Recognition is in the air!

One of the things that I love the most about this time of year is recognizing the accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students. Recognition season started yesterday as Sharon Fox was named the 39th David L. Underwood Memorial Lecturer. What a wonderful honor for her! It was also nice to see past Underwood honorees and retirees while they were on campus for the announcement and luncheon.

I had a great time at the Institute for Interdisciplinary and Global Studies student symposium! Several students and staff came out to sample Italian cuisine and celebrate learning! It’s always inspiring for me to hear students discuss what they learn from traveling abroad and service learning projects. I would like to thank Jen Medeiros, Jeanne Florini and Chris Stephens for pulling this fascinating showcase together for the student and campus community.


  • Have you noticed the new trees on campus? If you look along the main campus road, you’ll see saplings being planted along the way. These new trees come to us from Forest ReLeaf of Missouri. They aim to provide trees for public and nonprofit plantings and present educational programs to increase stewardship of the trees and forests in Missouri and surrounding regions. So far, we have River Birch, Roughleaf Dogwood, Kentucky Coffeetree and Tulip trees planted on the campus.
  • This is the last weekend for “Our Town” at the Terry M. Fischer Theatre. Performances will run at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday. The play is directed by our own Donna Nelson!
  • Service Awards – On Monday, we’ll celebrate the Service Awards. I hope to see you at 2 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room. We’ll take time to honor faculty, staff and retirees for their years of service.
  • SGA Banquet – On May 2nd, the Student Government Association Awards Banquet will showcase the academic, athletic and service achievements of our students. It takes place at 6 p.m. at the Hilton St. Louis Airport Hotel. I hope to see you there!


  • A few weeks ago, we honored our campus Innovation of the Year, the SOAR project. “The First Four Weeks” was picked as the College’s Innovation of the Year. This innovative strategy is part of our Achieving the Dream initiative and is simply a list tips/strategies that faculty can use to connect with students. Congratulations go to Teresa Huether and all faculty who chose to participate and give students a great start to their semester.

Thanks for reading the blog this week – I hope you have a nice and relaxing holiday weekend – maybe you’ll get a visit from the Easter bunny!

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A brief note

Welcome Spring – flowers petals unfolding, trees bursting out with color, the geese are nesting and allergies are kicking in! While we attempt to stop the building of nests when we can, we are not always successful. Please give the geese a wide berth as they become very aggressive during this nesting time.

Wednesday, we were honored to host Native American singer and Grammy winning artist, Joanne Shenandoah, for a performance. Shenandoah’s gentle yet powerful rhythms and message of peace were weaved through stories of her Iroquois heritage. This Global Gatherings event, focused on Indians of North America, is part of the series sponsored by the FV Global Education Committee which included other programs during the week.

This afternoon is the annual Bowling for Scholars event at Tropicana Bowling Lanes. While this is a scholarship fundraiser, it is also an afternoon of fun and camaraderie. Join us if you can.

This weekend is the opening of “Our Town” in the Terry M. Fischer Theater. This is the 300th production in our theater and a repeat of the very first one! There are performances on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. The play will also be performed next weekend on Friday and Saturday evening at 8 p.m. I hope to see you there for this historic celebration!

Next week is a very important moment in the life of the Florissant Valley campus. The 2014 Underwood announcement will be made on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. near the circulation desk in our Library. Underwood lecturers exhibit excellence in instruction and a genuine, humanistic concern for students, faculty, and staff – and all of education. Please make an effort to attend and celebrate with one of our colleagues.


  • Bianca Fountain, Arts & Humanities student, was awarded the E. G. Danforth Scholarship at Washington University in St. Louis. As you know, this scholarship provides full tuition for two years. In addition, she also received an Eliot Scholarship, which means that she will have the financial resources to get her books and other supplies without the need to take out loans.

As always, thanks for reading the blog – we’ll chat again next week

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FV is buzzing with activity!

I hope everyone was able to keep safe and dry during last night’s storm! Springtime in St. Louis always brings interesting weather patterns – just make sure to keep your eye on the weather reports.

Despite the rain, both the Institute for Interdisciplinary and Global Studies (IIGS) Expo and the Green Fair were well attended. Thanks to both of the teams responsible for putting these events together for the campus.

If you didn’t get over to the theatre on Tuesday to see Core Ensemble’s “Ain’t I a Woman” production, then you really missed out! The show celebrated the lives and times of four significant African American Women: ex-slave and fiery abolitionist Sojourner Truth, renowned novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, exuberant folk artist Clementine Hunter and fervent civil rights worker Fannie Lou Hamer. Thanks to Paul Higdon for bringing Core Ensemble to Florissant Valley!

Thanks to all who participated in the forums for our campus Vice President of Academic Affairs interview process. I have received all of the submitted comment sheets and will review your thinking along with my own.  I am hopeful that we will have a completed, successful search soon. I also want to express my gratitude to the screening committee, chaired by John Furlong and Nancy Pea. Committee members are: Richard Pescarino, Julie Fickas, Dobbie Herrion, Christopher Stephens, Thomas Dieckmann, LaRhonda Wilson, Ruby Curry and Cindy Campbell.

The Student Outreach and Registration (SOAR) project was named the Florissant Valley campus Innovation of the Year. SOAR improves the quality of service provided to students through creative and unique collaborations among faculty and staff who volunteer their time to collectively and individually train students to use online tools, including web registration and the Banner Self-Service degree audit report. Contributors to the project are Amy Bird, Cindy Campbell, Tom Dieckmann, David Doering, Julie Fickas, Christine Lewis, Jennifer Medeiros, Chris Stephens, Roger Thomas and Annie Wagganer. Congratulations, SOAR team! 

This week marked the beginning our Arts and Education Fund drive. An enthusiastic crowd gathered in the library to hear Eugene Redmond, Poet Laureate of East St. Louis, share some of his work. If you need more information about the A&E drive, please contact John Furlong.


  • Our Global Gatherings week is April 7-10 and this semester’s topic is Indians of North America.  I encourage you to attend some of the informative events the Global Education Committee has lined-up. Click here for a complete schedule of events.  
  • The Deaf Communication Studies Career and Education Forum will take place Monday, April 14, from 3-6 p.m. in the Training Center 105/107.
  • Mark your calendars for the Underwood Award Announcement that will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 17, IR-2nd floor.
  • The Florissant Valley Service Awards will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, April 21 in the Multipurpose Room. If you haven’t already submitted a nomination, please contact Kedra Tolson for guidelines. The deadline for submission is 5 p.m., April 7.


  • The 10th annual Bowling for Scholars is set for 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, April 11, at Tropicana Lanes, 7960 Clayton Road in Richmond Heights. The theme for this year’s event is “Lights, Camera, Action!” and whether you are a bowler or an observer, a good time is always had by all.  Visit the college web site for more information on how you can get involved. Hope to see you there!

Our unofficial campus mascots are back – - this is  the time of the year that our Canada geese become more active as nests are built to provide a home for eggs.  We are watching a few spots on campus that are hosting particularly aggressive male geese as they guard the females and their eggs.  We are monitoring all of those nests and blocking them off but please give the males a wide berth as you walk in their direction.  If you can go a different way to your destination, choose that. You will also notice that we have a goose herding dog on campus, moving the birds away from population centers.  If a goose comes after you, hold something – a purse, a notebook, or bag of some kind between you and the goose.  Use that same strategy for a goose approaching from the air. Running will encourage them to chase you.  This nesting period is really pretty short but we will be living with it for the next several weeks. 

Thanks for reading the blog and have a great weekend!

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Positive results spring forth from Achieving the Dream initiative

Do we dare hope that spring is here?

I have had a busy week – traveled to Colorado for our granddaughter’s first birthday and to receive appliances in our new home. Can’t believe that it was time for both! Furthermore I have been out this week after having a medical procedure – hoping to be back next week.

It is also hard to believe that the College has finished four years in Achieving the Dream. Our own Teresa Huether, who has led the College ATD effort with such enthusiasm and style, has announced her retirement later this spring. Congrats to Teresa on a fabulous STLCC career and gratitude for her consistent focus in the success of our students. I have asked Teresa to be a guest blogger this week and share her ATD perspective:

The dream began at the Touhill in August of 2010! Every STLCC employee was invited to hear Dr. Kay McClenney speak about Achieving the Dream! The college had committed to be the first Missouri community college to be part of this nationwide student success movement and Dr. McClenney shared what that would mean for the students, the faculty and the staff! We were asked to “Dream BIG!” and the members of the Collegewide Student Success Team, the members of the campus based Student Success Teams, as well as the members of the four strategy teams took that to heart!

In the planning year, many courageous conversations over STLCC student success data took place. Hundreds of STLCC employees were engaged and offered their input as to how STLCC could better serve our students.

As a result of those conversations, four strategies were chosen. Over the next three years, teams made up of faculty and staff from across the district created and implemented those strategies. Those teams did indeed Dream BIG! Thousands of students have been positively impacted by these strategies.

Last week, Dr. McClenney came to STLCC for her last coaching session. On Wednesday at the FP campus, leaders from each of the strategies presented the work and results of their strategy not only to Kay, but also to a room filled to capacity of interested faculty and staff.

Kim Fitzgerald spoke about the mandatory New Student Registration Workshop (NSRW). Not only did she note that almost 14,000 students have participated in NSRW since its implementation in the fall of 2012, but also that students have found the experience helpful in creating class schedules that support academic success! With pride she spoke about the NSRW team that meets on a monthly basis and is continuously improving the New Student Registration Workshop experience for our students!

Florissant Valley’s own Dwayne Morgan presented next. Under his leadership, the college now offers a uniform orientation experience at every location called “Orientation Live! Arrive and Thrive!” Since its inception four semesters ago, almost 6,000 students have participated in this student led and interactive event! Again, the feedback from students has been overwhelmingly positive! Four years ago, an orientation experience existed on only two campuses. Now a consistent delivery of what it takes to be a successful STLCC student happens at all of our locations!

Dennis White – another member of the FV campus – shared with those present the work of the Smart Start team. Beginning with the creation of the course by a forward thinking group of faculty and staff members, he outlined the making and maintaining of STR:050 – Smart Start Student Success – which included its beginning, the faculty training, its implementation, its impact (over 6,000 students have taken the course) as well as its assessment (students overwhelmingly love this course) and continuous quality improvement! He ended his presentation with information about STR:100 – Smart Start College Success – a course for college ready students that will be offered for the first time this fall.

Teresa Huether (yes – another FV affiliate!) quickly spoke about the First Four Weeks (F4W) – an initiative that was created by the CTL coordinators in the summer of 2011 in response to the faculty’s desire for an ATD program that could include ALL faculty members! Since the fall of 2011, more than 600 unique faculty members have committed to at least four of the 26 tried and true student success strategies that make up F4W. She mentioned that work has begun on a student version of F4W created by and for students!

The morning ended with updates on where the college stands with Developmental Education (DE) redesign. Members of the MoHealthWins team (Dianne Lee, Debbie Char, and Christine Padberg) spoke about the success of the Adult Learning Academy (ALA) in delivering modularized and contextualized DE to its participants in a very speedy manner! Some participants completing semester long coursework in as little as two weeks! Vice President Tracy Hall spoke about the modularization of mathematics across the district as well as the success of Math Boot Camp. Vice President Ruby Curry (ANOTHER FV leader!) shared the work of the English Departments across the college in offering the ACE program – the linking of Eng:030 with Eng:101. ACE has been successful on a small scale. Discussions on how it can be brought to scale are ensuing.

An ATD report was made available to everyone who came to the session. Some of the compelling data included in the report are:

1)      All new, First Time In College (FTIC) students successfully completed with a grade of C or better nearly 50,000 credit hours of course work at a rate of 62 percent in fall 2013, up from 56 percent who successfully completed over 56,000 credit hours of course work in fall 2011. Withdrawal rates dropped from 16 percent to 11 percent during that same time.

2)      Minority students successfully completed course work (grade of C or better) at a rate of 55 percent in fall 2013, compared to 49 percent in fall 2011. Withdrawal rates dropped from 18 percent to 12 percent for minority students during that same time.

3)      Students enrolled in Smart Start in fall 2013 successfully completed courses (grade of C or better) at a rate of 55 percent, compared to a 50 percent completion rate for those who would have been required to enroll in fall 2011 had the course been available at that time. Withdrawal rates dropped from 18 percent to 12 percent for students enrolled in Smart Start.

4)      Fall to spring retention rates for all new, FTIC students has increased from 70 percent in 2010-11, prior to strategy implementation, to 73 percent for fall to spring 2012-13. Fall to fall retention rates for the 2013 cohort are not yet available, although fall to fall rates for the 2012 cohort increased by 3 percent.

5)      Fall to spring retention rates for minority students in the FTIC cohort has increased from 66 percent in 2010-11 to 67 percent in 2012-13, although the rate is still below the retention rate for the previous three cohorts (2008, 2009, and 2010). Fall to fall retention rates increased 3 percent for the 2012 cohort.

