MCC Daily Tribune

Rumors and Reality

In a typical year, the stress of the end of the academic year can be difficult. This year, these stressors are layered on top of concerns about declining enrollment and the impact of the challenges MCC has faced this year, as well as a 24-hour news cycle that seems to careen from bad to worse. It's hard. Throw rumors and misinformation into the mix, and the stress builds. So, each day from today through the end of academic year, I'll be tackling one rumor. I have a whole list, but if you have one you would like addressed, please send it along through the portal.

Rumor: Academic Services is part of a SUNY project with Ad Astra Platinum Analytics that is about cutting the master schedule. At the same time, the College is paying consultants Gray Associates to grow programs, which means growing the master schedule. This makes no sense.

Reality: Correct, this would not make sense, which is why it's not true.

MCC's project with Ad Astra involves understanding how we can create a master schedule more responsive to our students' demand. The project is about the overall master schedule of course offerings not degree programs. It examines when sections are offered, how they fill, what courses/sections are consistently over-enrolled and under-enrolled, etc. The first step of the Ad Astra project was an analysis of our historic course offerings; it showed that most of our courses are offered between 10 am and 2 pm, with limited offerings outside this block. In addition, it showed that while overall MCC runs an effective master schedule during those hours, some courses have too few sections based on demand and others too many. The initial Ad Astra analysis of MCC course offerings suggests some direction:

• MCC should consider a coordinated, defined set of general education, pre-requisite, and elective courses in off-peak hours (including online), building enrollment by meeting student scheduling needs.
• Resources could be shifted from consistently under-enrolled courses/sections to those that are consistently over-enrolled, building enrollment by meeting student course needs.
• In general, using data, including benchmarking, to analyze and drive the master schedule would likely result in greater enrollment and shorter time to degree.

I described MCC's engagement with Gray Associates in detail last week, so won't repeat that here. This is work at the program level. The 50 faculty, professional staff and administrators who participated in the Gray Associates workshop last week categorized programs into what emerged as five categories: add, grow, sustain, fix, or refer for consideration for sunsetting. As I have shared, this is just the first step: work will continue into the fall.

The Ad Astra and Gray Associates work intersects and is mutually supporting. For example, during the Gray Associates workshop, a number of departments identified degree programs that could grow if offered in the evenings or online. The group discussed the need for these programs--when possible--to share general education courses. Ad Astra analytics will inform what, based on demand, these courses should be and when/how they should be offered.

Kress, Anne
Office of the President