About this effort

Since 2016, Lakeland Community College has been experimenting with the methods and mindsets of human-centered design as a way to uncover unmet student needs and innovative solutions. This led to the creation of a campus makerspace for hands-on learning, collaborative problem-solving, and creative experimentation to prepare students for success in college, career, and life.

These efforts ramped up in the summer of 2018 when more than fifty employees participated in a five-week professional development course focused on discovering human-centered insights and turning these insights into actionable plans for problem solving.

In the fall of 2018, members of a campus Innovation Circle interviewed students, synthesized research, and prototyped student-centered solutions. They experimented with pop-up student services, launched a weeklong campaign of handwritten notes of encouragement, and tested new ways of communicating with students.

Hundreds of additional employees and students participated in co-design sessions, contributed their voices at town halls, and participated in experiments across campus.

This effort resulted in the building of “Start with Students,” an immersive simulation that invites visitors to walk in the shoes of a Lakeland student. Hundreds of staff, faculty, administrators, students, and the public empathized with what it’s like to be a student today, and offered ideas for the future of student support.

This is only the beginning. Our work continues to listen closely to students, collaborate in new ways, and experiment with new ideas to evolve how we support students, together.

Advisory Team

Morris Beverage, President
Laura Barnard, Executive Vice President & Provost
Cathy Bush, Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President for Institutional Development & Effectiveness
Dawn Plante, Chief Communications Officer & Vice President for Community & College Relations
Mike Mayher, Executive Vice President for Administrative Services and Treasurer
Andrea Ausperk, Associate Vice President for Business Services & Deputy Treasurer
Karen Macdonald, Counselor & Associate Professor
Mario Petitti, Director of Student Engagement & Leadership
Melissa Amspaugh, Director of Financial Aid and Enrollment Support
Leah Konopka Hartmann, Executive Assistant to the President & Special Projects Lead
Christina Corsi, Assistant Director of Student Engagement & Leadership
Jill Hyatt, Special Projects

Innovation Circle

Melissa Amspaugh, Director for Financial Aid & Enrollment Support
Rick Amster, Counselor & FYEX Coordinator
Stephanie Brown, Associate Director of Admissions & Records
Jaci Chesnes, Programmer/Analyst, Information Technologies
Samantha Ciferno, Graphic Artist
Christina Corsi, Assistant Director of Student Engagement & Leadership
Karen Macdonald, Counselor & Associate Professor
Maya Evans, Student Success Navigator, Learning Center
Nora Gee, Counselor
Mary Goss-Hill, Program Coordinator, Women’s Center
Mario Petitti, Director of Student Engagement & Leadership
Carl Stitz, Professor of Mathematics


Like any big undertaking, you can’t go it alone. Our partner in this endeavor was IDEO,  an innovation and design firm that uses a human-centered, design-based approach to help organizations innovate and grow. Over the last two years, IDEO interviewed dozens of students, facilitated co-design workshops, and worked alongside a team of employees to uncover insights about the student experiments and bring experiments to life.


Thank you to The Cleveland Foundation and KeyBank Foundation for their generous support to make this work possible.