May, 2017: All-College Meeting | Naugatuck Valley Community College > About NVCC > NVCC Going Strong > President’s message > President’s remarks | Naugatuck Valley Community College
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May, 2017: All-College Meeting


Good afternoon, welcome to the last All College meeting of Academic year 2016-2017.  It is a pleasure to have with us friends and family of NVCC:  It is good to reflect on a year that has brought both significant achievements and challenges.  We have been able to collaborate and to manage efficiently to our students’ benefit.  The present state of the budget in Connecticut, will challenge us to move in efficient and student-centered ways.  We will manage change, as we have done in the past, with courage and generosity. We will continue to find ways to collaborate and to advocate for collaborations that will help our beautiful NVCC move forward in a generous and supportive manner for our students.  As we navigate change today and in the years to come, I know we will honor our values and stay very close to our mission and vision as a dedicated and very successful community college.  Student success is today, and has been for many years, our ultimate goal and our expectation.

        I take pride this afternoon in reminding us all that in September 2016, the U.S. Department of Education announced that NVCC is among the top 25 community colleges nationwide that advance opportunities for low-income students.  Colleges were ranked by their effectiveness in serving low-income students with relatively high outcomes, and an excellent repayment rate of student loans.

I am privileged to stand here today and to affirm that at Naugatuck Valley Community College, our faculty and staff understand and embrace the very great responsibility we have, especially in difficult times, to change lives and communities.  Thanks to everyone’s good work, supported by a generous community we celebrate today with Dr. Peter Jacoby, our Capital Campaign Champion, with Provost Troup and Dean Kostrzewa and with so many of you the success of our Capital Campaign.  The NVCC family and our community partners have supported the campaign most generously. You all certainly have risen to the challenge in numerous ways.  As you have heard from Dr. Jacoby there is so much to celebrate this fall coming between October 12 and 14, the dates designated for the official ribbon cutting of Founders Hall, the campus-wide improvement project, and the closing of the 50th Anniversary festivities.  I hope you all can join us and participate. There is a fantastic steering committee ready to engage your support and ideas, as we have invited in a number of Weekly Bulletin notes.

How gratifying it is to know that we have done the right and the just thing by our students.   It has been a good year, despite continued budget challenges.  We will continue to operate fiscally in the black, and are projecting a balanced budget for this fiscal year. We are on our way to achieve our goals of continued success for our students.  Commencement on May 25 will find us, once again, awarding a total number of associate degrees and certificates of more than 1,000.  Final numbers will be determined by August 1.

      We have prepared the first draft of Highlights for Academic Year 2016-2017, on the registration table. Please send Beth Monchun your comments about any glaring omissions by the end of this month, as we will be updating it for the June 9 community meeting.  I will just take a few minutes here to point with gratitude to some of our achievements:

  • Student Leadership:

I begin thanking our students who have shared with me, with community members and elected officials how NVCC and a significant number of our faculty and staff have helped them find their way and supported their journey:  SGA leadership, WAVE students, President’s Circle students, The Tamarack leadership, students in our arts program, theater program, manufacturing, horticulture, hospitality, nursing and allied health, among many, have acted as ambassadors for the work we do here. Mil gracias.

  • Student Services: 

NVCC’s Student Jobs on Campus (SJOC) continues to provide employment opportunity to NVCC students throughout the year at both the Waterbury and the Danbury campus.  Between Student Jobs on Campus, Work Study and the expanded Work Study Pilot, the College employs more than 100 students throughout both campuses. 

Academic Year 2016-2017 marks the first year of NVCC’s partnership with the Hispanic Federation to implement the CREAR/Futuros initiative connecting NVCC student mentors to NVCC student mentees in support of retention and completion.  Mentors are hired and paid by the Hispanic Federation under a $30,000 grant they received to support this initiative.

This spring NVCC was provided an opportunity from the Fairfield County Community Foundation and its Pasculano Transfer Scholarship initiative to offer two graduating female students a scholarship award of $ 5,000 each, per year, for two years, to transfer to an accredited four-year institution to continue their academic studies.  Applications are being reviewed and selected recipients will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

In August 2016, for the third year in a row, a group of students and staff traveled to New Jersey as part of Habitat for Humanity to help rebuild a home damaged by Hurricane Sandy; a group of students and staff will return to New Jersey this summer.

NVCC students continued their proud tradition of civic engagement at the State Capitol. In February 2017, NVCC students traveled to Hartford to speak out on behalf of the College and against the proposed cuts to higher education. In April, students traveled by bus to Hartford to represent NVCC during CSCU Day at the Capitol.

For the eighth year in a row, the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen stayed open on Sundays and holidays, an effort led by the Hispanic Student Union to prepare and serve meals, through the financial support of Webster Bank.

  • Academic Affairs:

NVCC Allied Health licensure and certification pass rates for the class of 2016 continued to demonstrate the strength of the College’s programs. Results above the national average were reported with 100% pass rates for the Radiologic Technology, Respiratory Care and Physical Therapy Assistant programs, and a 94% pass rate for the Nursing Program.

The newly International Center for the Arts had a one day inaugural celebration that included multicultural music, dance, art and presentations.  Felipe Karam unveiled his signature violin piece for us, “Jacareando,” at an evening recital that brought significant talent to the college.

The College has now held six of the seven industry sector summits.  This academic year we began implementation of the newly registered Cybersecurity major, more than 100 students are taking courses in this much in-demand area.  This spring we hosted the Horticulture/Hospitality Summit, unveiling a draft of a proposed joint major in Sustainable Food System.  Academic Affairs will be working with industry partners and faculty members on the preparation of the degree proposal;

  • Administration: 

The renovation of Founders Hall was a collaborative effort from start to finish. Funded by a $39-million bond allocation from the State Bond Commission and with generous support from our state legislative delegation, System Office colleagues, and the Department of Construction Services, the Founders Hall Center for Health Sciences opened as the spring 2017 semester began. The entire NVCC Family--students, faculty, staff, Foundation, Regional Advisory Council, alumni, and community leaders, to name only a few-- have joined the effort to purchase modern equipment for the Center's top notch Nursing and Allied Health programs. Graduates are hired quickly, responding to the area's growing need for job-ready and caring healthcare professionals. Dr. Peter Jacoby of St. Mary’s Hospital is the community champion of the campaign and has brought NVCC in touch with generous corporate and individual donors.

NVCC’s new Danbury Campus location at 190 Main Street officially opened in September. The opening of our beautiful new campus was another collaborative effort between NVCC, the Department of Construction Services and the System Office. President Ojakian was instrumental in securing the final signed lease allowing us to occupy our new quarters. Located in Danbury’s downtown district across from the Danbury Public Library, the new space occupies approximately 20,000 square feet-- over three times the size of the previous campus site. It accommodates credit and non-credit classes, with substantial capacity to increase enrollment in both areas. The campus offers improved resources for NVCC students including additional classrooms; a large lecture space; computer lab; science labs and prep room; a health lab; a large multipurpose room for tutoring, library services and a seasonal bookstore; a student lounge; and faculty and staff offices. Outfitting of the new Danbury Campus was supported by a $2-million allocation from the State Bond Commission.

Evening bus service for the campus and the City of Waterbury advocated by NVCC and initiated in October 2011, has continued to grow. As of March 31, 2017, students using the UPASS have taken approximately 706,110 day and evening rides. Over 1,245,594 Waterbury residents have utilized evening bus service.  Over 8,860 UPASSes were distributed to NVCC students through AY 2016-2017.  Students and NVCC staff celebrated the inaugural Danbury UPASS bus ride in October 2015, with over 250 passes issued between then and December 2016.  The College has also implemented a plan with the Peter Pan company to provide bus services between Danbury and Waterbury.

The Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center (AMTC) reports 100% full-time job placement for its December 2016 certificate recipients from the Waterbury evening cohort. It is anticipated that 100% of the Waterbury daytime cohort graduates will be placed into full-time positions following completion of the program in May. The Danbury program (CAMI) had its first cohort graduate in December 2016

  • Community Engagement: 

NVCC hosted its third Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence this year. Felipe Karam, a music scholar from Brazil, taught courses at NVCC and worked with Bravo Waterbury!, the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra’s youth-focused music and personal growth community program.

  • Human Resources: 

Human Resources led the implementation of Core CT Self Service Time Entry for NVCC employees.  As of May 1, HR has trained 259 faculty and staff on CORE Self Service, and they are now entering and submitting their time electronically. 


The summer months represent for many of us a period of rest, reflection and planning in anticipation of the new academic year. As the year comes to a close, I reflect on our self-discipline, self-awareness and our generosity of spirit.  We managed difficult budgetary times while still providing our students with a joyful and productive learning environment.   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.  The results are clear. Many of you contribute generously to the many activities in support of the College’s Strategic Plan and its implementation.

            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, Irene Rios-Knauf, Sarah Gager, Wally Kostrzewa, Conal Larkin, Ron Picard, Antonio Santiago, Kim Carolina, Beth Monchun, Angela Chapman, Noel Rosamilio and Lisa Rodrigues-Doolabh.  The joy of this afternoon and that of so many other occasions would not be possible without the caring and professional leadership and commitment of Beth Monchun and Jessica Hernandez, and the generous support of Susan Chase.  I thank Professor Tuccio and his students for the beautiful flowers; for the gift of music, we are indebted to Felipe Karam. I am very fortunate to have such a kind and professional staff and a dedicated faculty.  Thank you all.
      As you have heard me say before, there is hard but richly rewarding work ahead of us.   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 all a very Happy Mother’s Day and an end of semester filled with the rewards of the spirit and the intellect.


Mil gracias y bendiciones,


Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D.



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