Brian Clemmons: “We’re Meeting Students Where They Are”
The first things you notice about Brian Clemmons are his infectious grin, boisterous laugh and southern accent. He grew up in a small town 30 minutes from Charlotte, North Carolina.
“The only things there were football and barbecue,” he said.
Mr. Clemmons likes both, and he went to Duke University on a football scholarship. But he blew out his knee before the first game and never played a down for the Blue Devils.
But the gridiron’s loss was MCC’s gain. He graduated from Duke, worked at two community colleges in North Carolina before becoming the Financial Aid director at MCC. He became dean of Enrollment Management in January of 2016.
“I want to try to develop better relationships with students and to work to meet their ever-changing needs,” he said. “We have a very good staff that is flexible and willing to try new things. It can be overwhelming, but at community colleges and higher education in general, we have to try new things. We have to meet students where they are.”
That is the core of Mr. Clemmons’ message: MCC needs to be flexible to help students become successful.
For example, Enrollment Management is piloting a program, Schedule Builder on Demand, which will develop a student’s schedule for him or her. The student can adjust as necessary, but it will provide a framework that he hopes will give the student the impetus to register early. It will also give students a schedule with classes at more convenient times.
In addition, Enrollment Management now has two part-time financial aid hybrid advisors who counsel students on how to regain and keep their financial aid by filing appeals.
“These positions allowed us to increase the number of financial aid students with a Satisfactory Academic Progress Status by 400 students this past fall compared to last year,” Mr. Clemmons said.
He also developed an Early Fall Enrollment Fair on March 20 – the first day of fall registration – to encourage students to think ahead and register well before the end of the spring semester. The first 200 students who registered that day received a voucher for a tall Starbucks drink and anyone who registers by April 30 is entered into a drawing for up to $2,000 in tuition credits.
“The purpose behind all this is to encourage students to register early,” Mr. Clemmons said. “First, it simply helps them to be more successful. Second, if they come in now, they can get more personal attention than in August when the lines are long.
“It’s all about student success, retention and completion.”