AURORA | Community College of Aurora presidential finalist Michelle Schutt answered questions Monday about her vision for the role in the first of three virtual public forums with the candidates for the job.
Schutt is currently the vice president of student services at the College of Southern Idaho, where she described her role as working on everything that happens outside the classroom.
As a first-generation college student from an agricultural background who received a Pell Grant, Schutt said that she viewed education as key to helping students take control of their futures and wanted to help current students have the same access to education that she did.
“I think it’s vital that we provide the best opportunities possible for all of our students,” she said.
The panel, which a little over 100 people attended, was moderated by Colorado Community College System spokesperson Christina Cecil. Cecil asked Schutt to describe how she has worked to improve equitable outcomes for students in her current role.
Schutt said that she facilitated the College of Southern Idaho’s process of becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution, and helped raise its population of Hispanic students by 10%, from below the population of the surrounding area to several percentage points above.
As part of that process, the college now has bilingual staff in each department, conducts orientations and sends out written information in Spanish, and has a full-time multicultural coordinator, she said.
In response to a question about COVID cutbacks, she discussed her work this past year to boost enrollment after the college projected a 15% enrollment decrease for fall 2020, which would not be financially sustainable. After a significant marketing push, she said the college avoided having a decline.
Working with employers to help connect students with job opportunities after college that pay a living wage and making sure students with children are supported are two priorities that Schutt named.
“I firmly believe that a community college should essentially be cradle to grave in their service model,” she said.
Schutt said she considers herself a collaborative leader and is a subscriber to the servant leadership model.
As CCA’s new president, she said the first thing she would do is to reach out to staff and faculty to try and build relationships and get input on how to move forward. She stressed the importance of including everyone on campus, including adjunct faculty, in the decision-making process.
“I believe in a culture of accountability and transparency,” she said. “There are very few people on this campus (the College of Southern Idaho) who don’t have my cell phone number.”
Finalist. Mordecai Brownlee will have a panel from 11:15 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, and Stephanie Fujii will have a virtual meeting on Wednesday at the same time. Information on how to attend is available at CCA’s website.
Community College is the working man or womans option for education to prepare for a job….let’s keep that true….