Sustainability Amidst Instability
Strategic Plan 2020 – 2023
In less than two years since the strategic plan was launched, the world has changed once again with deepened civil unrest and the emergence of a deadly pandemic. Colleges and universities, just like businesses, nonprofits, and governments, are organizing themselves for an uncertain post-pandemic recovery era. Now celebrating its 75th year, Westchester Community College stands at the forefront of future-ready community colleges that are forging new strategies to further strengthen their place as higher education’s accessible open door and affordable pathway to opportunity.
Notwithstanding the rapid pace of significant change, the strategic plan launched in 2019 remains relevant. Already, some objectives for innovative instruction and advanced technology have been met or exceed. Others are well underway through utilizing the college’s new agile framework of networks of integrated teams focused on student experiences and performance outcomes.
Consider the following strategic plan as your invitation to be a co-creator of the college’s next 75 years.
Letter from Dr. Belinda S. Miles, President
Situated in the lower Hudson River Valley bordering New York City, Westchester County stands out as one of the nation’s most distinctive counties. Westchester County houses nearly one million diverse residents who enjoy access to the world’s foremost financial and cultural center. It is home to an eclectic mix of vibrant urban, cozy suburban, and bucolic rural communities nestled between the Hudson River and the Long Island Sound. It is a center for commerce with 32,000 businesses ranging from Fortune 500 companies to thousands of small firms, all fueling job growth and economic expansion. Unbounded creativity is expressed in public art and at venues for residents of all ages to become immersed in a wide variety of literature, performing arts, and visual arts. Our healthcare system includes 11 hospitals, and the county ranks among New York State’s best in the ratio of primary care physicians to county residents. Within this dynamic network of global thought, diversity, innovation, and excellence is a higher learning system of 42,000 students attending 25 different institutions, including the county’s largest higher education provider, Westchester Community College.
A deeper look beyond this picture of abundance reveals that about one in 12 people in Westchester County lives in poverty, and about one in 15 under the age of 65 does not have health insurance. Issues of economic mobility are especially prevalent among community college students, with seven out of 10 nationwide indicating that they have faced food or housing insecurity. This stark reality is not how we wish to see ourselves now or in the future. As we contemplate the future beyond our 75th anniversary in 2021, we reaffirm the essential role of an accessible, high quality, and affordable education that creates multiple opportunities to eradicate these abhorrent conditions in our society.
Our raison d’être is to provide access to education and training that prepares students to thrive in their chosen careers and constructively participate in civil society. Because of our extraordinary work and accomplishments, we have pivoted toward greater but still unimagined levels of community impact. This moment amidst unprecedented competition calls for us to consider our place among the most cutting-edge advances of our time:
- Massive growth and adoption of big data analytics and disruptive technologies like robots, drones, automation, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality, which are creating whole new businesses and industries and accelerating changes in almost all other professions, including education.
- Employment that is almost unrecognizable to a generation of workers who could count on a lifetime of service to a stable company. The “gig economy” is real for today’s college graduates whose work arrangements are constantly in flux and whose skills need to be constantly updated.
- Cultural changes in society characterized by increasing diversity of individuals, thoughts, expressions, and engagements.
This is where our strategic plan commences. These are our strategies, actions, and indictors of success for improving outcomes at our college and for our community. This plan provides a roadmap of our areas of highest momentum capitalizing on our greatest strengths. It shows how we are already on a trajectory toward mass personalization of instructional delivery that promotes student success. The plan represents the thinking, input, and labor of an inclusive and broad-based community coalescing around emergent academic content, investigating innovative teaching practices, bringing an entrepreneurial mindset to longstanding practices, constantly striving for better, leading with confidence, and asking, “What’s next?”
A Personal Success Story for Every Student
As Westchester Community College approaches its 75th Anniversary, we are proud to tell you that our story has been one of relationships: everyone in Westchester County and its surrounding areas knows someone who has attended Westchester Community College. The heart of the college extends throughout the area, across the country, and around the world, through the shining contributions of our 80,000 graduates. Our strengths, then, derive from a well-supported, well-coordinated network that has been developed with the intention to provide clear, relevant pathways for every student’s success. And, here, our heart is in creating pathways for all students’ success, because our students’ success stories are our passion.
At the center of our strategic planning process has been the awareness of our students’ myriad needs before they arrive at the College as well as while they are enrolled and beyond. We have sought through a careful, extensive, and reflective process to include the voices and ideas of all of the College’s stakeholders: students, faculty, administrators, staff, local business owners and professionals, Board of Trustees members, and more. Through a rigorous listening process, we have become very comfortable with our responsibility to enable each student the opportunities he or she needs to flourish in an evolving social, economic, and technological landscapes. We embrace our responsibility as educators to approach our students with a holistic awareness, as we seek to continuously develop and scaffold pathways that extend from pre-college learning experiences, through the college experience, to transfer opportunities to four-year college, and to meaningful and sustainable career and workforce opportunities.
Westchester Community College is committed—heart and soul— to cultivating and fortifying clear educational and career pathways for all students. These pathways draw from relationships that begin well before college commences, stemming from strong connections to the community’s K-12 schools, and extend well beyond the College through solid transfer agreements with dozens of competitive four-year institutions and professional and career opportunities with local businesses and institutions.
At Westchester Community College, we celebrate the diversity of our students, and because of their individual gifts, are committed to supporting and elevating their academic experiences and student services experiences, endowing those experiences with an unshakeable commitment to equity and inclusion. We understand that our story is our students’ stories, and we are better for our plurality and diversity—and we extend that perspective into everything we do: We weave the network of support for our students with a commitment to innovative teaching, alignment with current educational and career trends, anticipation of new directions in the workforce, flexible programming and modes of delivery, and integration of high-impact practices. We are dedicated to always search beyond the “one-size-fits-all” approach to education and boldly continue to look for pedagogies, technologies, internal and external relationships, and support and administrative systems that provide all of our students with relevant, meaningful, and excellent opportunities.