Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles – March 24, 2015
The college is alive with preparation for our Middle States accreditation site visit. The visitors arrive on Sunday evening and are here through Wednesday morning (yes, that’s April Fool’s Day!). I am grateful for all the effort that has gone into these preparations. In the few months since my arrival, I have seen a high level of commitment to showcasing evidence of how we meet the fourteen Middle States standards. I have also seen very authentic approaches to identifying and addressing areas where we want to improve our outcomes.
Our primary focus for the visit is on what Middle States refers to as “fundamental elements.” The visiting team will conduct more than 100 interviews while on campus to validate what we reported. I know you are collectively committed to improving the college and I am confident that we are about to host a successful visit which will focus not only on ways the college will improve in the future but also acknowledge the many achievements of the past several years. Please be assured that other recommendations from the work groups will be addressed by the appropriate teams at the College. Please drop in to one of the upcoming sessions designed to answer any remaining questions about the Middle States visit and process:
- Thursday, March 26th 11-12 Gateway Auditorium
- Friday, March 27th 1-2 Gateway Auditorium
Additional highlights of our recent work follow:
Huge congratulations go out to students Cindy Coligan and Jason Isolini, who received 2015 Phi Theta Kappa All-New York Academic Awards for community college students! Proud PTK advisor, Robin Graff and I celebrated with Cindy and Jason at the ceremony in Albany. Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in higher education, serving nearly 1,300 colleges. Our students were selected among other statewide selections to the All-New York Academic Team recognized for the academic achievement, leadership accomplishments, and community service.
Thanks to Assistant Professor Jessica Seessel and Timothy Magee for sharing their work on aligning standards for exiting high school students with those for incoming college students. Please contact either professor for details.
I am pleased to announce the formation of the President’s Roundtable for Executing Student Success (PRESS). The PRESS Team is a cross-functional group of practitioners who will identify and prioritize scalable student success initiatives to improve outcomes for our students and institution. Significant effort will focus on activities that improve results on ten key student success metrics:
The first four are related to College Readiness: 1) students needing at least one remedial course; 2) students testing into remedial English; 3) students testing into remedial math; 4) students testing into remedial reading. The next two focus on Engagement: 5) fall to spring retention; 6) fall to fall retention. Two more on Learning: 7) completed remedial English in year one; 8) completed remedial math in year one. The last two on Completion: 9) total number of graduates annually; 10) three-year graduation rate.
We have documented baselines for each metric and shared them with the college community via Town Hall gatherings.
Our student “dream team” recently worked behind the scenes during the National Basketball Association All-Star Week, assisting engineers in wiring various NBA event venues and registering Cisco IP phones to the NBA network. As the special week progressed, and various events such as the All Star Game were held at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the students moved into a support role, helping troubleshoot network issues. Our students teamed with professional engineers in addition to students from other institutions including additional SUNY schools. Our own Steve Leone served as one of the lead instructors on the project which included students from our Cisco Networking Academy: Eric Barton, Neil Dandridge, Debbie Huyler, Oumar Mane and Lawrence Smith.
Primary community engagement activities include “telling our story”, advocacy for our work, and partnership development in various local and regional meetings including: County Executive Rob Astorino; Westchester County Board of Legislators; County Legislative Chairman Michael Kaplowitz; Westchester County Planning Commission (WCC capital projects – infrastructure projects, technology upgrades, and parking lot paving and drainage projects); Business Council of Westchester President; Workforce Investment Board President; Southern Westchester BOCES District Superintendent and Deputy; SUNY Purchase president, SUNY Legislative Reception (various legislators – Albany), and others. The County Board of Legislators invited me to address them at their February 23 meeting, during which college trustee Toni Cox Burns was honored for her contributions to the community. Click the link to see Board of Legislators Chair Michael Kaplowitz’s introduction (starts at 2:00), my brief presentation (3:00) and Ms. Burns (31:32). http://westchestercountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/SplitView.aspx?Mode=Video&MeetingID=3527&Format=Agenda
Visits to two of our extension sites, Ossining and Mt. Vernon, further increase my WCC pride! These are strong access points for our community members. I am excited about the potential to continue growing these centers.
I am very pleased to welcome our interim Vice President and Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Peggy Bradford who joined us just three weeks ago. Dr. Bradford’s prior positions include VP of Academic Affairs at Baltimore City Community College and Dean of Academic Affairs at Cuyahoga Community College. She holds numerous degrees: Ed.D. from Northern Illinois University a Juris Doctor from The University of Iowa, a masters, and a bachelors from Southern Illinois University and an associates from, Shawnee Community College. She has already met with our full-time faculty during a comprehensive Listening Tour and is scheduled to meet with adjuncts and staff in the coming weeks. Her acumen in accreditation and academic leadership are particular strengths for her role with us at WCC.
The Bursar’s Office has been very busy, mailing more than 4,000 financial aid refund checks earlier this month. This timely distribution of these checks is important to the success of our students.
With pride, we recognize achievements by several members of our campus community:
- Art faculty members Professor Carla Rae Johnson; and adjunct instructors Elizabeth Prown (also Lab Manager and Gallery Coordinator), Barbara Segal, and Neil Waldman for being named “outstanding artists” by ArtsWestchester. They will be honored at the ArtsWestchester 50th Anniversary Arts Award Luncheon on April 16, 2015.
- Yolanda Howell and Professor Judy Langer being honored by the WCC Women’s History Committee for their many contributions to WCC.
- Staff Council Staff Excellence Awards bestowed to Renee Price, Office Assistant Personnel Human Resources and Teresa Michaud, Office Assistant Division Secretary.
Recent Town Hall meetings have been very well attended by cross sections of campus employees. The cabinet members and I are grateful for the participation and the excellent questions and follow-up received to date.
Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher has announced that three of our adjunct professors have been recognized for consistently superior teaching. Professors Brian Centrone (English), Toby Grossfield (Mathematics) and Joan Lederman (Health and Physical Education) received Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. Congratulations to these wonderful faculty members.
We have received inquiries from the County Planning Commission regarding our involvement in technical and trade skill preparation. Our existing technical/trade programs include Advanced Manufacturing, Fiber Optics Technician, Home Inspection, Pesticide Applicator, and Water Operator. We will explore additional technical/trade training with consideration for availability of other local training options, infrastructure costs, and anticipated demand in these fields. For example, we are exploring options to partner with BOCES and similar entities to augment offerings in skilled worker fields that lead to national certifications and potentially participate in shared usage and articulated programs.
In closing, I am excited about our future together on behalf of our students and institution. Our rapidly changing landscape requires that each of us continue to evolve as we remain steadfast in our focus on achieving our success and completion objectives.