MCTC president discusses getting involved in college life


Dr. Sharon Pierce, President of Minneapolis Community and Technical College, in her office. Photo by Jessiena Lake

Sharon Pierce has been the president of MCTC for over eight months now and is very hopeful for the upcoming Higher Learning Commission accreditation visit as well as the future of the college.

“I’m very confident with the site visit coming up. I think the college has done a wonderful job of preparing, that self-study is really an opportunity to look at yourself…If you look at yourself and don’t see anything to work on, you probably didn’t do a really deep dive,” said Pierce.

A large part of the preparation for the accreditation visit was guided by a November 2015 letter signed by 27 students who were striving to represent the student body, and facilitated by some faculty and multiple members of the college administrative staff of the time.

This letter was thoroughly filled with requests for improvement, including a women’s center, cultural competency training for staff, the ending of MnSCU patterns of cronyism and many others. A slew of these requests have been addressed and improved upon. Some were beyond the control or capabilities of MCTC and some have not been addressed.

A large focus on campus, as is made apparent by recent from Pierce, is communication with students. A problem on many college campuses is the issue of how to get messages to students.

She has started a blog, holds forums with the student body (one of which is upcoming – a public open forum for all students on April 26 at 2 p.m. in the multipurpose room of Helland Center) and holds monthly forums with the executive board of the student senate. She emphasized that it’s important for students to get involved.

Initiatives are being undertaken to make the campus an inclusive atmosphere for all, including cultural competency training for staff and faculty as well as a new inclusion center that is still in the process of being formed.

When asked about the importance of student senate, Pierce said:

“Student senate plays a very important role in shared governance of the institution. They’re the voice of students in decision making in terms of building budgets, in terms of how student fee money is spent, they have an opportunity to review policies and procedures that impact the institution, they’re at the table for big decisions… even to influence what happens at the state level.”

The administration is seeking to find the best ways to serve the students’ needs and is trying to strengthen clear pathways for students to make it through their programs and into their career of choice.

They work hard to employ MCTC students, to help students find paid internships and to seek out the best scholarships to make college affordable and accessible.

Because “There’s no such thing as wasted education,” said Pierce. “Every course you’re taking you’ll learn something. But we want you to be on your pathway. We really do listen so please participate because you will influence our decisions,”