LMC Niles’ new dean has growth in mind

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Laura Coleman, since Feb. 1 the new dean at Lake Michigan College's Bertrand Crossing Campus, hopes to see substantial growth at the college in the future.
And she brings the experience with her to make that happen.
Before taking the position here, Coleman was the dean at a community college in Jefferson City, Mo., and helped build up a community college campus there.
Before getting involved at all with education, however, Coleman worked in sales for 15 years.
Currently, she is working on her Ph.D in Educational Leadership and policy analysis with an emphasis on higher education, which will further her skills as an educational leader, she said.
During her time involved in education, Coleman said she has developed a clear philosophy of what a community college should be.
To help people succeed, however, she said it's important to provide access and affordability for the students.
In her short time as dean at the Bertrand Crossing campus, she has already developed a new scheduling concept that will make it easier for evening students to pursue a degree.
With the new scheduling concept, students can complete a two-year degree in three years by attending part-time and only three nights a week, she said.
Being new in the community, Coleman is also learning what is needed to be able to provide the service people want.
Her way to learn more is by knitting close ties with business and industry in the area, as well as developing relationships with schools and universities here.
She has already realized there is a need for more general education courses, and said they are currently looking at a number of programs that will be beneficial for the students.
With Lake Michigan College struggling with budget cuts like all other community colleges in Michigan, however, it's not easy to implement new programs, she said.
Coleman said the college has to examine the courses they already offer and see where cuts can be made without affecting the quality of their education.
But she is not intimidated by the budget cuts, that this year amounts to a 3.5 per cent reduction in state funding.
She said the college also offers an Associate Arts degree.
Although Lake Michigan College is not the biggest of campuses, it is still a culturally-diverse college campus.
Twenty-five percent of the LMC student body is international which gives American students an experience with different cultures, she said.
Coleman also said 25 percent of the students are straight out of high school, 60 percent are part-time students and 10 percent are part of an apprenticeship program.

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