Dr. Michael Baston


Text Image: A Post-Pandemic Refresh of Strategies, Structures and Systems

The First 100 Days

To be a transformational organization, we must have absolute clarity about who we are, where we are and how we will evolve to benefit our students and the community. This requires us to courageously assess the effectiveness of current operations and initiatives, address what’s not working and have the flexibility to quickly adapt our plans as changes occur in the world around us.

As we move forward in the post-pandemic “now normal,” our work will be guided by three fundamental principles.

Everything we do will be:

  • Values centered
    Consciously committed to diversity, integrity, academic excellence, the achievement of individual and institutional goals and inclusive prosperity. We will dedicate ourselves to building trust, respect and confidence among our colleagues, students and community.
  • Student focused
    All decisions will be evaluated through a “student-first” lens, considering the potential impact on student equity, the student experience and student success and to ensure opportunity for all.
  • Purpose driven
    As the community’s college, Tri-C will be a catalyst for change in Northeast Ohio. We will create more vibrant communities by moving people from economic fragility to economic mobility through education and training for in-demand, well-paying jobs. We will drive economic growth by partnering with business and industry to design programs that will develop the skilled workforce needed to fuel current businesses and attract new ones.

Three themes that emerged during my first 100 days of listening, learning and engagement will create a springboard for new ideas and innovation and inform our strategic planning process.

Build a Culture of Clarity

Quote Image: “We need to provide programs and courses that equip students to succeed in the 21st century.”Like other multi-campus community college systems, Tri-C offers flagship programs at each of its locations. Classes in these programs are available virtually and at other campuses to provide equitable access and respond to hyperlocal demand or interest. Non-degree or noncredit programs and credentials are offered through our workforce and Corporate College® divisions. The College’s six Centers of Excellence focus on areas of job demand and future growth.

To provide greater clarity around career pathways and ensure a more consistent educational experience and better student outcomes, Tri-C will transition to a centralized one-college model that will provide a more coherent approach to programs of study.

This will include clarifying how non-degree credentials and programs align with degree programs to form stepping-stones to career or degree attainment; embedding career readiness experiences, organized around key milestones, in all courses; and clearly articulating the real-world skills students will acquire in each course and program, helping them select courses and ultimately convey their skills to potential employers.

Redesign the Student Experience

Quote Image: “It’s critical that our special populations — first generation students, under-represented students, veterans — know what dedicated resources are available to them.”We must continuously examine our processes to ensure ease of access to community members who seek to change or enhance their lives. Using the student journey and corresponding needs as a framework, we are working with Corporate College professionals trained in Lean Six Sigma to evaluate and enhance the student experience.

We will focus on simplifying recruitment and enrollment processes, as well as our organizational hierarchies and naming conventions, to make it easier for students to find the help they need and for faculty and staff to more effectively direct those seeking assistance.

Students will be able to enter any “door,” whether physical or virtual, easily enroll in classes and find the services or resources they need to succeed.

Strengthen the Value Proposition

Quote Image: “You can’t be what you can’t see. We need to expose youth in the region to different opportunities and raise the understanding and reputation of various occupations.”While maintaining strong awareness of Tri-C as an affordable and accessible option, we must move the needle to improve perceptions of the quality of our academic offerings. Though community college stigma is not unique to Tri-C, we must intensify our efforts to address it as an institution and in concert with our community college peers.

However, greater awareness of these value drivers and the breadth of our programs will have little impact unless we address the growing skepticism — recently exacerbated by the strong job market — surrounding the ROI of higher education.

We will demonstrate that Tri-C is an educational partner that not only contributes to lifelong prosperity but also prepares people to prosper now by providing new knowledge or skills that allow them to more quickly achieve their ambitions. We will do this, in part, through a new marketing campaign that will launch in spring 2023.

Additionally, we will empower and equip students, faculty and staff to become more effective brand ambassadors so that they can amplify these messages and emphasize Tri-C’s role as an economic engine and force for change in Northeast Ohio.