Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Looking Back, Moving Forward – October 30, 2020
October 30, 2020
Earlier this week the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee, led by Prof. Ekta Bhatia and Dr. Erik Fortune, presented our annual Social Justice Day program. Featured were a variety of diverse sessions including a discussion on engaging young voters, a one-act play on raising black and brown young people in today’s times, and an interactive dialogue on diversifying leadership and curriculum in higher education, among others. These co- and extra-curricular programs augment classroom instruction and provide safe spaces for learning, growth, and freedom of speech that enhance the student experience at Westchester Community College. Kudos to the team that organized this timely and relevant program. Programs like this are part of a robust liberal education that helps students explore new ideas and find their own perspective and voice in the process. Please consider attending events like this with your classes or have students attend as part of their instruction, as appropriate.
Many other achievements were on display yesterday during our State of the College address. I thank our Board of Trustees Chair Mr. John Nonna, Vice Presidents Dr. Vanessa Morest, Dr. Shawn Brown, Brian Murphy, Tere Wisell, and Tony Scordino, and especially Ms. Gianna Jimenez, Student Government President, for joining me and offering remarks relevant to their operations and work. A very special shout out, as well, to the students who so eloquently described what makes them #VikingStrong. As I mentioned during my remarks, we are that place – where students come to develop their potential and talent; where our business partners and regional industry come to build the workforce; and where our community comes to learn and engage. As we build our students’ minds, they are building their futures.” We are so fortunate to be on this journey of success with them.
Our Strategic Plan provides the framework for our way forward and guides our work in advancing academic innovation and excellence, elevating the student experience, and being responsible stewards of our resources in support of the college’s mission and strategic objectives. During our celebratory 75th anniversary year in 2021, the plan will be a useful tool to review our historic past and our great potential for the future. I share this EdTech Magazine article, “Looking Back, Moving Forward: Preparing for the Unknown,” highlighting how colleges are preparing for a future that has been changed by the global pandemic. Continuing to help students thrive in innovative learning environments that demand flexibility and increasing expectations for an “education that bends to fit their lives — or even the next global emergency” is becoming more normalized each day.
The article title also reminds me of the mythical Sankofa bird whose name means Looking Back, Moving Forward. The practice of incorporating reflections from history into plans for the future is inherent in this African symbol. This is useful for our institutional work as well as our civic engagement as we participate in voting in the days ahead, which I encourage everyone to do.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles