May, 2016 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, 2016 All-College Meeting

Good afternoon, welcome to the last All-College Meeting of Academic Year 2015-2016.  It is a pleasure to have with us friends and family of NVCC: from the System Office, Keith Epstein, VP for Facilities, a good friend of the College without whose support many of the wonderful facilities projects taking place would not be possible, including the Facilities Master Plan to be presented this afternoon by Bill Macintosh of Perkins and Will. It is great to see so many of you here today.  Also here, our strategic planner and Dean Kostrzewa’s able partner, Title III grant motivator and writer, Anna Pond. 


It is good to reflect on a year that has brought both significant achievements and challenges: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” said Nobel Peace Prize winner and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela. Today, more than ever, Nelson Mandela’s words about the power of education in transforming lives and in bringing about access to full citizenship have added resonance as we consider the current economic state.  These are times of decreased social mobility and the gap between the poor and the wealthy continues to widen.  Times like these call on community colleges to demonstrate the reasons for which they were created.  I am proud 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, represented here by Martha Bernstein, a member of NVCC Foundation and Chair of the Board of the Connecticut Community Foundation, who is guiding our work as we prepare for a capital campaign in support of our Center for Health Sciences.


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 are on our way to achieve our goals.  Commencement on May 26 will find us, once again, awarding a total number of associate degrees and certificates of more than 1,000.  The last count indicated an estimate of 1,250. 


There is little time this afternoon to acknowledge all of the work going on here that brings life to the campus and to Nelson Mandela’s words.  We have prepared the first draft of Highlights for Academic Year 2015-2016, on the registration table outside the Mainstage. 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 community meeting.  I will just take a few minutes here to point with gratitude to some of our achievements:


  • I begin by 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 theater program, manufacturing, horticulture, hospitality and nursing, among many, have all acted as ambassadors for the work we do here. Mil gracias.
  • Student Services:  Danbury reached new fall and spring enrollment records; we launched the HART U-Pass and successfully completed the NEASC visit; marketing created a new series of recruitment videos, including how-to videos for all areas of student services and the START session video; Financial aid awarded more than $13,600,000 in aid; the Jobs on Campus initiative supported students both in Waterbury and Danbury Campuses, with support from donors and the Fairfield Community Foundation; this year students selected the Special Olympics as their community project.  Throughout the year they raised over $3,500 which they donated to that worthy cause; students participated in the open hearings at the LOB and also were praised for their contributions to the BOR day in Hartford.
  • Academic Affairs: NVCC Allied Health Licensure pass rates for the class of 2015 continued to demonstrate the strength of the College’s programs;  Our industry sector summit in Cybersecurity has resulted in a new degree program being approved this spring by the Board of Regents, implementation to begin Fall 2016 semester; much work continues in support of our General Education transfer and articulation pathways, with significant completion and approval by committees of the pathways;  our Theater program had a banner year; our faculty has been recognized at the community level, Professor Kathleen LeBlanc was honored by the United Way of Greater Waterbury and at the BOR level with Professor Christopher Tuccio’ s recognition as an outstanding community college faculty member;  Intellectual discourse brought to campus a number of significant conversations, including on campus and system-wide discussions and a presentation by Wesleyan President, Dr. Michael Roth of his book on the Liberal Arts, a significant collaboration of the Faculty Senate and Academic Affairs; collaborated with First Year Experience program and the Library on the One Book/One College activities; and our Center for Teaching had record attendance and participation, and engaged faculty in meaningful ways.
  • Administration:  Another year of balancing the budget, with significant UNA reserves in 2015, and anticipating another balanced budget in 2016; the Danbury lease and Bond support to outfit larger quarters on target; Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center-100% of evening cohort who graduated this past December are now employed full-time with various area manufacturing programs; the Danbury incumbent worker training in manufacturing now has 3 very successful cohorts;  Community and Economic Development piloted a Certified Nurse Aide course with Thomaston High School, reports over 30% increase in registration for welding certification courses; IT completed enterprise network upgrade and replace printers with efficient, more economical models;; moved toward completion on the Founders Hall project and on the campus-wide improvement project.
  • Community Engagement:  Work with community highlights, include having a third Fulbright Scholar awarded to the College, Felipe Karam, who will be working on the Bravo Waterbury project, with the WSO and teaching classes at NVCC;  financial literacy workshops, in collaboration with the United Way of Greater Waterbury were conducted throughout the spring semester;  Standards of Service workshops brought together a significant number of colleagues in different offices, to define standards of service for their respective areas; the final report on our Strategic Plan 2013-2016 is in its final stages as is our Toward a Splendid College:  NVCC Strategic Plan 2026.
  • Human Resources is moving forward with the upgrade of services, moving toward a 21st century Human Resources office, which includes digitization of files, transitioning to electronic time sheet submissions and approvals, and receiving  and maintaining personnel files, formerly kept in the President’s Office.


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 implementation of a new strategic plan, preparations of our NEASC interim report, occupancy of newly renovated Founders Hall and larger quarters in Danbury. I know you will also find time to rest and enjoy the company of your family and loved ones.   You heard me say it before, but after a tough winter, it is just beautiful to be on this campus and to see green and multiple colors return to our grounds.  As I walk the grounds and on campus, I rejoice in seeing so many of you, my conversations with students and colleagues, and in my understanding what a community of purpose we are:  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:  To transforming lives.  It does not get any better.


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. A final report will be presented at the September 2016 All-College Meeting.  At that time, we will also present and distribute copies of our Toward a Splendid College: Naugatuck Valley Community College Strategic Plan, 2016-2026


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 and Beth Monchun.  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 Ann De Vito, and the generous support of Elizabeth Catuccio and Susan Chase.  I thank Professor Tuccio and his students for the beautiful flowers on stage; for the gift of music, we are indebted to Chris Connelly and John Tuohy.  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 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 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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