Shaun L. McKay
Dr. Shaun McKay

Dr Shaun McKay Government Must Overhaul Education

Interview Originally shared in 2011 on the Guardian – _ Dr Shaun McKay

Dr Shaun McKay challenges Govt to Overhaul educational system

Written by Dr Glenville Ashby

Suffolk County Community College (SCCC), Long Island, New York is an amalgam of three campuses spread over 500 sprawling acres. Its pasture-like bucolic serenity, contrasting with impressive academic and administrative buildings, offer an idyllic environment for learning, contemplation, discovery and awareness. Home to 26,000 students, with 70 degree programmes, 30 certificate options, and a faculty of 1,600, SCCC is accredited by nine national associations, including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, and the National Automotive Education Technical Foundation. Even more impressive is the figure at the helm of this highly competitive academic institution-Tobago-born, Dr Shaun McKay.

McKay strikes a commanding presence. Not surprising, given his tall, broad-shouldered frame and rich baritone voice that could electrify the airwaves. He is bespectacled and clean-shaven with a youthful exuberance that belies the sheer depth in wisdom needed to attain his position. Shaun McKay can almost be deferentially polite at times, listening for the right moment to offer his view on any given matter. It is this patience and deliberation-added to a voracious appetite for learning and leadership-that have taken him very far, first in business and then in academia. His stellar ascendancy as the first Caribbean president of SCCC is storied and inspirational. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit him on campus. McKay removed his jacket, relaxed, and for the next two hours, recalled his boyhood days in Tobago, his accomplishments and his enduring passion to see his native land compete and succeed globally. This, he said, is only possible through a radical change within the educational system.

Growing up in Tobago

“I was born in Bon Accord,” he said, with a sense of pride. One of ten children, he described his early years as humble. “My mom was a homemaker and my dad was really great at carpentry, although he excelled at O’level examinations.” His parents and close sibling network anchored McKay; so too his exploits in soccer and wonderment at the accomplishments of West Indian cricket circa 1980. But this only partially explains the existential value he gave to self and surroundings. “I was always looking at ways of assessing needs around me, and fulfilling them.” It is this spirit of entrepreneurship that galvanised him into a myriad of ventures, including a huge sporting goods business in Tobago, now managed by his sister. “Outside my family I had teachers who influenced me-from kindergarten, Bon Accord Government Elementary, Scarborough Secondary and Signal Hill Secondary.”

He cited Beryl Jack, Theodora Scott, Robert Dillan and others. The young McKay made it to A’Levels at St Joseph Convent and this is where Providence stepped in. “Here I was, one of the few boys in really, a girl school. We were taught by nuns, the whole nine yards. Don’t get me wrong,” he explained. “It was a sound education. You had to be the best to be offered a spot, but there was something lacking.” Words never seem to elude McKay, but now, decades later, he carefully reflected on his decision to quit. As he began speaking, he finally had it figured out. “I just needed to get out and do more,” he reasoned. “Getting out” led him to London and finally to the United States where under the tutelage of fellow Tobagonian Abraham Moore, who “saw something unique”, a driven and prodigious Shaun McKay steamrolled through Morgan State University, The College of Notre Dame and, finally, the University of Maryland, where he earned academia’s highest award in education-a doctoral degree. McKay went on to lecture at all levels of tertiary education, and served as vice president of SCCC in 2005, where his responsibilities ranged from planning and policy development, to implementation and assessment of the College’s programmes and services. Today, after ratification by the Board of Trustees at the State University of New York (Suny), he now presides over a complex educational institution with an annual operational budget of just under US $200 million.

Caption: Students of Tacarigua Presbyterian School react to SEA?results on Thursday.

