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President's Remarks

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All-College Meeting: September 2013

Dear Students, Colleagues and Friends of Naugatuck Valley Community College,

It is a joy to come together to welcome another academic year. This morning our community partners, fellow college and university presidents and elected officials have joined our NVCC family to celebrate achievements, as recorded in our Final Report for Strategic Plan 2010-2013, and to pledge their support and encouragement as we embark on another exciting and promising journey:  The launching of Toward a Splendid College: Naugatuck Valley Community College’s Strategic Plan for 2013-2016. Thank you all for being here today. I offer very special thanks to Mayor Robert Mezzo, Mayor Neil O’Leary, Provost James Troup and Prof. Ron Picard for their remarks this morning.

The new academic year brings with it the promise of continued engagement and rewarding teaching and learning experiences. I am very grateful to so many colleagues on campus, in particular, our colleagues in Student Services and our Danbury Center for their significant recruitment efforts that have brought sustained enrollment at NVCC and significant growth in our Danbury Center. As of last evening, we have a headcount of 7,312 and an FTE of 4,389. We have sustained our growth of the past five years, a remarkable feat in light of the fantastic increase in awards at commencement. I thank so many here for your hard work and commitment. Our students have benefited from the intelligence and generosity of the faculty, staff and administration. Mil gracias.

I take this opportunity to offer a warm welcome to Oonya Kempadoo, our Fulbright-Scholar-in-Residence for academic year 2013-2014. We are very fortunate to have Oonya who will contribute richly to the fabric of culture on our campus and to our classrooms. We will be honoring Oonya in an official welcome reception, scheduled for October 16 at 4:30 pm, immediately preceding our first Confluencia gathering of the year. Please join me today, however, in a hand of applause to say gracias to Oonya for coming to us. Oonya, please stand up and be recognized.

Additionally, we typically introduce newly appointed faculty and staff at this meeting. Because we are launching our strategic plan and so many have busy schedules, we will forgo announcements by name, as that has already been done in our Weekly Bulletins this summer, but I do ask all newly appointed faculty, staff and administrators to stand up and be recognized. Thank you for being with us.

As you have experienced, we are organized in multiple ways to support our students and our expectation is that they will achieve their goals and be successful. Our final report for the 2010-2013 strategic plan speaks to a number of very significant outcomes in the past three years, here are some highlights, you can read about these and other results in ourFinal Report, being distributed today: 

  • Graduation rates up by 100%
  • certificate completion rates up by 457%
  • annual grant funding up by 90%
  • FTE enrollment up by 10%.

Provost Troup will be speaking about our Toward a Splendid College: NVCC Strategic Plan for 2013-2016, as will many of you as you join discussion tables later on in the program. Anna Pond, strategic planner extraordinaire and Wally Kostrzewa are to be thanked for their intelligent and thoughtful contributions to the plans. The consultation process for the drafting of our strategic plan for the next three years yielded overwhelming support for our continuing to embrace our original five goals, as they have served us well, and embracing the title, “Toward a Splendid College”, signifies our understanding that we have embarked on a journey, far from complete but certainly rich and rewarding. I affirm and celebrate our five significant goals, perhaps you can read them with me, you will find them on page 2 under NVCC Goals and Initiatives of our new Strategic Plan: 

  1. At NVCC, students achieve their goals.
  2. NVCC faculty and staff make a difference-at the college, in the community, in their fields of study, and in the lives of students.
  3. NVCC programs meet and beat academic and industry standards.
  4. NVCC is an engine of change within Waterbury and the broader community.
  5. NVCC is an effective, performance-based institution.

As you are aware, Dr. Gregory W. Gray, the new President of the CT Board of Regents, has engaged our system in the creation of a plan that would guide our work together as a system and would serve as a document that would be used to secure resources and funding for our 17 institutions. The presidents of the community colleges are working on a draft proposed plan for the community colleges, and to that end, I have met with our Cabinet and with the members of the Academic Council to ask for their support and recommendations by mid-September at the latest. All of you, in every unit of the College should also engage in discussions and submit recommendations to your respective deans. For us in the community colleges, our charge is to consider the following:

  1. Efficiencies: What programs are being offered at 12 community colleges that should be offered only by some?
  2. Workforce: Quadruple our efforts - We are reminded that many of the jobs of today will probably be obsolete in five years. For us at NVCC, because we have such a rich array of program offerings, what needs to be fine-tuned, adjusted, strengthened so that they correspond to the needs of employers? What tools can we give our students that would prepare them also to be able to retrain in ten years to adjust to changes in their career? What role does technology play in how we teach and how our students learn?
  3. Strengthening the K-14 continuum: What are the activities and the curriculum adjustments that would ensure a smoother transition from the high schools to the college? How are we preparing for the implementation of PA 12-40 regarding remedial education? Remember the key word here is also efficiency. We are asked to consider new, affordable, student-centered models.
  4. Also, as you know, the concept of a middle college on the Waterbury campus of NVCC has been part of our strategic plan for the past three years. This may be the time to organize around the concept of a “Science Academy at NVCC” that would be STEM-based and also bring the campus grounds and our Glacier Ridge Trail into the enrichment of our environmental sciences and the preparation of future scientists.

As we consider the rich conversations we will have today around our own strategic plan, and the ones to be had in the weeks to come as we dream of a brighter future for our Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, the concept of putting students first and of being engines of change in support of our communities should inform our engagement. I will conclude by reading the poem on the back of our Final Report, and I do hope you join me in the reading of it, but before that, let me just say once again, that I am so delighted to see how so many of our community partners and friends are here today, to support, to contribute and to hold hands with us as we continue to move this beautiful and meaningful institution forward. I celebrate our students today as I celebrate with a grateful heart the presence of all of you, people of good will, caring and thoughtful colleagues and partners. Mil gracias y bendiciones.

On the Other Side of the Door

On the other side of the door
I can be a different me,
As smart and as brave and as funny or strong
As a person could want to be.
There is nothing too hard for me to do,
There’s no place I can’t explore
Because everything can happen
On the other side of the door.

On the other side of the door
I don’t have to go alone.
If you come, too, we can sail tall ships
And fly where the wind has flown.
And wherever we go, it is almost sure
We’ll find what we’re looking for
Because everything can happen
On the other side of the door.

Jeff Moss in Teaching with Fire

Another academic year begins, another opportunity is before us to continue to open doors of opportunities for our students, for ourselves and for the communities we serve. We all deserve nothing less.

Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D.

Naugatuck Valley Community College
All-College Meeting, September 6, 2013
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