Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What is Armistice Day? a.k.a Veterans Day?

Colonel Thomas Gowenlock, recipient of the Distinguished Service Metal, served as an intelligence officer in the American Expeditionary Forces, First Division. (1) He was on the front line on November 11th, 1918 and wrote of his experience a few years later: 

"On the morning of November 11, I sat in my dugout in Le Gros Faux, which was again our division headquarters, talking to our Chief of Staff, Colonial John Greely, an d Lieutenant Colonel Paul Peaboyd, our G-1. A signal corps officer entered and handed us the following message:" (2)

Official Radio from Paris - 6:01 A.M., Nov. 11, 1918.
Marshal Foch to the Commander-in-Chief.
1. Hostilities will be stopped on the entire front beginning at 11 o'clock, November 11th (French hour).
2. The Allied troops will not go beyond the line reached at that hour on that date until further orders.

{signed}, Marshal Foch
5:45 A.M. (2)

Colonial Gowenlock continued: "My watch said nine o'clock. With only two hours to go, I drove over to the bank of the Meuse River to see the finish. The shelling was heavy and, as I walked down the road, it grew steadily worse. It seemed to me that every battery in the world was trying to burn up its guns. At last eleven o'clock came - but the firing continued. The men on both sides had decided to give each other all they had - their farewell to arms.......All over the world on November 11, 1918, people were celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne, hailing the armistice that meant the end of the war. But at the front there was no celebration." (3)

Colonel Gowenlock speaks of the agreement to end World War I, known as the Great War.  The fighting (in theory) ended at 11:00 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month. 

On May 13, 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed legislation making November 11th the official date for Armistice Day.  In 1953 a movement took place within the United States to broaden out the meaning of Armistice Day to recognize all veterans.  On May 26, 1954, former General, then President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law a bill making November 11th an annual celebration for all veterans.  The day is now known as Veterans Day.

Today we pause to remember all veterans of past military wars.  We honor the thousands of men and women, who have dedicated their lives to serving our country at home and abroad.  We at DACC say thank you to all veterans for your leadership and service. 

(1) http://projects.militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=17597 (accessed, November 10, 2014).
(2) Armstice - The End of World War I, 1918. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/armistice.htm (accessed, November 10, 2014).
(3) http://www.historywiz.com/alliedvictory.htm (accessed, November 10, 2014).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lerdo Exchange

I remember stepping off the airplane in Amsterdam, Netherlands for the first time.  The airport looked familiar as all airports have a common flow.  However, the signage was in Dutch.  I was traveling with a group of athletes as we were about to embark on a 30 day adventure to the Netherlands and Germany playing basketball and softball.  It was my first trip to Europe.  It would not be my last. 

Last week  Doña Ana Community College hosted students and their advisers from Centro de Bachillerato Technológico Industrial y de Servicios Número 4 (CBTis 4) of Ciudad Lerdo, Durango, Mexico.  Our guests arrived on Wednesday, October 29th.  These guests spend six days engaged in actives designed to foster understanding of American culture.  In turn we who had opportunities to meet with and talk with our guests also learned about Mexican culture.  On Monday, November 2nd we say Adios to our guests.  We shared hugs and tears and promises that we would see them again in the spring. 

The hope of a future reuniting is strong as the partnership between DACC and CBTis 4 has spanned 32 years.  This exchange precedes the designation of Lerdo as a sister city to the City of Las Cruces by seven years. 

Lerdo is located 550 miles south of Las Cruces.  Ciudad lerdo is similar to Cruces.  Both cities embrace agriculture and celebrate festivals celebrating agricultural products.  Both cities produce wine.  Lerdo is located near the Nazas River much like Cruces is located near the Rio Grande.  While the cities share much in common our guests from Mexico are much like us.  As human beings we share a love of music, food, culture and fellowship. 

I look forward to the opportunity to visit Lerdo in May with a delegation from DACC. 

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.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Architecture Discovery Camp

Having traveled extensively through out the United States and a little bit abroad, I am always noticing architecture.  It is even more on my mind as I continue my quest to locate the "perfect" house in which to establish roots here in Las Cruces.  What I often wonder as I stand curiously examining the lines, curves, and building materials, is how does someone imagine such a grand or practical structure and create a design from which to build it.  Many of us have served on building committees where we describe how we may use the space to architects who turn our descriptions into a plan, blue prints, drawings and models that move from concept to design. 

If you know of a middle or high school student who might be interested in exploring the field of architecture, Dona Ana Community College will be hosting the Architecture Discovery Camp from July 7-18, 2014.  The fifth annual Discovery Camp will give middle and high school students an opportunity to take an overnight trip to Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Bandelier National Monument along with visiting the School of Architecture at the University of New Mexico.  Students will also have the opportunity to visit architectural firms, museums and plazas.  Students will have the opportunity to hear from professors from Dona Ana Community College and Texas Tech University along with local architects, business leaders and government officials.  The two week experience will help students learn all of the different considerations involved in design. They are sure to leave with a good sense of what a career in architecture would entail.