Education in T&T

Dr. Shaun McKay, despite his many years abroad, remains pedagogically attuned to Trinidad and Tobago. He is critical of that nation’s “Eurocentric approach” which he deemed antiquated, if not anachronistic. “There is high unemployment there because the educational system is inflexible and not fitted to meeting the needs of a growing society in a global market,” he argued. “Education in emerging societies, examines the needs germane to their development,” he said. Statistics, according to McKay, show that nations that excel economically have adopted innovative teaching methodologies and policies. “When you look at the O and A’level system, you see that they are rigid and designed to focus on getting a job. But where are the jobs that graduates are equipped to perform?” he asked rhetorically. “So you have a situation where you have to import labour in every sector. In a country with vast energy reserves and only 1.3 million or so people, this is troubling. Trinidad and Tobago has to build an educational system responsive to the realities of an emerging market and nation if it must become competitive,” he emphasised.

McKay attributed this problem to lack of purposeful leadership at the highest levels of policy and decision-making. At the same time, he conceded that generational issues, such as class and caste, continue to stymie educational pursuits at a very basic level. “If your parents never had the means and have gone this far,” using his hands demonstrably, “more times than not, they cannot carry you further, economically and intellectually.” When asked about Costatt, he exercised reservation. “I cannot evaluate Costatt and the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) in the abstract,” he responded, while stressing the need for rigorous and multi-layered accrediting standards in the Caribbean. A proponent of research, assessment and evaluation before definitive policies are implemented, McKay challenged the region’s government to adopt these exacting standards to effect social and economic change. It was Simon Zadek, author of Accountability, who wrote in “Emerging Nations are Embracing Sustainability,” that, “responsible leadership is not the preserve of Western business, and that emerging markets are matching or exceeding sustainable benchmarks set by their Western counterparts.”

Are teachers being retrained?

It was an education-related subject that immediately resonates with Shaun L. McKay. He identified the high literacy rate of Trinidad and Tobago as the very basis of its development. But he stressed that more was needed and he is alarmed that a once robust agro-processing nation now imports most of its food. “Of course there is a vibrant tourist sector, and an energy sector in the case of Trinidad,” he said, “but is research on the way to find or develop new markets in manufacturing, technology and other industries? “When these exploratory steps are undertaken, are meaningful curricula being established? Is enough being done at the budgetary level to make this a reality? Are teachers being retrained and duly remunerated?” McKay viewed a detailed oriented approach to educational planning as paramount to national success. He spoke of intervention methods, skilled and academic based assessments, and treatment methodsfor every student. “Unlike the Caribbean, faculty in the US is given autonomy in the selection of books and methodology.” Faculty is continuously developing learning repositories under a system he called “Student Engagement through Informal Support.” He believes students should be acculturated to pursue the highest echelon of success, given all the remedial tools necessary, and that “they must go through the full discovery process available.” He emphasized that every child is capable of learning.

Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA)

Shaun McKay strongly challenged the concept of SEA, formally called Common Entrance Examinations, as an accurate measurement of students’ abilities. He has strong support in his view. A highly emotive issue, there has been a groundswell of resentment toward this mode of testing. “Forget prestige schools and universities. These doors are not open to you who have problems reciting information,” according to Zophis Edwards, writing in Trinidad and Tobago Blog News some years ago. One parent, in a letter to one of the nation’s newspapers, wrote: “Why should children have to put their lives on hold for a year or more in order to write an examination and be subjected to such stress? Preparation for the SEA Examination has amounted to penance for the nation’s children.” She continued: “Is the SEA a competitive or a placement examination? If it is a placement examination, then why are the students ranked, with the top three idolized and the top one hundred publicized? “It is a damaging practice that should be stopped immediately since students in the successive years are put under undue pressure.”

McKay was aware of these concerns and agreed that radical change is essential to unlock the real potential of children. However, he admitted that this would require strategic planning and a major policy shift. He also demanded a timely and thoughtful response from government officials. Of the SEA, he stated: “This is a standardized process that does not promote critical thinking. You are asking students at 11 years old to do what their 16-year-old counterparts do in the US. But at that age US kids can conceptualize, and are more mature and prepared to handle that rigorous assessment,” he said, referring to the Standardized Aptitude Test (SAT). “Eleven year old kids just don’t have that cognitive development and critical thinking capacity,” he stated, adding that “a special panel should be convened to revisit the SEA and at the same time, reevaluate the mission of the Ministry of Education.”

