On Aug. 9, GGC President, Dr. Jann Joseph, sat down to answer questions during an hour-long media roundtable in the executive boardroom.
Her busy schedule did not allow for a one-on-one interview with The Globe, but the hour provided enough time to get a sense of how she plans on leading GGC into what has been described as a “new era.”
“What I’m looking at in this new era is a more deliberate growth,” Dr. Joseph said, “and not just growth to add more students, but growth as we retain more students and to literally look at the number of students who are successful increasing over time.”
Throughout the talks, Dr. Joseph focused primarily on student success. What most excited her about GGC is the institution’s “relentless pursuit of student success,” she said, and she plans on taking that pursuit to the “next level.”
Dr. Joseph said it is too early in her tenure to be specific, but there are two words, used in combination, that characterize the thrust of her vision. “Our perspective here is about compassion and challenge at the same time,” she said, emphasizing the importance of compassion.
“What we’re about is not just challenging students to succeed. Any campus can challenge students to succeed. Any campus can say, ‘We want you to be successful.’ That’s easy. Helping them be successful is where the work starts.”
Steps Towards a “New Era”
And the work starts, she said, by “looking deep into the data” to identify the variables that cause some students to underperform or to leave GGC without a degree. She mentioned growing the honors program, as well, but helping “the students who are more at risk” appears to be her top priority.
“I feel pretty confident that a lot of what we have seen at other institutions might be happening here. But we first have to look at the data, and then put programs in place,” Dr. Joseph said. “One of the programs I expect we will put in place pretty early would be a program that supports the bridging of the students who did not have a strong preparation in high-school to get them up to speed to be successful in their first year.”
Dr. Joseph did not elaborate on said program, but her work at previous institutions may provide some clues about what the program will entail.
As Vice-Chancellor at Indiana University South Bend, Dr. Joseph created the Titan Student Success Center, a mentorship program that provided “intrusive advising and coaching” to more than 40 percent of newly admitted students. She plans on doing something similar at GGC, she said, by pairing students with “strong professional advisors.”
Helping Students Reach Their Potential
Dr. Joseph noted that GGC’s retention rate for first-year students is “above the national average for campuses like ours,” but she wants the college to go “above and beyond average.”
In addition to mentorship programs, Dr. Joseph plans on providing student scholarships.
“That’s where the compassion piece comes in,” she said. “We are going to be fundraising in support of scholarships for our students so that they will have to take less loans, and then we will help them get through the difficult periods.”
Such scholarships, she said, are designed to enable students “to complete their college degrees in the minimum amount of time possible.”
“It would be a combination of giving them dollars, but also challenging them. As I said before, the combination of us being compassionate supporters of our students whilst at the same time asking them to step it up.”
The core of Dr. Joseph’s service is dedicated to “giving people an opportunity to reach their potential,” especially those “born to less privilege,” she said. “My service is really about, I would say, getting in to a person’s trajectory and changing it upward and forward.”
As the new president of GGC, Dr. Joseph wants to take the entire college upward and forward, as well.