Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles – May 1, 2015
Much has happened in the weeks since my last update. Perhaps most notably is the excitement of having our Middle States Commission of Higher Education review team on campus. This visit continues to resonate college-wide. We were heartened by the visiting team’s report and await notification of the Commission’s final decision in late June as we work daily to improve our teaching, learning, and operations. Following are additional recent highlights of our collective efforts:
WCC is one of only four community colleges across the nation to be selected by the Achieving the Dream (ATD) National Reform Network to join their network at a substantially discounted rate. A generous grant to ATD from the Kresge Foundation to the Lumina Foundation enabled Lumina to extend this invitation. ATD provides a network, framework, and substantial technical assistance to help colleges improve student success outcomes related to readiness, learning, persistence, and completion. In addition to the Achieving the Dream organization, Lumina, and Kresge, we thank two very generous Foundation donors (Ruth and Andrew Suzman) for supporting our participation in this transformative movement.
The President’s Roundtable for Executing Student Success (PRESS) has officially launched! This practitioner oriented group consists of faculty, staff, and administrators who work closely with students. It is focused on improving outcomes in student readiness, engagement, learning, and completion. They will be deliberative in engaging others college-wide to propose, implement, and track the effectiveness of activities designed to achieve targeted student success.
WCC is one of seven SUNY community colleges invited to participate in a study exploring the effectiveness of alternatives to traditional college entrance placement tests. High school GPA; scores on ACT, SAT, and Regents exams; and non-cognitive measures are among the variables that will be considered as options for determining the likelihood of college success. The study is being conducted by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. Our lead faculty members are Jessica Seessel and Hope Barcus.
Congratulations to the students being honored at our numerous recognition events this spring. Special thanks to the faculty and staff who work with these students throughout the year and celebrate with them at these functions. I have met many of the honorees. These students received recognition from Phi Theta Kappa, SUNY Chancellor’s Nancy Zimpher, student clubs and student government, co-curricular groups, and service learning entities. I am proud of them all!
WCC is seeking a significant Title V grant that will focus on improving our enrollment management processes and academic pathways. Improvement to enrollment management was a significant recommendation from the Middle States visiting team. WCC’s recent designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) makes us eligible to apply for these resources.
An essay by Evan Eckfeld, a student of Professor Rose Gilmore, was selected as the winning entry for the David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship. The topic was on how New York Courts have addressed equal human rights for the LGBT community. The contest was open to all SUNY and CUNY community colleges. Our congratulations to Evan and Professor Gilmore!
Student Wellington Mackey has been selected to receive a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Wellington is one of 85 community college scholars nationally to receive the award, the nation’s largest scholarship for community college students. The award is for up to $40,000 per year. Congratulations to Wellington and thanks to Director of Scholarships Sandra Ramsay for her work to help facilitate this honor.
We have begun discussions with Con Edison about their need for future employees and their interest in working with us on curriculum development. We have a strong relationship with this company and look forward to working together to match their needs with our academic program offerings in order to further “fuel” the local workforce and local economy! Thanks to Vice President Tere Wisell and her team for helping facilitate our engagement with this industry partner.
SUNY is partnering with the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) on a system-wide application for the U.S. Department of Labor American Apprenticeship Initiative grant. This grant application focuses on creating new registered apprenticeship programs to meet regional economic, industry, and workforce needs. Approximately 25 grants will be awarded from the target funding of $5 million to secure 1,000 apprentices over a five-year period. WCC’s Workforce team members secured commitments from two regional firms to provide apprenticeship opportunities as part of this effort.
WCC will continue its longstanding presence on the board of the Business Council of Westchester. Our relationship with this important association representing Westchester businesses is crucial as we work to understand and meet regional needs for knowledgeable and skilled members of our community. I look forward to bringing resources to the college based on this important affiliation.