6)      Fall to spring retention rates for Pell recipients in the FTIC cohort has increased from 70 percent in 2011 to 74 percent in 2013. Fall to fall rates increased 4 percent for the 2012 cohort.

On Thursday night, Vice Chancellor Dare thanked the Board of Trustees for directing STLCC to apply to be an Achieving the Dream school. Dr. McClenney then shared with them the work of the ATD strategy teams and the positive outcomes. The Board was impressed with the ATD work and accomplishments.

Last Friday, Dr. McClenney held an hour long open forum on the FV campus. She fielded questions about ATD and student success and shared her vision of community colleges across the country. That vision includes streamlining the DE process by more accurately placing students to begin with and by offering contextualized DE content in an accelerated delivery method. Her other vision is that community colleges be organized by academic pathways that include stackable credentials and easy on an off “ramps.” Students would immediately choose a pathway like STEM or Healthcare when they apply. While in that pathway, all of their courses would be focused on the careers within that pathway and academic support would be part of the experience.

In closing, STLCC’s commitment to Achieving the Dream bore much fruit! Consistent successful college wide practices have been put in place. Thousands of students have been positively impacted. And much has been learned about looking at data continuous quality improvement, and never losing touch with the focus of our work – the student experience.

On a personal note, it has been my pleasure to be part of Achieving the Dream! This experience has allowed me to work with many amazing colleagues across the college. Thanks to everyone who comes to work every day doing their best for our students! STLCC really does expand minds and changes lives.

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It’s official – it is spring!

Spring break is over and everything now begins to move so quickly to the end of the semester!

I do want to take just a moment and tell you what a wonderful Italian Studies Learning Community trip we had this year. Thirty-four of us traveled together to several different locations in Italy, experiencing the culture and practicing our language skills. It is such a whirlwind trip and so hard to believe that we have been there and back since the beginning of March! Take a look at the picture of our student group posing on the steps of the San Lorenzo Church in Florence:

Students in Italy

This week started with campus entertainment as the Kazoo Band provided some welcome back sounds on Monday.  I know there have also been several events to celebrate Women’s History Month and I want to thank the committee for getting organized so early and putting together a wonderful series of programs.

We have ended this week with a visit from Dr. Kay McClenney, our Achieving the Dream coach.  There have been several events and I hope that you have had an opportunity to participate in one of them.  Dr. McClenney is retiring this spring and we wish her well in this new phase of her life! And speaking of Achieving the Dream, Teresa Huether will be guest blogging for me next week – she’ll discuss the College’s four-year AtD journey and next steps.

Needless to say, it is college basketball tournament time.  I hope you have your brackets filled out and are ready for the excitement that comes with game times.

I also hope you’ve been keeping up with our very own Archers. The Archers staved off elimination with a come-from-behind 72-70 win over Potomac State today in the consolation bracket of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Basketball Tournament in Danville, Ill. The Archers (22-11) will face either Garrett College (McHenry, Md.) or South Suburban College (South Holland, Ill.) in the consolation finals at noon Saturday, March 22.  The game will be broadcast live on Go Archers!


  • On Monday, the campus governance councils will be hosting a conversation about what one college means to you.  Please join in so that you thoughts will be part of the submission from Florissant Valley to contribute to this College statement.  Stop by TC 202/204 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and give your input.
  • Our campus Innovation of the Year announcement will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 26 on the second floor of the Administration building.
  • Just a quick reminder – mark your calendars for the Underwood Award Announcement on April 17 at 12:30 p.m. in the Library, and the Service Awards at 2 p.m. on April 21 in the Multipurpose Room. Remember, if you haven’t nominated someone for Outstanding New Faculty, or Classified and Professional staff recognition (to be announced during the Service Awards), please contact Kedra Tolson for guidelines. 


  • Congratulations to Wayne Bryan, physical education instructor, who was inducted into the St. Louis Hall of Fame for the Amateur Softball Association (ASA). Wayne has been playing men’s major fast-pitch softball for more than 20 years.
  • Congratulations to Mary Luebke, acting dean of Liberal Arts, who received the Governor’s Higher Education Award.
  • The Student Government Association (SGA) of St. Louis Community College – Florissant Val-ley won the Special Events Award at the Missouri Community College Association Awards Banquet. Their special events project included an application, presentation and skit for The Nook. The Nook is a “Grab ‘n’ Go” concession stand in the cafeteria that opens once the cafeteria closes. Congrats to the SGA!!

If you can, get out and enjoy this lovely spring day! Thanks for reading the blog – have a great weekend!

