My Dear Colleagues and Students,
Today we celebrate the value of community colleges as exemplified by the good work of so many at Naugatuck Valley Community College. We are to celebrate our mandate to serve our students and communities, the confidence placed in us by so many community stakeholders, our culture of advocacy for the community college agenda and our students, our sacred trust and most valued asset.
Another year comes to a close, and the challenges in terms of budgetary cuts continue to plague us, yet we can truly take comfort in our knowledge that access and excellence are our most salient priority and inform all of our work. You have read, no doubt, about the rescission plans currently being formulated at all public institutions of higher education in Connecticut. Provost Troup has been working with Cabinet members and they in turn are consulting their respective areas about the formulation of a college response to the latest challenges. We will be sharing information in the Weekly Bulletin, expected to be distributed tomorrow.
The difficult news on the budget does not for me, and it should not for you, cloud the bright sun shining on our accomplishments this year. Here are just a few, certainly not all that should be noted:
- There is evening bus service in the City of Waterbury (as well as unlimited bus riding for our students under the UPass program) and so many of our students and our citizens are the beneficiaries of this powerful act of advocacy by students, faculty, staff and administration at the College supported by our community partners.
- Our self-study work and the NEASC team did credit to the excellent work of many, and encouraged us all to continue on our path and to continue to aim even higher and improve: how we advise students, how we support general education and how we increase the number of students we graduate.
- The College became the first community college in Connecticut to award more than a thousand associate degrees and certificates, virtually doubling the number of awards in four years.
- Our Allied Health Programs continue to excel as per results in our students licensure exams.
- We lobbied successfully to become one of three Connecticut community colleges to create an Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center and were able to set it up, recruit instructors, staff and students, create syllabi and have it ready for operation on August 31, the first day of the fall semester.
- We were successful in lobbying for a GEAR UP program for the City of Waterbury. The College has become the fiduciary of an $11.3 million grant, designed to transform the lives of more than a thousand children in three middle schools in the City of Waterbury by mentoring, providing enrichment programs and supporting their high school completion and successful college applications.
- We are the first community college in Connecticut to have been designated a host institution for a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, Pascal Meccariello.
- Student enrollment at our Danbury Center continues to grow, and it is now at 937, confirming the need for a community college presence in that beautiful city.
I could go on but let me point out that the agenda before us illustrates the path and the manner we will follow. Curriculum fine-tuning and program enhancements continue. The College is poised to respond in a very fine way on the Transfer Articulation Pathway (TAP) proposed scope of work. It is in our students’ best interest for us to engage in a process, thoughtfully guided by the Academic Affairs unit, and in particular by Professor Ron Picard and so many in his General Education Committee. We need to move forward in this regard to ensure that our students can transfer their 30 -credit general education requirement to any of the sister universities.
Our preliminary report from NEASC, called a fact confirmation report, arrived a few days ago. I’ve shared with many small groups some of the summary findings. It is very encouraging for all of us to see that our vision and agenda are understood and supported. We will continue to move forward, putting students first, and demanding of ourselves the kind of professional rigor and the generosity of heart required to accomplish this very difficult but necessary work. Dean Kostrzewa will speak briefly about our plans and process for the drafting of our next Strategic Plan, scheduled to be put in place before the beginning of next academic year.
The rest of this afternoon will focus on celebrating community, our talents and our contributions. I am looking forward to applauding our colleagues’ artistic sensibilities, recognizing outstanding and meritorious service and celebrating milestones of commitment to State service.
I conclude my brief remarks by quoting my beloved Pablo Neruda in the by now familiar words from his Nobel laureate speech:
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.
Mil gracias y bendiciones.
Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D.