Fox 4’s Kathy Quinn, the keynote speaker at MCC’s 2016 employee in-service Nov. 22, knows how to wrap up with a bang: She started waving around $100 bills, a TV photographer appeared — and then someone in the audience was called up to receive the cash.
The in-service was also notable for Chancellor Mark James’ final “State of the College” speech and breakout sessions with technology that allowed employees in different rooms to create “word clouds” inspired by the six Strategic Plan themes.
And, of course, long-serving employees were honored for their service to the College. Click here to see the list and pictures of the honorees.
Meanwhile, employees made the day of nonprofit Turn the Page KC by donating more than 800 new and gently used children’s books, which will be used to promote literacy efforts.
Back to surprises — in keeping with the in-service theme of how all of us are heroes even if we don’t know it, a video showed students surprising instructors, administrators and others with thank-you letters they’d written. Watch that here.
As for the biggest surprise of all, only a handful of people knew that Kathy Quinn would be taping a segment of her “Pay It Forward” franchise during in-service. Each week, she turns up somewhere to give $300 to the nominator of a person or group working selflessly to make Kansas City a better place. The nominator, in turn, presents the money to that everyday hero.
Quinn’s keynote speech was preceded by a couple of examples on the big screens of how “Pay It Forward” works, including one story in which the older lady who gets the cash tries to give it back to Quinn.
“I cry probably every time we do it,” Quinn said of the do-gooder segments.
Quinn saluted MCC’s educators and mentioned her own ties here — her son attended MCC-Penn Valley and a sister, Vicki, was MCC-Longview’s first homecoming queen in 1974-75. Cousin Rafael Garcia, also a Longview alumnus, is a director of the MCC Foundation.
Then there’s Quinn’s mother. After having eight kids, running a Mexican restaurant and helping put her husband through law school, her mom decided to go to college — at MCC-Longview.
“Every Sunday night” about 8:15, her mom would suddenly remember she had a paper due the next day.
Invariably, she’d get an A. “Well, we got an A,” Quinn said. “Me, my mom and dad.”
At the end of her address Quinn asked Terrell Tigner, MCC-Penn Valley’s associate dean of student development, to join her. She presented him with the three $100 bills. He then called up one very surprised Linda Lechowicz, representing Penn Valley’s Student Veterans Association. (Melissa Meredith, her co-adviser, couldn’t attend.)
With a Fox 4 camera rolling, Lechowicz — who along with Meredith was nominated for their volunteer work for the organization — almost got off the stage without speaking, but Quinn coaxed her back. Asked why she does what she does to help MCC’s student veterans, Lechowicz said she sees their anxiety when they arrive on campus.
“It’s OK, you’re among friends,” Lechowicz tells them, “and we’re going to to help you” succeed at college. (Here’s a story from earlier this year about Penn Valley’s new lounge for student veterans and how it came about.)
We’ll let you know when Fox 4 plans to air the segment filmed at in-service.
Chancellor James spent a few minutes going over highlights of the past year, including the MCC Cares initiative, co-branding with the Royals, the technology refresh of MCC classrooms, getting an AAUP censure from 1984 removed, the ongoing good work of the FOCUS grants and the success of the U-Pass transit partnership with KCATA.
He emphasized once again how important the College climate can be. Speaking of the in-progress MCC Strategic Plan, he said that any such plan “will fall on its face without the culture of respect and civility.”
He added: “In the coming year, create the culture you want at MCC.”
He also repeated a familiar theme — making sure MCC is positioned to train students for jobs, which involves MCC working both with our school district partners and area employers. The College must be nimble, aggressive and responsive in the area of workforce development, James said.
“Thank you,” he concluded, “and please accept my best wishes for an extraordinary future for you and MCC.”
As for James’ own future, he will be retiring at the end of June. The Board of Trustees, he said, plans to utilize a shared-governance screening process to select MCC’s next chancellor, who should be in place by July.
Dr. Carlos Penaloza, vice chancellor of academic affairs, in giving an overview of the strategic planning process, said recent town-hall discussions across the campuses netted “plenty of interactions” and lots of feedback. One suggestion he’s heard is to find a way to capitalize on the the five campuses’ individual identities.
After a buffet lunch, employees broke into functional groups — enrollment management, faculty by discipline, instructional support etc. In two 50-minute sessions (interrupted by a cookie break), these groups distilled each of the six Strategic Plan themes into two- or three-word key points. Moderators keyed them in, with the results from all rooms forming word clouds on big screens. Larger words were those suggested the most times.
Our thanks to everyone who helped make the 2016 in-service a success. Congratulations to all the honorees!