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Growing Our Future

Metro Community College Foundation

 

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At 16.3 million dollars, the Institute for the Culinary Arts (ICA) is Metropolitan Community College's largest building project on the Fort Omaha Campus since the 1980s.  While most of the money for the project came from the College's capital fund, private donors contributed 2.6 million dollars toward the building and maintaining of the ICA through the Metropolitan Community College Foundation.

The Culinary Arts Program was previously housed in Building 10 on the Fort Omaha Campus.  The popularity of the program grew along with MCC's total enrollment, which has seen an increase of more than 50 percent in the last 12 years. In the Fall quarter of 1998, the student population hovered around 11,000.  Today, it is topping out at more than 17,000, and the Culinary Arts Program is one of the College's growing programs.  The faculty and students simply outgrew their space in Building 10.  MCC officials recognized the need for expansion and developed a master plan in 2002 to expand the Culinary Arts Program in addition to other College priorities.  One shining result of that Collegewide master plan is the Institute for the Culinary Arts on the Fort Omaha Campus.

The impressive numbers of students enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program does not surprise Pat Crisler, Associate Vice President of Development and Executive Director of the MCC Foundation.  "Its probably one of the most publicly connected areas of study," she maintains. "Everybody eats."  And given the natural connection between the College and the community it serves, the ICA is what she calls "a natural convening place for College and community."

The MCC Foundation was established in 1977 as a separate, nonprofit organization.  Its purpose: "to provide financial support for students, faculty and staff, programs and facilities at Metropolitan Community College," says Crisler.  College officials recognized a need for enduring financial support and created the foundation to help meet these fiscal needs.

"MCC is truly a leader in the Midwest in the area of Information Technology,"

-Pat Crisler

Much of the foundation's support is earmarked for direct student assistance, chiefly in the form of scholarships.  Scholarships at Metropolitan Community College are awarded primarily according to three criteria.  First is financial need.  Second is the student's academic merit.  Previous academic success is a reliable benchmark for continued success, and scholarships are granted to further aid this success.  Last, degree completion is taken into consideration. Money is awarded to help students reach their goal of earning a degree or award.

In addition to scholarships, the MCC Foundation assists students with financial burdens other than meeting tuition.  Limited funding is available for books, transportation and instructional materialsessentially anything necessary to staying in school and completing a degree, says Crisler.

New to Metropolitan Community College is an online scholarship application process.  The program educates students about the scholarships and assistance for which they are eligible.  It reviews student profiles and matches them electronically to available funding sources. 

The MCC Foundation Board recently set a goal to raise an additional $250,000 in scholarships to meet the rise in student applications for financial assistance.  When the paper and pencil application process was in place, 150 students out of the total student population applied for scholarship dollars.   Once the College implemented the online program, that number rose to 1200 applicants last fall, demonstrating a serious gap in funding.    

Historically, funding for community colleges in Nebraska has stemmed from three sources: state aid, local tax dollars and student tuition, explains Jim Trebbien, Dean of Metropolitan Community Colleges Culinary, Hospitality and Horticulture Department and Executive Director of the Institute for the Culinary Arts.  Shortages in state funding have forced many community colleges like MCC to divert money originally slotted for student scholarships to the college's general budget.   "We just cant live off state funding anymore," acknowledges Trebbien.  Procuring private funding is an economic reality, especially, says Trebbien, if MCC is to continue offering innovative programming like the Institute for the Culinary Arts.    

Crisler describes the foundation as "an ambassador to the community."  Donors give based on their values and how those values connect with Metropolitan Community College's mission, says Crisler.  For example, sometimes private gifts are specified for work place internship programs.  Other donations may be earmarked for English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) programs. Connecting donors with opportunities to give is at the heart of the foundation's work.

Though student aid is the MCC Foundation's main focus, private support is also directed toward program and department funds, construction and maintenance, equipment and technology for both students and faculty and capital funds. 

The Culinary Arts Program is just one of several degree areas that have expanded in recent years.  Horticulture is another area of study seeing renewed interest.  Sustainable gardening is one contributing factor.  The inherent link between gardening and cooking-growing the food you cook-is another. 

Information Technology is another field of study that has experienced a significant rise in student enrollment.  Students seeking their degrees or foundational education in Information Technology are often joined by established IT professionals looking for continuing education courses as a way to stay current on the latest technology.  "MCC is truly a leader in the Midwest in the area of Information Technology," Crisler states.

When Metropolitan Community College officials established the MCC Foundation more than 30 years ago, they could not have predicted how vital it would one day become to the operation of College.  Today, the thought of operating without it is unthinkable.  It makes an advanced degree possible for thousands of students while ensuring those same students have at their disposal innovative programming like the Institute for the Culinary Arts.      

Ways to Support...

Students at Metropolitan Community College

  •     Scholarships  your gift of $50 per month supports one full-time MCC student for an entire quarter!
  •     Emergency support  the MCCF emergency student support fund assists students whose life situations threaten their ability to stay in school.


The Institute for the Culinary Arts - your gift may be restricted to support students in the culinary arts:

  •     Scholarships to support tuition, books, and fees
  •     Equipment and supplies
  •     Faculty professional development  to ensure leading edge instruction


Innovation at MCC - Your community college strives to encourage, practice, reinforce, and reward innovative instruction, like that at the Institute for the Culinary Arts. MCCs Inspiring Innovation program offers competitive grants and training programs to MCC faculty and staff, to ensure community-responsive, effective education.
 

-end- metroMAGAZINE

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