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Barton embraces diversity – GREAT BEND TRIBUNE


Part of the mission and vision of Barton Community College is to embrace diversity. During a report to college trustees on Tuesday, employees described some of the activities that support that mission.

Carol Murphy, coordinator of Developmental Education, is part of the Inclusion and Diversity Team. She said one of the most successful activities was held earlier this year in the Student Union, which was temporarily renamed the Conversation Cafe. She credited Developmental Education instructor Abby Howe with developing the idea and taking it to the students.

Chairs were set up in two lines facing each other, and students were encouraged to sit face to face with someone they didn’t know. After two minutes of conversation, everyone moved to a new partner.

“You can see, it’s kind of like speed dating,” Murphy said as she shared photos of the activity. Howe developed a set of questions and posted them on a screen in case people were stumped about how to start the conversation. Questions included, “If you could ask advice from any historical figure, who would it be?” and “What movie would you like to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon?”

It turned out that the questions may not have been necessary.

“I have never seen anybody use them,” Murphy said. “They just have such a great time, and they get to speaking with each other, and it’s a really wonderful experience. We’ve now moved from doing this one time each year to doing this each semester, fall and spring.”

Participants use their phones to provide an online assessment after the activity and the results have been “very positive,” Murphy said. After the activity, she said, “they felt so much more that they were part of Barton and felt very welcome and comfortable with the activity. … We go for 45 minutes and then we have refreshments.”

Embracing diversity

Barton’s policy “asserts the dignity and worth of every human being and the value of diversity as a source of its strength, including diversity of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, culture, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability and perspective among students, faculty, staff and administrators.”

To that end, the college has offered a Chinese New Year Celebration, field trip to the Cinco de Mayo celebration, Hispanic Culture Day/Hispanic heritage – salsa lessons; an international restaurant tour and activities such as the Conversation Cafe and Mix it Up Lunch.

Barton Experience

The report on embracing diversity was just one piece of a larger report on the “Barton Experience.” Written as a board policy, the goals of the Barton Experience are specific and monitored:

• Students will be positive about the Barton experience.

• In exit surveys and other feedback report mechanisms, students will speak positively of their experience at Barton.

• Students will cite individual, personal, caring attention from faculty and staff as a significant factor in how they perceive their experience at Barton.

The Student Life Department, under the direction of Diane Engle, provides many student activities. She said they are open to any student who steps on campus but are primarily used by those in student housing.

Activities include bowling, ice cream socials, a late-night breakfast at the end of each semester, and movie nights at Golden Belt Cinema 6. For movies, bowling and other off-campus events, vans are provided. Trips to Great Bend usually include a stop at Walmart.

Barton Difference

Vice President of Student Services Angie Maddy shared the spring of 2019 survey results from students. Those surveyed as they are about to graduate gave positive feedback (selecting Rewarding, Good or Adequate) 100% of the time to the statements “Overall education experience at Barton was positive” and “Would recommend Barton to others.” Positive feedback was 83% and 86%, respectively, to the statements “Post-Secondary credential provided a variety of useful education experiences” and “Post-Secondary credential will allow fulfillment of educational goals.”

Maddy said the college also administers a Student Success Survey to all Barton students. The last survey saw less than 15% response but that was still 740 students. Some results:

• Academic advisors knowledgeable about requirement – 84% of those who reported an advisor assignment responded with “strongly agree” or “agree.”

• My advisor is available when I need help — 77% of those with advisors responded “strongly agree” or “agree.”

• Faculty are available when I need help — 76% responded “strongly agree” or “agree.”

• Overall, I am satisfied with my experience at Barton — 88% responded “strongly agree” or “agree.”

• If I had to do it all over, I would enroll at Barton again — 87% responded “strongly agree” or “agree.”

Students are invited to nominate faculty and staff who have made a difference in their experience at Barton. Maddy shared some of the nominations received this year at all Barton campuses and by online students.

For example, biology instructor Charlotte Cates received a nomination from Kristofer Eggertsson which read, “She was very helpful to me. I struggled to learn vocabulary for the sciences especially the more complicated words. As an international student, this was very frustrating for me. However, she was always very understanding and helped me get through science. She is by far the best teacher I had at Barton.”



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