"My Dear Colleagues and Students, a new semester is underway and engagement in multiple ways is palpable! Welcome, everyone, to another semester and to the opportunity to inspire, to believe, to teach and to learn together. We continue to be challenged to be creative, of good humor, resilient and persistent. These are all traits that support our continued efforts and have begun to show results.
Registration is on-going for our Late Start semester. Our enrollment numbers at this time point to a semester that will most likely reflect maintenance of our numbers as compared to last spring. To be noted, however, our headcount is slightly up but, significantly, it exceeds 7,000 credit students for the first time in spring registration at NVCC. As of this morning, our headcount is 7,005 and our FTE number is 4,057. The decline in FTE reflects a trend of an increased number of part time students. After freeze date, Joan Arbusto will be sending out our final numbers to the College community. I thank everyone for all you do each and every day for our students, and in particular, I thank our colleagues in Admissions, the Center for Academic Planning and Student Success, the Registrar, the Business Office, Cashier’s Office, Public Safety and Academic Affairs for their support of advisement and registration. Colleagues at our Danbury Center are to be congratulated for their sustained growth which at this time indicates 890 credit student headcount and 355 FTE.
For the beauty of this morning, we thank Roseann Tunila and Ann De Vito in my office, and our colleagues in facilities. For their continued support and care, I thank members of the President’s Cabinet: Jim Troup, AJ Dubois, Sandra Palmer, Lillian Ortiz, Wally Kostrzewa, Conal Larkin and Estela Lopez. Let me also take this opportunity to welcome Patricia O’Brien, Deputy Commissioner for NEASC to our campus. We appreciate her warm, generous and very collegial support. Sandra Palmer will be introducing her later on in the program. I am also delighted to have with us the newest addition to the NVCC family, Sydney Voghel-Ochs, Director of Community Engagement. Welcome, Sydney!
At the December 2011 Board of Regents meeting, Dr. Robert Kennedy, President of the Board of Regents for Connecticut State Colleges and Universities promulgated four system strategic priorities. These are:
- preparing students to enter post-secondary education prepared to succeed
- efficient and easier transfer between community colleges and four-year institutions
- spurring innovations
- encouraging private sector collaboration
I believe these strategic priorities fit perfectly with Naugatuck Valley Community College’s current Strategic Plan. There is much work being done already at the College to build community and create Bridges-to College, to the community, to our sister institutions in the system. There are, however, a number of conversations designed to strengthen the link between the colleges and the universities, and to encourage collaboration at the curricular, cultural and partnership level. Within the next few weeks, I will be able to share information about new plans to collaborate in more organic ways.
As we consider where we are at midpoint in academic year 2011-2012, I invite you to celebrate a number of significant achievements but also remind you that tough budget times will be challenging us even more in the months and perhaps years to come. I will begin with some comments about the budget: As you may recall when I approved the College’s budget for this fiscal year in October of 2011, it was a budget that was very lean because of a multi-million dollar cut to higher education by the State of Connecticut which resulted in a 1.3 million dollar cut for NVCC. In the seventh month of the fiscal year we see that we are managing our expenditures well but have experienced a revenue short-fall because of less vigorous spring enrollments than anticipated. Additionally, this week the Governor has announced a rescission for the State of Connecticut which translates into an additional $183,000 reduction in our budget this year. We are contemplating how that will be managed, and must report to the Board of Regents next week how this latest cut will be absorbed. For the next fiscal year 2012-13, a tuition/fee increase has been approved by the Board of Regents in the amount of 3.1%. Even with additional tuition revenue the College could be left with the need to impose further significant cuts in the allocation of next year’s budget.
On Monday, the day we were informed of the impending mid-year budget cut, I also was sent a copy of a beautiful e-mail sent out by Eileen George, Interim Director of Allied Health, notifying colleagues of the latest results in the NCLEX exams. Go, NVCC students. You are the best! I’d like to read to you the content of this communication because it embodies what I admire: an Academic Director who can collect much information, summarize it succinctly and explain to her colleagues its meaning and how it supports a vision for our commitment to our students. Leadership is shining in so many offices of our beautiful College. Here are Eileen’s words:
Congratulations! Attached is the NCLEX Report from the National Council highlighting the 4th quarter of 2011 and the calendar year for 2011. Connecticut ranked third nationally in overall pass rates placing behind Vermont and New Hampshire, states that have less than 650 graduates per year. Connecticut ranks highest among states that graduate over 1,000 Associate and Baccalaureate Students per year. This is an outstanding accomplishment for Connecticut.
- on pages 1-4 you will see the pass rates for all schools/programs in Connecticut, and
- on pages 5 & 6, you will see how Connecticut stacks up for the nation
Please note that (for the 5-11 cohort) that NVCC nursing students ranked the second highest of all the community colleges. In addition, pass rates were on par with Quinnipiac or better than many of the universities (UCONN, Fairfield & Yale). Student success is a direct result of the collective efforts of the entire college community…it truly does take a village. Thank you for the outstanding work you have done to achieve this level of student success.
Collective efforts as a community of purpose do produce results. Thank you, Eileen, Brava! and to all of you for your continued engagement.
Sandra Palmer and Kim O’Donnell report much progress in the preparation of our NEASC self-study. This is an effort that has engaged over 100 colleagues and students on campus. You will hear more as the program progresses. I promised everyone an afternoon high tea in the spring to celebrate completion of the writing process. I can’t wait to celebrate with them!
As I write these words, we await final decision on two very meaningful applications: An Advanced Manufacturing Center at NVCC and a Fulbright Artist in Residence. Mia Samsel, Jim Troup, Wally Kostrzewa, Sandra Palmer, Pamela Tolbert-Bynum and Eileen Reiner, respectively, are to be commended for their support of these two very important initiatives. As soon as we have final word, we will communicate to colleagues and begin preparations for implementation of these two very important initiatives.
Academic Affairs has begun implementation of its First Year Experience and a pilot for an Honors Program begins implementation this spring 2012 semester. Much work is in place to begin the implementation of a summer bridge program to support students’ progress through developmental course sequences in Math, English and our English as a Second Language Summer Institute is in its third year. Our course offerings at 6:30 a.m. during the week and Sunday classes, supported by having the Academic Center for Excellence and the Library open on Sundays, have been very successful and continue to grow.
The Student Services area has implemented fully a Center for Academic Planning and Student Success to support the expansion of the Academic Advisor pool from a small group of 30 active advisors in academic year 2010-2011 to 133 academic advisors and five members of the CAPSS advising students for the spring 2012 semester. Our Financial Aid Office awarded 2 million dollars of the College’s own tuition funds to meet students’ financial needs.
Professor Rachel Sackett, Chair of the Faculty Senate, is in class. She sends the following remarks to the faculty:
The Senate is in the process of working with CAPSS to build a new handbook and develop training/break-out sessions for a pro-staff meeting for faculty advisors;
Weekly walk-n-talk: (days to be determined, but will most likely be on Thursday or Friday afternoons)…meet with colleagues to get out of our caves, socialize and get a little exercise in! I will be sending out a Senate newsletter with more details
The Senate will be hosting another open forum this semester with Dean Palmer. We will be having it sometime the end of February or beginning of March. Details to follow.
As we look to the new semester, I will repeat what you have heard me say before: we need to continue to embrace the concept of “owning the solution”. The fact that we are challenged by the difficult but very important imperative to support measurable improvement in student outcomes in a time of diminished budget allocations, is not news. The challenge then lies in how we commit with renewed vigor to find solutions to difficult problems. We are all expected to review how the manner in which we conduct our work supports the College’s Strategic Plan and to reflect on what could be done differently to produce better results, where required.
Dear colleagues, as you have experienced and as my remarks attempt to encapsulate, we are at a time of growth and achievement but also at a time that requires more than ever our creativity, perseverance and generosity if we are to succeed. The cause is noble; the results are worth striving for. Thank you for walking with me as an engaged and connected community of purpose as we move forward together toward the realization of a splendid college for our students’ sake, our own sakes and on behalf of all who come after us.
I close my remarks by offering a brief quote from “The American Dream” a speech given by Martin Luther King at Lincoln University in 1961. His words resonated with me then, and still continue to give meaning to the work I do today:
All this is simply to say that all life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality: tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…This is the way the world is made…
A Testament of Hope (1991), p. 210
Let Dr. King’s dream live on in the way we support each and every one of our students, and for all those who will be students in generations to come.
For you, I wish a thousand splendid suns, and offer many, many thanks. Mil gracias y bendiciones."