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Master Class Series Voted District Innovation of the Year

May 14, 2013

Master Class Series committee members  
Master Class Series Committee members, from left: Claudia Perry, Ena Primous, Angelic Cole and Sandra Osborne.

Business professor Angelic Cole was watching “Inside the Actors Studio” on the Bravo Channel when she was struck with an idea for her classes. What if students had a chance to interview local entrepreneurs and business leaders -- much like James Lipton with the famous actors – to glean their tips for success?

What if these leaders were invited to share their personal stories in a theater setting, to reveal their doubts and fears along with their personal triumphs? She gathered a committee to brainstorm ideas in October 2011, and the first Master Class Series happened the next semester.

This collaborative and creative effort, now in its second year, has been honored as St. Louis Community College’s Innovation of the Year. The project was selected in district competition after winning at the campus level.

The League for Innovation in the Community College established the Innovation of the Year Award to recognize an individual or group from each of the 20 member college districts who have used creative, productive approaches to meet new needs or solve old problems Criteria for the award are quality, efficiency, cost effectiveness, replication, creativity and timeliness. STLCC is a founding member of the League for Innovation.

Success Stories

The genuine student interest in extracting life lessons from local business leaders has been pivotal to its success.

“Angelic Cole and her team of gladiators have focused on providing our students these tremendous learning experiences outside the classroom, which we know makes a difference in student engagement and goal completion,” said Cindy Hess, president of the STLCC-Forest Park campus.

Spearheaded by the Forest Park Business Club, in partnership with the St. Louis Business Journal and numerous campus departments, each Master Class presentation is overseen by a core committee. Speakers are scheduled two to three times per semester, with two speakers per session. Student hosts guide each presentation.

Emphasizing that behind every successful business leader is a great story, the series has inspired and benefitted students -- internships, jobs, mentoring and class projects have resulted.

These timely stories are not only of personal triumphs, but also of loss and disappointment. What sets the leader apart from the ordinary business person, however, is how he or she reacts to life’s challenges. Are the challenges obstacles to be tackled and cleared, or roadblocks without an exit sign?

The Ingredients

Each Master Class session has four main ingredients:

  • An opening statement, having speakers share their personal stories.
  • The 3Rs: in a living room setting, a host asks each speaker three questions – What is the one thing you did Right? What is your biggest Regret? How do you want to be remembered?
  • A student Q&A, with students asking questions from two microphones placed in the audience.
  • The presentation of a Master Class medallion to each speaker, followed by photos. Students are allowed to join the stage afterward for personal interaction with the speakers.

Speakers, to date, have included John Mozeliak, senior vice president and general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals; Maxine Clark, chief executive officer of Build-a-Bear Workshop; Robbie Montgomery and Tim Norman, proprietors of Sweetie Pie’s restaurants and subject of a reality TV series on the OWN Network; Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, director of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport; Jennifer Joyce, St. Louis City circuit attorney; Bill Menke, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Wehrenberg Theatres; JoAnn Shaw, vice president and chief learning officer of BJC; Adrian Bracy, director of YWCA Metro St. Louis and former CFO of the Arizona Cardinals; Teri Murray, dean, Saint Louis University School of Nursing; and a Community Town Hall Meeting featuring two of three mayoral candidates for St. Louis City.

Committee members are Angelic Cole, chair; assistant professor in business administration; Kelli Harris, executive assistant to the president; Sandra Osburn, associate professor in communications; Claudia Perry, district coordinator for college communications; Ena Primous, administrative assistant to the vice president for academic affairs; and Eloise Finney, Brenda French, Marita Jason, Philishea Ingram, Carolyn Jackson, Deborah Logan, Donna Nelson, Hester Owens, Kathleen Swyers, Kevin White, June Williams and Lynn Venhaus.

Finalists districtwide included:

  • District -- Joan McCready for "Interactive Audit"
  • Florissant Valley -- Mark Manteuffel for "Eco Garden"
  • Meramec -- Holly Schuessler for "English Conversion Partner" program
  • Wildwood -- Syed Chowdhury for "Going Beyond the Classroom"

“I applaud the innovation and creativity as shown in all of these projects,” Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey said.