care,” she said.

According to Walter, there is support locally in the medical community due to significant vacancy rates of laboratory professionals at area facilities.

Representatives from Phelps Health in Rolla and Mercy Hospital Washington have indicated a need for a local MLT program.

“Medical lab professionals are in high demand, and not just now because of COVID-19,” Walter said.

“Medical Laboratory Technicians occupy an essential function on the healthcare team,” Dr. Bauer added. “Local employers are in support of the program in terms of providing clinical training as well as employment opportunities.”

Each summer, an average of thirty students are selected to begin the program in the fall for the entire consortium. The MLT specific portion of the program is designed to be completed within 12 months beginning in August.

When students have successfully completed the MLT program, they will be eligible to take the American Society for Clinical Pathology certification examination.

Walter explained that the consortium primarily serves rural areas around the state. The same consortium model has been successful with the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at ECC.

For more information, contact Nancy Mitchell, Interim Dean of Health Science, at To learn more about the ECC Nursing and Allied Health Division, visit




Walter Named Chief Academic Officer

April 14, 2020 | Campus News

The East Central College Board of Trustees approved the recommendation to name Robyn Walter the vice president of academic affairs/chief academic officer.

Walter has been serving as the interim vice president of academic affairs since September 2018. The approval was made during the April meeting of the ECC Board of Trustees during its executive session and is effective immediately, according to Dr. Jon Bauer, ECC president.

“Robyn has been highly effective at administering the academic affairs of the college, providing leadership to faculty and instructional staff, serving as the institution’s accreditation liaison officer and working as a member of the senior leadership team of the college,” Dr. Bauer said.

“She is a trusted administrator and advisor, and has proven highly effective in a very challenging role.”

Walter has been with ECC since 2003, serving as a faculty member, director of nursing, nursing and allied health program chair and, most recently, dean of health sciences.

“The experience of serving in various roles over these years has afforded me the opportunity to have direct responsibility for leading change and improvement in the Allied Health Department as well as at a systems level,” she said. “My commitment is strong to East Central College’s mission and vision.”

Dr. Bauer added that Walter’s personal and professional work with students gives her a clear view of what is important to students when it comes to academic life.

“Robyn is deeply committed to ECC, our students, faculty and staff,” he said. “I appreciate her interest in serving in this leadership role, and look forward to continuing to work together on behalf of our stakeholders. She has earned this appointment and I am pleased to express my congratulations.”

Walter received her bachelor’s of nursing degree from the University of Missouri and her master’s in nursing service administration from Saint Louis University. She is currently working toward her Ph.D. in nursing at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Dr. Bauer thanked the search committee that considered Walter’s appointment.

“The committee was diligent in this discernment process, and unanimous in its recommendation to remove the interim tag and appoint Robyn in a permanent capacity,” he said. “Likewise, the feedback received from faculty and staff following the campus forums was very helpful to the committee and me as this decision was considered.”


ECC Waiving $45 Online Fee for Summer Courses

April 14, 2020 | Campus News

East Central College will waive the online fee for courses this summer to provide students more opportunities to continue their education.

ECC president Dr. Jon Bauer said the decision was made because of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the economy and lives of ECC students.

The $45 fee only applies to summer classes.

“We want to remove as many barriers as possible for our students start, continue or finish their education,” he said.

ECC is only offering online classes this summer.

“We are doing everything possible to enable students to keep moving forward, and to persist,” Dr. Bauer added. “Students’ academic environment has changed, but our commitment to them has not.”

In-district students can enroll in summer classes at a rate of $132 per credit hour in tuition and fees, which is among the most competitively priced rates in Missouri.

The in-district tuition rates are $105 per credit hour. Out-of-district rates are $151 per credit hour.

General fees are $27, which includes student activities and support services fees.

Summer enrollment is now open for current students. Visit for more information.



Student in Business to Help International Students

April 8, 2020 | Campus News

Transitioning to college is not always easy for incoming freshmen leaving home for the first time.

But it can be much more difficult for international students who are moving to a new country, learning new customs and making new friends. Now the most concerning aspect is a worldwide pandemic.

East Central College student Gabriel Pires helped create a business, called Steven Mentor, which assists international students attending college in the United States with various aspects of life.

“We help with a little bit of everything,” He said. “From academics, to weather and social life.”

Steven Mentor became invaluable to international students in March as COVID-19 spread across the globe.

“This crisis has brought many uncertainties for all of us, especially for international students here in the United States,” Pires said.

Pires, from Brazil, is a sophomore business student set to graduate from ECC in May. He came to ECC on a soccer scholarship.

“Most of our students were sharing the same concerns and challenges — figuring out if it was ideal to return to their countries or if they should stay in the United States,” he added.

Pires is working with two other international students, Lucas Gomes and Samuel Padilla at Steven Mentor, which brands itself as the “International Student Mentor.” He is the chief operating officer for the company.  A fourth member of the Stephen Mentor team is Alexandre Medeiros.

Gomes attends college in Florida and Padilla is a student in Iowa, so the business owners and their clients communicate online and over the telephone.

The students who are clients of Steven Mentor come from all over the world, and each have been impacted by COVID-19 in some form.


On March 22, Pires flew home to Brazil after it was decided that ECC would be only remote and online instruction for the rest of the semester. He said he wanted to be with his family during uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most international students were in a similar position, that required a major decision. According to Pires, international students were concerned if they could re-enter their home countries due to the pandemic.

There have been concerns of home countries closing borders, which would create issues at airports. If the students were to stay in the U.S., there would be logistical concerns, such as transportation, housing and access to food.

There also has been a lot of concern with the economic aspect of leaving the U.S., Pires added.

“The good news is that Steven Mentor saw this crisis coming and we could advise our students to make important decisions as soon as possible so they are not taken by surprise,” Pires said. “We have helped them decide whether they should return home, understand logistical issues, such as housing and food, in case they stayed in the country, and we advise them to make special financial planning for the next months.

“In addition, we maintain active communication with all our students and mentees, sharing challenges, good practices, and thoughts.”

Pires explained that on the Steven Mentor website there is a specific tab for COVID-19.

“We have also created an initiative to help international students who decided to stay in the country called Adopt an International Student. We are connecting students in need with volunteer helpers from across the country.”

Pires Joins the Team

This isn’t the first company Pires has had a hand in. In 2019, he formed his own, different company to help Brazilian student athletes already in the U.S.

Padilla, an international student at Morningside College in Iowa, learned about Pires’ work and asked him to come aboard to Steven Mentor. It essentially was the same work Pires was doing, but on a larger scale, worldwide and not just for athletes.

Padilla and Gomes, a student at Saint Leo’s University in Florida, already laid the foundation for Steven Mentor.

“They were doing the same thing for students around the world,” Pires said. “His (Padilla) idea was more solid and more complete than mine.”

The mentoring program offered by the company is called “Steven Pro.” It is one semester-long and designed to help international students prepare, adapt, and thrive in the U.S.

It includes eight modules of videos, 40 total, based on Steve Mentor’s “pillars.” Each student is then paired with a mentor for personalized assistance through the first semester. They also have access to an exclusive community of international students and other resources.

So far there have been two classes of students, the first in the Fall 2019 and the second is underway now for the Spring of 2020. The first class had 16 students. The second class has five students.

Pires explained that most international students start at colleges in the fall.

“We are assisting them in developing as a person, and offering a peer-to-peer perspective,” he added.

Piers studied in Denmark for a year while in high school. That gave him experience in navigating new cultures and a different environment before he started school at ECC.

What’s Next?

Pires wants to transfer to a four-year university in Florida to play soccer and finish his business degree.

He hopes to continue growing Steven Mentor and he wants the company to work directly with colleges to reach more students. Ultimately, the company would contract with colleges that pay for their services, Pires stated.

He added that applications for the 2020 Fall class of Steven Pro are to open in June.