The challenges ahead

McKay conceded that the US, despite its super power status, is lagging behind in key areas of educational development, such as mathematics and science; a paradox he viewed as a testament to the ever growing and persistent challenges every society faces. He referred to the placement of the US behind countries like South Korea, Finland, and Hong Kong in the Program for International Student Assessment, which tests students’ ability to apply math, reading and science to real life situations. Yet, he was encouraged that US policy makers at all levels of governance, are quickly recognizing these shortcomings, and are engaged in multilateral planning to regain a competitive edge. As social media has emerged as one of the most effective tools for personal, social, and even political change, school officials are grappling with ways in which it can be effectively employed for academic growth.

Caption: A proud mother stands with her daughter who passed for her first choice.

McKay, a big proponent of technological development is also aware of its potential dangers. He spoke of social media as a potentially instructive tool, but with negatives if left entirely unchecked. He also expressed optimism at the free computer drive undertaken by the Peoples Partnership Government, but with one caveat: “Giving children free computers is all well and good, but it has to be done within a framework for development.” And in a rare moment of levity he jokingly asked: “Have you seen how kids communicate on the Web? It runs counter to everything we teach in language classes.” The persistent brain drain besetting the Caribbean is a global phenomenon according to McKay. “We have this problem right here on Long Island,” he stated. “That is where elected officials and educators must find solutions by creating a competitive environment. Vocational and academic institutions must be fluid enough to respond to realities, such as outsourcing and unemployment in their respective environment. This may require new programmes or retraining to meet rapid changes taking place.”

Returning home

Asked about transferring his knowledge and expertise to fix the vexing educational problem in his homeland, Dr Shaun McKay raised the specter of a “cultural barrier” that is resistant to foreign nationals, and the absence of provisions to accommodate an influx of expatriates, despite the recent call by the incumbent administration. “We are comfortable importing workers with no cultural ties to the region, offering them huge salaries and benefits, something we will not extend to our own overseas nationals who are equally, if not more qualified.” He refrained from referring to this “disrespect” and consequent hindrance to “meaningful engagement” as a relic of the region’s colonial past, and was still open to lending his expertise individually, or as part of a consortium. “I am not saying that expats should return with a mindset that we know it all, that we are the sole authorities on every issue. We must collaborate, share information, and determine what is best for the nation,” he ended.

Education Ministry Contacted

A call was placed to Dr Tim Gopeesingh, the Minister of Education, requesting comment on McKay’s arguments. He was out of the country. The reporter then contacted the Media Relations Department via telephone and e-mail and was advised to visit the Ministry of Education’s Web site. The note stated: “We have made public a series of documents outlining the transformational journey that would see the reformulation of the vision, mission and strategies.”

Shaun L. McKay Explores the Challenges Facing Higher Education Today

The Challenges Of Attending College In Today’s Complex and Changing World:

For many people, college is seen as the key to success. For a very long time, I have shared and surmised that “Through Education comes Transformation and Economic Empowerment.” The demands placed upon individuals seeking to join the economic infrastructure require technical expertise and critical thinking/reasoning. Students who seek to attend a Higher Education Institution after High School are assessed by using transcripts from the High School, SAT’s, ACT’s, etc.

However, a segment of these students fall outside of the College’s expected scores and will be placed into remediation for their respected field, setting them back a few years. Several colleges and Universities have recently devised plans to phase out of testing and have incentivized their campuses to utilize varying forms of information intake and retainment, allowing students to graduate in a compressed time period (*i.e. California). Simultaneously, when looking at higher education today, many major issues have to be overcome. Shaun L. McKay is an expert in this field, and he is here to review some of the challenges facing this community today. 

