MSU Today with Russ White

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Michigan State University and Lansing Community College have formalized a partnership that improves access to a four-year degree, increases student success and helps build a pipeline of talent to meet the needs of the Mid-Michigan economy.

Show Notes

LCC President Steve Robinson, MSU Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Mark Largent, and MSU junior Sarah Day, who came to MSU from LCC, join Russ White to discuss Envision Green on this edtion of the MSU Today podcast.
The partnership, called Envision Green, provides a seamless transition from LCC to MSU by embedding MSU advisors within LCC to guide students through their educational journey — a transition more than 5,500 LCC students have made over the last decade. With this partnership in place, prospective LCC students can consider MSU from the start of their higher education journey. The affordability of the LCC-to-MSU path means a four-year-degree is an option for more people in the region — crucial for building and retaining an educated workforce in Michigan. 
It is estimated that community colleges are the entry point for close to half of America’s post-secondary students, making this partnership a win-win for students, the institutions and the local community. 
The Envision Green memorandum of understanding specifies a one-year partnership with an option for renewal, and states both parties’ intention to continue to grow the relationship. Broadly speaking, both institutions want to make it easier to plan an academic path from one institution to the other. 
As part of the relationship outlined in the MOU, the institutions will: 
·       Provide two MSU academic advisors one day a week on LCC’s Downtown Campus 
·       Communicate MSU transfer credit changes and MSU transfer credit process changes to MSU advisors at LCC as well as LCC employees
·       Work individually with LCC students to facilitate a smooth transition from LCC to MSU 
·       Promote policies that will encourage students who start at LCC to finish their associate degrees before transferring to MSU 
The partnership’s benefits extend beyond campus, as well. In an era when post-secondary credentials are in increasing demand, broader access to higher education ensures the Mid-Michigan region is an attractive prospect for startups and businesses looking to expand.
MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM, AM 870, and Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.

What is MSU Today with Russ White?

MSU Today is a lively look at Michigan State University-related people, places, events and attitudes put into focus by Russ White. The show airs Sundays at 9 A.M. on 102.3 FM and AM 870 WKAR, and 8 P.M. on AM 760 WJR.

Russ White 0:00
Michigan State University and Lansing Community College have formalized a partnership that improves access to a four year degree increases student success and helps build a pipeline of talent to meet the needs of the mid Michigan economy. The partnership called envision green also provides a seamless transition from LCC to MSU by embedding MSU advisors within LCC to guide students through their educational journey, a transition more than 5500 LCC students have made over the last decade. With this partnership in place prospective LCC students can consider MSU from the start of their higher education journey. the affordability of the LCC to MSU path means a four year degree is an option for more people in the region, crucial for building and retaining an educated workforce in Michigan

Unknown Speaker 0:58
what we're doing is launching envision green, which is formalizing an incredible partnership between Michigan State University and Lansing Community College creating a great pathway for students who are transferring from LCC to MSU.

Russ White 1:13
That's LCC president and MSU alumnus Steve Robinson Mark Largent is Ms. Hughes, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Undergraduate Studies formalizing something

Unknown Speaker 1:25
that has existed informally for years. And the problem with informal relationships is that they're not very equitable for students, that is students who have the resources either you know, who they know, or or what they know, or the financial resources to get the connections that are necessary. Those students are better able to navigate informal networks. And so by formalizing it we're creating a more equitable space for our students. A more transparent space so that there isn't that kind of, we call hidden curriculum in the relationship between LCC and MSU.

Unknown Speaker 2:09
Yeah, if I could just agree with Mark by saying, you know, we've been partnering for a long time but being intentional about the pathway is really important for the equity reasons that mark talked about. folks have been transferring from LCC to MSU. For a long time. In fact, my father in law transferred from LCC in 1958, one of the first students to transfer from LCC to MSU. And and earn a packaging degree back then. But marks exactly right. We're going to be intentional about this so that more students can benefit and will have more equitable outcomes.

Russ White 2:42
It's estimated that community colleges are the entry point for close to half of America's post secondary students, making this partnership a win win for students, the institutions and the local community. The envision green Memorandum of Understanding specifies a one year partnership with an option for renewal. And states both parties intention to continue to grow the relationship. Both institutions want to make it easier to plan an academic path from one institution to the other.

