Microgrant Contest Inspires RCC Innovation

Jackson and Josephine Counties – Rogue Community College’s (RCC) inaugural call for innovative, staff-led program ideas yielded 13 excellent proposals in the recently conducted contest. After a review by a committee of RCC staff, eight projects were selected to receive one-time funding to implement the ideas.  

Addressing every aspect of RCC college life, each of the winning proposals shared the same goal: stabilizing enrollment at the college. Every winning project exemplifies a different path to inspire and engage students, improve opportunities and increase success.

While enhancing a college-wide vision toward growth and revitalization, RCC President Randy Weber notes that “…this type of innovative spirit will help us respond to education and workforce needs throughout the Rogue Valley. Increased enrollment will allow us to provide more resources in support of students, faculty and staff.”

Following is a quick snapshot of the funded program ideas and their advocates who are working to bring these innovations to life.

WELD-A-THON – The sparks will be flying in March 2023 under the guidance of RCC industrial welding instructor Anthony Knight. To help stabilize and build enrollment in the welding program, 220 high school students from 31 regional high schools will try to win one of six single-term scholarships by competing in a weld-a-thon at RCC. The project aims to strengthen opportunities to engage students from regional high schools into the college experience, and ignite excitement in trade careers.

MATH SUCCESS LAB — According to RCC faculty members Mary Middleton, Daniel Malone and Kathy Foster, the Math Success Lab project was created to respond to COVID impacts affecting incoming students’ math skills. “We noticed students in Math 65 and 95 seem less prepared due to their educational experiences during COVID. Beginning in spring term, the lab will be available to all Redwood Campus students for free, with faculty and materials supporting their needs.”

INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION —RCC Adult Basic Skills (ABS) faculty member Katie Nollenberger said the ABS department’s proposal will offer industry-specific English language curriculum for students whose primary language is not English. The project will add online supports, programs and incentives. With nearly 200 students per year in this category, Nollenberger notes that the ABS department can “provide students with skill-based training to continue their college and career path at RCC and beyond.”

ESPORTS CLUBS — According to RCC STEP Administrative Assistant Abraham Reyes, “Esports are increasing in popularity among higher education,” and along with computer programming training, can lead to lucrative careers. By establishing an esports club on each of RCC’s campuses, the proposal team — which spans several departments — wants to increase student engagement and open a pathway for skill development that can support degree-seeking in Esports Management and related fields.

CAMPUS MURAL CONTESTS – Those who enjoy the arts or are visual learners will welcome the creative idea proposed by the RCC Marketing Department. A college and community-wide competition to design and install “We are Ospreys” murals on each of RCC’s campuses, says Internet Strategist Elizabeth Butler, “will aim to create a sense of belonging.” With community involvement in judging and the creative opportunity for design on the table, RCC’s marketing department plans to use the contest in multiple outreach efforts.

NEW REGISTRATION KIOSK – The RCC Business Technology Department, led by Melissa Polen, Christine Wooten, Bob Bagwell and Ted Wilhite, proposed a simple solution to the common problem faced by many students: procrastination. By installing a new registration kiosk adjacent an academic advising hub on Redwood Campus, students who visit academic and career coaches for planning will be guided to complete their registration process immediately after their advising appointments. Faculty will be on hand to assist and answer questions and increase the successful registration of students who might otherwise delay the process and limit their options.

EARLY REGISTRATION EXPANSION – RCC Dean of Enrollment Management (EM) Nicole Sakraida and her enthusiastic EM team will expand the successful Early Registration Campaign into a cross-campus collaboration. The comprehensive plan will work with faculty to encourage early registration, develop tools and teaching information for faculty, create a marketing campaign, and offer student incentives. This is the first time RCC will engage in a large cross-divisional campaign between college departments. Early registration allows for academic scheduling adjustments and provides better advising opportunities for students, yielding greater student success.

STUDENT RETENTION INCENTIVES – Counselor Michelle Gray and the RCC Counseling Department have crafted a series of engagement incentives for students who are identified as on academic alert, in suspension or on probation. By connecting students to staff, workshops and supports, and incentivizing stronger engagement, the counseling department plans to shepherd struggling students to higher academic success and increased program completion.

“We are excited to welcome a growing number of students back on our campuses and these innovative programs will offer inspiring new opportunities,” notes Julie Raefield, RCC Public Information Officer. “For those considering academic, career or technical programs, registration for Winter is still open through December 28.”  For more information about registering for classes, or to apply to RCC, call 541-956-7217 or visit www.roguecc.edu/Recruitment/.

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For general media inquiries, please contact Julie Raefield, M.A., Public Information Officer, Community and Government Relations Coordinator, at 541-956-7319, jraefield@roguecc.edu.