Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Focused on Success – April 30, 2021
April 30, 2021
This is the time of year when we are even more intentional in our focus on students to ensure they have all they need to successfully complete the semester, especially those students on target to graduate in just a few weeks. Please watch your email for events, final exam prep sessions, counseling opportunities, and more that Student Access, Involvement, and Success and academic departments will offer as students prepare to present their final projects and look for study opportunities before exams. The website has more information about supportive student services.
SUNY Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Merryl H. Tisch visited our Valhalla campus on Wednesday, meeting with faculty members and students in-person and via Zoom. This was an opportunity to showcase our programs, curricula, and teaching modalities. Thanks to Provost Morest for faculty outreach and to Professors Patrick Barrette, Diana Berman, Kim Walsh, Elise Martucci, and John Watkins for taking time during the busy semester to meet with Chairperson Tisch. Thanks also to Tiago Machado for his outreach and to students Rion Montgomery, Junay Burnett, Raphael Curaming, and Student Government President Gianna Jimenez. Our students are confident and engaged members of our college community, who with your help, are well prepared for their next steps and will represent Westchester Community College well in their futures.
Even as we continue to be mostly remote in our operations, we are still a community committed to building connections with each other and our students. As the semester winds down, I encourage you to participate in the many end-of-semester celebrations that honor our students. This show of support is so meaningful to them, especially from their instructors and others on campus who have provided support and motivation to persist, stay on track, and finish what our students started. Our attendance at any of our college events and gatherings reminds students that they are valued members of our community and that we are proud of their work and achievements. Attending these events is also a wonderful reminder of the tremendous impact we have on so many lives by doing what we do.
Many of you may have heard the phrase, “Be ready so you don’t have to get ready.” At this dynamic time in our nation’s history and as we prepare for post-pandemic recovery, we need to be laser focused on our strategic plan and the future of Westchester Community College. President Biden’s announcement of additional stimulus funding through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act will provide more financial assistance to community colleges and our students, and we need to be ready to direct funds to programs, services, and students quickly and in compliance with federal regulations. President Biden’s free community college proposal would expand access to millions more Americans to prepare for promising middle skills careers and/or transfer to four-year institutions. This is particularly important for those who have not been able to benefit from access to higher education historically and is essential to equity and economic recovery goals.
We are also working with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), and County and SUNY leadership to identify critical infrastructure needs within our nation’s community colleges. This week, we submitted a list of anticipated needs for Westchester Community College based on our advanced master planning. Thanks, Director Cirillo, for coordinating our input!
Please remind students that summer and fall registration is under way, especially students on track to complete in August and December. As this Inside Higher Ed article depicts, community colleges across the nation — including our own — are experiencing deep enrollment declines. While federal relief provides a short-term fix, the impact on our operations and long-term planning are serious. Please think of ways to reach current and potential students to encourage them to enroll as soon as possible. Let students who may be attending other colleges in the fall know that they can get an affordable jump on their studies this summer at Westchester Community College. Tell adults seeking new skills about the rich array of offerings that can prepare them for their next career opportunity.
We all have a role in our post-pandemic recovery and in the continued success of our students and institution. Thanks for doing your part.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles