Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D., President, Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC); Jahana Hayes, U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District; Neil M. O’Leary, Mayor of the City of Waterbury; and NVCC faculty, students and staff celebrated the ribbon cutting for the College’s Center for Racial Dialogue and Communal Transformation on Monday, March 4, at 3:00 pm in Ekstrom Hall (Room E518) on the Waterbury campus of NVCC.
Congresswoman Hayes, who is an alumna of NVCC noted how formative the education she received at the College was in her life. “The experience is something that set me on the path to everything that happened afterwards,” she said. She recounted one of the most memorable moments from her time as a student at NVCC was in the days and weeks following September 11, 2001 when a sociology professor at the College took the time to address what was happening and led Hayes and other classmates in candid discussions to acknowledge and address what would later become one of the country’s most chaotic and darkest moments.
Mayor O’Leary said one of the best things about Waterbury is how diverse the city is noting that 80% of the students in Waterbury Public Schools are minorities. “This community is so fortunate to have a community college that recognizes and understands the diversity of this community.”
The Center is led by three co-chairs from the College, Kathy Taylor, J.D., Associate Professor of Legal Studies and President of the NVCC Faculty Senate; Joseph Faryniarz, Ed.D., Professor of Biological Sciences; and Antonio Santiago, M.S., Dean of NVCC’s Danbury Campus. The mission of the Center is to support the college’s mission by facilitating courageous conversations, promoting positive change, and healing in our community. The Center provides opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and community members to engage in respectful dialogue and learning opportunities concerning diversity and equity.
“I am so proud to officially open the Center for Racial Dialogue and Communal Transformation at NVCC,” said President De Filippis. “The Center seeks to improve relations and end inequality through open dialogue in an effort to increase knowledge and awareness, influence the behavior of individuals and their capability to influence others, and create change in the communities we serve, in particular, Waterbury and Danbury, where we have our two campuses. This dedicated space will serve as the meeting space for faculty, staff and students to come together to plan events to be held at both campuses.”