Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Caring Conversations – June 26, 2020
June 26, 2020
Today I had the pleasure of joining Student Government President Gianna Paola Jimenez in a student Town Hall with more than 200 students and attendees. As we continue to fight the pandemic and confront social unrest and inequity, all of their voices matter and we will support them as they work to achieve their academic goals. Overwhelmingly, student questions centered on how they could continue their academic programs, what supports and resources would continue to be available to help them succeed, and whether they would be safe once classes resume on our main campus and extension centers. Collectively, our leadership team provided assurances that Westchester Community College will provide a safe, vibrant learning experience filled with robust curricular and co-curricular programs to build their minds and their futures.
Thanks to our Pandemic Response Team for thoughtful responses to student questions and to Tiago Machado and the Student Involvement Team for providing this platform for our students to engage with members of the college community. We appreciate the support of our faculty, staff, and Board of Trustee members who were able to be with our students today.
Please let students know that questions and comments will continue to be collected via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and that they should continue to monitor the website and their MyWCC email for updated information on classes and more.
Voice to Action
I have begun working with all SUNY community college presidents to examine and improve inclusive and anti-racist practices at our campuses. This includes what is (or isn’t) happening in administrative functions, education and training, overall campus culture, and student life. I’ve joined similar calls to action in local and regional board activities this week including: Business Council of Westchester, Westchester Putnam Workforce Development Board, and Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress.
At Westchester Community College, our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion for all members of our college includes providing an environment where each of us has a voice and the ability to share ideas in a safe, inclusive, welcoming learning environment. Just this month, our Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Rinardo Reddick, worked with internal and external partners to engage our community on some of the most pressing and promising issues in our society. Among these activities are the following:
- Panel discussion “How Do Race and Law Enforcement Intersect: A Westchester Community College Current Events Conversation.”Panelists included members of the college community and various local law enforcement agencies throughout the county.
- Juneteenth and Viking Pride celebrations featuring various special guests, who provided words of wisdom and encouragement, historical insight and a multitude of resources that are now available to our campus community. In case you missed either of these celebrations, be on the lookout for these recordings, along with information on other collaborative DEI efforts from Creative Communications and on the college’s website.
- Pride celebrations concluded on Wednesday with an afternoon of learning and engaging, designed by Dr. Rachele Hall, Dana Hirsch, and Jade Watts (Office of Student Involvement). Viking Rainbow Pride was created with the intention to hold a space for our LGBTQIA+ community and allies to celebrate the contributions, experiences, struggles, and truths of LGBTQIA+ people in our communities and beyond. Topics ranged from intersectional social justice, to art and literature, to how to support the LGBTQIA+ community. Videos of the event can be found on our Student Involvement Instagram @getinvolvedwcc.
A Seat at the Table
This week, I joined Dr. Walter Bumphus, President and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and members of the AACC Board of Directors in a virtual round table discussion with US Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to discuss how community colleges are responding to COVID-19 and preparing to support the nearly 40 million unemployed as the nation works toward recovery. At the meeting, Secretary DeVos announced the competitive Reimagine Workforce Preparation grant coming available this summer and providing aid for this effort.
Finally, it is with great pride and tremendous gratitude that I report to you that we have not only met our Summer 2020 FTE Aspirational Goal – we have exceeded it! And there is time to grow our summer enrollment even stronger. Please remind students – especially those on track to complete in August or December, that enrollment continues for our 3-week online session which begins on July 27. Congratulations to our Strategic Enrollment Management team, our counselors and faculty, our student support staff, and all who worked with students to keep persisting through the summer.
We cannot fulfill our mission or sustain our institution without students. Everything that each of us does daily to recruit and retain students helps us achieve these goals. We all must keep these goals top of mind at all times! Now we must turn our attention and energy in earnest to fall semester enrollments. #VikingStrong.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles