MCC President Tries to Insert Herself in Trustee Election

Karen Tirio

Karen Tirio

At the end of March, the McHenry County League of Women Voters held a candidates’ night for McHenry County College Trustee aspirants.

At the meeting, one, Karen Tirio, said

Concerning tuition increases, Tirio said her attendance at meetings gave her no indication that students would receive “any extra added value” from the recent $5 per credit hour hike.

She pointed to the 8% drop in enrollment in the last ten years and use of only 50% of the classroom space.

“When less people are seeking your services, it’s not time to raise your prices,” Tirio said.

She also commented on the low graduation rate.

Tirio later went on to win a seat on the College Board.

A week later on March 30th MCC President Vicky Smith sent the following letter to the Northwest Herald:

March 30, 2015

MCC’s Completion Rates Going Strong

Vicky Smith

Vicky Smith five years ago in her only press conference.

There have been some comments from community members about MCC’s completion/success rates.

MCC is committed to continuous improvement, so you should hear the most accurate information about where MCC stands in terms of success.

The definition of “success rate” is a college’s history of helping students graduate, complete their degree or certificate, or transfer into four-year institutions. We also include attaining a specific goal as part of that success.

In 2014, CNNMoney and College Measures provided a chart to help students find their best options for success at community colleges. MCC ranked in the top 4 in Illinois for student success, and in the top 50% of all community colleges in the nation.

Contributions to this success include:

  • 1,000% increase in number of students getting college credit while in high school.
  • Centralized college and career readiness resources to help students and their families find the coursework needed to pursue different degrees.
  • Collaboration with high schools, resulting in a dramatic decrease in the number of students who require developmental math upon entering MCC. This 31% decrease made MCC a contender for the prestigious Bellwether Award.
  • Increase in the number of degrees and certificates awarded by 62% since 2010.
  • 100% pass rate on state board nursing exams, making nursing students’ five-year pass rates greater than 90%.
  • New programs that align with industry need.

These statistics speak for themselves, demonstrating MCC’s focus on student success. The community should be proud.

Vicky Smith, Ed.D., President, McHenry County College

Subsequently, Smith announced her end-of-year retirement.

Some have suggest this letter, which was printed after the April 7th election, but sent the week before, was intended to influence the outcome of the voting.


MCC President Tries to Insert Herself in Trustee Election — 7 Comments

  1. What day was it published?

    I didn’t really get the impression that it was trying to sway people.

    If it were trying to sway people that the college was so good, then she’d technically be endorsing Smith and Parrish since they were incumbents.

    I didn’t really get the impression that the letter was some reflection or endorsement on the election — I thought it was just her trying to defend the college under her helm since it has been criticized so frequently.

    Honestly, the letter was pretty bad.

    She started it off by talking about graduation rates, making readers think that was what she was going to address. (All she really needed to do was point out that MCC’s graduation rate is no worse than other community colleges and that community college success rates have been steadily declining in general.)

    Instead she went off topic, talking about nursing exams and new programs that have been added.

  2. The letter was written after MCC Board candidate criticized graduation rates at a candidates’ night.

  3. Re: ” intended to influence the outcome of the voting.” Ya think?

  4. It would be nice if people understood how community colleges work before they declare them a failure.

    A lot of people come to class to renew their skills for work- not to graduate.

    SOme come to expand their people education, like literary, art or mechanical classes- not to graduate.

    I am not sure where the 50% use of the classroom comes from- not all classes are created equal- you can’t use a standard classroom for the sciences, arts, computer classes, etc. and the decline when compared to the years of the promise are valid, but MCC is a good choice for alot of adults who have no other choice, kids who are fiscally conservative and want the best value for their dollar for gen ed classes and for those who need to put themselves through school.

    Who knows- maybe she was just doing her job… defending the institution she is the head of.

    Look- I am no fan of VIcky- but I wish some of your readers would go see what is actually happening at the school instead of just bashing it and the students who attend.

  5. The moral of that story, if you are the head of taxing district, be careful what you say during election season, irregardless of your intent.

    Some of the MCC costs are controlled by the labor agreements with the faculty and adjuncts (part-time instructors), and prevailing wage agreements.

    College and Career readiness is part of college graduation rate.

    A lot of incoming high school freshman are not ready for high school to be on track for college without remedial level classes in college (pay for classes for which one does not receive college credit), and the same can be said for incoming middle school kids.

    It can be very difficult to catch up.

    And your major in college depends on what “extra” classes a student may or may not need to take depending on their ACT score; for instance engineering and business require higher math scores.

    One of the big problems is with all the standardized testing done in public schools, how much of that is interpreted by the public schools to the parents?

    There’s much more PR rah rah than realistic goal setting and follow up on any plan, with the parents of a large swath of kids in the middle thinking the kids are doing better than they really are doing.

    Then reality sets in when the kids take the ACT in junior year, apply to colleges, and attend colleges

    The dumbing down of ISATs were a disater, a disgraceful act by the Illinois public education system.

    There was a lot of truth in Jack Roeser’s statement (although overstated), the job of a Superintendent is to convince the parents that the kids are getting a good education than they really are.

    Obviously a lot of kids are getting a good education, but a lot are not getting as good of an education as the parents think.

    It can also be very difficult to accurately interpret statistics, one really has to think through what the data is and is not telling you.

  6. @ Inish, MCC doesn’t track those students you mentioned.

    Smith’s first comment is about completion/success rates.

    Oddly enough, she didn’t mention what the actual completion/success rate is!

    Why do you suppose that is?

    For Full-time students seeking a degree, the graduation/completion rate is only around 25% within 150% of the normal time.

    In other words, only about one-fourth of students going full-time and seeking a two-year degree actually get one within three years.

    Can you imagine a high school being proud of a 25% six-year graduation rate?

    The president’s job is to ‘do the right thing’.

    Not defend a lackluster record and pat herself on the back despite that the facts and stats paint a different picture.

    Her job is to lead the college, not produce the appearance that she is doing so.

    Smith’s percentage numbers are meaningless unless the actual numbers used to compute the percentages are included in the claims.

    Interesting that she has suddenly ‘chosen’ to retire.

    Maybe she realized that she will no longer be able to fool the voters and taxpayers.

    MCC certainly would not want to follow in the footsteps of College of DuPage.

    As usual, her letter with her excuses and “numbers” was vague.

    Collaboration with high schools” is a fine thing, but then why the need for wasting $$$$ on commercials when all the high schools are already working with you?

    And if she stayed through her contract, there are bets going on of how many times the ‘frustrated interior decorator turned Community College President’ would have chosen to repaint the cafeteria a different color, all while letting the roof leak and the water fountains be shut down due to non-potable water when they have the money to fix them?

    Why has the existing board allowed this to go on?

    And Clarification Please, WHO ARE YOU SAYING IS BASHING STUDENTS OF MCC?????

    If anything readers are trying to protect them!

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