A s a former Middlesex County assistant district attorney, Clea Andreadis feels uniquely prepared for her new position as MCC’s Associate Provost for Instruction & Assessment. With just six months on the job, Andreadis is already putting the skills she learned in law school – and in front of a jury – to good use. added. “Just like in court, when you teach, you’re in front of a group advocating a position. Plus, you have to be able to assess the members of the group just by looking at them, to see if they’re following you. That’s true for a jury, as well as a classroom full of students,” she said. In her new position as associate provost, Andreadis’ mandate is a collegewide focus on teaching and learning. “My responsibilities include what happens in the classroom, as well as assessment of student learning – which means accountability. We’re creating questions to discern what skills and competencies our students learn and develop while they’re here at MCC.” Ideally, those skills and competencies will go beyond the typical college curriculum. “In addition to the regular college piece of knowledge acquisition and skills development, we hope the Middlesex experience will encourage our students to take risks, to see the value of planning, and to engage in meaningful self-assessment.” Andreadis is leading efforts to achieve these goals through Strategies for Success, a new collegewide initiative that promotes achievement, cultivates persistence and retention, and encourages engagement among MCC students. She is coordinator of the five-year project, which is funded by a $2 million U.S. Department of Education Title III grant. “We applied for this grant because we wanted to increase the number of MCC students who successfully complete courses, stay in school and graduate,” she said. “As a community college, many of our students are considered ‘at-risk,’ so we want to serve them better.” The grant focuses on faculty and staff, as well as students, she explained. Now in its third year, Strategies for Success provides faculty and staff with ongoing training, redesigned curriculum, and enhanced academic advising. For students, it offers interactive learning tools and workshops to promote independent learning – all targeting the acquisition of five core student success skills: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, organization and self-assessment. In academic areas, Andreadis explained, Strategies for Success involves redesigning the curriculums of developmental, or gateway, courses. “These are the classes students take the first few semesters they’re here. That process is being led by the faculty who teach those courses,” she said. The idea is to embed the five key student success skills into the gateway courses, said Andreadis. Students also will benefit from Strategies for Success through the initiative’s focus on engagement. National research shows that students are more successful if they are personally involved with their college, said Andreadis. “If a student feels an affinity with at least one member of the faculty, their success rate goes up and the chances of completing their courses and graduating is higher,” she said. “We’re creating programs and events that can foster those kinds of connections.” As an example, Andreadis sited MCC’s Food for Thought program, which encourages faculty to take their classes out for a meal together. “Just this one thing – having lunch with your professor – can greatly increase the likelihood that those students will stay in college,” she said. Another focus of Strategies for Success is improvement of student advising. “We’re partnering with our advising staff to do more developmental advising,” said Andreadis. “We want our advisors to help students with academics, as well as career and transfer plans. The hope is that advisors will become mentors and career coaches.” Put this all together, Andreadis said, and Strategies for Success will transform MCC. “We’re talking about true institutional change. At the end of this grant, we’ll be a different college,” she said. “It’s a crossdivisional, collaborative effort. People all across the college have come together with a shared emphasis on student success.” (continued on next page) “Being a litigator is an evidence-based practice,” said Andreadis. “You need evidence to back up your case in court. I don’t assume anything is true unless I know it’s true. That is equally valid when it comes to academic assessment, which is a big part of my job.” Andreadis also knows her way around the classroom. A professor of criminal justice and former chairwoman of MCC’s Criminal Justice Program, she most recently served five years as Dean of Social Sciences & Human Services. A graduate of Colgate University, Andreadis earned her law degree at Boston University Law School. “I went into law because I liked helping people – especially crime victims – access the system in ways that promote justice and can lead to healing and growth,” she said. After conducting a few in-service training sessions at police academies, Andreadis realized she really liked teaching. “If you think teaching college students is a challenge, try teaching a room full of cops,” she quipped. “Now that’s a tough audience – plus they’re armed!” After building her teaching resume, in 1992 Andreadis taught criminal justice part-time at Middlesex – with the support of her mentor, the late Don Melisi, former chairman of MCC’s Criminal Justice Program. “I was starting a family at the time, so I left the DA’s office and taught one CJ class. As I was able to teach more, Don gave me more work. I never could have made the transition from law to higher education without his help,” she said. “I’ve always felt teaching was a natural extension of being a litigator,” Andreadis Strategies for Success is a collegewide initiative that promotes achievement, cultivates persistence and retention, and encourages engagement among Middlesex students. The Strategies for Success Title III initiative is a major, five-year project (2009-2013) funded by a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The program provides ongoing training, redesigned curriculum, and enhanced academic advising for faculty and staff. In addition, it offers students interactive learning tools and workshops to promote independent learning through the acquisition of the core student success skills: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, organization and self-assessment. Profiles |9|