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Wednesday, August 28,2013

Arts, sciences and access

Lansing Community College keeps up with the competition

by Lawrence Cosentino

They’ve taken your pulse, fixed your landing gear, trouble-shot your software, remodeled or built your house, maybe written you a ticket or two.

Lansing Community College graduates make everyday life roll on in greater Lansing.

If you’ve been healed, rescued or resuscitated lately, you may owe it to an LCC grad. About 75 percent of the region’s health professionals, and 70 percent of the area’s cops and firefighters, got at least some of their training at LCC. About half a million LCC grads are out there, and many of them stayed in the Lansing area.

Last year, about 30,000 students were enrolled at LCC’s two main campuses: a 32- acre downtown campus and LCC West, a 64-acre technical and education center near Delta Township.

Students come from next door and from very far away. LCC is the college of choice for about one-third of Lansing School District graduates, but there are also 210 international students from 41 countries.

The big news at LCC this year is that the school’s well-worn hub of activity since its birth in 1957, the Arts & Sciences Building, re-opened last week after a $31 million renovation.

Almost every student ends up taking a class at “A & S” sooner or later. Now they’ll be bombarded by glitzy art and informational displays that make the whole building an interactive learning experience.

The entrance and elevators of the renovated building look like the nave of a starship, with angled ceilings, stripes of light and life-size images of top LCC teachers inscribed with their teaching philosophies. Attention-grabbing art, historical artifacts and science displays are going up all over the building. Soon there will be an artful arrangement of 15 deli-style slices of human brain, meant as a symbolic harmonization of art and science.

Image consciousness, if not a mid-life crisis, clearly drives many features of the renovation, like the life-size light-up teachers and the salt-water aquariums. But there’s substance in the project as well. After 50 years of wear and tear, LCC’s hub has been kicked into the keenly competitive arena of 21st-century high-tech education.

The study area has writable walls and so do the classrooms. The science labs in the renovated building are designed to compete with those at top university facilities. Students can walk into the building’s common area and request tutors in dozens of areas.

Another new feature at LCC this year is the Aviation Maintenance program’s newly renovated complex at the Mason Jewett Airport in Mason. LCC aviation graduates zip all over the world in many support roles.

In 2004, a curvaceous new Health and Human Services Building went up to address the shortage of health-care workers in the United States.

The average student age at LCC is about 26, but there’s no set age or income profile of an LCC student. Over 60 percent of students are part time. Pre-nursing, business administration, psychology, criminal justice and early education are among the most popular programs. Booming majors include computer graphics, veterinary technology, therapeutic massage — anything to do with health care and computers. Did we mention computers? New programs in several IT fields, including mobile apps and convergence technology, were introduced this year.

LCC’s programs don’t stop at the twoyear associate degrees. The University Center, a partnership between LCC and six four-year Michigan universities, opens the door to junior and senior level courses leading to over 30 bachelor’s degrees and beyond. Many combinations are possible, but a student might take 90 or so credit hours at LCC and 30 at Ferris State, say, and get a four-year degree at about one fourth the cost of a resident student at Ferris. (LCC’s other partners in this program are Western Michigan University, University of Michigan-Flint, Siena Heights University, Northwood University and Lawrence Technological University.)

At the other end of the scale, the Early College at LCC, a program for high school juniors, helps low-income students get started early in college classes.

Last year, LCC addressed two challenges at once — integrating military personnel into civilian life and filling a shortage of health care professionals — with its Military Medic to Paramedic Program. Piloted last year, it is the first in the country to offer credit for experiential learning. This fall, 40 veterans from around the country will enroll in the program, named a national model by the U.S. Department of Defense. The next time you stick your hand under a lawn mower, a veteran from LCC’s civilian medic corps may come to the rescue.

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