Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Building Minds
March 9, 2018
By now, you have received several communications about the Faculty Senate ad hoc committee on shared values. The committee asks for our input through a short survey, and I encourage everyone to submit ideas: http://www.sunywcc.edu/news/vision-values-survey/. Also, please mark your calendars on 9 a.m. April 6 for a special culminating event as we come together and develop Westchester Community College’s values statement.
The snow day this week provided extra time to prepare for my participation in a few professional development panel discussions this weekend. One panel is on “Innovative Leadership in the College Presidency” where we are exploring new higher education models including data enabled services, technology enhanced teaching and learning, improving student outcomes using predictive analytics, and contemporary funding models.
The other session is “Fighting with Grace: Fostering Civility in Higher Education,” during which I will join several other college presidents addressing how administrators protect freedom of speech and encourage civility when acts of hate or violence occur. We may cover numerous topics, from student responses to offensive speech, controversial speakers on college campuses, and the impact of social media. We have dealt with our own related issues this year, and in every case, we have reiterated the college’s zero tolerance for hate speech and violence while upholding freedom of expression. Actions we are taking such as developing a set of core values will improve our ability to say with confidence what we stand for as a college and community.
A major strength of Westchester Community College is in its ability to open minds through intellectual pursuits regardless of personal leanings. Through learning in and out of the classroom, speaking events, and engagement in respectful discourse that involves thoughtful, free, and open debate, we often move individuals out of their comfort zone. It is through these potentially uncomfortable experiences that we challenge our own assumptions and beliefs, and ultimately, learn in a thoughtful way.
On a final note, Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to celebrate current and historical achievements by women who have challenged norms and advanced knowledge and participation on many fronts. Be sure to catch remaining events occurring this month.
Have a safe and enjoyable spring break! And remember to “spring forward” this weekend as the time changes.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles