Monday, October 6, 2014

Tough Enough to Wear Pink

My first October in New Mexico introduced me to a wonderful community event entitled, "Tough Enough to Wear Pink".  The focus of the week-long event is on breast cancer awareness and fundraising for cancer research.  It was a week that tugged at my heart in many ways. 
First, my heart was full of joy and sorrow as each October I find myself reflecting upon family and friends who have battled breast cancer as October has become associated with breast cancer awareness.  I applaud the nation and the Las Cruces community's efforts to bring to every one's consciousness the importance of breast cancer awareness.  I strongly believe that early detection and treatment is the key to beating breast cancer. Events such as "Tough Enough to Wear Pink" often push women to have a mamogram, increasing their chances for early detection.

Early in 1989 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and because of the early detection she was able to battle the disease.  Ten years earlier her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and was able to successfully treat the disease.  Others in my life have also been diagnosed with breast cancer.  My mother, aunt and friends have served as inspirational women for me as they have demonstrated courage in the face of this disease. 

In addition to remembering those in my life affected by breast cancer, I look on with pride in our welding students who contributed to the event through service learning.  The Las Cruces Sun News wrote the following: 

Welding students from Doña Ana County Community College made centerpieces for Thursday'sTough Enough to Wear Pink Fashion Show Luncheon to be held at the Pan American Center.

Sixteen students constructed 88 centerpieces out of 2,400 feet of cold-rolled steel rods, according to a news release. The student-welders worked together at six stations, gaining real-world experience in mass production, the release states.

I am proud of DACC's commitment to experiential learning, including service learning activities such as this one that supports the community, reinforces important learning outcomes, and advances a cause greater than ourselves. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Welcome Back! Part III

(This is the third part of the welcome presented by Dr. Scott at the DACC convocation on Monday, August 18, 2014).

I am here to facilitate our growth in academic excellence, superior student service, and outstanding academic service leading to student success within the context of a welcoming environment where student LEARNING comes first.

So to that end what can you expect from me?

1.  Approachability:  As a president I am responsible for this organization - however, I am a human being who values and respects all people and I believe each person has a perspective that is worthy of being considered.  I want to hear your perspectives.  It is not about agreeing with me, it is about helping me understand your perspective.  It is important to have all perspective heard so that we can make better decisions for this organization. So I value respectful and courtesy debate and discussion. 

2.  Ethics and Integrity:  I believe in doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time for the right reason.  We may debate about what is right, but for me what is right is doing what is in the best interest of DACC.  Not in my best interest, not in any one person's best interest, but in the best interest of DACC.

3.  Transparency:  I believe it is important to put into place the processes and procedures that facilitate our work. Clear processes and procedures make decision making transparent.  I believe in making sure that the DACC community hears about how we conduct our business first.  I believe in saying what I mean and meaning what I say.  To that end I expect you to be transparent also.  If you have a concern I expect you to voice that concern not engage in rumors and speculation that fuels suspicion.  I expect if you have an idea you will share that idea. I expect you will work toward creating transparency in the division in which you serve.

I am not here to be your friend - I am here to be your leader and to make objective decisions in the best interest of DACC.  This is not about me - this is about us. Our mission - our college.  We have been entrusted with these students and WE are responsible to ensure their LEARNING. 

I wish you the very best this semester and year.  It is my honor and pleasure to be your leader. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Welcome Back! Part II

(This is the second part of a welcome message delivered at DACC Convocation on Monday, August 18, 2014.  Part III will appear tomorrow)

Perhaps at this point it would be fair for you to ask me what I have learned since June 1st, and certainly it would be appropriate for me to help you learn something about me. 

As I have spent half of my time on campus and half of my time in the community some themes have emerged.

1.  The community values DACC and our contribution to workforce training, workforce development, and community service.  Don't ever under estimate our mission and its importance to the people of Dona Ana County.

2.  We make a tremendous difference in the lives of our students and we owe them our very best each and every day.  I have talked to many students this summer, but one story sticks out in my mind.  I am only sharing a few details so you can't identify the student.  However, this woman returned to college severa; years ago after a significant change in her life.  She and he child were left homeless.  She came to DACC, applied for Financial Aid, and was able to live in NMSU student housing.  She was taking her last classes this summer.  She shared that because of DACC and the opportunity to live in NMSU student housing that she was able to take care of her daughter and get an education so she can provide a living for both of them. 

3.  Each and every one of you contributed to our success or our failure.  If anyone of us fails in our responsibilities, we let each other down.  Within DACC we are a system and each of us contributes to that system.  Consider for a moment our own body.  If my arm suddenly decided it wanted to be a leg - besides looking a bit funny - my function would change or be less efficient or effective.  Better yet, when I broke my collarbone many years ago - my right arm no less as I am right handed - I was less effective in carrying out my daily functions until it healed. 

My point:  We must recognize that each of us has a specific function within this institution.  For DACC to function at our most efficient, effective and optimum level, we each must function as we were intended - and - we must give our very best each and every day - because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. 

Each job within the institution exists because it is necessary in order for us to carry out our mission.

Remember each job is important to DACC, but DACC is also important to the NMSU system.  I neither came here to break us off from NMSU nor was I brought here to facilitate being taken over by NMSU. 

We must recognize our role within the system....and NMSU needs to understand our role within the system.  We are not a research university - we are a community college we serve very different conmplementary missions.  Together we are stronger because our missions are diverse. My job is to help NMSU understand our unique and vital role in Dona Ana County and to bridge the gaps between each institution.  I am also here to help all of us understand NMSU's role and perspective.  To that end I work closely with NMSU to ensure communication between and among our institutions. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Welcome Back!

(Part I:  This is the first part of a welcome speech delivered at DACC Convocation on Monday, August 18, 2014. Part II will appear tomorrow)

Thursday, August 21 marks the first day of classes at DACC.  We stand before a new semester with new opportunities, new challenges and new students.  The beginning of the semester is a time to refocus.  Here at DACC we need to commit to student LEARNING being first and foremost. Student LEARNING is not just the faculty's focus, it is all of our focus.  Each and everyone of us must realize that our mission is focused on student learning. Consider for a moment:

1.  The building and maintenance employee who stepped his or her task to help a student learn where the Student Resource Building is located.
2. The financial aid employee, assisting a potential student or a returning student, helps that student learn about their financial aid obligations.
3. The librarian who helps a student learn how to be more efficient in utilizing an Internet search to find resources for their class project - resources other than Wikipedia.
4. And yes, the instructors in our credit and non-credit courses who naturally come to mind when we think about student learning.

Each and every interaction with a student should be focused on their learning. Helping students learn context, learn about themselves, learn about processes, learn skills, and even learn the appropriate behavior in a college setting.

Underlying this focus on student learning is also our own LEARNING. One must learn before one can teach or mentor. Each and every one of us must realize we must attend to our own learning each and every day. Consider for a moment:

1. We must each learn about the policies, procedures and processes that govern our job. Just because something has always been done that way doesn't mean it is consistent with policy and procedure. Take time to review policies and procedures to ensure we are following them appropriately.
2. Financial Aid personnel are continually learning about changes in federal financial aid rules.  Some of those changes impact each of us. Recent changes in the Cleary Act for example require us to complete training on the Campus SaVE Act.
3. We must learn about our students and initiatives through becoming data literate.  Examining data will help us recognize trends to assist us in becoming proactive rather than reactive.
4. We must learn about best practices in our areas so we can be prepared to engage in continually improvement in order to ensure student learning remains first and foremost a priority.

So....I ask employees of DACC to make a commitment to student learning first and foremost.  Additionally, I ask employees of DACC to make a commitment to their own learning in order to ensure that we continue to advance the mission of DACC. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

So You Want To Be An Architect?

Since July 7th, twenty-two middle and high school students have been studying architecture at the annual Architecture Discovery Camp hosted by Doña Ana Community College .  Students have visited locations in Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Bandalier National Monument to see structures and examine their unique features and design.  Interspersed between these visits, campers heard about the design process, design principles, sustainable design, and the relationship between buildings and the environment. All of these experiences were building toward an authentic project; designing a visitors center for the newly designated Organ Mountain National Park.

Since Monday, students have worked in pairs and small groups, utilizing the design process, and interacting with engineers leading to their culmination concept presentation Friday, July 18.  From the concepts, students will create a 3-D model of their building and present to their peers, their ideas and considerations.  I am thankful for the architects and engineers who have donated their time to work with these middle and high school students.  Instructors from New Mexico State University, Texas Tech and DACC have worked together to make this a wonderful opportunity for campers to experience the design process.  I look forward to seeing what they create. 

Hopefully within this group is another Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, I.M. Pei, Louis Sullivan, Maya Lin, or Santiago Calatrava. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What was Your First Job?

While I was still in high school I had the opportunity to work part time during the summer. My mother worked in an office and they had a need for someone to help them get caught up on their filing and some odd jobs that the office workers could not complete due to the volume of work they had. One night at supper, my mother asked me if I would be interested in working two days a week for four hours helping out at the office.  I was intrigued by the opportunity. She then proceeded to tell me that I would go to work with her the next day and that I would begin the day with an interview with her boss. She and my father, who was a manger for a supermarket and conducted all of the interviews, shared with me some tips to help me get ready for my interview. 

What I did not know was the interview was just a formality and that I was goi
ng to get the job. Despite being very nervous, I took the interview seriously and began my journey into the world of work at the age of 13.  I learned professionalism, customer service, how to dress, the importance of being on time and what was expected of an employee.  I worked hard and as a result was given employment the following summer which resulted in employment during my four years of college. 

Rarely and probably never are interviews just a formality.  I was lucky to have parents and a willing employer take their time to teach me how to begin the world of work.  As I began working with college students I found myself in the role of coaching them as they prepared for their interviews to become teachers. I soon learned that many people did not have the opportunity I had at 13 to learn from my parents and employers.  Consequently, many people need to learn the basics of searching for jobs, preparing their applications and selling themselves in an interview.  

Today, Doña Ana Community College has the privilege of hosting the Jobs to Career Readiness Bootcamp sponsored by the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA), El Paso Electric and the DACC Career Services Office. Over 126 individuals from the community signed up to learn job readiness skills such as preparing a resume, interviewing, dressing for success, and searching for jobs.  In addition, they will have the opportunity to complete an application to be considered by several employers who have recently located to the Boarder Plex region who have over 1000 jobs available in manufacturing, call centers, and general office work.  I wish each of the participants all the best as they complete the day and their applications are reviewed for consideration.  I know the tips they receive today will help them sell themselves and highlight their skills to the employers from whom they seek employment.

If you know anyone who would wish to participate in a Jobs to Career Readiness Bootcamp, let them know about the next Bootcamp being held at the Doña Ana Community College Gadsden Center. You can click here for more information about future opportunities. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The TRANSFER Mission

"Students, especially minorities, are taking advantage of the good quality and low cost of two-year community colleges. But high hurdles may face them when transferring to a four-year school to earn a bachelor's degree" (Khadaroo, 2014, p.21). 

Doña Ana Community College began in 1973 with a focus on preparing licensed practical nursing, welding, real estate, sales and marketing, and secretarial skills training. Since then, DACC has continued to focus upon technical education in the health sciences, trades, business, information systems, fire and paramedic fields.  However, as Khadaroo points out, the comprehensive community college mission has expanded to include a focus on assisting students with obtaining their general education courses and successfully transferring to a four-year college or university to complete their bachelor's degree. 
DACC has been presented with an opportunity to support the students who come to us with the intention of completing general education courses and transferring to New Mexico State University. Our unique relationship with NMSU as a branch within a larger system should negate the competition for students.  Changes in NMSU admission requirements means that students who previously applied and began attending NMSU are coming to DACC to take advantage of the Guaranteed Pathway to NMSU. 
What does this mean to DACC faculty, staff and administration?  First, we need to embrace the transfer mission.  This does not mean that technical education is any less important or vital to our students and community.  However, it means we are serving students whose educational goal is to obtain a bachelor's degree rather than a technical credential. Second, we need to support students in their goal to transfer.  This means we need to help them select classes than not only TRANSFER, but count toward DEGREE REQUIREMENTS.  This is an important distinction that we need to teach our students.  As we help students learn the difference, we also need to work with NMSU on course and degree alignment whenever possible, particularly within degree programs designed to transfer.  Third, it means we need to identify barriers that students encounter when transferring to NMSU and work closely with our sister institution to lower the barrier or eliminate them altogether. 
As more and more emphasis is placed upon degree attainment, the importance of DACC and NMSU collaborating to ensure completion become more significant.  So, as we begin our journey in intentionally helping students in their transfer goals, lets remember that we are fulfilling our mission as a community college by ensuring that student learning comes first. 
The article referenced above: 
Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, "A Better Path to a Bachelor's?", The Christian Science Monitor Weekly, May 12, 2014, 21-24.