By Lisa Elliott
The McLennan Community College Foundation will be joined Tuesday, Jan. 11, by MCC and community leaders to mark the opening of a new outdoor gathering space on the MCC campus. The Greta and Murray Watson, Jr., Arbor will open with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. beside the Enrollment Services Center. The ceremony will conclude with hot chocolate and cookies, and the public is invited.
The Watson Arbor project was conceived and funded through the generosity of Brazos Higher Education Service Corp., the student loan financing company founded by Murray Watson, Jr., in 1975. Among other gifts, the company and the Watson family have funded more than $579,000 in endowed scholarships through the MCC Foundation to support the McLennan Presidential Scholars program.
To honor its founder’s lifelong support of higher education, Brazos and the Watson family wished to create an outdoor space where students, faculty and staff at the college could gather. The company’s generosity means no college funds were expended for this beautiful campus enhancement.
Watson was a lawyer, rancher, politician, and philanthropist who had a passion for serving others. He was elected to the Texas State House of Representatives at age 24, shortly after graduating from Baylor Law School. He represented Central Texas in the Texas House until 1963, when he was elected to the Texas Senate, where he served until 1973.
As senator, Watson carried many important pieces of legislation, but he was especially proud of helping create what is now Texas State Technical College (TSTC), and he was a strong advocate for establishing MCC in 1965. Watson passed away in 2018, and his wife, Greta, continues to lead the family’s Mart-based operations, including a cattle company and Watson Feed Store. Their daughter, Missy Larson, also serves on the MCC Foundation Board of Directors.
“We are so grateful to our friends at Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation and the Watson family for their generous donations to our campus and student scholarships. This space will provide an area where our students are able to relax, study and find tranquility in their busy schedules,” said MCC President Johnette McKown. “This is the perfect tribute to the Watson family that cares so deeply about students and their success.”
The MCC Foundation raises public and private support to fund scholarships, faculty and staff professional development and capital projects at the college. To learn more, visit www.mclennan.edu/foundation or contact Executive Director Kim Patterson at 254-299-8606 or [email protected].
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].
By Lisa Elliott
McLennan Community College’s founding president, Dr. Wilbur Allen Ball, passed away after a brief illness Wednesday morning, Dec. 15. Ball served as president at MCC 1966-1988, when he retired.
“He was the builder who laid the foundation for the college and set the vision to provide an affordable, quality education for students, while supporting the community,” said Dr. Johnette McKown, MCC’s current president.
Ball was born in 1928 in Berclair and graduated from Goliad High School. He served for three years in the U.S. Army Air Corps, which earned him an affordable higher education through the G.I. Bill. In 1949, Ball enrolled at the University of Texas, earning a bachelor’s degree in education in 1952, followed by a master’s in education administration in 1953. Later, Ball was awarded a W. K. Kellogg Foundation grant and returned to the University of Texas to earn a Ph.D. in higher education administration.
After college, Ball taught high school English and Spanish in New Braunfels 1952-1953 and in Corpus Christi 1953-1955. Ball started his tenure in higher education in the registrar’s office at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi and later as an assistant to the college president. He continued in higher education at Wharton County Junior College in Houston as vice president and dean until he was appointed president of the new community college in Waco, McLennan Community College.
Ball was one of 30 candidates for the new presidency at MCC. Founding board members said, “Ball had an unbridled optimism that he could hire a staff, set a curriculum, and find a location for the permanent campus within the next 9 months to open for fall classes in September 1966.”
On Feb. 22, 1966, the board unanimously voted to hire Ball, who become MCC’s first president on Mar. 1, 1966, leading the college for the next 22 years. On Sept. 19, 1966, MCC opened its doors to approximately 800 students and was temporarily located in the barracks on John Connally Air Force base. Ball and the board were soon planning the permanent campus location on the former Cameron Estate in north Waco. Upon his retirement, Ball was honored at MCC with the dedication of the Wilbur A. Ball Performing Arts Center.
According to MCC’s 40th anniversary history book, “The board and Ball agreed to establish an open-door admissions policy and [stressed] the importance of attracting students from all races and cultural backgrounds to the new school as well as providing continuing education courses for working adults.”
