Opening Day remarks by CCRI union leaders

Opening Day, Sept. 8, 2009

Remarks by Ramona Skelly, CCRIFA President

Good morning to our administrators, faculty, staff and honored guests. I would also like to welcome the new faculty members hired this semester. Teaching at CCRI has always been a stimulating job, meeting new students each year, as well as welcoming back to the old, working with a great group of colleagues. I hope you find your career here as invigorating as I have. In a period of time with severe budget cuts,our president has understood the need to provide our students with qualified full-time staff.

I usually feel both enthusiasm at the beginning of a new year and optimism about what this year may bring. In spite of the dire economic situation in this state, I still feel that optimism, so I thought I would share with you, more of my hopes for the coming year.

I hope that our new interim Commissioner for Higher Education, Steven Maurano, has a great year. He is the one who regulates how we operate, but also is our advocate, both difficult roles. We wish you great success.

I hope that the Governor of Rhode Island and our state legislature realize the importance of higher education to the economic recovery of our state. We do not need platitudes from either of these sources, but rather an investment in public education.

It doesnít matter if you are unionized or non-unionized, classified or non-classified; whether you are staff, administration, or faculty, this place is stretched thin. Many have had to take on extra duties to see that the college runs as smoothly as possible. A $4.3 million cut in the higher education budget as a replacement for furlough days, on top of numerous cuts over the past several years, threatens the existence of publicly-supported higher education.

What I do know is that we are a committed group and we will do all that we can to provide the best opportunity for our students to learn, to grow and to succeed in their endeavors. We have that generosity of spirit that Carol Panaccione mentioned earlier.

Even with reduced resources, I hope that we can produce better results for our students; enabling them to continue on to a four-year college or into a fulfilling career. The college continues to offer new programs, such as the Opticianry degree program, to meet the needs of our students and to help the citizens of our state get back to work.

Oh, I have a few more personal hopes. Pay attention Flanagan Campus. I hope that the air conditioning works at the Flanagan Campus; (this summer was quite difficult) and of course, later in the semester that the heat works. I was assured earlier this morning that it will work.

But, regardless of the obstacles, this will still be a great year. Welcome back.

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