The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Despite economical disadvantages, GCC outperforms others


Ian Minielly/Daily Globe

GCC PRESIDENT Jim Lorenson provided a benchmark and goals presentation to the board Tuesday afternoon at the college. While GCC's funding is significantly different than its peers, so are the academic results. GCC students out-perform their peers across the board in both state and nation.


Ironwood - Gogebic Community College President Jim Lorenson reported on the state of the college to board of trustees Tuesday evening.

He began by listing the constraints acting on GCC externally - things the school officials cannot do anything about, but must take into consideration due to the impact the constraints have.

There are regional demographics to consider:

-The Gogebic Range is chronically designated as economically disadvantaged compared to the rest of the state and country.

-The medium family income here is 72 percent of the state average and 65 percent of the national average.

-The poverty rate locally is 31 percent above the state average and 40 percent higher than the national average.

Lorenson talked about funding issues that college faces, including:

-GCC receives only 13.7 percent of its funding from property taxes, compared to the Michigan average of 34 percent. GCC's income from property taxes is the lowest in the entire state of Michigan.

-While the rest of the state averages 19.6 percent of its income from state aid, GCC receives 42.7 percent of its funding from state aid.

-The tax levy of 2.8 mills is 17 percent higher than the state average,

-But the taxable value of GCC's base is only $509 million, whereas the state average for other community colleges is $8.8 billion,

-Which means 78 percent of GCC's tax district is low or non-taxed and puts GCC at a financial disability compared to other community colleges throughout the state.

"So, how well are we doing?" Lorenson asked, rhetorically.

He went on to talk about how the achievement of the GCC's students far outpaces the rest of the state's community colleges.

-The success rate of GCC's students at graduating with an associates degree in two years is 33 percent. The state average is 22.6 percent.

-The success of GCC students in three year programs is 40.8 percent, while the rest of the states schools achieve success at only a 32 percent rate.

-The success of GCC students in achieving graduation in four years with a bachelor degree is 39.1 percent, compared to 36.9 percent for the rest of the states community colleges.

GCC is outperforming the state-wide average success rate of its competition in creating graduates, according to Lorenson. GCC is leading the pack in fall to next term retention rates by on average 5 to 6 percent every year, according to the Governor's Dashboard.

On a national level, GCC is in the top 10 percentile for fall to fall enrollment according to National Community College Benchmarking. In other words, GCC retains students year over year at an over 75 percent mark that blows away the majority of the community colleges in the country. The NCCB also showed GCC students GPAs in the first year after transferring to a four year school at 3.75, which again puts GCC well over the 90th percentile.

Lorenson said the policy makers look at whether people are getting what they pay for at public universities; these numbers provide all the necessary support for GCC to continue claiming the distinction of provider of choice in the upper Great Lakes Region.

In other news:

-English instructor and assessment coordinator Nicole Ellet-Peterson provided the board with an assessment plan and how it relates to the curriculum. She described how each instructor selects four to six measurable outcomes of their courses and degree programs. In doing so, a curriculum map is developed to ensure students are introduced to material and have it reinforced multiple times throughout their educational experience.

-The board decided to create a Civil Engineering Technology program. This past spring, a group of occupational faculty developed an Associated of Applied Technology in civil engineering technology for the 2018-19 academic year. The board also eliminated the web programming certificate program due to lack of enrollment in the program.

-The board also approved biology instructor Larry Gabka's resignation after 21 years as a faculty member. "Larry has served the college and our students very well during that time. In addition to his faculty duties, his service included leading our accreditation efforts as AQIP Coordinator, serving his peers as a MAHE officer, conducting the Gogebic Range Concert Band, assisting in program review/revisions and development of new programs and participating on several institutional committees," said Lorenson. Gabka has been on leave working as the Michigan Education Association's Copper Country UniServ director which he has decided to make permanent. The trustees approved his resignation effective Aug. 21, and thanked him for his years of service.

- Summer hours for the college were announced, including 7:30 am to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to noon on Fridays.


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