Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Batter Up! – April 28, 2017
This familiar springtime herald reminds us to be ready for new experiences and opportunities. Each day at Westchester Community College, we have a chance to take our turn “at the plate” and achieve more together. This week marks Administrative Professionals Week, and we thank our staff for their exceptional work helping students from the time they first enter our doors until they cross the stage at commencement. Each of you are valued team members that ensure that our “line-up” is always strong and effective.
Our “batter up” mode gives us strong momentum as we partake in activities leading up to commencement and the arrival of several new team members in the coming weeks. This momentum includes the successful submission of our Title V application. Special thanks to Dr. Laurie Miller McNeill, her team, and other members of the campus community who contributed to this application for new resources to enhance our student success work.
The momentum builds further as the focus on graduation rates intensifies. The Middle States Commission has begun to collect IPEDs graduation rate data on community colleges at or below 15%. It is seeking input on the factors that contribute to graduation rates, which may become a formal part of their review process. We are in a time of increased accountability with a laser-like focus on college affordability, student outcomes, equity, and eliminating barriers to student success. Our recent work to improve our graduation rate to 17% is just one of many ways we are re-envisioning our work to serve students better. Our revitalized effort to enhance and diversify student advising, provide more structure for students in their first year of study, and guide students to select and make progress in their major program of study positions us for even more gains in student learning outcomes.
Our success is also tied to how students are able to transfer to four-year institutions and enter the workforce. Thank you to Gelaine Williams and the team that organized a very successful spring 2017 Career Expo, with close to 70 companies represented at the event. Providing access to these types of opportunities is critical for students seeking summer, part-time, and post-degree employment.
Additional momentum points this week:
- The Spring Fashion Show, which showcased student work, was an impressive event where students were able to materialize what they have learned in the classroom. Thank you Professors Stacy Scibelli and Karen Schlusberg for helping students plan and execute this very creative event.
- Our students, Mohamed Goma, Ana Wilhelm, Biagio DeVivo, Mathew Fitch, and Kevin Grigera, were selected from more than 160 applicants to present at this year’s Beacon Conference. Phillip Buffone was selected to present at the poster session. Congratulations to Professors Mira Sakrajda, Eugenia Amditis, and Ellen Rosner for shepherding these applications through the review process and serving as mentors to our Beacon Scholars.
- Tonight marks another wonderful event: the Student Leader Recognition Dinner where we will be celebrating student achievement. Congratulations to all of the students who we will recognize and the faculty and staff who made their achievements possible.
- And literally on the field, the baseball team sits tied for the top spot in the Region XV standings with an overall record of 26-11, and 8-4 within the region. Congratulations to our student athletes! If you can, come out on May 4 for Veteran’s Appreciation Day where the Vikings and the Veteran’s Club take on the Ulster Senators here at West Field. Game time is 3:30 pm.
Lastly, we welcome Dr. Kristina M. Johnson as our new Chancellor. We look forward to working with Dr. Johnson as we continue to work together to make Westchester a field of dreams for students. A personal highlight this week was my service today at the SUNY Voices conference on a panel about shared governance. One participating faculty leader eloquently reminded us to “bring humanity” to our dialogues, deliberations, and dreams. In that spirit, I continue to reach out to and encourage all Westchester Community College team members who care about our students, our mission, and the goal of advancing onward together.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles