College council develops new master plan

A new strategic master plan, developed and proposed by a task force formed by the Pierce College Council and approved by the college president, will guide the goals of the school over the next four years.

Lyn Clark is the chair of the Pierce College Council (PCC) and was put in charged of putting together a group which met weekly during the fall to develop the plan.

“I was given the responsibility of putting together a task force composed of people of the four divisions of the college which would be the presidents office, administrative services, academic affairs and students services,” Clark said. “This group of people put together the strategic master plan which its purpose is to set forth the goals and the objectives for the college for the next four years.”

The plan was conceived with the desire to support four basic goals, which are, “Engaging the completion agenda, demonstrating accountability, cultivating partnerships, and ensuring student success,” according to the introduction of the plan written by Pierce College President Kathleen Burke.

While all of these goals are being seen as a priority, there is one area that Clark said stands out as particularly important.

“Student success is the major thrust of this plan,” Clark said. “We want to have more students complete their English and math requirements. We’re trying to improve the number of students doing so in a shorter period of time.”

Incoming students will be required to think critically on what they want to accomplish at Pierce to provide a more clear approach to meet these goals.

“We do now have a program for incoming freshmen that will be instituted,” Clark said. “The students will come in and they will be given their math assessment and their English assessment right away and they’ll be asked to make a preliminary educational plan. They’ll receive group counseling to get them started.”

Another hope is that students will become more accustomed to spending time with their teachers outside of the classroom.

“Research has shown that when students are involved in the college other than just for their classes that they are more successful and tend to return to the college to complete an objective,” Clark said.

Joseph Perret, a professor of computer applications and office technologies at Pierce, holds a standing appointment every Monday in front of the Freudian Sip with anyone willing to stop by and chat.

“That’s really important. The faculty needs to engage with the students to help them connect with the college and so outside contact is vital,” Perret said. “I can’t wait till the cafeteria gets going so I can go sit out there and have my lunch and talk to students.”

Providing teachers with modern tools for engaging while instructing their students is quickly becoming a pressing issue in today’s classrooms. The plan states that the school intends to “Develop plans to improve course effectiveness by fully integrating innovative tools and delivery methods.” Perret strongly agrees with this objective and recognizes that Pierce has room to improve.

“We have faculty that are still doing chalk and talk and students really demand a more modern approach. They’re coming from schools where they’ve already integrated those electronic capabilities such as smart boards into their lecture,” Perret said. “What I would like to see and what we should do is encourage and train the faculty to integrate these tools into the delivery of their classes, keeping in mind the academic freedom. They can do what they want to do and what they think is best.”

Some students may recall filling out a survey asking them to state how often they discuss ideas with a teacher outside of the classroom or how often they make use of services offered on campus such as the counseling center.

The Institutional Effectiveness Office, which gathers research for Pierce, conducted these surveys and Clark said students could expect more surveys in the future. There is a concern that some students may not take these surveys seriously, thereby skewing the information received. Pierce student Kevin Rivera, 21, suggested waiting until after the drop date to ensure the students surveyed are those committed.

“I think they should give them at that point were everyone who is going to drop has dropped and so everyone left in class is pretty much the serious people who are wanting to pass the class,” Rivera said. “They’d give you a more serious answer.”

Victor Torres, a 21-year-old art major, believes students might respond to an open forum where vocal or written suggestions and concerns could be reviewed quickly.

“I think getting students’ opinions verbally would be good. Or like petitions if there was a town hall meeting and have students write something on the spot and not wait a couple weeks or a month,” Torres said.

Gathering student feedback is important to helping the plan move forward. Ultimately, the plan’s purpose is to assist Pierce students in achieving their ambitions so it is in every student’s interest to honestly evaluate what he or she wants for their future.

“We’re trying to find pathways for the students to complete their goals,” Clark said. “So in other words, if they’re planning on going to CSUN, if they’re planning to transfer, if they’re here for an occupational goal, we want to make their pathways more clear.”