Faculty and Staff Stories

LEAN Green Belt MWCCHenry David Thoreau’s 160-year-old directive “Simplify, Simplify” is finding renewed meaning in today’s workplace. At Mount Wachusett Community College, seventeen employees recently received Lean Green Belt Certification to help streamline operations college-wide.

Lean training teaches participants to examine how they do things with an eye toward identifying ways to achieve greater efficiency, eliminate waste and streamline processes for more efficient and cost effective outcomes.

The goal is to build a solid foundation for a culture of continuous improvement, said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. “This training will prove to be quite valuable for the college and our students.”

MWCC coordinates Lean, Six Sigma and other workforce development programs for area companies, though this was the first time college employees participated. MWCC is the first community college in Massachusetts to adopt Lean college-wide, said Jeremiah Riordon, Associate Vice President of Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development.

The training, initially implemented in the manufacturing world, and recently was adapted for administrative purposes, is gaining national momentum among state agencies, colleges and universities, and other organizations. According to the Education Advisory Board, which recently completed a study on implementing Lean for Process Improvement at Community Colleges, higher education administrators are increasingly turning to the principles of Lean Six Sigma to enhance efficiency of institutional processes.

MWCC administrators, faculty and staff participated in the training, which required a project presentation and certification exam. The training and certification was administered by the William George Group, a Boston-based consulting firm that serves clients worldwide. Working individually and in groups, the participants tackled projects designed to improve procedures at the main campus in Gardner and satellite campuses in Leominster and Devens.

“The primary purpose of Lean is to cultivate a climate of continuous improvement in all areas of process management and to eliminate waste,” said Riordon, one of the training participants. “Lean forces you to ask why something is in the process. If there are steps that don’t add value, we’ve got to ask, ‘Why is it in the process?’”

For example, his team tackled the 52-step process of creating a brochure of noncredit course offerings, which starts with selecting courses to writing, editing, proofing and mailing the brochures. “After reviewing the process, we eliminated redundancy and the new process is just 14 steps and frees up one full staff person from the process,” he said.

The projects implemented include streamlining procedures in the human resources, marketing, admissions, records and institutional advancement offices, and improving efficiency of contract approvals, dual enrollment registration and placement testing.

The newly certified Lean Green Belt employees are:

Lea Ann Scales, Vice President of External Affairs, Communications and K-12 Partnerships; Robin Duncan, Senior Advisor to the President; Linda Fazio, Comptroller; Jeremiah Riordon, Associate Vice President, Lifelong Learning and Workforce Development; Heather Mulry, Director, Human Resources; Connie Helstowski, Director, Payroll and Benefits; John Walsh, Dean, Leominster Campus; Patrice Lincoln, Dean, Access & Transition; Margaret Jaillet, Assistant Dean, School of Health Professions, Public Service Programs and Social Sciences; Rebecca Forest, Assistant Dean of Records and Research; Sarah McMaster, Director of Marketing and New Media; Ramon Gonzalez, Director, Educational Talent Search; Kerrie Griffin, Director, Devens Campus; Heather Layton, Director, Grants Development; Shane Mullen, Senior System Analyst/Programmer; Michael Watson, Instructor, Manufacturing & Quality Systems; Teresita Encarnacion, Coordinator, Development Training.

 

Women's Herstory Project 2015 honorees front row, from left, Ann Reynolds, Glaisma Perez Silva, name, Madhu Sharma; back row, Catherine Maddox-Wiley, Elizabeth, Cindy Doyle, and Aliza Miller.

Women’s HerStory Project 2015 honorees front row, from left, Ann Reynolds, Glaisma Perez Silva, Paula Clapp, Madhu Sharma; back row, Catherine Maddox-Wiley, Elizabeth Kilpatrick, Cindy Doyle, and Aliza Miller.

Eight MWCC faculty and staff members who play an instrumental role in the lives of our students were recognized during the college’s annual Women’s Appreciation Day on March 26.

