Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Defining Excellence Together – May 5, 2017
In this commencement season and particularly during this last week of classes, many are busy preparing for the final assessment of student work. It is the time of year when we celebrate student achievements marked by terms that include “excellence” as a sort of measure. A few such accolades include “excellent academic work,” “excellent athleticism,” “excellent civic engagement” and “excellent leadership.”
Our students are striving to document excellence though various forms of assessment from exams to exhibits, through papers and productions, via performances and portfolios, and myriad other mechanisms. In our offices, our quest for excellence simultaneously involves mastery of acquired skills and discovery of new knowledge for application. As we work to achieve our best, it is useful to continually assess our contributions in our given roles, be mindful of what motivates us to do this work, and determine how we can reach further to advance our individual and institutional potential.
A recent Faculty Brown Bag Series involved the collective thinking of several individuals pushing the boundaries of inquiry and pedagogical excellence as they sought ways to better understand and engage students. Their recommendations show great promise for informing more comprehensive first year and continuing student learning experiences. This reflects a commitment to iterative excellence. Other examples include:
- Our recent Citizenship Drive hosted by the Welcome Center in collaboration with the English Language Institute and Neighbors Link Community Law Practice, and our partnership with the Department of Senior Programs and Services Aging Network, are models for how Westchester Community College can more excellently serve our community by providing access to necessary resources.
- Our Workforce Development and Community Education unit developed a 30-hour training program from which 17 Ambassadors for the Aging (Senior Service Navigators) completed all of the required hours and are now seeking placement throughout the county in pharmacies, libraries, senior centers, and places of worship to serve as points of resource and referral to the senior community in the county.
- Our enrollment management team (Admissions, Bursar, Financial Aid), Health Office, Center for Academic Counseling and Student Success, Testing Office, Scholarship Center, Faculty and Deans hosted more than 200 new, incoming fall students at Accepted Students Day on Friday, April 28. Congratulations on a job well done!
- Our very excellent Mobile App team successfully participated in the third Annual #WestchesterSmart Mobile App Development Bowl. We are very proud of our students and we work to further cultivate more teams of innovators who will enter competitions to showcase the good work happening at the college.
I began this week listening to stories by students shared at the President’s Council Leadership Dinner, where culinary students prepared a variety of food stations and our Foundation board members and guests learned more about our students, what excites them at the college, and the barriers many overcame to move forward with their lives. The Foundation’s work is ever important as we evaluate how the new Excelsior Scholarship may impact student financial support. We are grateful for the Foundation’s contributions to excellence at Westchester Community College!
Sometimes our best efforts at excellence reveal imperfections. Last week, I neglected to mention Professor Richard Rodriguez as one of our Beacon Scholar Mentors. Please join me in thanking and congratulating Professor Rodriguez for his participation and a job well done.
And, thanks to each of you who stand resolutely with our students who work so earnestly to achieve excellence in their lives. Thanks also for remembering that we are all more excellent together.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles