President Di Pasquale addresses faculty and staff on Professional Development Day
April 12, 2013
Good morning! I’d like to extend a warm welcome to each of you as we gather for the Community College of Rhode Island’s 11th annual Professional Development Day.
It’s great to see all of the familiar faces together again on what has become a very special day. This is a day that we’ve set aside for YOU. A day for your professional and personal growth. It’s also a day for reflection. Reflection on what we’ve all accomplished over the past year and also on the work still to be done.
Lastly, it’s a day of recognition. We gather here today to celebrate our students, our faculty and our staff, many of whom have accomplished much in the past year. And I’ll touch on some of the positives that have taken place here at the college.
Let me begin by saying how proud I am to be your president. Every day this college touches lives and helps students achieve their dreams.
We have gone about this the right way and unfailingly put our students first.
Our commitment to our mission and to the academic integrity of this college has never been stronger. And the results that we see bear this out.
Last May, we graduated over 1,700 students – our largest graduating class ever.
Just within the past month, I’ve received a report that indicates that our graduation rate has increased two full percentage points over past years.
We are more diverse than ever before. This past semester, over 33 percent of our students reported themselves as minorities. In Rhode Island higher education, only Brown University has a higher rate and it’s not by much.
We’ve also committed resources to much needed improvements to our infrastructure. We are renovating the biology labs here in Warwick, the libraries in Lincoln, the art studio here. [more]
Take a look around you. You’re sitting in a beautiful, state-of-the-art theater that has been completely refurbished: new seats, new lighting, an outstanding sound system, new stage and dressing rooms. This theater desperately needed a facelift. The old theater hadn’t been touched in 40 years and when you last sat here, it was in dilapidated seats.
This is an inarguable example of our commitment to the arts; to our curriculum; to our mission as Rhode Island’s community college.
We have done this the right way. We have continued to move this college forward in what can only be described as very difficult times. We have consistently searched for ways to responsibly streamline our budget and we have accomplished that annually with no layoffs.
We have overhauled our outdated heating and lighting systems to the point where we will save $1.1 million per year over the next 15 years. That translates into being a good neighbor in our communities and also relieves the energy component in our budget.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and we couldn’t have done it without all of you. Give yourself a hand!
I’d also like to recognize the Student Government representatives from Warwick who are here today. They do a great job for their fellow students. Would you please stand as I call your name? From Warwick:
- Director of finance Dave Baich
- Director of student relations Bianki Torres
- Director of public relations Francisco Morrobel
- and Director of activities Susanna Yim
- And from Providence, the Liston student government president, Albe Folcarelli
- Vice president Ryan Mundy
- Treasurer Michael Palazzolo
- Director of public relations Tami Jarvis
- And Director of administration Holly Grenier
We’re here today and every day because of our students. I would like to introduce you to a few of them who have made us incredibly proud this year.
First, I’d like to introduce Coach Kate Lynch and our women’s basketball team.
Coach Lynch just completed her third season as head coach and she took home a very prestigious award in early March. She won the national Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Junior College Coach of the Year award for her work this season. Outstanding honor and an outstanding job, Kate!
The team finished with a record of 25 wins and 7 losses and won regional and district championships. They notched a win in the national tournament in Toledo before bowing out.
In addition, sophomore Jahira Smith, who will play at Claflin University in South Carolina next season, became the first Lady Knight to top 1,000 points in her career. Please join me in congratulating Coach Lynch and the women’s team, which represented CCRI so well.
Next, I’d like you to reintroduce you to Bobby Allen. A CCRI track and cross country runner, Bobby has added two more championship wins to his impressive list of accomplishments this year.
He placed first in both the mile and 3,000-meter events at the NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship at Eastern Illinois University. He is the first CCRI student in history to win two national championship events at a single meet and more impressively, has now accomplished that feat twice.
Let me remind you that, last year as a freshman, Bobby was CCRI’s first national cross country champion won two national championships in indoor track and one in outdoor track.
Bobby will compete in the 1,500- and 800-meter events during this spring’s outdoor track season and hopes to go to nationals again. What an outstanding athletic career you’ve had at CCRI, Bobby!
Last, but certainly not least, our theater department celebrated a huge honor earlier this semester. Will all those who participated please stand?
Their production, “The Receptionist,” was chosen as a national selection to participate in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Celebration of Theater, beating out shows from across New England and New York.
Only a very small percentage of theater productions are selected for this honor and our students performed two shows at the Tilden Arts Black Box Theater in Hyannis, Mass.
Luke Sutherland, who introduced me earlier, produced “The Receptionist” and Erin Archer was recognized as a Distinguished Performance by an Actress for her role in the play.
We’re very proud of all of our students… please give them a big hand.
ODDS AND ENDS
We are nearing the end of another successful All College Week, when we celebrate and showcase the many talents of our staff, faculty and students.
On Monday we had a soft opening of this theater with a ribbon cutting and a wonderful performance of “Hello Broadway” by our theater students; on Tuesday, “Team CCRI” went out into the community to volunteer at seven nonprofits; we focused on health and wellness with the annual Wellness Fair on Wednesday; celebrated our diversity yesterday at Liston; and today, you’ll take part in a number of outstanding workshops as part of Professional Development Day. What an exciting week!
I’d like to recognize our IT department for the work they have done this week and especially for their work today. We have over 60 PDD seminars taking place today and the IT department has helped to make those seminars possible.
I’d also like to recognize our maintenance department. The work that they do behind the scenes often goes unrecognized, but without their efforts, our campuses would not be ready to host events such as these.
Before we move along in our program, I have a few housekeeping items that I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention.
CCRI is once again the proud host of the second Rhode Island Mission of Mercy event – a free dental clinic that served more than 800 uninsured or underinsured Rhode Islanders suffering from dental pain last year in dental labs in Lincoln.
I want to thank Kathy Gazzola, chair of our Dental Health programs, and Kristen Cyr from Marketing for representing CCRI on this project and for their hard work in coordinating our participation. Part of our college’s mission statement calls on us to “respond to community needs” and this event certainly fits the bill.
Our NEASC self-study process is well under way in advance of our next 10-year accreditation visit in March 2014.
The NEASC executive team meets on a regular basis to monitor the implementation of the Project Management Plans of each standard with the goal of addressing most of the issues in each priority area by September 2013.
Information about NEASC is available for your review online at www.ccri.edu/neasc.
I would like to thank the more than 75 CCRI faculty and staff who are contributing to this important self-study.
Also, the library is in the process of conducting a survey for all faculty to help determine how it spends its resources on future research and teaching technology. The Ithaka survey is available online and will is now open for participation. Please, if you haven’t done so already, take the time to be heard in this important survey.
Most of you know that the college is in the midst of two very important searches. The Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Business Affairs positions are both open and we have faculty and staff representation on both search committees.
We have a large pool of excellent candidates for both positions. As is customary for these major positions, we’ll hold open forums where you’ll get a chance to see and question the finalists and I look forward to your participation and comments. We hope to have both slots filled by the end of the academic year or closely thereafter.
Thank you and have a great day and rest of the semester and remember – we are the Community College of Rhode Island!