Community College of Rhode Island

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Opening Day Convocation begins new academic year

Sept. 3, 2013

WELCOME

CCRI President Ray Di Pasquale Good morning! I hope you had a chance to catch up with colleagues over breakfast and that you all had an enjoyable summer. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to each of you as we begin our 49th academic year at the Community College of Rhode Island.

Next year when we’re all together on Opening Day, we will be starting our 50th anniversary celebration, which will continue through the 2014-15 academic year and culminate with our 50th commencement in May 2015!

Planning to celebrate this golden anniversary is already well underway and, over the coming months, we will be starting to share some details of some of the exciting events that will mark this time in our college’s history. We are pleased to unveil one aspect of our 50th celebration: Included with your program this morning is a window cling featuring the logo that you will be seeing on banners, stationery, on ads, in college publications and more during the 2014-15 academic year. We hope you will display it with pride in anticipation of this great celebration to come.

Opening Day convocation has long been a tradition here at CCRI that allows me the opportunity to speak to you about where we’ve been, where we are and where we’d like to go over the upcoming academic year.

Here we are, recharged and ready to start a new year of memories at CCRI! Already, we have much to be excited about. Enrollment is up. Our last two graduating classes were the largest in the college’s history. Our graduation rate has increased 2 percent. Workforce training and continuing education enrollments through our Center for Workforce and Community Education are up 7 percent. We had the highest minority enrollment of any institution of higher education in the state – 33.4 percent – for the spring 2013 semester. These are exciting times!

We will be talking more about some of these things in a few minutes, but first, I would like to introduce the following people who are here with us today:

  • Our new Vice President for Academic Affairs – Greg Lamontagne
  • Our new Vice President for Business Affairs – David Patten
  • Associate Vice President, Center for Workforce and Community Education – Robin Smith
  • Associate Vice President for Student Services Ron Schertz
  • Our new Interim Associate Vice President for the Office of Institutional Advancement – Laurie Bosio
  • Dean Maureen McGarry
  • Dean Peter Woodberry
  • Dean Ruth Sullivan
  • Dean Lois Wims
  • President of the CCRI Foundation – Mark Gim

Dr. Greg Lamontagne began his tenure as the new vice president for Academic Affairs on July 1. He previously served as the vice president of Academic Affairs at Niagara County Community College and has worked in the Massachusetts community college system.

During his 20-plus year career in higher education, he also has served as assistant vice president, dean and assistant professor in linguistics. Please welcome Dr. Greg Lamontagne.

Next, I would like to introduce David Patten, who joined us last month. He has served many financial leadership roles in strategic planning, budget management, finance, staffing and facility planning during his 25-year career, most recently as an independent consultant for governmental and higher education institutions.

He previously spent 15 years at Pfizer in Groton, Conn., and, in the mid-1990s, served as chief of administration for the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. and as a process analyst for General Dynamics. He has a great interest in education, as he also serves as chairman of the Westerly School Committee. Please welcome David Patten.

And, last, I would like to welcome Laurie Bosio, who has been serving as the college’s interim associate vice president for Institutional Advancement since July. She comes to us from LB Strategies, a firm she founded in 2001 that concentrates on political consultation, fundraising, organizational management and public relations. She has managed large staffs and has been responsible for all aspects of fundraising, event planning and management. Please welcome Laurie Bosio.

We have three of the four Student Government presidents here with us this morning. Unfortunately, Francheska Santana, president of Flanagan Campus Student Government, could not join us but I am pleased to introduce:

  • Susanna Yim, president of the Knight Campus Student Government
  • Mike Steiner, president of the Newport County Campus Student Government
  • Ryan Mundy, president of the Liston Campus Student Government

CCRI Student Ambassadors Last, I’d like to introduce our Student Ambassadors. They do a great job for the college all year long. They attend most of our events, offer help as needed and represent the college incredibly well. We have seven ambassadors this year, six of whom are with us here this morning. They are:

  • William Moore
  • Carla Viera
  • Penda Sow
  • Joseph Smith
  • Shawn Ferreira
  • Octavian Goncalves

The following are new employees who have joined the college since last Opening Day.

Staff:

  • David A. Bierman, network technician II in Information Technology
  • Laurie A. Bosio, interim associate vice president for Institutional Advancement and College Relations
  • April H. Brown, coordinator/counselor in ETS
  • Robert P. Christina, senior programmer/analyst in Information Technology
  • Ronald K. Colvin, College Police officer
  • Lisa M. Considine Fontes, purchasing officer
  • Edward W. Daly, database services manager in Information Technology
  • Helen M. Ducharme, coordinator in Disability Services for Students
  • Karen Fagnant, fiscal clerk in Accounts Payable
  • Marian N. Fattore, student development counselor in Advising and Counseling
  • Barbara Flagg, paraprofessional (temporary) in Mathematics
  • Lyndsy A. Fontaine, administrative assistant to the dean of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Susan E. Forfa, administrative assistant to the PACE program director in the Center for Workforce and Community Education
  • Kyle Gamache, student development counselor in Advising and Counseling
  • Daphne Gilles, program director in Disability Services for Students
  • Michel K. Gonzalez, senior teller in the Bursar’s Office
  • Gidget A. Guzman, staff assistant I in the Center for Workforce and Community Education
  • Ann Marie Harty, coordinator (temporary) in Marketing and Communications
  • Yan Huang, instructional design specialist in Information Technology
  • Jeffrey E. Huyler, electrician in the Physical Plant
  • Gregory A. Lamontagne, vice president for Academic Affairs
  • Benjamin H. Leveillee, instructional design specialist in Information Technology
  • Mark A. Libutti, college projects manager in the Administration Office
  • Michael R. Macaulay, systems development manager in Institutional Research and Planning
  • Gregory J. Marrocco, technical support specialist II in Engineering and Technology        
  • Ryan J. Mitchner, coordinator/counselor in EOC
  • Elizabeth J. Parent, student development counselor in Advising and Counseling
  • David B. Patten, vice president for Business Affairs
  • Anja L. Pierre-Mike, student development counselor in Advising and Counseling
  • John Pliakas, simulation coordinator in Nursing
  • Timothy J. Poulin, College Police captain
  • Smaylin D. Reyes, senior staff assistant (temporary) in the Library
  • Hope B. Schachter, project director of Connect 2 College in the Office of Opportunity and Outreach
  • Mckayla R. Therrien, student development counselor in Advising and Counseling
  • David M. Tomasso, College Police officer
  • Robin J. Watters, senior teller in the Bursar’s Office
  • Kevin J. Ziegelmayer, College Police officer

Faculty:

  • Lilia V. Amaral, assistant professor in Nursing – LPN
  • Laura Barnes, visiting lecturer (fall) in Mathematics
  • Jon Benson, visiting lecturer (fall) in Biology
  • Mary H. Costa, assistant professor in Nursing – LPN
  • Mark England, assistant professor in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies
  • Debra L. Furtado, assistant professor in Nursing – AND
  • David V. Igliozzi, assistant professor in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies
  • Lynn Jackson, assistant professor in Human Services
  • Michael P. King, visiting lecturer in Rehabilitative Health/Opticianry
  • Jay Lee, visiting lecturer (fall) in Chemistry
  • Christine Lima, visiting lecturer (fall) in Biology
  • Hsin-Yi Liu, assistant professor in Social Sciences
  • Paul Miele, visiting lecturer (fall) in Biology
  • Metello Mugnai, assistant professor in Foreign Languages
  • Opeyemi Odewale, visiting lecturer (fall) in Biology
  • Melissa L. Orsinelli, instructor in Allied Health/Diagnostic Medical Sonography
  • Joshua Ostraff, visiting lecturer in Art
  • Basile Panoutsopoulos, assistant professor in Engineering and Technology
  • Robert C. Pezzillo, assistant professor in Administrative Office Technology
  • Elisabeth C. Read, assistant professor in Human Services
  • Duayne M. Rieger, assistant professor in Physics
  • Bruno Soffientino, assistant professor in Biology
  • Jason A. Stockford, assistant professor in Mathematics
  • Christopher J. Thibeault, assistant professor in Computer Studies

I extend my very best wishes for a long and distinguished career at the Community College of Rhode Island. 

