Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Connecting Communities
January 31, 2020
We are concluding the first two weeks of the 2020 spring semester and the first week of classes at our extension locations. We are off to a great start of the new decade! Our ability to keep pace with the needs of today’s college students includes providing a variety of teaching and learning formats including alternative schedules, online classes, and traditional platforms.
True to the community college mission of access and opportunity and expanding connections to the community, Westchester Community College broadened its reach by opening extension locations around the county. Vibrant learning communities, these centers deliver instruction and student services closer to where our students live and work. Each extension is distinctive: Peekskill is known for the arts, Ossining focuses on healthcare, Mount Vernon’s diverse course offerings help prepare students for professional careers, and the bustling Yonkers extension boasts the largest enrollment of the centers. The imminent opening of a White Plains Education and Training Center further extends the access model by embedding learning into an existing residential community.
Capably led by a strong corps of center directors and staff who are getting students off to a strong start this spring, our extension centers are central to our strategic enrollment objectives. A deep dive into our strategic enrollment management plan reveals trends from institutional research data sets and feedback from community partners where we see emerging opportunities to re-configure program offerings and re-brand our extensions. They have the potential to become even more vibrant hubs of higher education, workforce training, and university partnerships.
During these critical first weeks of class, please consider various ways to engage and encourage our new and continuing students. Ask how things are going both in and outside school. Encourage them to seek help if they have questions about expectations for their courses, where to get academic support, or how grades are determined. Are they using calendars and other planning tools to organize their work and their time? Have they met classmates and formed study groups – either in-person or via social media. While there were no social media platforms during my undergraduate years (yes, I finished school before the internet!), making time to connect with my instructors and classmates was invaluable to my learning.
Connecting with colleagues in today’s Strategic Administrative Leadership Team (SALT) meeting included exploration of Authentic Leadership and the use of positive psychology and mindfulness to promote well-being at work and home. Thanks to Juan-Carlos Piñeiro and Patrick Sheehan for facilitating this learning opportunity. As we learn about and practice self-care, we must also be mindful of how students are handling the stress that may come with starting a new semester, meeting deadlines, and all the other demands they may face at school, home, and work. This SUNY blog offers helpful insights. Please share with students and all who may benefit from this information.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles