The new president at Monroe Community College officially started her job this week, and Deanna R. Burt-Nanna has not only been facing the challenges that come with any job of that magnitude, but has to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic as well.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he wants to require all State University and City University of New York students to be vaccinated before they start school this fall. That directive would include community colleges.
Burt-Nanna said MCC is still awaiting more details before assessing the implications for the college. She does note that there are a number of students who do have some hesitancy about getting the vaccine.
“Internally the conversations that we’re having is, how do we overcome those barriers, what’s our role in the community, as partners with those in the community to send a message of making sure that we are respectful of the safety and keeping that as a priority for everyone in our community?” Burt-Nanna said.
When students at MCC return to campus in the fall, about half of the courses offered will be delivered face-to-face, and the college will also continue to offer flexible and fully online options as well.
In an interview with WXXI News, Burt-Nanna noted that MCC has a diverse student population. Right now just over half of the student body is white, with students of color making up the rest of the population.
But trends will flip those percentages, and Burt-Nanna said that in the next three to four years, the college will be what she calls a ‘majority-minority’ institution, and that will increase the need to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion.
“We have to take into consideration that there is variability about how people experience education preparation, lived experiences, a variety of things; where they live, how they get access to our campuses or our college." Burt-Nanna said. "Our online education, our virtual campuses, is key to that as well.”
Burt-Nanna said that another community goal for MCC is to continue to provide workforce development programs and provide training for students who need to re-tool their skills for new careers.
“Not everybody needs a traditional pathway to careers. So others may just need a retooling of a skill set, short-term credentialing is really key to that," Burt-Nanna said. "We’re in position to advance that work and to continue to partner with our workforce partners throughout the community."