Unknown Speaker 3:14
Well, we want to pilot it and we want to learn from it. And we've already learned an awful lot. So the last thing we want to do is build a complicated, formal structure that is not well attuned to our students needs. And you know, while prisoner Robinson and I have a lot of information available to us and a lot of how students make the transition from LCC to MSU. We certainly don't know everything. And so by piloting it for a year, and all the way through listening and watching and asking, our hope is that we can continue to improve this year after year to make it a smoother transition from from one institution to another. We also want to think about this not just as the moment that a student goes from LCC to MSU, but in a broader continuum. So it is in all our best interests. If more students learn about a pathway, into LCC through LCC into MSU. And through MSU as early as possible. So really, when students are starting to think about well, what might they do to continue their education, they understand. I can go from where I am to LCC to MSU, to where I want to be. And in order to do that, we have to build a pretty complex set of not just policies and procedures, but also messaging. And part of what we're trying to learn how to do is to work together in this very open and transparent way with pathways that are very clear and obvious to people and mark. How does it work? Vision green relate to MSU is focused on student success. Well, so MSU has put a really intense focus on student success for about the last 50 years now, with a really high degree of success as an institution, we've been able to increase our graduation rate appoint a year, every year, for five years straight. This year, we raised it up, and we didn't make the rounding error. So we can't say we did six years straight, but we're at 1.3%. We went up point 6%, between last year and this year. So we're seeing this constant increase in the persistence and graduation rate of our students. At the same time, the time degrees are shrinking, the students are moving through the system more quickly. All of that means that they're graduating with a more economical degree with less debt, or with no obligations to attain that as they as they work their way through. So that's all really good news for us. But that's only half the story, right? persistence and graduation is only half of what we need to be doing. The other thing that we need to be is a very accessible and equitable institution. So when we talk about students success, we're not talking about individuals being successful. That's not what we mean, when we say admission is a student success organization. What we mean is that the university is designed and structured and oriented, or supporting students needs. There are lots of very successful universities in the United States that are what they are. And they admit the students that can survive their institutions. There's a, there's a college president who says, you know, the very highly selective universities, look for students that are impervious to learning. They don't need to teach them anything. And that's not what Michigan State is. We don't, we don't want to be a highly selective University. Because we think that that would be mean, being a highly rejected University, we don't want that we want to be very, very accessible, accessibility is an important value to us. But act just turn your doors open, that's not being accessible, you really have to provide the sidewalks into the university. And that includes thinking about the very different places that your students may come from. So if we're going to be a student success organization, we have to develop relationships with our peers, in state and out of state, so that students are met where they are, and help to get to where they want to be. And so we really have to start thinking much harder about these these kinds of issues. Because we want to extend the franchise of higher education to a larger number of people, especially in mid Michigan, but in Michigan generally. And this is really a great partnership for us to do this. Because LTC is so good at access. I mean, they they really, they have figured that part of the equation out and so we want to team up and get students through with bachelor's degrees, because we know what a profound difference that is them as individuals, to their families, into the broader communities.

Unknown Speaker 8:08
There are a lot of very important synergies between the two organizations and and certainly so many of our students desire to transfer not just to four year programs, but to Michigan State. And so you know, Mark mentioned sidewalks, there's an old lore in campus planning that you wait to see where the students walk across the grass before you put in the sidewalks. And that's kind of what we've done with envision green we we know that our students have a trajectory toward MSU. The only other thing I'd add add to what he said about student success, which is so on point is that the best colleges and universities in the country are focused on what we call post college success. It's one thing to be successful at the institution. But we're all doing this so students can be successful after they leave the community college after they leave the university. So envision green is really pointed at making sure our students get what they need when they come here, and they thrive in their lives and their families thrive. once they're done with their education.

Russ White 9:10
Sarah de is a junior at MSU studying special education she came to MSU from LCC.

Unknown Speaker 9:17
I am a junior at Michigan State studying special education and I always wanted to go to MSU. That was like my dream school since I was young. So that was kind of a no brainer for me. So when I was senior year of high school I applied. I actually got deferred a semester probably just because of situations that were going on. So I had an option I could attend a four year university right away besides my other options of other institutions, and not go to my dream school or I could use an option like LCC, which was an amazing option at the time and be in a better financial situation and eventually go to MSU so you That was a big decision at the time looking back was a very easy one. But at the time, it was a big decision. So, obviously, I did end up going LCC for a semester, it was an amazing experience, I really could not say enough good things about it. And I did have some support from MSU, just because of my already being admitted just for a different semester. However, I met a lot of students, I work with a lot of students now who didn't have that support. And I just couldn't see how much this program will benefit them because they didn't know about the internships you needed to have to graduate at MSU. They didn't know about the different qualifications, you need to have to get into a major into a college. So I think those things are really important for students. And I think they come here maybe feeling a little bit lost. And I think this program will really help, like unite that gap. And I just think I just can't say enough good things about this program to what I've heard and I'm really excited for this

Russ White 10:59
day believes that envision green enhances the student experience at both LCC and MSU. Well,

Unknown Speaker 11:06
I think current students at MSU should realize how much this will bring to our population and how many people this will bring to our how many amazing people that will this will bring to our like student population and as well as LCC students knowing that they want you to succeed at MSU. They don't want you to have a hard time, you know, transferring and I think that maybe is a misconception, but they want you to succeed elsewhere. They don't just want you to succeed at LCC. They want you to succeed at whatever for your institution, whether that be MSU or not. So I think that's something that this program will communicate to students is how much they want you to succeed and that they are on your side with

Russ White 11:45
this Dr. Largent, what do you want those joining in on our conversation they keep in mind about the MSU LCC envision green partnership.

