Delta College is growing in terms of students and programs

Before coming to Delta College in 2021, Dr. Michael Gavin was the Vice President of Learning at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, where he led strategic planning efforts. He has a Doctorate in American Studies from the University of Maryland in College Park, a Master’s Degree in Literature from American University and a Bachelor’s Degree in literature from Dickinson College. Known nationally for his administrative leadership that focuses on academic excellence and equity,  Gavin has more than 20 years of experience at community colleges.

QUESTION: Education has taken multiple hits since COVID-19. News stories tell us about deficits in student knowledge as well as a shortage of teachers. When the kids get to college, what are you doing to address the deficits in knowledge?
ANSWER: We look at every student as bringing a wealth of assets, never deficits, to college. Some may need additional help to get where they need to be and that is what Delta is all about. Accordingly, one of the most successful ways Delta College helps students who need extra support is by embedding tutors, called structured learning assistants, right into the classroom experience.
Delta offers this format in two of our required first-year core courses, entry-level math and English. In addition to learning from both a professor and a tutor, Delta keeps these classes very small, usually 20 students or fewer, to guarantee plenty of personal attention.
 Dr. Michael Gavin is Delta College's fifth president.
QUESTION: As a two-year institution, Delta College isn't sending graduates immediately into teaching, but many of your students do go on to earn Bachelor's Degrees from other colleges and universities. Is anything being done at Delta to better prepare people to go into education as a career?

ANSWER: Delta College is doing a lot to strengthen the pipeline of qualified teachers. One example is our partnership with Saginaw Public Schools and the Saginaw Intermediate School District called Grow Your Own. The apprenticeship program encourages teacher aides and other support staff already working for the district to train to become certified teachers.

Delta College also recently announced a teacher education degree pathway with Central Michigan University (CMU). This transfer pathway provides a natural bridge from Delta College’s Associate in Arts degree to CMU’s Bachelor of Science in Education, Early Childhood and Elementary Education.

Under this new agreement, students can continue their education by transferring their entire Associate’s Degree to CMU, allowing students to complete more than half of their Bachelor’s Degree at Delta. For even more flexibility, CMU offers this program online.

Q: What programs, classes, or fields of study are you adding to Delta in the coming years?

A: Earlier this year, Delta College joined the Talent Action Team (TAT) for Semiconductors, organized by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). The TAT includes three community colleges, four universities, and many industry partners focused on ensuring the state is a top choice for semiconductor companies to locate and expand.

In September, officials from MEDC, as well as area employers HSC and SK Siltron CSS, came to Delta to announce nearly $300,000 in grant funding awarded to the college. (Read more about SK Siltron's work in Bay County here.)

With that funding Delta will:
  • Design a nationally recognized semiconductor technician and transfer curriculum.
  • Equip its semiconductor training lab space to include a portable, modular “clean room” for use by the students, giving a real-life simulation experience.
  • Develop new learning modules for its STEM Explorer, focused on semiconductor skills, to bring that knowledge into middle and high schools.
Q: How is enrollment? What efforts are being made to increase student enrollment?

A: Delta College has 7,646 students attending this fall. That’s up about 8% from last fall’s figure of 7,056. This makes Delta one of only a handful of colleges and universities across Michigan reporting an increase in enrollment.
Delta has done this by incorporating new approaches to scheduling, and anticipating student needs in a way that also focuses on the fact that many of our students are juggling careers and families. To that end, one component of that strategic focus is on fostering partnerships. By collaborating with local non-profits students’ needs outside of the classroom are being met better; and by partnering with high schools and career centers the number of dual enrolled students attending Delta has significantly increased.

Additionally, through Michigan’s new Reconnect and Achievement scholarship programs, tuition for most students is free, but the education they receive is priceless because it leads to good-paying jobs or serves as the first two to three years of a Bachelor’s Degree.

Our focused approach is important and we know our job: to serve students and the community through excellence in education.

Q: In just a few sentences, can you explain why a student should choose Delta for college?

A: In short, Delta College is a place where everyone belongs, and we support students to reach their goals. We offer an excellent education at a low cost – we are a great value, and have employees who care about our students. Further, a college degree makes a difference in a person’s life. Yes, you can start in a career field and work your way up, but studies show that at some point to continue to advance you’ll need a degree. And, more and more jobs are requiring an Associate’s Degree or skills certificate to get hired.

Only 24% of Bay County residents have a degree. With tuition support from the State through Michigan Reconnect and Achievement programs, Delta can help local citizens significantly increase their career stability and earning potential.

Q: Anything else you'd like to add?

A: Delta College has just partnered with the Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District (BAISD) to offer onsite dual enrollment classes at the Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center.

Offering college classes at the BAISD Career Center is a unique opportunity for students to earn college credit at no cost, to become acclimated to the rigors of college in a familiar environment, and ultimately increase their likelihood to succeed.

Dual enrollment courses at the career center are still open for winter semester, which starts Jan. 8 with priority placement given to BAISD students. 

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Read more articles by Kathy Roberts.

Kathy Roberts, a graduate of Central Michigan University, moved to Bay City in 1987 to start a career in the newspaper industry. She was a reporter and editor at the Bay City Times for 15 years before leaving to work at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Covenant HealthCare, and Ohno Design. In 2019, she returned to her storytelling roots as the Managing Editor of Route Bay City. When she’s not editing or writing stories, you can find her reading books, knitting, or visiting the bars of Bay County. You can reach Kathy at