MCCA gives local college ‘clout’

SCOTTVILLE — When it comes to dealing with a legislative body, a unified voice draws much more attention than a lone one.8-27CollegeCoursesPhoto2

West Shore Community College Board of Trustees and administrators realize that fact. It is one of the reasons that WSCC is part of the Michigan Community College Association with 28 other community colleges in the state.

WSCC is represented on the MCCA board by trustee Mike Ennis, who has served in that capacity for many years. Ennis  also served as the president of that organization three years ago.

“Being a small college we don’t really have the clout of some of the larger colleges, but the association gives us that,” said Ennis.

In May MCCA executive director Mike Hansen visited WSCC and told the board the important role representatives like Ennis play on the MCCA board.

“We have a great supportive board that is 56 members large made up of a president and trustee of each of the community colleges in Michigan,” said Hansen. “Much of this occurred under the watchful eyes of others, and I think we really are today one of the premier associations across the country.”

The goals of the MCCA are :

• Provide strong legislative and public advocacy;

• Maintain and support a collaborative network; and

• Continuously assess the needs of the membership and provide the highest quality of services to the members.

The MCCA also has entrepreneurial centers of excellence (Center for Student Success, Michigan Community College Virtual Learning Collaborative, Michigan New Jobs Training Program and Center for Global Initiatives) centered around their primary focus of legislative and public advocacy.

Ennis said the MCCA has been following a number of issues currently before the legislature.

“The legislature is working on some legislation that prohibits a public body from commencing a lawsuit against an entity that submits a Freedom of Information Act request,” said Ennis.

Fellow WSCC trustee Richard Wilson explained that need was created because some municipalities felt they had  to try to rein in people who have abused the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). He pointed out that sometimes the requests are costly to those municipalities.

“There are recorded cases in Michigan like the University of Michigan where one woman had submitted over 3,000 FOIA requests in four months,” said Wilson.

Another item Ennis said the legislature is looking at is to have a physical presence under the Open Meetings Act. An attorney general’s opinion states that board members can vote if they are listening by some electronic device, but they don’t count for the quorum.

He said two other things that are quite controversial that the legislature is looking at are regulating campus free speech and authorizing the legislature to regulate free speech.

“It’s become quite a mess,” said Ennis. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

The MCCA recently put on a trustee conference that was attended by Ennis, WSCC chair Bruce Smith and trustee Dr. Tony Fabaz. They said the conference offered some very good presentations.

“The first one was ‘Six workforce indicators you need to know and why’,” said Fabaz. “It was helpful and obviously the data is important and I think this will be good information to share with the board. The other one was put on by (former WSCC president Dr. John) Eaton’s daughter Kathleen Guy, and she is the founder of Eaton Cumming Group. Her presentation was titled ‘The Buck Starts Here. The essential role of trustee fundraising.'”

The Eaton Cummings Group provides combined strategic planning, fundraising, and volunteer and executive coaching experience. They specialize in helping non profit organizations expand their capacity to lead, innovate and implement.

Smith said he was going to look into getting Guy to give a presentation to the WSCC board in the future.

“I enjoyed her presentation because if you have been here a lot then you have heard us talk about the three legs of financing for colleges which is the state, local taxes and tuition,” said Smith. “It is her contention that foundations are going to become the fourth leg of that stool. She felt the board has to be actively in that process.”

Fabaz said they also picked up some tips on what to do with getting legislation passed.

“The last presentation we attended was put on by  Rep. Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) who put on a presentation called ‘The Dos and Don’ts of Effective Legislative Advocacy’ and he was pretty good,” said Fabaz.


Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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