Lorain County Community College has been selected by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to participate in a networking project that’s being called the ‘Frontier Set’. A mix of 31 colleges, universities, and state institutions, the project is essentially a continuation of the Gates Foundation’s Completion by Design program, according to Dr. Jonathan Dryden, LCCC’s interim provost and vice president for academic and learner services.
“The focus of the Completion by Design grant was to provide support and assistance to have colleges engage in transformational change that would be focused on improving student outcomes and completion of programs,” Dryden said.
Completion by Design was a five-year initiative that worked with community colleges to expand completion and graduation rates for low income students, according to the Gates Foundation website.
The Completion by Design initiative brought on many changes at LCCC, Dryden said. These changes included the redesign of advising and new student processes, and the reorganization of enrollment services to include career services.
“In redesigning the way we do things, the focus is on helping students learn or decide what it is they want to pursue, get them into a program of study as quickly as possible, and then get them on a clear pathway to a degree or program that’s going to lead to a good paying job,” Dryden explained.
Now, the Gates Foundation is renewing their efforts to provide support for tertiary educational institutions.
“Now there’s an opportunity for us to continue that work,” Dryden said.
The ‘Frontier Set’ includes 29 colleges and universities across the country, 12 of which are community colleges.
“Essentially, the Completion by Design colleges were invited to submit proposals to participate in this network,” Dryden said. “It’s a diverse group, the idea being that they can learn from each other and become involved in a network.”
The Gates Foundation selected participants based on submitted proposals. The proposals had to “demonstrate an institution’s willingness to undergo transformational change to improve student success”, according to Dryden.
LCCC’s proposal included priority one of the college’s Vision 2020, which is driving student academic and career success, Dryden explained.
“It’s really an opportunity to share and learn with other colleges and universities that have a good track record,” he said.