Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Campus News and Updates – August 11, 2017
The presence of students at New Student Orientation this week signals the advent of a new academic year. We have had a very productive summer at Westchester Community College, and I am pleased to share a few highlights of the great work that has occurred or will soon be underway as the fall semester approaches.
- New Student Orientation
A record number of students (1344!) kicked off their First Year Experience at this week’s New Student Orientation. Thirty-three Orientation Leader/Peer Advisors (OLPAs) and members of the Student Access, Involvement, and Success (SAIS) team conducted in-person information sessions for new students and their families. The students were excited and enthusiastic, and I know you will join me in extending a warm Westchester Welcome to our new Vikings once the fall semester begins. Thank you to our OLPAs, our SAIS team, and especially Adam Frank, Rachele Hall, Tiago Machado, and Andrea Abagnale, for planning this wonderful opportunity for new students to learn about the college and all we have to offer.
- Saturday Enrollment Days
Please help spread the word that the Enrollment Management offices and departments are hosting Saturday Enrollment Days on August 19 and 26 as part of our expanded services to students. Our July 15 and August 5 Saturday Enrollment Days were very well attended by students and their families. Thanks to all who make this access to services so successful.
- Excelsior Update
The Excelsior Scholarship has been popular with about 1,000 applications coming into Westchester Community College alone. We will know the final number of students receiving Excelsior scholarships after PELL and TAP grants awards are determined. Depending on income levels, course load, and other factors, students may qualify for one, two, or all three of these forms of aid.
The Excelsior Scholarship is for students from households making up to $100,000 annually. Students must commit to a 30-credit annual minimum course load. There are additional requirements including current and future residency in the state. The deadline to fill out the Excelsior application for fall classes was July 21. The State has not set the date when students may apply for later semesters.
If you speak to a student who is interested in financial aid, whether it is Excelsior or another form of aid, please direct them to email email@example.com for details.
- College Budget
I am delighted to report that the Westchester County Board of Legislators recently passed the college’s 2017-2018 Budget. We were commended for our stewardship of our financial resources with no increase in tuition, a true benefit for our students. Thank you all for being so diligent in your operations and oversight of your budgets and resources.
- Future Facilities Master Plan
Earlier this year, a facilities planning team from JMZ Architects studied instructional space on campus and spoke with various stakeholder groups about future learning space needs at our main campus and extension locations. After collecting input, the team spent the summer analyzing different ways we could expand classroom spaces, improve labs, and even add amenities like an arts maker space. The process allows us to revise and update our 2012 facilities master plan with innovative project-based learning rooms across the curriculum and modern lab spaces for health sciences and technology programs. JMZ will be back this fall to present their suggestions and ask for input from the college community.
- New Bookstore?
Alongside a new policy on textbooks passed last spring, the Faculty-Student Association (FSA) commissioned an impact and vision analysis to review current and possible future bookstore operations that align with our standards of academic excellence and evolving student expectations and needs. Several national trends are converging that make this a good time for this analysis:
- An intense focus on the affordability of a college education, including textbooks that some students struggle to afford.
- Advancements in technology, including e-textbooks and other online learning resources.
- The college bookstore as a retail, educational, and cultural destination that supports and enhances academic and student life.
- The emergence of virtual bookstores that provide all services online.
FSA has kicked off the process of exploring new possibilities by gathering proposals from vendors that work specifically with colleges to enhance bookstore services. During the fall, FSA will schedule times for dialogue with faculty, staff, and students about a range of operational models and standards for this key operation.
- Under Construction
We have completed several physical plant improvements and started others, including:
- Completion of the new fitness center, with all new equipment, in the Physical Education Building;
- Roof replacements on the Children’s Center, Bookstore, and Classroom Buildings;
- Installation of security lighting at the Gateway Center and Physical Education Buildings;
- Walkway lighting is currently being installed at various locations on campus; and
- During the fall semester, restroom renovations and upgrades will occur in the Technology and Science Buildings.
A hearty thank you to our hard-working facilities crew who keep the college looking and functioning its best.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
After the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Planning Committee completed its work last spring, we submitted our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan (copy attached) to SUNY. A search is currently underway for the associate dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Thanks to the faculty, staff, and administrators serving on the search team. Additionally, we have submitted some exciting fund proposals to support our work
- Building cultural awareness and competencies (AACU, Newman’s Own, Kellogg Foundation, etc.)
- Improving systems to support data and case management of high-needs student cohorts.
- Westchester Welcome
Several new people join us in 2017-2018, including two vice presidents. Dr. Vanessa Morest officially joined us last month as the provost and vice president for academic affairs. Dr. Barry Cohen joined us at the same time as our interim vice president and dean of administrative services while a search is underway for a permanent CFO. We will have a variety of formal and informal opportunities to meet Drs. Morest and Cohen and all of our new faculty, staff, and administrative colleagues this fall.
- Adjunct Faculty Professional Development Day
We hold our third annual Adjunct Faculty Development Day on Saturday, August 26, in the Davis Auditorium, Gateway building. This year’s theme is “Innovation in Educational Technologies for Academic Instruction.” Featured guest speakers include Mark Lennerton, Director of Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology; Carlos Liachovitzky, Department of Biology Sciences; and Moronke Oshin-Martin, Department of Communication Arts & Sciences from Bronx Community College’s Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology (CTLT).
- Ice Cream Social
In appreciation for all the work you do for our students, we are having an ice cream social on Tuesday, August 15 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Student Center Cafeteria. Stop by for a treat and conversations with old and new colleagues. If the weather allows, we will enjoy our ice cream on the patio!
Enjoy the remainder of the summer. I look forward to seeing you at events before and during the fall semester.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles
To view or download the PDF document, visit: Westchester CC DEI Strategic Plan