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The MCTC News Blog

Race to Save the Planet—An MCTC Learning Community

Posted on: July 17th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

MCTC learning communityCollaboration is key to solving some of the world’s most challenging issues. Race to Save the Planet is a unique learning option offered by MCTC that gives students an opportunity to collaborate and deeply engage with their instructors—and each other—while learning about issues involving our environment and planet.

This interdisciplinary block of coursesoffered this Fall is set up as an intentional learning community in which students meet three days a week for a block of time each day and earn eight credits across two disciplines: Biology and Political Science.

The lectures, assignments and activities are integrated by the instructors to give students a holistic look at the environment from a broad range of perspectives. The coursework includes public work projects where students apply what they learn in class to actions in their own community.

“I’ve never had a class where people were so willing to open up to each other,” said Kristin Lessard, a former student who took the classes. “Before enrolling in the course, I never had any serious environmental focus, but now I’m going to major in environmental science. It’s the best class I’ve ever had!”

Students will earn credits in Race to Save the Planet that satisfy four Goal Areas of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (Goal Areas 3,5,9,10), providing a pathway to graduation/transfer.

Student-led Urban Garden Flourishes

Posted on: July 14th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Sprouts in the MCTC urban gardenThe MCTC Urban Farm Collective (UFC) student club finished the construction of an on-campus urban garden in late May and recently held its first food distribution event in the T Skyway.

The 8,700 square foot garden was built over the course of the 2014 spring semester in any empty grass plot at Spruce and Yale Place. Dozens of fruits and vegetables including peppers, kale, squash, onions and tomatillos are growing and being harvested weekly to serve to the MCTC community.

“The intention is to show people that urban agriculture is a reliable source of food,” said student Cody Mehlin, UFC president.

Urban gardens, or community gardens, are part of the growing urban agriculture movement. These gardens are plotted and maintained by a community in highly populated locations.
This isn’t the club’s first experience establishing a garden. The club started a garden in 2012 on a plot next to the Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Downtown Minneapolis. Club members distributed some of that food to the community for free and sold the rest at local farmers markets.

“The downtown garden was a huge success but we couldn’t bring the produce back to the students,” said UFC advisor and Biology instructor Katherine Kragtorp.

The College’s Student Senate approved a $65,000 budget for a groundbreaking in December 2013. In the two months since its completion, the garden has begun yielding enough produce to distribute to MCTC students, and club members plan to add a bordering fence, a shed and benches. UFC expects to gain more ground with the garden when more students return for the fall semester and there are more varieties of foods to disburse.

Kragtorp is excited about the garden. She hopes students and community members will learn gardening doesn’t require much work. She’s proud of the students who made it happen.

“I can’t take any credit for this,” she said. “It was entirely the students.”

In 2009 MCTC signed on to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Student initiatives like the urban garden and the Three-legged Frog environmental club support this initiative through on-campus events, activities and campaigns.
The garden is open to volunteers Monday through Thursday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Produce from the garden is distributed Wednesdays for free from noon to 1 p.m. in the T Skyway. Visit the club’s Facebook page or email them at MCTCUrbanFarmCollective@gmail.com.

See more photos of the garden on Flickr.

MnSCU Tuition Freeze Enters Second Year

Posted on: July 7th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Tuition FreezeThis upcoming 2014-2015 academic school year, tuition throughout the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, including MCTC, will remain frozen. This is the second year of a two-year promise by MnSCU to keep tuition unchanged for its more than 200,000 students.

“The benefits of freezing undergraduate tuition for the second year in a row continue to make MnSCU colleges and universities the lowest cost, highest value higher education option in the state of Minnesota,” MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone said.

Rosenstone expressed his gratitude for Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature for creating the $52.5 million in the budget to make the freeze possible. The budget last year had initially proposed a three percent tuition increase before the state funding. Due to the freeze, MnSCU expects tuition revenue to decrease.

According to a press release from MnSCU, student fees are expected to increase by less than 0.5 percent. As part of the freeze, faculty and staff have received a 2.6 percent compensation increase.

Dayton’s improved access to state grants and federal grants increasing will help students pay less out of pocket this school year.

“The combination of the tuition freeze and the changes to the state grant program will, on average, actually lower the cost of tuition for MnSCU students receiving a state grant in the 2014-15 academic year,” Rosenstone said.

Click here to see the current tuition rates at MCTC.

The application deadline for the fall 2014 semester is August 8. Click here to apply. Current students can click here to register for classes.

Student Success Initiatives at MCTC

Posted on: July 1st, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Students collaborating.New initiatives aimed at improving student success have shown strong results, according to a recent report released by the College’s office of Strategy, Planning and Accountability (SPA). Educational equity and student success comprise the College’s strategic priorities, and the four initiatives tracked in this report are specifically aimed at meeting those priorities.

AME

The African American Educational Empowerment Program (AME) and student center was founded in 2011 by dedicated students who brought a national concept to this Minneapolis campus. AME is comprised of four programs, and the AME student center is available for homework help, classroom collaboration and community building. College research showed students using the AME center—particularly male students—were significantly more likely to complete courses and remain enrolled in the College than those not using the center.

Accelerated English (ENGA)

Accelerated English courses combining developmental English with college-level work were offered for the first time in 2013. The research found students needing developmental English instruction were significantly more successful when enrolled in the combined course, passing at a rate similar to students who tested directly into college-level English. Furthermore, these students completed their college English requirement in one semester instead of two.

English Instructor Michael Kuhne explains that students may face any number of outside factors, so success in developmental courses may take place in addition to or in spite of factors like inconsistent child care, health issues, addiction, family illness and so on.
“The students who succeed in these courses not only leave with more academic confidence, they understand the demands of college a bit better and are better able to plan accordingly,” said Kuhne. “They know how to create study and support groups. They gain clarity, both about why they are in college and how they will succeed in college.”

Embedded Advising

Embedded advisors working specifically within College academies began providing integrated advising to students in 2011. Research found students who saw their appointed academy advisor in their first semester at MCTC were almost twice as likely to continue at MCTC for a second year than students who did not see an advisor. Data will be further analyzed in the coming year to determine whether integrated advising has a positive effect on timely graduation as well as the effect on retention.

Statway

Statway, a Carnegie Foundation initiative designed to help community college students complete a college-level math course with less frustration and lower dropout rates than traditional college algebra, finished its first year of implementation this spring. MCTC research found that students in the accelerated, experience-based math alternative were between three and five times more likely to enroll in the subsequent math class the following term compared to developmental math students not enrolled in Statway. “Students enrolled in Statway this year built a strong community,” said Carmen Buhler, Mathematics instructor and one of three Statway instructors at the College. “In light of the successes of the first year of operation, we are looking forward to a second year of Statway courses.”

These initiatives, aimed at increasing success in the classroom as well as graduation or transfer rates of participating students, are only a few instances of efforts at the College to empower students to be successful inside and outside the classroom.

MCTC President and Student Attend Obama’s Town Hall

Posted on: June 30th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

MCTC President Avelino Mills-Novoa and student Michael ElliottMCTC Interim President-Elect Dr. Avelino Mills-Novoa and MCTC student Michael Elliott attended an invitation-only town hall meeting with President Barack Obama held at Minnehaha Falls today.

“I’m grateful I was given the chance to hear President Obama talk about the economy and middle-class Americans,” said Elliott. “I’ve been middle class my whole life. I was raised by a single mom, so when I see wage inequality, I know that’s directly hurting kids who grew up like me.” Elliott, who was born in California and grew up in North Minneapolis, is pursuing his A.A. in Liberal Arts at MCTC. “I’m interested in Information Technology, because there is still a digital divide in my community,” he said.

Elliott is a non-traditional student in his 40s who returned to college after raising a family. “Life took me away from college in my early 20s,” said Elliott. “I held jobs between now and then, but never a career. Now my son is 22 and finishing college himself, and I decided to go back to school to create professional credibility.”MCTC President Avelino Mills-Novoa and student Michael Elliott

Mills-Novoa and Elliott were among only 300 people to receive an invitation to Obama’s town hall meeting. “I’m here because my story isn’t any different from the students at MCTC,” said Mills-Novoa. “I’m an immigrant and a person of color, and education changed my life.”

Obama’s stop at Minnehaha Falls took place almost exactly 50 years after former President Lyndon B. Johnson visited the Falls on June 27, 1964.

Images: MCTC president-elect Avelino Mills-Novoa and student Michael Elliott. The two snapped a selfie at the event (lower).