“A community college has to have something for everybody,” Ball said.
He left an indelible impression upon the college and thousands of students with his leadership and vision for higher education in McLennan county.
Retired history professor, Paul Holder, said, “[I] lost a friend today, but the people of Central Texas lost even more – a powerful voice for an affordable quality education and a better life for all.”
Ball is survived by his wife, LaWanda Gersbach Ball; daughter, Christi Lee Ball Nichols; son, Jason Allen Ball; and four grandchildren. Services are pending.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].
Atmos Energy recently donated $5,000 to the McLennan Community College Foundation to help support Paulanne’s Pantry, the MCC food pantry.
“This gift will do so much to help us serve students who are working hard to support themselves or a family while they attend college,” said Kim Patterson, the foundation’s executive director. “Hunger is a real issue on college campuses, especially at community colleges where many students live perilously close to the edge of financial security. We are incredibly grateful to Atmos Energy for their commitment to support our students.”
The gift will enable MCC’s pantry to provide meals for up to 200 students because of the pantry’s supply partnership with the Central Texas Food Bank, according Natalie James, Completion Center associate director. Students who access the pantry are typically limited to one visit per month and are provided with coaching to help with accessing other community resources. Each pantry visit provides enough food for three meals for a family.
Paulanne’s Pantry was named in honor of Waco resident Paulanne Ream Hoover, who left a gift to the MCC Foundation in her estate plan. This gift funded an endowment to cover basic costs of pantry operations, as well as establish the first scholarship fund for part-time students at the college.
The MCC Foundation raises public and private support to fund scholarships, faculty and staff professional development, emergency aid and capital needs at the college. To learn more, visit www.mclennan.edu/foundation or contact Patterson at 254-299-8606 or [email protected].
MCC Foundation Executive Director Kim Patterson has been named “Outstanding Fundraising Professional” by the Central Texas Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Patterson has served in a variety of roles at McLennan Community College for 26 years and began her role as executive director of foundation in January 2017. She served as associate director of the Foundation 2006-2013.
Since becoming executive director, the foundation has raised an average of $1.3 million in private donor support each year, in addition to numerous grant awards. Patterson has successfully navigated complex capital and real property gifts, estate gifts, major gifts for scholarships and capital projects, and she has established major endowments to support student success.
MCC Foundation assets under management have increased from $16.2 million in 2016 to more than $32 million as of August this year.
Aside from fundraising success, the foundation has implemented creative donor stewardship efforts, including refining the Scholar, Donor, and Alumni Appreciation event to provide intentional connection between major donors and their scholarship recipients. Even during the pandemic, revenue from the Foundation’s Hearts in the Arts Gala and Golf Classic reached new fundraising records.
In 2018, the MCC Foundation was named a “Charity Champion” in recognition of its efforts to support the Men of Color Success Initiative at MCC. Since then, the foundation earned a Cooper Foundation grant to support the program and partially fund its first paid coordinator, and has created an endowed scholarship for the program’s outstanding participant.
Patterson works with a 27-member board of directors comprising community leaders, and she leads a four-person team in the Foundation and Resource Development areas. She has volunteered for or served in leadership positions in numerous community and professional organizations, including Rotary Club of Waco, Central Texas AFP, Central Texas PRSA, Baylor University Journalism, Public Relations and New Media, Talitha Koum, KWBU Public Radio, McLennan 100 Club and National Charity League.
The Outstanding Fundraising Professional award is presented to an individual fundraising professional who practices his or her profession in an exemplary manner. Nominees must hold a least eight years of professional experience in fundraising, and show evidence of quality of leadership that is effective, creative, stimulating and collaborative. He or she must actively participate in AFP and promote the Code of Ethical Principles, show a commitment to continuing professional development, and exhibit a commitment to philanthropy through voluntary service and financial support of nonprofit organizations.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has recognized McLennan Community College for its outstanding efforts to respond to COVID-19.
