It's hard to believe, but the fall semester is two-thirds of the way complete! It seems like we just began classes. Obviously, time flies when you're having fun. As you'll see below, we are running at a fast pace here in Maverick Country. Our students are rounding toward the home stretch with their classes, faculty are engaging students inside the classroom, and staff are supporting student success in countless ways outside the classroom. Together, we are focused on helping students achieve their goals.
New Student Orientation & Maverick FYE Update
Perfection isn't easy, but that's what our New Student Orientation team recently achieved. Every single LSC-Montgomery and LSC-Conroe Center student who was required to attend Maverick Connection, our new student orientation, did so. This required a lot of diligence on the part of many employees, but perfection was achieved. In fact, LSC-Montgomery was the only campus to hit the 100 percent mark. This goes a long way toward ensuring that our students get off to their "Best Start" in college. Statistics have shown that students who attend a live, face-to-face, onsite orientation prior to their first semester fare better academically than other students. So, hats off to everyone connected with Maverick Connection!
Similarly, we have achieved near-perfect compliance with our EDUC 1300 "First Year Experience" course, which became mandatory for all first-time-in-college (FTIC) students for the 2014-15 academic year. 98 percent of FTIC students at LSC-Montgomery are enrolled in EDUC 1300. This high number reflects positively on the college and two of its "top five" institutional priorities - First-Year Experience (FYE) and Student Success. By providing our students with a well-thought-out, customized experience in EDUC 1300, we are giving them the tools to be successful in college.
I'd like to thank Heidi Smith, our FYE program manager, as well as our academic counselors and advisors, as well as the EDUC 1300 instructors, who are making this initial rollout such a success. Indeed, every counselor is investing much of their time visiting each EDUC 1300 class and working with students on their academic plans. In January, we'll provide a report showing how our EDUC 1300 cohort of students performed in their first semester. And, at LSC-Montgomery, FYE doesn't end with the first semester. True to its name, our Maverick FYE extends into the second semester, with additional seminars, one-on-one advising, Learning Network opportunities and more. Go Mavericks!
Maverick Square, located between buildings F & G, will soon become the place for students, faculty and staff to gather outside on campus. Phase I is nearly complete, with only one of the pedestrian footbridges into the Square still under construction. In the Spring 2015 semester, a more extensive Phase II will begin, featuring the planning and construction of tiered, amphitheatre-style seating and stage on the east end of the Square. This will provide an outdoor learning venue for various classes and, when not used for classes, an attractive study and relaxation spot for students, faculty and staff. Our facilities department will work with our theatre, Live Entertainment Technology program and OTS department to make sure the lighting, sound and technology work hand-in-hand throughout this unique outdoor space. Stay tuned as Maverick Square turns into reality!
I'm glad to report that the second-level walkway refurbishment project is complete. We appreciate your patience as these walkways were unavailable due to resurfacing. We're all glad to see the campus free of the construction barriers and accompanying noise, and it is even nicer to utilize these attractive pedestrian walkways once again.
Another project set to begin in late November will be the much-anticipated expansion of Maverick Way. This project, which will be complete in time for the start of the Spring 2015 semester in early January, involves adding both an entry and exit lane, allowing for a second turn lane for cars exiting the campus. Our timing is good, as the soon-to-be-completed Hwy. 242 flyover (scheduled finish date: late first quarter of 2015) will add additional stress to that intersection. Having a second left-turn lane will be a necessity!
Another change you'll see in 2015 will be the presence of a new food service provider - both at LSC-Montgomery and LSC-Conroe Center. Follett, which operates our on-campus bookstore, has been awarded the contract for food service. We have met several times with their management, and I can promise you they are very excited about this opportunity. There will be some renovations to the cafeteria in the Commons Building, and possibly the coffee bars in buildings B & G. The new food service, which will be re-branded with our unique 'Maverick' style, will provide a variety of hot and cold food choices in a "grab-and-go" style of service.
Safety Week Success
In early October, the college conducted its 1st annual Safety Week. This is one of the initiatives that emerged from last year's Safety & Emergency Awareness task force. During Safety Week, we educated and encouraged students to sign up for the LoneStarAlert notification system. Campus Night Out was very well attended by faculty, staff and students alike. Our police department demonstrated its services and capabilities, and we had the National Night Out personnel from The Woodlands attend and register our event. Campus Night Out concluded with our traditional Safety Walk, a chance for the college community to walk the campus and identify areas that need attention in terms of safety, such as lighting issues.
Hispanic Heritage / Converging Communities Event Review
Also last month, the college celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month with a unique and eye-opening symposium co-sponsored by the Texas Familias Council. One feature of the event was a panel discussion with three of our Hispanic students, talking about their educational journey and the challenges that Hispanics face as they work toward reaching their educational goals. Arnulfo Carrillo, Daniela Gonzalez, and Vivian Duran, each of whom have leadership roles in Student Government Association and other student organizations, did a remarkable job speaking in front of a large audience.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Steve Murdock, former Texas State Demographer and founding director of the Rice University Hobby Center for the Study of Texas. It is no secret that our demographics - not just statewide, but specifically in Montgomery County - are changing rapidly. One of Dr. Murdock's quotes stuck out for me: "Increasingly, the future of the United States, the future of Texas, the future of Houston, and the future of Montgomery County is dependent on minority populations. That's not a political statement. That is a demographic reality that's going to happen. We need to plan our future clear eyed and recognizing that different population groups are growing at different levels - and that the future of Texas, the future of Montgomery County, is tied to minority populations."
As a college, we must be mindful of our changing demographic as we plan for future campus and programmatic growth. I'd like to thank our community partner, Maria Baños Jordan, director of the Texas Familias Council, as well as the Office of Student Life, for planning such an informative and well-attended community wide event. I've included a link to Dr. Murdock's slide presentation, which gives an incredible look at the Texas (and Montgomery County) of today - and tomorrow.
If you haven't voted already, early voting has concluded, with Tuesday, November 4 (Election Day) as your last chance to exercise your right! As you know, there is an important bond referendum for our college system. To learn more about the LSCS bond, visit www.LoneStar.edu/election/bond-2014. This site also includes links to voting locations on Election Day.
BASS Dean Update
I hope to very soon give you a more substantial update with regard to our dean search for the Business and Social Sciences (BASS) division. We are nearing the completion of the search, and I will send out an announcement shortly.
Library Director Hire / STAR (Student Tutoring & Research) Center Update
To that end, one of the outcomes of the relocation of our Learning Center into the Library area on the 1st floor of building F, is the synergies that both departments have experienced, all to the benefit of our students. Recently, it was proposed that the name of this "two-headed"support area be changed to the Student Tutoring & Research (STAR) Center. I think that is a great name for these vital services that we provide for student success. Soon we will have some branded signage and promotion for the newly-named STAR Center.
PSSA Keeps Professional & Support Staff Busy!
Our Professional & Support Staff Association (PSSA) is doing great things here in Maverick Country. Thanks to PSSA president Debbie Hernandez and her leadership team, there is a lot happening in the way of supporting our PSSA members - and giving back to our community. In the month of November, PSSA is collecting non-perishable foot items for the Montgomery County Food Bank, and beginning in a couple of weeks, it will kick off the annual Giving Tree program, helping LSC-Montgomery students who are single parents in need of assistance during the holiday season. The Giving Tree will be ready for selection of names on Friday, November 14.
PSSA will also have its annual pre-Thanksgiving feast on Friday, November 21 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. In the lobby and atrium of the Performing Arts Center (building D) and Music Hall (building H). If you bring five items for the Food Bank, you'll get an extra door prize ticket to increase your chances of winning a prize. Finally, in the spring semester, PSSA will hold its first-ever "Love Your Part-Timer" luncheon sometime around Valentine's Day in February, and the annual PSSA retreat, now called "Your Day in May," is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 21. This is a great opportunity for all professional and support staff to break away from the campus and learn new things in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Stay tuned for more details.
Datesaver: Annual All-College Holiday Luncheon Set for Dec. 4!
Mark Thursday, December 4, on your calendar for the annual LSC-Montgomery Holiday Luncheon for faculty and staff. It will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the atrium of the Health Science Center (building B). This catered lunch will offer all of your holiday favorites, served by me and my administrative team. More details to follow.
Campus Tech Coordinator Dianne Leal, campus tech coordinator for LSC-Montgomery, is no stranger to the computer technology industry. She has held computer technology positions ranging from help desk to purchasing, programming, sales, and more for over 30 years.
Leal has been a part of the LSC system as an employee and a student for over 16 years. Leal received her associate of arts degree after she became an employee of LSC-Montgomery, starting out in a part time position.
Leal's 16 years working for the LSC system have all been on the technology team at the LSC-Montgomery campus, and she is right where she wants to be until the end of her career.
"The LSC-Montgomery campus is definitely the most beautiful campus in the LSC system, but I am just a little bias," Leal said. "You will have to use a crowbar to get me out of the here before retirement."
Leal was born in Orange, Texas, and moved to Houston when she was four. She has been married for 30 years and has a daughter and two grandsons.
Leal grew up a Houston Astros fan, loves science fiction and superhero movies, and is a Star Wars and Star Trek junkie. She loves spending time with her family and finds her grandsons to be the light of her life.
Clinical Coordinator and Associate Professor, Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
Justin Chance, clinical coordinator and associate professor for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program at Lone Star College-Montgomery, is not only saving lives, but also changing lives, in his classroom every day. Chance began his pursuit in the EMS profession after finding interest in the field while in the Marine Corps. As the first person in his family to attend college, he was very nervous as he stepped foot into his first emergency medical technician (EMT) course. However, it didn't take long to realize that not only did he love what he was learning, but he was also very interested in the entire education process.
Upon completion of his EMT certification, Chance became employed with American Medical Response in Houston and began volunteering with Harris County ESD-1, the 911 services for north Harris County.
Chance finished his associate's degree in EMT from San Jacinto Community College and shortly after, gained full-time employment with Harris County ESD-1. Once promoted to In-Charge Field Training Officer, Chance took on an additional role as a flight paramedic.
Due to the love for learning that was fostered through his education at LSC-Montgomery, Chance sought out an adjunct EMS position at Lone Star College-Montgomery in 2010 and became a full time faculty member in the fall of 2012.
"There are several things that I love about working at LSC-Montgomery," Chance said. "The people that I work with are at the top of that list. All of my colleagues have an infectious passion about student success."
Chance recently received his bachelor's of applied arts and sciences degree from Sam Houston State University, where he is also working on his master's degree in political science.
For 11 years Chance has volunteered on the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Operations Committee. He enjoys the outdoors, swimming, and hiking with his family. Chance hopes to pass on his passion for education to his son, who he envisions being a Maverick one day as well!