My Dear Colleagues and Students,
How wonderful it is to be here this morning, celebrating Naugatuck Valley Community College’s 10-year accreditation; to hold in our hands a document that validates and confirms the importance of the good work we are doing and the plans we have for our future progress. From the Accreditation Team:
“It was clear to the Team members that Naugatuck
Valley Community College is operating in a deliberative
and strategic manner with a high degree of self-
discipline and self-understanding…”
Dear colleagues and students, let us give each other a round of applause for a job well done! We have been re-accredited for ten years. Thank you everyone, and in particular, the Self-Study Team Leaders, headed by Dean Sandra Palmer and Professor Kim O’Donnell.
As I begin, I take this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of colleagues leaving us in June or earlier and to thank them and wish them well:
Dr. Sandra Palmer, Dean of Academic Affairs
Robert Herman, Instructor of Horticulture
Janis Petrillo, Director of Bridge to College
Paula Martin, Administrative Assistant in the Office of Community Engagement
Ilene Reiner, Professor of Art
Elena Rusnak, Professor of Dance
Frank Vaccarella, QWC Carpenter
William Verespy, Professor of Management
Rita Wagner, Secretary 2 in the Division of Allied Health and Nursing
We wish you well on the next stage of your journey and thank you for your contributions.
It is almost the end of the semester and of the academic year, Commencement is almost upon us, but first we must get through the end of semester’s multiple exams and grading of papers. There is great satisfaction in knowing that we have done well by our students. It has been a good year, despite continued budget challenges. The summer months represent for many of us a period of rest, reflection and planning in anticipation of the new academic year and the beginning of our new Strategic Plan.
I know you have heard me say it before, but after a tough winter, it is just beautiful to be on this campus and to see beautiful life return to the grounds. As I now walk slowly around campus, I rejoice in what the presence of all of us represents: commitment to opportunities for our students, generosity in our teaching and service and satisfaction in knowing that our professional and natural talents are being put to the best of use: that of transforming lives. It does not get any better.
As the year comes to a close, I reflect on our self-discipline and self-awareness, as the NEASC report underscores, and our generosity of spirit. We managed difficult budgetary times while still providing our students with a joyful and productive learning environment. Commencement on May 30 will find us celebrating, once again, the largest graduating class in the history of the College. At this time, the Registrar is projecting a total of 1,162 associate degrees and certificates to be awarded, with the possibility of a modest increase to the projected number. The work being done in our classrooms, laboratories, the ACE, the Library, in student advisement and mentoring, and in the overall impeccable maintenance of our facilities is significant and is bearing fruit.
This academic year we are encouraged by and take pride in having been a part of significant, lives-transforming initiatives:
- The continued impact of having brought evening bus service to the City of Waterbury. Reports indicate that since its inception a year and a half ago, it has served over 300,000 residents in the evening. In addition, our students using the UPASS have taken 170,000 day and evening rides.
- In August 2012, we opened the doors of our Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center. We are projecting the granting of about 113 Level I and Level II certificates combined. All indicators show us as having outstanding outcomes. Additionally, our partnership with the Smaller Manufacturers Association of Connecticut and their presence at the College has resulted in much visibility and support for the work of the College and our students.
- We were awarded a GEARUP grant for $11.2 million to work with all middle school children in Waterbury. I am sure you have seen multiple groups of young visitors to the College, in particular on Friday mornings. It is off to a good start.
- The Bridge to College office continues to support pre-collegiate opportunities for children in Waterbury and surrounding towns.
- Our Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence, Artist Pascal Meccariello’s work this year has been splendid. We will be unveiling the mural in Technology Hall later on this month, date to be announced. Please join the celebrations and take this opportunity to thank Pascal for his generous contributions. I am also happy to announce that we have been awarded another Fulbright Scholar, a writer, who will be joining us this fall.
- The contributions of a revitalized NVCC Foundation and their support of our Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center and our students.
The initiatives mentioned above speak of the respect and appreciation which the College and the work we all do has earned in the communities we serve and other external constituencies. You’ve heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again: We are making a difference in ways that are significant and transformative. We should own that and celebrate it.
So much to be grateful for: The intelligent and generous work of the NEASC team, the good early results of the First Year Experience and the Honors Institute, the care and the student-centered approach to developmental education undertaken with great intelligence and creativity by our faculty leaders, the advisement, tutoring and additional teaching undertaken by faculty, the wonderful insights from both Faculty Senate and Student Government Association, the powerful growth of the 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, the recent national accreditation of our Early Childhood Education program and their support of the truly wonderful Child Development Center, our expanding Bridge to College programs, 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 it steady and sound, IT Colleagues for their support here and in Danbury, our Human Resources office for taking care of us, and so much more. How lucky we all are to be part of these powerful efforts to bring about economic justice as we transform the lives of so many.
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 final report on this year’s Wildly Important Goals and my End-of-Year Report to the College, both to be distributed later on this month indicate, there is good and steady work going on here and our progress is measurable. Many of you have contributed generously to the many activities that support the College’s Strategic Plan, and the final report to be distributed in September will show it. Thank you for your continued engagement as we plan for our Toward a Splendid College, Strategic Plan 2013-2016. Dean Kostrzewa will provide an update shortly.
As I contemplate the work we have undertaken and will continue to undertake with a hopeful heart and generous intelligence, I thank the members of my management Team whose leadership is to be respected on any college campus: Jim Troup, Sandra Palmer, Lillian Ortiz, A.J. Dubois, Wally Kostrzewa, Estela Lopez, Conal Larkin, Sydney Voghel-Ochs, Kim Carolina and Jacquie Swanson. The joy of this morning and that of so many other occasions would not be possible without the caring and professional leadership of Roseann Tunila and Ann DeVito. I am very fortunate to have such a kind and professional team. Thank you all.
In conclusion, there is hard but richly rewarding work ahead of us. Let us embrace it together now. 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.
Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D.
Naugatuck Valley Community College
All-College Meeting, May 10, 2013