Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles – November 13, 2015
The American Association of Community Colleges’ 21st-Century Initiative for reimagining community college education provides a blueprint to redesign students’ educational experiences, reinvent institutional roles, and reset the system so it better promotes student success. After yesterday’s Town Hall meeting, I reflected on the last part: reset the system so it better promotes student success. The Town Hall and affinity group meetings and my one-on-one conversations have expanded my understanding of our campus culture and how it might evolve with a continued focus on student success.
One clear message is that the ways we’ve been communicating haven’t worked for many. We’re meeting often and sending a lot of emails, but this hasn’t led to real dialogue in all cases. We need to find ways to engage all stakeholders in meaningful discussion. If you have a suggestion on how we can improve internal communications, please share it with Janice Adams who will compile your suggestions and share them with the community. As I said yesterday, it’s time to “hit the reset button.”
At the Town Hall, twelve faculty and staff members raised important issues, and common themes emerged around faculty input, staff contributions to the life of the college, and internal communications. Here are specific responses to some of those remarks.
- First and foremost, the passion for our work and for the institution, overall, shows. This hard work is evident in the accomplishments we celebrate, such as the high marks on the Survey of Entering Student Engagement and the 100% passage rate of our nursing students on their licensure exams!
- Input from students, faculty, and staff on key decisions most often contributes to better results. Together we must seek new and better ways to solicit input, share and process new ideas, and report progress on emerging initiatives.
- Our culture should make every employee feel empowered to initiate and participate in change. Through our varied roles, we each share responsibility for designing, implementing, and evaluating new initiatives. As multiple new initiatives emerge, please speak up if you would like to be involved or if broader engagement is needed. Everyone’s input matters.
- Collectively, let’s all be committed to promoting a culture of open dialogue that equally respects every point of view and protects every employee from any sense of retaliation or other discrimination.
- The vice president for academic affairs position is not advertised at this time in order to maintain continuity while we hire new unit level deans and prepare and submit our Middle States monitoring report.
- We agree that more professional development for staff is desirable. Please share your thoughts and ideas with Ed Tatton, President of the Staff Council.
- When I have new information on contract negotiations, I will inform union leadership.
We will have responses soon on the questions about the success rates of math students, adequacy of learning resources, and the high school courses for college credit.
The redesign-reinvent-reset paradigm is a good way to frame our thoughts around the future of Westchester Community College. It prompts many questions.
- How do we better serve our mission?
- Who are the students we serve?
- What support do they need? How do we do better for them?
- How do we structure ourselves to achieve better outcomes for our students?
- What should we do first? What after that?
- How can we combine thoughtful approaches with the urgency to meet the needs of our students and community?
- What processes for collective input and improved communications do we need?
The list goes on, and none of the answers are simple. We are right to ask these questions, and we have abundant talent and thought leadership to answer them. It’s time to hit the reset button. Let’s take what we’ve learned and develop the processes we need to promote exemplary student service and success.
Thanks for making it a great week.
Belinda S. Miles