Morton College’s reputation is centered around being the state’s smallest community college with the biggest heart.
Now data from the 2022 Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) reflects that belief. The CCSSE is a project of the University of Texas at Austin, which administers in-class surveys at community colleges across the nation.
The survey says:
- 93 percent of students say they would recommend Morton College to a friend or family member
- 84 percent of students said they felt like they belong in the Morton College community
- 90 percent of students said there was a culture of caring at Morton College
“I am so proud that the intentional work of the institution is being noticed by our college community and impacting students in such a positive way,” said Marisol Velazquez, Associate Provost & Vice President of Student Services at Morton College. “Over the last few years, specifically during COVID, Student Services has been focused on enhancing our student services to create a culture of care.”
Morton College’s culture of care includes the addition of:
- Developing a Student Emergency Fund
- Providing laptops to students
- Addressing food insecurities by expanding hours to the Panther Pantry and offering a meal voucher program
- Removing financial barriers by establishing a Panther Balance Forgiveness Grant
- Creating a Transportation Assistance Program helping cover expenses of commuting to campus
- Offering free use of a fitness center
“We recognize students need support in a variety of areas, not only inside of the classroom,” Velazquez said. “We want our students to know that we care and we are here to guide them throughout their collegiate journey. Our culture of care covers everything from mental health to physical health. The enhancement of our student services to provide a culture of care means removing financial barriers to offering a fitness center that is completely free to use.”
Since the Panther Balance Forgiveness Grant was established in the Spring of 2010, Morton College has forgiven $71,335 of previous student balances, according to Velazquez.
“This grant removes financial insecurities and allows students to enroll in the upcoming semester,” Velazquez stated. “It allows students to focus on their academics, continue their education and complete their degree or credentials.”
With the opening of the new One-Stop Center, Velazquez is confident the percentages in this year’s survey will only increase in future student satisfaction surveys.
“Our One-Stop Center is a true testament that demonstrates the commitment to our students and college community that we care about making all student services visible and accessible to students,” Velazquez added. “The Center’s location was intentional to ensure students immediately identify where they need to go for assistance.”
In addition, the survey revealed Morton College students spent more time with academic advisors than at other Illinois community colleges. This was true especially among second-year students with 65 percent of first-year students and 76 percent of second-year students seeing their Student Success Coach at least twice in 2021-22.
Of the 22 Illinois community colleges administering the survey, participation in advising was lower. Just 59 percent both of first and second-year students saw an academic advisor at least twice in the same period.
Academic Advising and Financial Aid Advising are the two most prominent services offered at Morton College. Students use these two the most, are the most satisfied with and view them among the most important to their success, according to the survey.
Academic Advising experienced a 29-percentage point increase in use from 2014 to 2022 with most of that increase happening between 2014 and 2018.
“Our greatest asset in Student Services is our talented team,” Velazquez said. “We have continued to expand our positions to provide quality services and resources. We have nearly doubled the amount of Student Success Coaches since 2016 and added additional staff such as our Undocumented Student Liaison, Student Services Liaison and a Bilingual mental health counselor.”
“The purpose of these measures is to judge how well we are doing at engaging students by comparing to other community colleges,” said Erin Strauts, Associate Dean of Institutional Research at Morton College. “This suggests Morton College is making strong progress toward creating a campus climate of inclusivity.”