MCC and nine other colleges and universities were recognized as Star Award recipients during THECB’s quarterly board meeting. MCC will be recognized again Dec. 2 during the 2021 Higher Education Leadership Conference in Austin.
The annual Star Awards are presented to institutions implementing exceptional contributions in achieving one or more of the state’s higher education goals. This year, awards recognized institutions’ efforts in response COVID-19.
Criteria for the awards were “a clear demonstration of how the institution implemented strategies to ensure the health, safety, and success of their campus and local community, partnerships with community-based organizations, and the innovative and creative nature of one or more of the strategies used,” according to THECB’s webpage.
“The success of our students was due to their resilience, determination, and talent,” said MCC President Johnette McKown. “Every McLennan employee contributed to student success by tapping into their creativity and expertise to ensure our students had access to all the same services offered pre-pandemic. … The challenge is not over, but McLennan will not give up as we stand McLennan Together.”
MCC’s application provided several examples of the school’s efforts:
— Loaning ventilators, hospital beds, and PPE to community healthcare institutions;
— Developing online self-assessments, self-reporting forms, instructions on exposure and testing, and safety practice modules;
— Maintaining an online dashboard of reported, positive, and active cases updated daily;
— Providing the community with free drive-thru testing and vaccination clinics;
— Designing the “McLennan Together” communication campaign in response to student, employee, and community questions on safety protocols, instructional strategies, and student success activities;
— Implementing instructional solutions to ensure safety and success, including providing online, blended, and hyflex course formats, rotating students attending class in-person, collaborating with local partners on solutions for programs requiring clinical work, simulations, internships, and other in-person instruction;
— Providing creative solutions in response to COVID-19 hardships like a curbside food pantry service, a fundraising campaign supporting emergency fund scholarships, free parking lot WIFI, a technology loan program, and virtual mental health counseling;
— Producing virtual commencement ceremonies for all 2020 graduates; and
— Implementing a student debt-forgiveness program to encourage former students to re-enroll.
Other Star Award recipients were the University of Texas at Arlington, Houston Community College, Texas A&M University – Commerce, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Odessa College, University of Texas at Tyler, Sam Houston State University, Texas State Technical College, and Lone Star College – North Harris.
For more information about the awards, click here.
By Corsi Crews
I am so grateful to introduce myself and announce upcoming opportunities for us to learn and grow together.
I am affectionately known as Dr. Behavior. I come by my nickname honestly, as I have been working as a behavior interventionist for more than 20 years, primarily working with the most significant behavior concerns in agencies like the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, Methodist Children’s Home, and Waco ISD. The tougher, the better … and more fulfilling!
I am a proud Tarleton Texan, as I have graduated thrice from Tarleton State University with degrees in education, criminal justice, and psychology. I also taught criminal justice for my alma mater at the University Center at McLennan Community College for nearly seven years.
The real reason you should know who I am is because I’m pretty good at connections — real, meaningful connections. The ones that make you feel the warm fuzzies in your belly when someone is near. The ones that let you know your words are heard and your feelings are respected and that even in disagreement, a resolution can be found. You know, the connections life is all about.
Those are my jam and more importantly, my purpose.
In June, as my final school year with Waco ISD came to an end, I had a great opportunity to present my workshop, “Brave Battles with the Brain: Behavior Intervention That Works,” to the fantastic educators in our region at Region 12’s Gifted Education Conference.
We discussed the brain and its components, especially the amygdala (our brain’s threat detector), which can perceive threats when there seemingly aren’t any and can make us feel pretty silly in the process. You see, our amygdala sounds alarms any time it feels a possible threat is near and then CHOOSES FOR US if we should fight the threat, freeze, or run away in order to stay safe.
When it works, we stay alive. “Thank you, Amygdala!”
But sometimes, because of previous traumas and negative experiences, that alarm system can malfunction and develop a “hair trigger” that can misfire when it shouldn’t.
That’s where I come in as Dr. Behavior. I help my students and clients understand how to identify these tricky fight, flight, or freeze responses and to practice supportive ways to RESPOND rather than REACT. You see, many of the overreactions we experience each day are related to the brain and its need to feel safe, not because somebody “made us mad.”
I mentioned a previous relationship with MCC earlier in my career, but it was actually a former Rapoport Academy colleague who connected me back to the college. After hearing about the success at the Region 12 conference, Kristi Pereira and I got to work to develop offerings for the Waco community through MCC’s Continuing Education Department.
My first course, “Behavior Basics for Teachers,” is open for registration and will be held 8 a.m.-noon Thursday, Nov. 11, on the MCC campus. CEUs will be offered. This course is intended for teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, and administrators and is a great classroom management course, especially for dealing with difficult students. Any educational professional would benefit from this course.
I will also be offering “Behavior Basics of the Brain for Parents and Caregivers” as a parenting support for anyone who cares for children and “Behavior Basics for Leaders” in Spring 2022.
I am genuinely looking forward to making new connections in the Waco community and finding ways Dr. Behavior can help in and around the community. While my courses include examples relevant for that group, the classes are not exclusionary.
If you’ve got a classroom that’s giving you the blues or a child who struggles behaviorally or if you’re a leader who wants to be more successfuI, come join me. Everyone is welcome and can improve in connecting with others.
Keep those battles with behavior brave!
Corsi Crews, Ed.D., is a trained behavior interventionist, certified educator, and behavior coach endorsed with Texas Education Agency. With more than 20 years of experience, Crews has dedicated her career to helping children, families, educators, and leaders to improve behavior by establishing and maintaining meaningful connections and relationships. For private speaking and district training inquiries, contact me directly at 254-366-3829 or [email protected].
By Candice Kelm
McLennan Community College has selected five honorees to receive the annual National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development Excellence Awards. The honor represents a commitment to high performance and extraordinary service in higher education.
This year’s honorees are Amy Antoninka, professor of philosophy, Arts & Sciences faculty; Boyce Wilson, associate professor of business, Workforce faculty; Becky Boggus, instructor of mental health/social work, part-time faculty; Kayla Willis, instructional designer in the Center for Teaching and Learning, administrative staff; and Lori Caceres, senior administrative secretary for Math and Sciences, support staff.
MCC faculty and staff members nominate their colleagues for the NISOD honors and their nomination remarks are included below.
“Dr. Antoninka’s philosophy classes cultivate our students to grow into the people they were meant to be. She is a master teacher in the classroom and wise mentor outside the classroom. Her lessons don’t just last a semester, they instill a lifetime of longing for deep knowledge and truth. She inspires them to reach higher and search intentionally for the good life they want to live. Dr. A, as her students call her, is a champion, and thankfully, our champion. We are so fortunate she is one of us.”
“Boyce is a helper. He is always willing to go out of his way to help anyone with any project or offer assistance to anyone who may need help. Boyce is also smart, kind, and generous with his words and his time. He stepped in to lead the Mentor/Mentee program and was a big help with the transition to online during COVID-19.”
“Becky is an incredible professor. As a social worker, she exemplifies selflessness and is committed to her students’ success. She is passionate about teaching and pours her heart out in all of her assignments and instruction. She is willing to change her pedagogy to adapt to student learning styles and goes above and beyond to ensure that they are successful. Additionally, she cares deeply for each of her students, treating each with dignity and respect.”
“I can’t say enough about Kayla. She always is going above and beyond in everything she does. Kayla worked tirelessly during the COVID-19 transition to help faculty be prepared to teach online. She is an amazing instructor and helped teach over 100 faculty during spring and summer, assisting them in their transition to online.”
“Lori is the glue that holds our department together. She always knows who to contact to solve your problem. She is extremely pleasant to work with, always calm, and just a delight. She is a Class act!”
For more information about the NISOD awards, contact Staci Taylor, Director of the Center for Teaching, at 254-299-8363 or [email protected].
By Susan Copeland
I have been working as program director of AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP for 29 years, and it has been my pleasure to serve seniors in the Heart of Texas for over 35 years. The RSVP program is sponsored by McLennan Community College and the national service agency, AmeriCorps.
Our 29th Senior Source Health and Information Fair will be 10 a.m-2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17 at Richland Mall. We are excited for the opportunity to bring one-stop information and screenings to our senior population.