I join many of you in this focus area by “telling our story”, advocating for our work, and exploring partnerships that support our goals through various local and regional meetings: The Power of a Father’s Presence: Challenges and Victories in Supporting Dads Fatherhood Conference sponsored by the Westchester County Department of Social Services, speaker; Community College Role in Regional Economic Development, Association of Community College Trustees Workshop, panelist; Facilitating Student Success in Multi-site Community College Systems, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), workshop leader; Men of Color Initiative’s Women’s History Month program, Bronx Community College, keynote speaker; Congresswoman Nita Lowey information session and student discussion on her support of PELL grant funding, Hartford Hall, host/participant; The Promise and Perils of Community Colleges, Academic Festival, Teachers College, Columbia University, panelist; Trends in Education reception, Teachers College, Columbia University, attendee; reception for community leaders and legislators, coordinated by College Trustee Toni Cox-Burns, co-host; American Women of African Heritage, Inc. (AWAH) unveiling of its historical archives in collaboration with the college library and the Foundation, attendee.
Here is a sample of some of the recent news coverage the college has received. Please click on each link to view articles.
- Journal News: Obama’s plan for free college: G.I. Bill for the 21st century (April 14, 2015).
- AACC Community College Daily: Working across multi-campus college systems (April 15, 2015).
- WFAS 1230 AM Lisa Wexler Show (April 7, 2015)
- Daily Voice: Mount Pleasant: Westchester Community College Hosts Roundtable On Financial Aid Budget Cuts (3/27/15). Congresswoman Nita Lowey held a roundtable with students. By clicking on the images to the right of the Lowey image, you will hear my comments and also those by Dean Weigand.
Sarah Lawrence University has established a new full-need scholarship for a transferring student. This further cements our ties to elite four-year institutions as we strive to make transferring to the nation’s leading colleges and universities easier for our students.
Thanks to members of the Strategic Planning Core Team for regrouping to match the strategic plan priorities and metrics to current framing of institutional goals (five themes) and feedback from recent Middle States visit. This important transition meeting bridges the excellent work done over the past year and a half with our renewed student success and institutional excellence focus.
Special thanks to the WCC team who attended a Middle States Commission on Higher Education workshop on Effective Follow-up to Site Visits. Our expertise in meeting and improving our performance on the MSCHE standards is growing as we engage in these types of training. Participants were Dr. Peggy Bradford, Nancy DeRiggi, Al Ugoji, Prof. Paul Robinson, Prof. Laurel Senft, and Ruben Barato.
The New York State Legislature approved an increase of $100 per FTE (community colleges) as revenue for next year’s budget. This increase was due, in part, to substantial information sharing with the legislature about funds needed to support student success and completion efforts. These resources are combined with support from the County and student tuition to comprise WCC’s next annual budget.
The Senior Administrative Leadership Team (SALT) is a newly established cross-functional group providing leadership development for the college’s administrators. The April session on Emotionally Intelligent Leadership was very capably facilitated by Student Government President Tom Cobb who provides this training to incoming student senators. In addition to Tom’s deft training skills, the SALT team benefitted from hearing the “student’s voice” during this unique session. We wish Tom well as he graduates this spring. He will represent WCC well!
Dr. Rose Cooper, who began working at the college as an instructor in 1963 and later moved into various positions at the college including her current role as Assistant Dean of Evening Services, is retiring. We wish Rose the best as she enjoys her well-deserved retirement!
Our new Faculty Senate officers are: Presiding Officer Heather Ostman, Assistant Presiding Officer Scorpio Rogers, Secretary Chad Thompson and Treasurer Doris Warmflash. I am pleased to announce that I have formed the President’s Communication Council as a forum for communication between the Faculty Senate Leadership and President’s Cabinet. This group will meet periodically to for discussion and input on the myriad activities the college is embracing to improve student and institutional outcomes. The inaugural meeting later this month will celebrate outgoing Presiding Officer Prof. Sean Simpson and welcome the new team members.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles