My Dear Colleagues and Students,
A new semester is underway and despite the challenges, weather and otherwise, we continue to have open and generous hearts. Generosity of spirit and commitment were very much present during the recent storm. Leonides Luciano and his staff serve as role-models for all of us. Jeff D’Alusio sent me a beautiful small album of photos taken during the blizzard. Public Safety was here, and stayed for multiple extra shifts to ensure coverage and a clean and safe campus for our return. I thank our colleagues in Facilities and Public Safety for their dedication and hard work. Mil gracias de todo corazón.
It is a new semester. This is another fine opportunity to excel in our teaching and learning. Engagement and excitement are palpable as I pass classes in session and meet you in my office and the hallways! Welcome, everyone, to another semester and to the opportunity to contribute in meaningful and productive ways. A mid-year budget rescission continues to challenge us to be creative and persistent, very helpful traits to support our continued improvement and our success.
Registration for our Late Start semester ends tomorrow. Our enrollment numbers at this time point to a semester that will most likely reflect a little more than 1% decline in our FTE and headcount numbers as compared to last spring. The latest report I received shows a headcount of 6,996 and an FTE number of 4,002. After tomorrow, 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 reflects 919 credit student headcount and 407 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, Estela Lopez, Conal Larkin, Sydney Voghel-Ochs and Kimberly Carolina. This is Kim’s first All-College meeting. Welcome, Kim!
As we consider where we are at midpoint in academic year 2012-2013, 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. Jim Troup will be offering a brief update on the budget during his presentation. I offer some highlights of our achievements:
- Preliminary indications from the visiting NEASC accrediting team suggest that NVCC is living its mission and has a promising future. Dean Palmer and I will be attending the Commission meeting on April 18th to answer any pending questions. The self-study process and the way we organized to receive the visiting team do us all proud. Many are to be thanked for their hard work and intelligent contributions.
- Evening bus service in the City of Waterbury continues to support education and a better quality of life for many, and is a very tangible affirmation of the value of the College and the difference the College makes to the communities we serve.
- In May 2012, NVCC became the first community college in Connecticut to award more than 1000 associate degrees and certificates, virtually doubling the number of awards in four years. Lauren Freedman reports that as she prepares our IPEDS submission, she has tracked a pattern for the Freshman class of 2009 that indicates our completion rates have almost doubled. Lauren will report the submission numbers on April 1 and will share those with the College community. We look to a larger than ever graduating class on May 30th. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy has confirmed his participation as commencement keynote speaker.
- Pass rates on certification and licensure exams for the five NVCC career programs in Allied Health are at or near the 100% level.
- NVCC Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center has had a very successful first semester. 51 of 56 students successfully completed their Level I Manufacturing certificates. An evening cohort of 24 students in the Level I certificate program began this spring. 46 students are continuing in the Level II certificate program. Joe De Feo has been hard at work to secure internship opportunities to take place in March. About 25 companies have agreed to take our students.
- NVCC, in partnership with the City of Waterbury, has successfully launched work on an $11.3 million GEAR UP grant. We just heard that the federal government has agreed to extend the program to include 3 more K-8 schools. As a result, close to 2500 students will be able participate.
- The College was the first Connecticut community college to be designated a host to a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence. By now, you have all had an opportunity to meet Pascal Meccariello. This semester, Pascal is working with students in his ceramics class to create a mural celebrating and embracing the power of culture, inclusiveness and life, to be placed on the wall in the sixth floor walkway in Technology Hall.
- NVCC students, faculty and staff continue to make a difference in the community through their volunteer service in education, human services, health care, and cultural programs.
Dear colleagues and students, as you have experienced and I have tried to capture in words, this is a powerful time for us for we are growing and achieving. This is also a time that requires reflection and commitment, a sense of humor and an open and creative mind, as budget challenges appear to be in our lives for a while. Please participate and support strategic planning activities, led by Dean Kostrzewa and colleagues. Thank you for embracing our mission, for your support and for your commitment to make this the most splendid college on the face of the earth for the sake of our students and on behalf of all those who will come after us.
I close my remarks by offering a few stanzas of a beautiful and very powerful poem, A Brave and Startling Truth, by the great American poet Maya Angelou (1928- ) in honor of Black History Month.
We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth.
When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets.
When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of the world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.
I celebrate our humanity, our capacity for love, for creativity, and for making a difference. For you, I wish a thousand splendid suns, and offer many, many thanks.
Mil gracias y bendiciones,
Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D.