As the year comes to a close, I reflect on our resilience and generosity of spirit. Difficult budgetary times were met head on as we kept our promise of access and excellence. NVCC experienced the highest enrollment growth in the system. By now, many of you have also seen or heard me tell our story: One of continued enrollment growth, only surpassed by the percentage growth in the number of degrees and certificates awarded. We need to continue that trend. Our goal for this academic year is to get to our commencement day in May celebrating the awarding of 700 degrees and 300 certificates. The work being done to advise students who have completed 45 credits and to encourage early registration, engagement and planning will go far in helping us achieve this worthy goal.
This semester we take particular pride in having been a part of a significant, life-transforming event: the bringing of evening bus service to the City of Waterbury. Early reports, such as the article in the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper, indicate that ridership has exceeded early projections. The human stories in the article, however, tell the powerful story of the impact this bus service has already had on the quality of life of those who are less privileged. One young mother is quoted as saying that there is now life after 5:30 pm, and that she had been able to go Christmas shopping at the dollar store. I can’t tell you how much that brief anecdote touched me. I am so grateful to our students and colleagues at the College for bringing this about. We are making a difference in ways that are significant and transformative. We should own that and celebrate it.
The College also came together this semester to receive, inform and educate members of the Board of Regents about life at a thriving community college. We used this opportunity to bring together members of the community in support of the College’s proposal for the creation of an Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at the College. An announcement of the names of the three community colleges selected by the Board of Regents to receive significant Bond Commission support is expected to be made soon. I am very hopeful that we will be chosen but in any case, I can say proudly and sincerely that the College put forward its best effort, a very worthy effort. Many are to be thanked but Mia Samsel, guided in particular by Deans Troup and Kostrzewa, wrote a very fine proposal. Twenty community partners wrote very generous letters of support. We are blessed.
There is so much to be grateful for:
- the intelligent and generous work of the NEASC team
- the promise of the First Year Experience and the proposed Honors Institute
- the caring and student-centered approach to developmental education
- the advisement, tutoring and additional teaching undertaken by faculty
- the continued meaningful support provided by the ACE, our generous librarians and the wonderful insights from both theFaculty Senate and Student Government Association
- the powerful growth of the NVCC Danbury Center
- the continued excellence of our allied health programs
- the creation of processes to build a strong Job Placement Center
- the loving care the buildings and the grounds receive
- our uniquely powerful and beautiful horticulture and hospitality management programs
- our early childhood education support of the truly wonderful Child Development Center
- our Bridge to College program
- our General Education initiative leaders
- our ESL faculty for their dedication to their students
- our Student Services colleagues for their devotion
- our Administration colleagues for keeping the College steady and sound
- our Human Resources Office for taking care of us, and so much more.
How lucky we all are to be part of this powerful effort to bring about economic justice as we transform lives.
As you’ve often heard me say, the only way to move forward is to move forward. Changing times bring peril but also opportunity. We will focus on the opportunities that continue to come before us and that serve the greater good. As the progress report on this year’s Wildly Important Goals indicates, there is much good work going on and progress is palpable. Many of you contributed generously to the drafting of the College’s Strategic Plan and to its implementation and it shows. I thank members of the Cabinet for their able leadership and generous collaborations with one another and with so many of you without whose help significant progress would not have occurred.
As you have heard me say before, there is hard but richly rewarding work ahead of us. Let us embrace it together. Let each and every one of us continue the journey to make this the most splendid college on the face of the earth. As I close my remarks, I’d like to recall Pablo Neruda’s Nobel Laureate address, “Toward a Splendid City”, as I have done in the past:
“All paths lead to the same goal; to convey to others what we are… but in this dance or in this song, there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.”
I wish you an end of semester filled with the rewards of the spirit and the intellect. Mil gracias y bendiciones.