New buildings with updated technology, community and industry-need based courses, space for faculty collaborations, making the college a cultural hub and competitive-performance based pay were some of the top dreams for faculty and community members at Cleveland State Community College on Thursday.
As part of the “Cleveland State 2020 Community First Plan,” faculty and community members dreamed of what they would like to see at the campus in the next five years. Eight groups of about five or six compiled lists which were then shared with the collective group.
The “dreams” were not limited by financial or time constraints. Instead, those present were encouraged to think about what would make the best Cleveland State. Participants voted for their top five using dot stickers.
Input from this and other community meetings the college is holding will be compiled and used by the steering committee in development of a strategic plan.
“This is what is needed to generate ideas that are necessary to develop this process along the line. I was really impressed with what you did, and appreciate you participating in this today,” CSCC President Dr. Bill Seymour
said to the faculty, staff and community members present.
Some ideas were department-specific, such as a 3D printer or an allied health building.
Before dreaming about the future, the groups evaluated the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats the college has right now.
“I want you to be as open and honest about these things as you can,” Seymour said.
Participating community members ranged from civic leaders like Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis to educators like Cleveland High School principal Autumn O’Bryan.
Mary Barker brought a unique perspective as a retired CSCC educator.
“I’m participating because I was at Cleveland State for 23 years. I taught composition and humanities courses. My last five years, I was the academic officer,” Barker said.
Barker is the namesake of the college’s Mary T. Barker Humanities Building.
“I continue to be very supportive,” she said.
Barker said the idea-generating process was a good one whose data she hopes can be compiled for use by the strategic planners.
“Cleveland State has done very well. It has grown, and I think it has grown for the better,” Barker said.
Many of the groups had similar ideas about the college’s strengths and weaknesses. Caring staff, leadership, community partners and affordability were common strengths listed.
O’Bryan said recruitment is one strength of the college.
“They are very thorough and organized,” O’Bryan said of representatives who recruit potential students for CSCC. “They always come when they are supposed to be there. They look professional.”
Lack of communication between departments, lack of communication with the community, public perception and funding were common weaknesses listed.
Alyssa Douglass of Cleveland State and her group said the college needs to adapt more to current needs and upgrade its technology.
The governor’s Tennessee Promise program was listed by many as an opportunity, but also as a possible threat. Groups said it provides good access to community college education; however, because it allows a student to go to any community college in the state Cleveland State will have to increase marketing to ensure students choose CSCC over other options.
The Tennessee Board of Regents also appeared on both lists.
Jennifer Minutolo of CSCC said weaknesses present opportunities for the college to better itself.
Stronger community partnerships, increased social and sport opportunities and alumni partnerships were listed as opportunities. Online schools and other competitors were listed as threats, as were recent accreditation concerns.
“I think it went really well,” said steering committee member Sal Mirza, dean of business and technology.
He said he enjoyed participating and getting to meet people he had never known before.
Similar sessions will be held later with students to gather input.