In a time of many concerns with the pandemic, I believe this is a chance for folks to safely visit with programs, agencies, and professionals all in one open area. Plus, participants can get their flu shots and COVID vaccines with no appointments needed.
This event can provide services such as senior living options, legal advice, benefit counseling, and so much more all in one convenient location at the mall in an open area safely spaced for COVID precautions.
AmeriCorps Seniors-RSVP has been hosting this event from its beginning and I’ve seen thousands of people gain so much from the Heath Fair. It is so satisfying to see the participants get the information they need and also enjoy the day by meeting up with friends, shopping, and learning about all the services in our area.
Caregivers get to also ask questions and collect information, and the general public always gain something from walking through the fair. It’s a win-win day for everyone and we are happy to bring it to our community.
Susan Copeland is director of the Heart of Texas RSVP program. She oversees her staff plus about 10 undergraduate and graduate student interns studying public relations, professional writing, social work, mental health, and counseling. She manages more than 50 community service projects and a force of 650 senior adult volunteers in the six-county Heart of Texas Region.
By MCC Marketing & Communications
McLennan Community College has introduced a new scholarship opportunity recognizing McLennan County high school students ranked in the top 11-20% of their class at the end of their junior year. The Rising Star scholarship is an extension of the current McLennan Scholarship, which offers free tuition for McLennan County students ranking in the top 10% of their high school class.
Rising Star Scholarships cover 50% of tuition and fees at McLennan for four semesters, excluding summer terms, and are valid for four long semesters after high school graduation. Recipients must enroll full time (12 credit hours or more per semester), maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.5, and complete the free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov. Recipients will be notified by McLennan’s Financial Aid office and their high school principal at the end of their junior year.
MCC has also made significant changes to the McLennan Scholars program, which recognizes students in the top 10% of their class. Scholarships will be awarded to students based on their ranking at the end of their junior year in high school. McLennan Scholars receive 100% tuition and fees for four semesters, excluding summer terms, after high school graduation, and these scholarships are valid for four long semesters after high school graduation.
Recipients must enroll full time (12 credit hours or more per semester), maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, and complete the free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov. Recipients will be notified by MCC’s Financial Aid office and their high school principal at the end of their junior year.
Both the McLennan Scholars and the Rising Star Scholarship programs are also available to five home schooled students in McLennan County. These students must complete the McLennan Community College Foundation scholarship application and indicate their interest in the home school McLennan Scholars or Rising Star Scholarship.
For more information about these and other scholarship programs at McLennan, visit www.mclennan.edu/scholarships/index.html. Or contact Shelley Cotten at the MCC Foundation at [email protected] or 254-299-8818.
By MCC Marketing & Communications
McLennan Community College is celebrating the success of students in the inaugural semester of the school’s newly launched debt-forgiveness program, the Highlander Restart Program. This new initiative aims to assist and provide resources for those former students who owe MCC money, want to re-enroll, and wish to complete a degree or certificate at MCC.
The program, which began in spring 2021, celebrates 97 returning students currently enrolled who have paid more than $38,000 in outstanding balances to the College. Nine students in the program who are now eligible to graduate this summer or fall semester.
To participate, students must be in good academic standing and not have been enrolled the previous year. Students owing $500 or less are eligible to enroll immediately with no payment due. Students with balances greater than $500 must make payments to lower the balance to $500 before becoming eligible to enroll.
Once enrolled in the program, students are responsible for the current enrollment cost, unless eligible for financial aid, and must take a minimum of six credit hours per semester while maintaining a 2.0 GPA on any new coursework. Additionally, students will complete financial literacy training and be matched with one of MCC’s success coaches to help guide them through to graduation.
The College is reaching out to an additional 5,600 former students that are eligible to benefit from the Restart Program in hopes of encouraging them to continue their education and earn their credentials. Former students interested in joining the program should complete the Highlander Restart Program form at engage.mclennan.edu/register/restart and a MCC representative will contact them.
For more information about the Highlander Restart program, visit mclennan.edu/restart.