The Fountain - The Official SLCC Blog

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Improving Online Education to Increase Student Completion

As an institution, one of SLCC’s top goals is to help all of our students complete their degrees or certificates. We understand our responsibility is to train and educate students so they are prepared and well-positioned to find meaningful work or transfer to another institution. 

We know that many students have difficulty finishing their programs. Our students face unique challenges: more than 80 percent work while attending college, and many of our older students have pressing family obligations, such as raising children or caring for elderly relatives. As a result, our students require flexibility. One way we can cater to this need is by increasing our offerings in online education. 

SLCC has given students the option to take classes online for many years, but recently we have begun expanding our online offerings in more strategic ways. We currently offer 13 programs and certificates that can be completed entirely online, and we’ve recently started promoting our online Business and Criminal Justice programs through a robust online marketing campaign. Launched last summer, the goal of the campaign has been to increase enrollment in these programs. Early results of this campaign have been encouraging, as interest in these online courses has increased significantly. 

In addition to the marketing efforts, SLCC is reaching out to individual students who completed most of the courses toward their degree but dropped out before finishing. “We are identifying students who stopped taking classes after completing 82 percent or more of their program and who could finish by taking online courses,” says David Hubert, Associate Provost of Learning Advancement. “We are contacting these students to encourage them to finish their remaining credits online, and we will make tuition waivers available to them as well.” 

Additionally, the college is studying how to best track online students as a way to inform our efforts in improving our online programs. A proposal for a new system is being finalized and will be fully implemented in fall 2020. 

More information on SLCC’s online education efforts can be found on our SharePoint site.

Seeking the Best Talent

SLCC has the most diverse student body of any higher education institution in Utah. As such, the makeup of our faculty and staff should reflect that of our student population. Students are more likely to thrive when they recognize themselves in their instructors and the college staff who provide additional support. What’s more, all of our students benefit from the opportunity to learn from instructors with different backgrounds and cultures. 

One strategy that aligns with our goal to achieve equity in student participation and completion is the new SLCC Search Advocate program. It is an important way in which we are working to encourage diversity in our hiring practices. Search Advocates are SLCC staff and faculty who have elected to undergo additional training so they can serve hiring committees throughout the college in improving equity, diversity and inclusivity. Specifically, Search Advocates assist hiring managers by developing job descriptions and interview questions that feature inclusive language, advising on recruitment and screening, and helping with the integration process for new hires. 

The Search Advocate Program ultimately aims to create an inclusive culture and a college community that mirrors the larger community in which we live. The program also allows us to leverage the talents of all employees so we can better understand and anticipate our students’ needs. 

Since its debut last year, the Search Advocate program has made an impact in the following ways: 

More diverse search committees: Hiring committees that work with a Search Advocate are generally more diverse in terms of cross-college participation and diversity of thought. 

Expanded recruitment strategies: Search Advocates, along with the Human Resources team, help hiring managers expand a job applicant pool by targeting diverse employment networks during recruitment. This approach helps enrich and broaden our community by bringing in applicants who may have never considered working at SLCC. 

Better integration of new hires: Search Advocates assist the hiring manager in suggesting a plan to integrate the new hire into the college so that they feel supported and welcomed. The plan is designed to cover areas such as how a new hire is announced, how a new hire learns the “unwritten rules” in a department, mentoring programs and more. 

In 2019, SLCC placed 40 Search Advocates on priority-level searches for faculty and staff. The college also hired a new Coordinator for Recruitment Support, who is tasked with improving the candidate experience and increasing the diversity of the candidate pool for key positions. 

More information on our search advocacy efforts and other diversity initiatives can be found here.  

SLCC Helping Young Students Envision College as Part of their Future

With a strong economy and plentiful job opportunities, it can be difficult for today’s young people to see the value in attending college. Upon graduation, many high schoolers these days are directly entering the workforce, and some are turning to online classes on sites such as Udemy and Skillshare in lieu of attending college. While our enrollment during the last 20 years has generally followed economic trends, the college-going population has been steadily declining in Salt Lake County. If this continues, Utah’s challenges in filling high-demand jobs will only worsen and lead to slower economic growth and reduced prosperity. 

In the SLCC Strategic Plan, one of our goals is to secure institutional sustainability and capacity, and the primary way we will achieve this goal is to continually grow enrollment. To support our enrollment efforts, SLCC formed a collaborative work team (CWT) last year to develop a framework to strengthen what’s known as the “P-20 pipeline.” P-20 refers to the collaborative work with our partners in Salt Lake County school districts. Together, we want to encourage K-12 students to think about college and to promote the idea of attending SLCC. One of the most effective strategies is to begin these efforts when a student enters middle school. Our goal is to reach students in 6th or 7th grade and plant the seed that they can succeed in college. By hearing that message early and often, middle schoolers will start to envision themselves as college students — and going to college becomes an attainable goal.

When we communicate with students who are thinking about attending SLCC, we usually rely on a software called Enrollment Rx. It is designed to collect information on individual students and help promote the college directly to them. However, due to their youth, there are concerns regarding the collection of individual data from 6th or 7th graders. In light of this, our P-20 CWT is recommending the college build a web app that will only track the number of middle schoolers participating in an activity and not individual student data. The tool will be completed this spring and will help the college monitor the effectiveness of college outreach activities to middle school students. This means we will be able to observe how well our current efforts help students make the decision to go to college and adjust them based on students’ needs.

The P-20 CWT is also in the process of developing a reporting structure and timeline to inform college leadership and others of P-20 efforts. More information on the process will be provided as a reporting approach is evaluated and finalized. 

To learn more about the work of the P-20 CWT, check out the latest on SLCC’s SharePoint site

Friday, January 17, 2020

Grand Theatre’s 2020 Sundance Lineup to feature Salt Lake Premiere of Taylor Swift Documentary

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival will screen 19 films at Salt Lake Community College’s Grand Theatre, Jan. 24-Feb. 2, during the event’s opening and closing weekends. This is the sixth year the Grand will host film enthusiasts from around the world during the annual festival.
The schedule of movies at the Grand features 11 premiere category films including “Tesla,” with Ethan Hawke and Kyle MacLachlan, “Downhill,” with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, “Four Good Days,” starring Glen Close and Mila Kunis, and the Salt Lake City premiere of the Taylor Swift documentary “Miss Americana.”

“Sundance has become more than a film festival, it’s a Utah tradition and The Grand is proud to be a part of that tradition,” said Seth Miller, artistic and executive director of The Grand Theatre. “The community and our students have access to what has truly become an international arts and cultural phenomenon.”

The $300 Grand Theatre Pass gives film enthusiasts access to all screenings at the theater on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the festival. The pass also provides entry to all of the festival’s non-screening venues, such as Sundance’s headquarters and the Sundance ASCAP CafĂ© in Park City. For more information on purchasing a Grand Theatre Pass and individual tickets, visit The Grand Theatre is located at SLCC’s South City Campus, 1575 S. State St., Salt Lake City.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

College’s Zac Curtis to Receive ‘Outstanding Contribution’ Award from Utah Theatre Association

Zac Curtis began acting in high school and instantly found a home within a community of like-minded individuals who allowed him to be himself. He says acting has given him freedom to work toward his best self.

For the past five years, Curtis has taught theatre at Salt Lake Community College full time, which only hints at how much devotion, time and passion he puts into the job before, during and after work. For his efforts, the Utah Theatre Association is honoring him, not only for his work in theatre in Utah but also for his service to the Association.

“He’s an amazing individual and such a great teacher,” says Association President Adam Wilkins. “He’s a great resource for high school teachers. He does incredible outreach for program after program throughout the state. He’s an advocate and ally for his program and for theatre in general.” Curtis, who was nominated by peers, will be presented the Outstanding Contribution to Collegiate Education award in Utah at the Theatre Association’s 2020 conference on Jan. 18.

“As a teacher, I have taken on the mission of giving the experiences I’ve had to my students,” Curtis says. “The stories we tell on stage – the beautiful and the ugly – can affect and change us just as it affects and changes the audience. Whether it makes people laugh, cry or scream, I love theatre’s ability to move people. Theatre education has given me a wonderful career full of creating theatre and moving people, and it makes me love coming to work every day.”

Curtis earned his undergraduate degree at Colorado State University, then continued to earn master’s degrees in theatre production and directing at Central Washington University and University of Idaho. He has taught theatre in Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin and, more recently, SLCC. As associate professor and theatre program director at the College’s South City Campus, he leads productions for the Black Box Theatre and the Grand Theatre’s Grand Youth Theatre program. Curtis is also a certified instructor of stage combat through Dueling Arts International and choreographs fights for schools and organizations around the Salt Lake Valley.

Zac Curtis and a student demonstrate stage combat skills.

“Utah has an incredible arts scene, and it owes its success to the theatre education around the state,” Curtis says. “We have incredible theatre educators helping our students become their best selves. It has been my honor to work with these students and help them make their transition into college and the professional world.”

Curtis’ wife Mindy is an adjunct professor of theatre for SLCC and works for Granite School District. They have two children and live in Taylorsville.

Zac Curtis (far right) after a Grand Youth Theatre production.

Cast and crew, along with Zac Curtis (center-left), of the Black Box Theatre's Fortinbras production.