Unknown Speaker 11:55
Okay, so I think there are two things from from my perspective and, you know, institutional perspective really matter. So I'm anxious to hear what Steve thinks to. The first is that we know in the classroom, if we want students to attain their learning, they are learning outcomes, the best thing that we can do is tell them what we want them to learn, not hide from them. Well, you know, I'm going to trick you a test drop this on you. And you didn't realize that that was the thing that you should have been focused on instead of this, to actually be very transparent about what our learning outcomes are in the class, right. And so, if a student looks at the beginning of the semester at syllabus, and they look at the course description, it shouldn't say very clearly, in this course, you will learn how to do X, Y, and Z. And that should guide for them precisely what it is that they're studying and working for. When they do that, they get more learning outcomes, and they should get better grades, I think should all be very, very well aligned. That being the case at an institutional level, we should be telling students very clearly, this is what you need to do. If you want to get from where you're at through LCC to LSU. Through a CI one two degree is really clear. So important part of the Envision green landscape is that when a student decides they are going to go to LCC are there at LCC and they want to get to MSU we will tell them point blank, these are the courses that you need to take. And these are the grades that you need to earn. And if you do that, we guarantee we will invite you to Michigan State. And knowing what they need to accomplish to get where they want to go is a really critical part of the second is and I think Sarah described this a little bit in her experience is that it wasn't as though she was at LCC. And when she came to MSU. She was sort of in an entirely new land where she knew no one. A really important part of that brand from LCC to MSU is that we get MSU people in the LCC to be the points of contact for students so that they can go with them back to to MSU when the students make that transition. And so they have points of contact already established before they go there. I mean, it's like knowing somebody in a city that you're going to go visit for the first time that person there is going to give them that link. That's that's really critical to their success. I think those two things make this program different than the informal structures that existed before because neither one of those things were there. I also think the certainty of the promise, if you do X, you'll get Y and we know that Remember to use point of view we want students to be successful and to be well prepared to have more success when they get to MSU. So telling them this is what you need to do to to attain that preparation is good for the for us as well because we get students who are prepared to be successful when they get

Unknown Speaker 14:57
here. Yeah, I agree with Mark Ross and I think I think Sarah's story and perspective is probably the best case study of successful community college university transfer. And all the research is bearing this out. So when when you heard Sarah talk about her experience, a recent study found that the number one predictive factor of success in a transfer from a community college or university is being in touch with someone at the destination University while you're at the community college. And that's a design feature of envision green, we're going to have MSU people on the LCC campus making that connection. Sarah also talked about other connections outside of the classroom to the university. So those are really important. We're being really intentional about building that bridge from LCC to MSU. The other thing that when when you listen to Sarah talk, she had in her mind what she wanted at the beginning. And so in some ways, we've kind of retro synthesized or reverse engineered an experience that takes into account some of the biggest blockages because most of the problems that community college transfer students have when they land at a university is that credits don't transfer or requirements change. And teams at LCC and MSU have been analyzing and designing the pathway that mark is talking about to eliminate those kinds of barriers so that we're upfront with students about what they'll need when they land at the transfer destination. The only other thing I'd say is it's so inspiring to me to listen to Sarah story, because that's why we're doing this. We're doing this for students like Sarah, and Sarah, I want to tell you my own career would not be possible without a relationship between LCC and MSU. I was working on a master's degree at Michigan State and fell in love with community colleges when I did an internship here at LCC. So the our two institutions working together, it changes people's lives have changed my father in law's life, it's changing yours and it changed mine. So we're really excited about envision green and what it can do for students like Sarah

Unknown Speaker 17:16
well, and this is part of being student centric is that we as an institution, we learn from the students experience and you know, what Sarah is able to navigate and to do as a DIY program, we can look at and say, you know, this could be put into practice and made visible to students as an option and then supported by the two institutions and would create a much more as we said equitable and accessible pathway for students to take. So yeah, we that pivot from we know best do what we say students, to us looking at students who are doing things in much more creative and and brave ways than we imagined. Gives us direction and guidance as we start thinking about how we make this more available to more people. We would in several years like this to become you know, the the model for community college transfer. We'd

Unknown Speaker 18:19
love it when people ask the question, Where is where's the best transfer pathway from a community college to an r1 University. So you well you better look in Lansing because there's this thing between LCC and Michigan State. That is that's really great envision

Russ White 18:34
green is the partnership between Michigan State University and Lansing Community College that provides a seamless transition for students to go from LCC to MSU. The program is designed to improve access to a four year degree, increase student success and help build a pipeline of talent to meet the needs of the mid Michigan economy. I'm Russ white for MSU today

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