Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: May 1, 2020
May 1, 2020
This week’s message combines a call to action, encouragement to complete and continue, and commitment to cause.
Call to Action
Earlier this week, the New York State Division of the Budget announced its FY 2021 Enacted State Budget Financial Plan, which will reduce spending by $10.1 billion from the Executive Budget with increased authorities to the Budget Director to make further cuts considering anticipated losses in revenue based on consequences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The specific impact on the state’s community colleges could be staggering with cuts up to as much as 50%. This would be on top of the difficult decision our state delegation has made already to deny the floor funding and increase per FTE base aid for next year.
We are already within the 10-day time frame that the NYS legislature has to respond to the Budget Director’s proposal. With no new funds available for consideration in their response, advocacy is needed now to ensure that community colleges do not receive further cuts, which would be disproportionate compared to other state funded entities and unfair as we educate some of the neediest individuals who have so much to offer as future employees and scholars.
Further, while Westchester’s federal delegation does not decide upon state budget issues, we need their support now to secure federal stimulus funds for New York State at a level that is proportional to the impact that COVID-19 has had on us. We have expressed our appreciation for federal stimulus funds that are already helping students. However, New York State is the hardest hit in the nation, and Westchester County is the state’s original epicenter of the pandemic. Westchester Community College was among the first institutions to face the realities of COVID-19 virus, and its ravaging affects are far from behind us. We urgently need the next federal stimulus to provide NYS the resources to avert the deep budget cuts that are otherwise coming.
If you would like to join the collective effort that also includes the Faculty Council of Community Colleges, New York Community College Association of Presidents, New York Community College Trustees, the Westchester Community College Foundation, and our WCC Board of Trustees, there are links to resources below that include sample letters and where to find your local state and federal elected officials. It is incredibly important to act this weekend, because deadlines on decision making are short.
- Sample letter – federal_advocacy_template.pdf
- Find your U.S. Senator https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm (New York is represented by Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Governor Cuomo repeatedly reminds us that our response is regional, so advocacy from our community members living in Connecticut and New Jersey is important, particularly for federal advocacy on funding for higher education and community college students!)
- Find your U.S. Representative https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative (Westchester Community College is located in the 17th Congressional District represented by Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey.)
- Sample letter – state_advocacy_template.pdf
- Find your NYS Senator https://www.nysenate.gov/find-my-senator (The college is located in the 40th Senate District represented by Senator Pete Harckham.)
- Find your NYS Assembly Member https://nyassembly.gov/mem/search/ (The college is located in the 92nd Assembly District represented by Assemblymember Thomas J. Abinanti.)
COMPLETION & CONTINUATION
You’re making a difference every day, and even though we are not together at the same place, the impact of your work is visible and extraordinary. Thanks for every Blackboard posting, online class meeting, phone call, Zoom conference, tutoring session, and every single interaction with students that helps them see that their goals are still achievable despite the challenging conditions we face.
Our collaborative work on the pass/no credit policy has affirmed to our students that we are here for them, and it is one among a long list of ways we are innovating and adapting to new and evolving circumstances. If students have questions about the policy, please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are a few additional resources:
- Saturday, May 2: The Academic Support Center is offering virtual Final Review and Q & A Sessions from 11 AM to 2 PM. Visit https://www.sunywcc.edu/events/academic-support-centers-saturday-q-a-sessions/ for information.
- WCC students can access the Academic Support Center tutorial services remotely via AskATutor (email-based tutoring service) Monday thru Friday 9 AM – 5 PM (https://www.sunywcc.edu/academics/asc/) .
- Virtual Tutoring appointments available through ZOOM using AskATutor.
- NetTutor service is available to students who need assistance outside of the hours of operation of the AskATutor service.
Finally, to kick off our season of celebrating students, please enjoy these brief insights into the #WCCVikingExperience.
Celebrating Phi Theta Kappa!
WCC’s PTK chapter, Alpha Iota Omicron, received several honors at a recent (virtual) PTK international awards ceremony which recognized the work of PTK chapters worldwide.
- Top 100 Chapters (Out of almost 1300 chapters internationally!)
- Distinguished Chapter Award
- Distinguished College Project Award
- Distinguished Chapter Officer Team: Alaysia Clarke, Jessy Dienemann, Aline Engler, Brandon Fernandez, Melissa Patino, Anthony Sobrevilla-Miguel, and Rene Tenesaca
- Paragon Award for Advisors: Tiago Machado
Way to go, PTK students! Enjoy this brief video celebrating their achievements. Congratulations, also, to our 2020 Phi Theta Kappa inductees. We look forward to more outstanding work from this latest cohort of scholars! Thanks to Tiago Machado, Rachele Hall, and Robin Graff for their dedication and commitment to our thriving PTK chapter and unwavering support our students and the college.
(RE)COMMITMENT TO CAUSE
Colleagues, we all can play a role in supporting our students and fulfilling the college mission. Our faculty and staff have done a monumental job to maintain quality standards in transitioning our curriculum to online and remote formats. Students can be confident in our commitment to provide expected learning outcomes. Their success is our success and we will not let them down. Please remind them that they are #VikingStrong and encourage them to enroll now for the summer and fall semesters.
Our students’ talents and skills are needed more than ever and we are a safe harbor and a bridge to opportunity for many. Thanks, again, for being there for them and for each other.
Be well and stay safe.
Dr. Belinda S. Miles