For example, the challenges students face outside of the institution face an uphill battle to provide the requisite services today. The following are just a few of these obstacles that affect both the student/institution and the overall economy to which they intend to enter:  

  • Many students want to pursue their studies at higher education institutions and have limited financial resources and have expenditures notwithstanding those students that rely upon public transportation and daycare. 
  • Students pay lower tuition, but quite often, most live with their parents while saving money from part-time work to help defray costs (*many work full-time when you count the number of hours at several part time jobs).
  • Community colleges do not receive the support they once did due to cash-strapped states/counties and the lack of federal funding to them, placing a larger financial burden on all stakeholders.
  • This will call for new or expanded funding options for both students and community colleges.
  • Already, some corporations support students in pursuing college study — McDonald’s is one of the better-known companies that do so.
  • Private/public partnerships may be the means toward providing students the support they need to attend college and may provide the communication between business and higher ed to determine what students need to learn in this ever-changing economy.

Shaun L. McKay Reviews the Cost of Higher Education and the Impact on Students

One of the first issues that Shaun L. McKay has to discuss is the cost of higher education. This is a competitive environment for students as well as the schools themselves. For schools to keep up with the competition, they need to account for students’ amenities as they plan for the academic year. At the same time, this leads to major issues for students who cannot afford to attend college due to the costs that they will incur. Shaun L. McKay knows that students are living in demographic areas that can be costly to live in or have expectations of eligible candidates that companies may be seeking to fill the drought in vacancies becoming available. It’s also known that candidates need at least a Community College Degree to make just above minimum wage, and still, this is not enough to address the lack of livable wage to cover their expenses. These candidates are frequently either not qualified for jobs advertised as they are just starting their careers, so how can they afford these bills? This has led to many people relying on loans to attend college. These loans can weigh down students with debt that can last for years, and even with the degree, the salaries do not keep pace with the economic realities these future graduates face upon leaving College.

Shaun L. McKay Discusses the Limited Availability of Slots at Schools

Shaun L. McKay also knows that it can be challenging for some students to be accepted into the country’s top schools. In some cases, students are well-qualified, but the school does not have enough seats. Therefore, many students end up going to schools that might not offer them the same opportunities. Shaun L. McKay believes that schools need to work harder to provide more options to qualified students with a pathway to attain their goals for advanced studies ultimately. 

Many Graduate programs can articulate with institutions at the Community College level for a seamless pathway to baccalaureate and ultimately a master’s Degree. Whether it is a 2+2, 2+1+1, or a 2+2+1, no matter the format to get to completion successfully, all institutions of Higher Education must now adapt and adjust their traditional quarterly or semester based offerings… For example, I created an early morning (6:30-10:45) Am option at my last institution, along with a developing evening and weekend curricula that enabled students to complete their degree requirements in two years. Additionally, I charged my staff to revisit all transfer pathways and contact these institutions so that our students will have all of their credits to be accepted by the receiving institutions. Student success does not end upon the completion of the degree requirements. Institutions must be aware of their graduates’ economic demands and what the other Higher Education Institutions seek from transfer students. This is the only way students will develop their foundational talents and be either ready for work or advanced standing when competing for slots in their particular areas of further studies.

Shaun L. McKay Explains the Impact of the Pandemic on Schools Today

Finally, it is also important to take a closer look at the pandemic’s impact on educational institutions. Shaun L. McKay knows that schools are struggling to make ends meet; however, the reality is that these schools may need to cut costs to afford the privilege of having students back on campus. This includes expenses for COVID testing and contact tracing while, at the same time institutions have to upgrade and bolster their technology platforms. The Covid-19 pandemic forced Colleges and Universities to take an in-depth look at curricular offerings and what should be utilized along with technical offerings and labs required by accreditation agencies for certification to be maintained/attained. Some students may not have the ability to access these courses via technology for varying reasons:

  • Access to Wi-Fi or Hotspots has dramatically changed the lives of all involved in the academic environment in a myriad of ways. Not everyone has access to these services, and others may experience intermittent service problems enabling setbacks in where they may be in the duration of the courses and academic calendars.
  • Affordability (Acquiring laptops/computers) may be a problem for students that do not have enough financial aid or in other cases, individuals that are not on financial aid may not be able to procure and acquire laptops/desktops/other smart devices to handle zoom, skype, WebEx, and other similar forums for their classes.
  • Unfamiliarity with the teaching modality may cause the failure and dropout rates to increase, so training and enhanced support is required for everyone involved with the transfer of knowledge via this medium.
  • Institutions must ramp up their technology and software programs to be ahead of the existing needs and not fall behind. Technology is as good as its latest installation, and institutions must ensure that this area remains a key element in its strategic priorities listing aligned with assessment, budgeting, and planning. 
  • Adaptability to change mid-semester and having never been exposed to such changes can release some anxiety while addressing the safety of themselves and others in new settings. The CDC has policies and directions that can also be involved in academia to change its operations. 
  • The lack of face-to-face counseling or meeting with professors is a significant shift away from the norm. Thus, institutions and all involved will need to be amenable to this shift and adapt accordingly.
  • Mental Health Counseling has become more of a dominant need for students and their families during the pandemic. Institutions must adjust their services via technology to meet their students, faculty, and staff’s needs.
  • Faculty that traditionally advised students in a face-to-face modality must now work with their respective institutions to ensure measures are in place to meet students in their academic pursuits and provide the requisite support.
  • Food Insecurity is also a problem as students relied on meal plans at their colleges daily and utilized financial aid to cover these costs. Being off-campus with a college-issued debit card or meal plan card created additional stress for these students during this period. Institutions must devise plans to address this significant need.
  • The increased costs of attending colleges and universities during the pandemic are a matter that some institutions addressed by maintaining the prior year’s tuition rates and providing additional scholarships via their Foundations and other philanthropic efforts. 

The pandemic has impacted part-time students and parents to a point where jobs that were once open are no longer available. Therefore everyone within the academic environment is impacted in various ways. Our part-time faculty may no longer have sections to teach. Students may no longer have part-time jobs they once had to offset costs. Students are also faced with housing and food insecurities, transportation that were once available has now become a challenge for working moms and dads (Students), unemployment funding does not fully replace the costs that were made via multiple jobs. 

Resilience and adaptability have become the norm for everyone, and we all need to remind ourselves that no one policy can address every need of the impacted groups. Our respective institutions’ mission and vision must now be revisited as they may have been established to address academia in a different way than what we are faced with today. Higher Education must lead the way and be at the forefront of this effort to help transform “the new normal” and train those in the Allied Health and Medical fields through the Corporate, Service, Governmental, and Policy areas. Once again, we are being asked to do more with less, and as we have always done, we must and will do such!  

Dr. Shaun McKay

Shaun L. McKay On The Financial Challenges That Students Face Today

Many Students Are Wondering How They Can Afford To Go To School Today

In today’s world, people say that the gateway to a successful future is to invest time into college or university. While this is a great option for some individuals, this does not make college costs less expensive for individuals that enter through their doors. The reality is that many students cannot afford to go to college without taking out loans that they will have to repay after they graduate, regardless of the job market or life circumstances that may await them. This can lead to several serious issues, and one of the industry experts, Dr. Shaun L. McKay is here to talk about the financial challenges facing many students today. Balancing school, work, daycare (where appropriate), transportation, food insecurity, and living arrangements are all but a few aspects of what we hear as disadvantages for students attending colleges and universities.

Dr. Shaun L. McKay Discusses the Issues Regarding Student Loans

The reality is that the higher cost of education has far outpaced the rate of inflation. Dr. Shaun L. McKay understands that many students have no other option besides taking out student loans. Sadly, the interest rates on these loans are incredibly high. It is not unusual to see students taking out loans with a five to seven percent interest rate. It can take up to 30 years for students to repay these loans, and most individuals in the repayment category fall upon hardships. Parents are also involved when they take out a Parent Plus Loan to cover the costs of those in their respective families attending College. Furthermore, Dr. Shaun L. McKay knows that many students are looking for alternatives, but there might not be many options available to those who would like to attend college. Student loans cannot be included in bankruptcies. The push for increased advanced certification and degrees to obtain jobs is now the norm. The reliance upon student loans remains the primary source of funding education as well, and other grants/scholarships have not kept up with the costs of attending these institutions.

 

Dr. Shaun L. McKay Reviews the Limited Scholarship Opportunities for Students

There are some cases where students might have scholarships that can help them pay for college but rarely have we seen scholarships and grants fully cover the majority of a student body for the duration of their academic experience. For Dr. Shaun L. McKay, there are two separate options that students need to know about. The first involves merit scholarships, where individuals receive scholarships that are based on their qualifications. The second type is need-based scholarships, where people apply for financial aid based on their income. Unfortunately, these options are few and far between for most students. Dr. Shaun L. McKay understands that this has to change to make it easier for people to go to college in the future. There is also an entire category of students that may not qualify for scholarships or grants due to not having the required GPA or the mere fact that there is only so much funding available for these students. Hence, they remain on the outside looking in. These are the students that are working two and three jobs to maintain living expenses while attending college.

Dr. Shaun L. McKay Explores the Issues of Loan Forgiveness Options

 

Students are also wondering about loan forgiveness options. Dr. Shaun L. McKay knows that this might sound like an attractive option to some; however, very few people are actually able to take advantage of these options. Dr. Shaun L. McKay knows that it can be attractive to refinance; however, this is a common reason why so many people cannot get loan forgiveness. When people refinance, their loans are no longer owned by the government. Instead, they are now owned by a private company that will not be as forgiving as the government.

This item was part of the President-elect’s education campaign platform discussion and is an area that should be advanced with specific recommendations for targeted categories of student debt and areas of study. Policies developed in this area must also cover whether this is a grant or if it should be considered taxable income. This can be a redline situation that further complicates the students’ financial situation. Student Loan debt if/when in default is another area for review by the incoming administration. Once students are categorized as being in the default, they are treated differently by the Federal Government. 

 

These students can then find themselves not completing the ultimate goal if successfully engaged in gainful employment to cover living expenses as those wages can then be garnished, etc. A well designed and thoughtful career pathway and appropriate educational funding to States and Localities from the Federal Government will aid in the funding industry-specific or research provided by educational institutions. Additionally, Federal Student Aid reorganization needs to occur for low-income students to focus upon certificate and degree completion aligned with the industry’s available jobs. This requires that advising and career alignment be advanced as part of all students’ orientation process, whether they are taking online, hybrid, or face-to-face classes.

Shaun L McKay

Shaun L McKay Speaks on The Pivot to e-Learning: How COVID-19 Forced Higher Education to Teach in the Cloud

Shaun L McKay Discusses the Pivot to e-Learning and how Higher Education has Adapted in Response to COVID-19 

While universities have progressed into e-learning over the past two decades, many, including Santa Clara University, had not offered an online course until the COVID-19 pandemic caused an emergency need to host classes. While universities only began offering these courses in March 2020, Dr. Shaun L. McKay examines the lessons learned so far by higher education on e-learning in this article.

Educator Shaun L. McKay Explains the Lessons Learned

  1. What higher education offered on the fly since March does not constitute real e-learning, counsels career educator Shaun L. McKay. An e-learning program and each of its courses require months of planning and preparation. Most universities threw together tools that would enable their professors and instructors to go from sudden shut down to class on the schedule, explained Shaun L. McKay. That forced schools like Santa Clara to move “from a university that offered no online courses to a university that offered only online courses,” it said in a statement quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education. This quick move to online courses qualifies as remote education, but that differs massively from true e-learning. It makes an important first step towards a more permanent move to online education.
  2. It takes time and proper tools to build a true program of online instruction explains Shaun L. McKay. While the two weeks of spring break helped US colleges and universities prepare for the onslaught of university-wide e-teaching, they need more time. The summer months provided some of that, enabling schools to search for more appropriate tools and put better frameworks in place than the ad-hoc methods used to make it through the semester, in which COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic. This preparation provides a fallback if the return to campus gets cut short by a resurgence of the virus or flu season brings a different wave of problems.
  3. Use what you have got and make the best of it, says Shaun L. McKay. The tools schools used already existed, and they had access to them. Some schools already owned the learning-management systems software they used to place the entire catalog of courses online. Rather than reinvent the wheel, they turned to popular video conferencing software like GoToMeeting and Zoom.
  4. What the school next door uses may not work for you, says former university president Shaun L. McKay. Rather than choose for its professors, Texas A&M University let its professors decide on their platform based upon what other professors at the school already used. That limited selection whittled down the choices, but it also gave students no continuity. It let professors quickly choose a program they felt some comfort using, which helped speed them online. The cobbled-together systems provide one reason this is not actually a move to e-learning yet. Each university needs time to study which learning-management system would work best for its curriculum and then implement it with a formal training program for instructors.
  5. Moving to online education does not cost a lot. That shocked many schools in a good way said Shaun L. McKay. These relatively minor expenses and the reduction in overhead let some smaller schools experiencing funding issues make up some of their shortfalls. The hardware and software came to about $40,000 for most schools.
  6. Students matter most, and e-courses allow them to continue the most important aspect of their college experience – the education. In a time of worldwide instability, online education allowed them to have one constant, classes being continued. 

Shaun L. McKay said the emergency turn toward teaching over the Internet could help spur more schools to move classes online. Schools now have a crash course in how to do it, and once the pandemic ends, they can take a breath and do it right, revolutionizing American education.

Shaun McKay

Shaun McKay Named to Serve on Two Major Committees

 Dr. Shaun McKay is an esteemed member of the higher education industry. So much so that he was named under two major committees during his time as President of Suffolk County Community College. Shaun McKay recently discussed the two committees and what it means to be a part of them.

Dr. Shaun McKay was first chosen to be a member of the Steering Committee of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). He was also selected to serve on an implementation team to work on the AACC’s Initiative #2, “Re-imagining Student Pathways.”

The goal of the Steering Committee and Shaun McKay as a member will be to coordinate the work of several implementation teams and determine what progress is being made amongst them. The desired implementation strategies have been outlined in a 21st-Century Commission report on the Future of Community Colleges.

Shaun McKay will serve as an integral member of the Steering Committee, helping the organization determine where community colleges across the country are succeeding and where they are not.

“As a member of the Steering Committee, it is my goal to help create a road map of avenues that community colleges must adopt to enhance the quality of education and success of students. The success of individual students is reflected in the university itself,” he said.

The individual work of Shaun McKay as a member of the Re-Imagining Student Pathways Implementation Team will be to define certain methods to help increase student completion rates. It will also shorten the gaps associated with student gender, income, ethnicity, and more. 

Shaun McKay will thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of individual community college programs and student services. The goal is to end practices that are ineffective and enhance ones that have proven to be successful.

“Students are continuously facing a growing number of economic, racial, and gender-related difficulties. They need community colleges to provide services to help them succeed,” Dr. Shaun McKay said. “We need to be creative in creative, cost-effective measures to help increase student success.”

Dr. Shaun McKay added that he would like to create cost-effective solutions that are easy to adapt and be implemented at community colleges across the state and the country. 

As a member of the Steering Community and the Implementation Team for Initiative #2, Shaun McKay will help change the future of community colleges in numerous ways. The AACC is thankful to have him as a member and a critical part of creating positive change in the industry of community colleges.