The following are employees who have retired since Opening Day one year ago.

  • Deborah Aiken, associate dean in Enrollment Services, 37 years of service
  • Althea Allard, professor in English, 46 years of service
  • Robert Burrell, AV service specialist, 29 years of service
  • David Critchett, professor in English, 41 years of service
  • Raymond DeAngelis, purchasing officer, 31 years of service
  • Carole Devine, professor in Nursing, 24 years of service
  • Stephen Kadelski, associate professor in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies, 41 years of service
  • David Kaplan, professor in Library, 33 years of service
  • Marilyn Kelly, assistant bursar, 25 years of service
  • Linda Meyer, professor in Nursing, 23 years of service
  • Lela Morgan, vice president for Academic Affairs, 46 years of service
  • Lillian Patterson, professor in Human Services, 43 years of service
  • Rita Price, associate professor in Human Services, 14 years of service
  • Carl Toft, controller, 13 years of service
  • David Ventura, College Police officer, 11 years of service

I want to take this opportunity to commend and recognize our esteemed retirees who have provided such valuable service to the Community College of Rhode Island.

And how about this statistic … this group of retirees has provided 457 years of service to the community college!

Many of you have been very busy over the summer! You replied to our call for summer activities, and you’ll find your submissions in the program you received this morning. I’d like to take a few minutes to highlight some of them.

Assistant Professor Brendan Britton spent the summer developing the college’s new digital Astro Imaging program at the Margaret Jacoby Observatory. This will allow students, faculty and staff to take high-resolution images of astronomical objects and galaxies. The newly installed science-grade camera is capable of collecting data for scientific research projects as well as what Brendan called, and I quote, “mind-blowing pictures of space.” And he’s not kidding! Take a look at these pictures he took with the camera. This project took the help of many people in several departments, including Gregory Marrocco from Engineering and Technology. We thank everyone involved. Great work!

Associate Professor Hossiri Godo-Solo and Professor Elizabeth Morais traveled with students to Oaxaca, Mexico, from June 29 to July 28. Students took classes from CCRI instructors and instructors at the local university. They lived with local host families and participated in excursions and cultural activities. The professors are already at work planning the 2014 trip. It looks like you had a great experience!

And Professor Maria C. Mansella was a bit devious this summer, arranging a special surprise for one of the students in her annual summer study program in Italy. She secretly arranged for the student to meet her Italian cousins for the first time. The women’s fathers were brothers, and the meeting was a surprise for all of them. She said the moment that they met was magical, with everyone crying and hugging. What a wonderful memory you created, Maria!

Assistant Professor Beth O’Leary Anish has been busy planning the New England regional meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies, which will take place this fall here at the Knight Campus. Among the speakers will best-selling memoirist Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of this year’s CCRI Common Book Project selection, “All Souls.” He will speak to our students and faculty on Nov. 1. Thank you for your work on this project, Beth!

Last, I’d like to mention that Assistant Professor Sandra Luzzi Sneesby will debut her MFA thesis film installation, “The Women Who Loved Poe,” which reveals Edgar Allen Poe’s search for love and meaning, told by the women he loved, at the Governor Henry Lippitt Museum in Providence this October. Fantastic work, Sandy!

State of the college

It’s also been a busy summer of improvements on our campuses. You may have noticed things such as new carpeting and tile, newly repaved parking lots and some new driveway lighting.

One large project that took place this summer was the replacement of the leaking dome in the atrium at the Liston Campus in Providence. We no longer have to worry every time a storm is coming!

We were here in this beautifully renovated theater this spring for Professional Development Day, but the last bit of work remaining has been underway since then, and today the theater project is 98 percent complete. What a wonderful venue this is.

Many of you have seen the emails and the story on our home page about the much-awaited renumbering of the Flanagan Campus. We understand this may create some confusion in the first days of classes but believe that, in time, this new numbering system will make it much easier for students and visitors to find their way around our Lincoln campus.

Also at the Flanagan Campus, we completed the renovations to the pool area as well as the HVAC and roof replacement. We also completed upgrades to the library at that campus.

I would like to thank our Physical Plant staff members who have been busy getting our buildings and grounds ready to greet our students tomorrow morning.

Also this summer, our NEASC self-study process began wrapping up and committee members are reviewing the draft report, as we look ahead to our visit from the accreditation team next spring.

I would like to thank the faculty and staff members who have contributed work on the 11 Standards committees under the leadership of our now-retired Vice President for Academic Affairs Lela Morgan. Thank you, all, for your important work.

As you know, a group of faculty and staff has been working to amend the governance document based on feedback from the CCRI community. The amended document can be found online on the Academic Affairs website for review.

Voting to approve or disapprove the document using the link that was emailed to you in August will continue through the close of business on Thursday.

If approved, the committee nominations process will begin on Friday, and elections will take place later this month. We thank you for taking part in this process and encourage you to become a part of the new governance structure.

Our strategic plan has been updated to take us through 2016, with seven main goals in the areas of economic demand, student success, innovation, effectiveness, affordability, leadership and community.

Among other things, this document will guide our efforts to:

  • increase completion, graduation, retention and persistence rates;
  • respond nimbly to political, economic and demographic shifts;
  • identify and incorporate best practices;
  • and support current and future college leaders through ongoing professional development.

Through this plan, we will continue to define what it means to be excellent and pursue this goal as a unified college community.

I am pleased to announce a series of upcoming town meetings where we can discuss the strategic plan and other issues of importance. This is your opportunity to meet with the leadership team, including the new vice presidents, to address any plans specific to each campus and to ask any questions you may have. The dates for each campus are on the screen, and you will be receiving them by email as well. I hope I will see you there.

Budget update and fall enrollment

First day of classes 2013-14This fiscal year I’m pleased to report that the college essentially received level funding from the state – a modest increase of $419,000.

As directed by the former Board of Governors for Higher Education, the system did not raise tuition for this academic year.

The new Board of Education also has asked that we maintain the current tuition through the 2014-15 academic year. So, for CCRI, meeting enrollment projections will be absolutely vital over the coming year.

I’m pleased to report that this year’s fall enrollment – as of this morning is 17,231.

We also have continued in our efforts to raise money from private sources to aid our capital initiatives. To that end, I’d like to mention an upcoming event this fall that will help raise money to help our students continue their efforts to change their lives and achieve their dreams.

The 19th annual Fall Classic will be held on Monday, Sept. 16, at the Alpine Country Club in Cranston. There are still a few playing spots left, and also opportunities for sponsorship. The day promises good food, camaraderie, awards and prizes as well as a spectacular playing course.

Last year’s event raised $43,000 to help defray the expenses of college for students who continue to be challenged by the economy. Just look at some of the people and companies who are supporting us this year! We thank them for their support, and we hope you will join us. Please visit my president’s page on the CCRI website to register.

CLOSING

I am very excited about this upcoming academic year: I am back at CCRI full time now, and I am thrilled that our administrative team is complete. We are ready to keep moving CCRI forward.

I hope you feel the excitement and carry that with you when you return to your classrooms and offices. We have many accomplishments to be proud of. And many great opportunities lie ahead of us. I am so proud of the work that you do every day in the name of our students. Thank you all!

I’d like to leave you with a final thought. Last week, .thousands converged on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a highlight of which, of course, was Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. And so I thought it fitting to end our morning together today with a quote from Dr. King about education. He said, quote, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

Thank you again, and have a great semester.

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Last Updated: 11/10/14