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On the road again

Next week will find me in California for the League for Innovation in the Community College’s Innovations conference, and then it’s off to Italy for a trip with the Italian Studies Learning Community. I’ll be away from the blog for a little while, so I decided to jot down a few thoughts before I go.


  • March is Women’s History Month and Florissant Valley is celebrating in a big way! Thanks go to Janice Nesser-Chu and WHM committee for putting together a calendar full of events sure to inspire and spark conversation. The month kicks off with “Ain’t I a Woman,” a musical and theatrical celebration of four renowned African American women: Zora Neale Hurston, Clementine Hunter, Sojourner Truth, and Fannie Lou Hamer. If your schedule permits, make sure you stop the Terry M. Fischer Theatre at 11 a.m. Monday, March 3 to catch this one – if you miss it, another performance follows at 12:30 p.m.
  • On March 5, Adrian Bracy, chief executive officer for YWCA Metro St. Louis, will give the Women’s History Month Keynote Address. Bracy previously worked for more than a decade as an executive for the St. Louis Rams. She left to become chief financial officer for the Arizona Cardinals in 2007. She came back to St. Louis to “inspire and make a difference in the lives of women and girls.”  She will speak from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the Terry M. Fischer Theatre.
  • Florissant Valley’s Contemporary Art Gallery will be home to a new exhibition beginning March 6. “An Activist Voice: The Art of Howardena Pindell and Nanette Carter,” runs through April 3 and features striking abstract art work. I hope you get the chance to see this one!
  • Hoop for Hearts – let’s thank the FV Wellness Committee and the SGA for all their hard work in producing Hoop for Hearts. I’m hearing it was fierce competition as a number of student club basketball teams showed up to compete for a worthy cause. 


  • Let’s celebrate Florissant Valley staff and students! Two of our students have been chosen to the annual MCCA/Phi Theta Kappa 2014 All-Missouri Academic teams – Yehuda Feigenbaum won 2nd team on the All USA team and Michelle Bird won 3rd team. And Mary Luebke, acting dean, liberal arts, will receive a Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Congratulations to them for their wonderful accomplishments
  • Kudos to the Biotech Club. They have begun planting the spring flowers that we will see around campus this year.

Today marks the first day of spring. Why, you might ask? Well, the St. Louis Cardinals are opening up the Grapefruit League against the Miami Marlins. I am in complete denial of the current winter weather forecast, so I’m sticking to my story – it is the first day of spring!

Thanks for reading the blog and have a great weekend. I’m sure I’ll have lots to share once I return from my trips.

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When the wind blows …

Do you get the feeling that I’m obsessing with the weather in every blog entry? I might be – - what started off as a lovely, balmy Thursday turned into sideways rain and high winds! The first two months of 2014 have been a true adventure in weather forecasting … I’m considering what summer might bring at the moment.

I would like to thank the campus community for coming out and supporting STLCC Interim Chancellor Dr. Dennis Michaelis as he hosted his first open forum on campus. The group asked some wonderful questions and I was really happy about the participation of our students! Seeing them engaged in the campus community and with Dr. Michaelis was special – it’s been said that the community college student body is one of the hardest audiences to engage – their attendance spoke volumes of their willingness to be true part of the campus and district community. We look forward to another visit from Dr. Michaelis – this campus is appreciative of the time he spent with us.

Next week, I’ll be in Orlando, Fla. to attend DREAM 2014 – Achieving the Dream’s Annual Institute on Student Success.  More than 1,700 influential practitioners, policy-makers, and thought-leaders from across the nation are attending this convening to share results, strengthen partnerships, and direct the course of the reform movement for the upcoming year.


  • Florissant Valley has been shining lately in the news regarding our Global Education events, not just locally, but nationally.  The latest news to be published is an article about our Fair Trade marketplace that was written by Mark Manteuffel.  You can find the article on page 15 of the CCID Winter Newsletter at the following link:
  • “reasons to be pretty” wraps up its run at the Terry M. Fischer Theatre. Try to come out to see the show tonight and tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Please know that only patrons over the age of 16 will be welcome to this production due to adult language.
  • For the latest in Florissant Valley news, check out our page on the STLCC Now web hub.


  • The STLCC Board of Trustees met last night. They heard a presentation on insurance changes and voted to approve the changes, effective June 1.  There was also a presentation on budget planning assumptions for FY2015.

Thanks for reading the blog and have a great weekend!

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