For the past several years, students in Professor Susan Goldstein’s Journalism I class interview and write feature articles on women who are making a difference in the lives of others. The Women’s HerStory project this year recognized Paula Clapp, math tutor; Ann Reynolds, CCAMPIS advisor; Cynthia Doyle, accountant; Glaisma Silva Perez, coordinator of Disability Services; Catherine Maddox-Wiley, advisor, Rx program; Aliza Miller, math professor; Madhu Sharma, professor, English as a Second Language; and Elizabeth Kilpatrick, professor, anatomy and physiology.

The celebration capped off a month of activities and events in celebration of Women’s History Month and included a performance by singer-songwriter Christa Gniadek.

Mount Wachusett Community College was awarded a $198,400 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Education to continue the North Central Massachusetts College Access Challenge Grant program.

MWCC’s Division of Access & Transition launched the regional program in 2011 under a prior DOE grant. The program provides low-income, minority or first-generation high school students and college freshmen with tools and support services to help them persist and succeed in college.

The partnering schools include: Athol High School; Fitchburg High  School; Gardner High School; Leominster High School; the Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School in Orange; Murdock Middle/High School in Winchendon and the Sizer School in Fitchburg.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for students in our region,” said MWCC President Daniel M.  Asquino. “This initiative continues a successful program that benefits our communities by helping students achieve their goal of completing a college degree.”

As part of the program, current high school seniors receive personal counseling and  advising from MWCC advisors; participate in academic, career and financial aid and literacy workshops; are exposed to postsecondary education via college visits and fairs, and the Your Plan for College web portal. Students also participate in a first year experience seminar, pre-college summer bridge program, and ongoing counseling through the first year of college.

Through its Access & Transition division, MWCC serves approximately 4,000 middle and high school students throughout the region through 18 federal and state-funded access and college readiness programs.

 

concert studentsWhen the Boston-based band The Wicked Hangin Chads recently took to the MWCC theatre for a free show, they did more than entertain the audience with two hours of reggae fusion and flow art dancing. They provided an opportunity for Media Arts and Technology students to hone their video and audio production skills.

While the band performed its original music in several languages on Saturday, May 14, a crew of students, guided by Professors John Little and Joel Anderson, discretely recorded the event using eight video cameras set at various angles, synchronized to two 48 track audio recorders capturing 35 audio sources. The recording will be edited and released as a half-hour show for cable television and the band’s promotional efforts.

MWCC student Louis Ayisi at $30K Commitment Statehouse

MWCC student Louis Ayisi, speaking at the State House $30K Commitment announcement, shared how transfer pathways make higher education goals attainable.

A new collaboration between Central Massachusetts’ four institutions of public higher education – Fitchburg State University, Mount Wachusett Community College, Quinsigamond Community College and Worcester State University – will guarantee qualifying students their associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in high demand programs for $30,000 in four years.

Presidents and representatives from the colleges and universities joined Secretary of Education James Peyser, Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland, Senator Michael Moore, chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, and other key officials in announcing the new agreement March 9 at the State House.

The “$30K Commitment,” starting this fall, is a promise from the institutions to support the career goals of Massachusetts residents; prepare students for high-demand degrees; and outline clear paths for students to complete affordable associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in four years. Tuition and fees will be frozen for qualifying students.

According to College Board, the average cost of one year of tuition and fees for a private, four-year college education is $31,000—more than the cost of four years outlined in the $30K Commitment. The average cost of in-state tuition and fees for public institutions is $9,139 a year. The $30K Commitment reduces the cost of a four-year degree program to $7,500 a year.

The commitment aligns degree programs and allows for seamless transfer between the two-year and four-year institutions for programs including business administration, computer science, early childhood education, biotechnology, criminal justice, biology and chemistry. Students who wish to continue their studies beyond the baccalaureate level will benefit from institutions’ articulation agreements with other schools. Those heading straight to their careers will be able to capitalize on internship opportunities and professional networks related to the fields of study included in the $30K program.

Participating students will be expected to maintain good academic standing with full-time course loads each semester. In addition to easy transfer opportunities from the community colleges, students will be guaranteed admission to the state university programs outlined in the agreement.

Secretary Peyser called the initaitive a “very important step in the right direction.”

“The biggest thing we can do do is make college more affordable,” said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino, noting that the $30K commitment addresses many crucial areas, such as college completion, economic development, innovation and college readiness. “The community colleges and state universities of Central Massachusetts enjoy strong collaborative partnerships, and this agreement – creating opportunities and controlling costs – is evidence of those relationships.”

“Equally important…are our partnerships with our K-12 partners, including our dual enrollment work allowing high school students to earn college credit,” he said.

MWCC pre-engineering major Louis Ayisi was invited to address the gathering as one of the student speakers. “When I arrived in this country from Ghana 11 months ago, I made the best decision of my life (to enroll at MWCC). For first generation students like me, the sky is not the limit, but the stepping stone,” he said.

Fitchburg Schools Superintendent Andre Ravenelle noted that the school district is privileged to have partnerships with MWCC and Fitchburg State. “You cannot do this work alone.”

“I enthusiastically support this program because it locks in the price of $30K, and can spur our students to stay on course and complete their degrees. That commitment from our students will improve retention and four-year graduation rates,” said Higher Education Commissioner Richard M. Freeland. “It is my hope that the program will dramatically increase awareness of the affordability and high quality of our programs, and serve as a model for what we hope to do on a statewide basis.”

 

Photo 7GARDNER About two dozen volunteers climbed aboard their spin-bikes at 9 a.m. on Sunday and began pedaling, and — with the exception of a short break now and then — they didn’t stop for the next three hours.

The event, held at the MWCC Fitness and Wellness Center, was the 7th Annual Pedal to End Cancer, a New England-wide indoor cycling fundraising event to benefit the American Cancer Society. Event Coordinator Lori Pucko said the school’s involvement in the event began seven years ago when a member of the fitness club was diagnosed with cancer.

“We thought it would be a nice way to raise some money, and we’ve just been doing it every year,” Ms. Pucko explained, adding that the event raises several thousand dollars in donations annually. “We’re up to over $30,000 over the past six years.”

Ms. Pucko, who is also the group fitness manager at the center, said the event is one that club members look forward to each year, an indication of just how many lives are touched by such a terrible disease. “This event is super-important to them. They have loved ones that have passed, and some of our own members are still struggling,” Ms. Pucko explained.

Participants this year were pedaling in recognition of Diane Guertin of Hubbardston, a fellow fitness center member who is battling cancer for the second time and currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment. “(Diane) actually called me Friday night from UMass to wish us good luck,” Ms. Pucko said.

“She has participated in this event every year, so we’ve been taking pictures and videos and we’re going to send them to her.” Participants were allowed to form teams of three to reduce their pedaling time to a more manageable hour, according to Ms. Pucko. Short hydration and bathroom breaks were also permitted. Ms. Pucko said the event, which this year featured food donated from Hannaford’s Supermarket and Papa Gino’s, had grown over the past seven years. This year’s event also featured music and videos provided by Platinum Productions of Lunenburg, and massage therapist Sharon Godin of Orange donated her services to participants.

After a moment of silence to remember those lost to the disease and to recognize survivors who are still battling, fitness club member sang an emotional version of Amazing Grace.

Sunday’s event raised nearly $5,000 and concluded on a touching note, as participants attached personal messages of remembrance or encouragement to about 20 helium balloons, went outside and released them to the sky.

The Gardner News 3/2/2015

Stephen Landry, News Staff Writer

 

 

business plan competition group photo cropped

Teen entrepreneurs Matthew Aronson and Rachelle Wailes, pictured center among fellow competitors and several judges, took first place in MWCC’s business Plan Competition with their FLEXFIT stretching device.

A team of Leominster teenagers came a step closer to manufacturing an exercise device designed to improve flexibility and prevent injury, after taking first place in MWCC’s Business Plan Competition. During a close, but friendly competition, three finalists presented their proposals to a panel of judges during the evening event on Feb. 24 in the North Café.

The panel of judges comprised of local business and community leaders concurred that each finalist presented strong, well-researched plans, though the KRAM Wellness Group, which is gearing up to manufacture its first product – a mobile compact stretching device called the FLEXFIT – edged out the competition.

St. Bernard High School freshmen Rachelle Wailes, Matthew Aronson and their number one supporters (their parents) impressed judges with the mobile stretching device. The team developed the device while competing in the eCYBERMISSION STEM national competition as middle school students. They began the process after consulting with Dr. Lyle Micheli, noted director of sports medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. The team, which also includes classmate Kathryn Schatia who was unable to attend the event,  won $2,000, plus an assortment of consulting and professional services.

Karen Kiver Patalan of Boylston received $1,000 and professional services as the second-place winner for her proposal to expand her electronic medical record software service. Patalan, a registered dietician, created the KaiZen RD EMR expressly for registered dietitians in private practice. The product eliminates the need for paper charts while producing professional client and physician notes as it electronically bills for free, all during the patient visit.

Third prize went to Jonathan Tyler of Shirley, a business major at Fitchburg State University, and Daniel Lafond of Fitchburg, who graduated from Fitchburg State with an economics degree, who impressed the judges with their proposal to open the region’s first e-hookah lounge for patrons ages 18 and above. The duo proposed the Absolem Lounge (named after the hookah-puffing caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland) to provide an alternative nightlife and entertainment venue in Fitchburg. They received $500, plus additional prizes.

MWCC launched the competition in November during National Entrepreneurship Month to help stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit in North Central Massachusetts.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and that’s particularly true in North Central Massachusetts,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “We’re very grateful to our sponsors and judges who also support local businesses and start-ups.”

The competition’s premier sponsor was the office of Ronald M. Ansin. The Sentinel & Enterprise was the media sponsor. Competition judges and sponsored also included Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella, Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke; Tina Sbrega, president and CEO of GFA Federal Credit Union; Linda Racine, executive vice president of Rollstone Bank & Trust; Jim Bellina of the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce, and Tom Mutti of the office of Ronald Ansin. The North Central Massachusetts and Nashoba Valley Chambers of Commerce also served as sponsors.

“It was a very close competition,” said MWCC Associate Vice President of Workforce Development Jeremiah Riordon, who served as emcee and coordinator of the contest.

In addition to the cash awards, prizes included advertising and consulting opportunities, free credit and noncredit courses at MWCC, graphic design services, consultations with marketing and legal experts, and business supplies.

 

MWCC 2015 COMECC UWNCM campaign 1

MWCC employees donated $61,978 to the 2015 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign (COMECC) and the United Way of North Central Massachusetts. Pictured from left, President Daniel M. Asquino, MWCC COMECC chair Connie Helstowski, Phil Grzewinski, President of the United Way of NCM, and campus campaign coordinator Nancy Thibodeau.

Mount Wachusett Community College faculty and staff have donated $61,978 to the 2015 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign (COMECC) and the United Way of North Central Massachusetts. Over the past five years, college employees have contributed more than $309,000 to aid those in need.

“I am very proud of the generosity our faculty and staff demonstrated during this campaign and past campaigns,” said President Daniel M. Asquino. “Collectively, the contributions made by Mount Wachusett Community College employees greatly benefit residents in our region and throughout the Commonwealth. This represents a huge investment in our communities,” he said.

The annual campaign at MWCC is coordinated by the college’s Human Resources office, with Director of Payroll and Benefits Connie Helstowski serving as campaign chair and Staff Assistant Nancy Thibodeau serving as campaign coordinator.

Established in 1984, COMECC gives state employees the opportunity to support private, nonprofit health and human services and environmental organizations. Each year, more than $2 million is raised statewide to assist children, families and communities in Massachusetts, as well as national and global charitable endeavors.

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Veterans Services Director Bob Mayer

Veteran services officials from colleges and universities throughout the country had the opportunity to learn about Mount Wachusett Community College’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success during a recent national conference.MWCC Director of Veterans Services Bob Mayer was selected to present on “Student Veterans’ Centers: Designing to Implementation to Upgrading,” during the 2015 NASPA Veterans Conference Feb. 8 – 10 in Louisville, KY.

Mayer, a veteran of the U.S. Army and the Army National Guard, participated on the panel with administrators from the University of Arizona, the University of South Florida, Bowling Green State University, and Keiser University. His remarks focused on the growth of the college’s Veterans Success Center and its partnerships with Veterans Administration and local and state veteran support groups to augment services to students.

The 2015 NASPA Veterans Conference was designed to provide a forum for experienced professionals focusing on institutional policy, programming and other emerging issues in serving military students and veterans.