Page 19 - Campus Technology, October/November 2020
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between 2,500 and 3,000 in subsequent months. April alone saw 5,314 appointments, each staffed by a professional adviser, sched- uled in 15-minute increments.
“We came to realize students needed to know that all of this stuff was going to continue to happen, but it was going to be online” noted Ski.
The main topics students wanted to discuss? The same ones advisers would see in normal times: scheduling classes, taking placement testing, adjusting classes and changing majors. But this time, students didn’t have to make a special trip onto campus to get their questions answered.
The college also began promoting new coun- seling services more extensively. In November 2019 HACC had entered into an agreement with Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP Services, to provide clini- cal mental health counseling services to students enrolled at the school. The agreement provides for up to three counseling sessions per semester for a student in need, delivered online or by phone. The arrangement replaced on-campus wellness counselor services, which were running about $1 million per year, according to HACC.
7) Stay Innovative
In June, the college introduced a contact tracer training program. The $429, 45-hour, four-week training course, developed by the school’s con- tinuing education department, includes live lec- tures online and independent work. One unex- pected outcome was the pickup by local school districts, hospitals, businesses and state agen- cies that wanted to send people through the training.
While HACC doesn’t know whether the class- work will lead to jobs, the state has made no secret of the demand. On July 31, the Pennsyl- vania Department of Health, which already had 654 contact tracers, announced a $23 million federal contract with Insight Global to oversee hiring and training of an additional thousand paid contact tracing professionals to work with local and regional health entities. By Sept. 11, 1,032 contact tracers were employed by the
state or serving as volunteers.
That’s the kind of training opportunity that
community college presidents tend to jump on. “We were quite delighted really with the posi- tive way that [the program] was received and how we were able to engage with new individu- als in our service region,” recalled Ski. “We had never worked with a couple of the agencies that called us and so that was a nice entrée for us into those organizations.”
What’s Been Lost and What’s Been Found
No, HACC enrollment hasn’t beaten the odds. Its fall 2020 enrollment of 15,505 represents an 11.7 percent decline from its fall 2019 enroll- ment of 17,559. However, that decline is more significant for new students (down by 11.5 per- cent) than continuing students, whose enroll- ment dropped by 7.1 percent. The shrinkage was larger among Hispanic students (down by almost 21 percent) and Black students (down by nearly 17 percent) than White students (down by 11 percent). Also, overall, HACC students are taking fewer credits in fall 2020 than they did in fall 2019, a sign, the college reported, “of the economic impact the pandemic has had on our students and their families.”
But while Ski is quick to point out that he miss- es engaging with students and others on campus daily as a result of coronavirus, he said he refuses to focus on what’s no longer possible.
“I don’t see this as negative,” he said. “I’m excited about some of the conversations we’re having with vendors, with other educational institutions, to partner in ways that we’ve only talked about. It’s really catapulting higher ed to be much more responsive and able to meet the needs of our business community and the com- munity in general. Even though we said we were nimble and agile before, [this time in history] is allowing us greater opportunities to be more flexible, more innovative in our delivery. I see great opportunities through this.”
Dian Schaffhauser is content editor for Campus Technology.

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