Give students an opportunity to learn and discover potential careers is an important way of helping students begin to think about the type of things they may want to do and enjoy for a career.  If you want more information click here: DACC Architecture Discovery Camp.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mesquite Neighborhood Learning Center: Lending a Helping Hand

Earlier this week I had the privilege of visiting DACC's Mesquite Neighborhood Learning Center.  During my visit the Center was quite, but a number of neighborhood residents and students were accessing the computer lab and study room, diligently focused upon their educational materials.  One student was working one-on-one with a tutor. While this afternoon lull is common, the mornings from 8:00 a.m. until noon and the evenings from 4:00 p.m. until late are a buzz, bustling with many single moms who desire to advance their computer skills, language skills, and workforce readiness skills.  After taking care of their children, getting them off to school, working hard at their day jobs, receiving their children after schools, these tired mothers come to the Center and focus intently on their skills.  They are an inspiration to me.  They are also successful.

In the last five years 348 received vocational training, 1379 completed ESL courses, 1,162 have taken computer classes and 99 earned their GED.  During the same time period, 79 have continued with their studies at DACC and 37 earned their associates degree.  These women are breaking the cycle of poverty and becoming great role models for their children.  The men who have attended the Center's educational programs take great pride in being able to gain better employment to support their families. 

I encourage you to visit the center in the morning or evening to see for your self these inspirational people who are committed to learning, motivated by caring for their families, who value learning and know how it can help them accomplish their personal goals.  Click here for the location of the Mesquite Neighborhood Learning Center.  The Mesquite Neighborhood Learning Center is a valuable asset to these families in this neighborhood.  The Center is giving people hope and the skills they need to turn hope into reality. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Value of Experiential Learning

During my first semester supervising student teachers while at Central Michigan University, a very good student teacher that I was supervising declared to me during his exit interview that he decided he did not want to be a teacher. Four plus years, numerous of hours of study, significant financial output and here he was, about to graduate, and the most significant thing he learned was what he did NOT want to do for a living.  He contacted me several months later after having taken a real estate class at the community college, to let me know he was a realtor. 

I was reminded of this young man during a meeting this week where I learned about the EXCEL program (Experience-based Career Education and Learning) offered within the Las Cruces Public Schools.  The EXCEL program provides opportunities for students to explore careers through real work work experiences within the community.  This program is a collaborative effort between the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, local employers, educators and government agencies with the ultimate goal of helping high school graduates improve their work readiness skills. 

I believe there is another value to this program.  This program allows students to explore careers in low risk ways.  Students have the opportunity to work in a real world setting in a sector they think may be of interest to them.  Additionally, they can receive up to two elective credit hours from Doña Ana Community College at no cost to them.  During their experience they can decide if this is the career for them.  If they decide this is all they hoped it would be, they can pursue the type of education necessary to obtain the degree, certificate or credential necessary to enter to job.  If they decide this is not the career for them, they can begin anew exploring other opportunities for their future.  The students gain job readiness skills, they gain real work experience, and they form conclusions within a low risk setting. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Teachers Matter

Do you remember your favorite teacher(s)?  Did you find that you enjoyed their subject?  As a six year old walking into the grocery store with my mother on a Saturday, we encountered my previous kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Oaks.  My mom stopped to tell her hello while I sat stunned by the realization that my former teacher wasn't at school.  I thought she lived at school.  My mom said to me, tell Mrs. Oaks what you want to be when you grow up.  I proudly proclaimed I want to be a teacher, just like you.  It was unrehearsed and very real on my part.  While I changed my mind hundreds of times before declaring my major in college (after which I changed my major four times), I did become a teacher and eventually a college professor and now am honored to be the president of Doña Ana Community College.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by New Mexico's Secretary of Education, Hanna Skandara.  Her message was simple: teachers matter.  It was a refreshing message in the context of a society that seems to have grown skeptical and critical of the teaching profession.  While her message focused upon K-12 education, I suspect her message has applicability to post secondary education as well.  She presented data from the most recent administration of student achievement tests by the categories for the new teacher and school rating system in New Mexico which includes labeling teachers and schools effective, average and ineffective.  The results showed that if you have an ineffective teacher in an ineffective school as defined by the  rating system, student performance on the achievement test place them in the 3rd percentile.  If you have an effective teacher in an ineffective school, student performance on the achievement test place them in the 63rd percentile.  Her conclusion was that the teacher matters whether or not they teach in effective, average or ineffective schools. 

Take heart teachers, you do indeed matter.  At Doña Ana Community College, teachers matter.  As I speak with students during my walks through campus, they often tell me about their teachers.  They don't share stories with me about the lesson on tig welding or blood draws or MLA documentation. They tell me how their teacher matters.  So, take heart - what you do each and every day in the classroom matters to your students.  It also matters to me - so thank you for being a teacher!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Job Creation Is Important to DACC Students

Many students attending Doña Ana Community College are doing so in order to gain the skills and credentials to obtain a job.  Some of these same students obtain student loans in order to attend DACC. Consequently, it is important upon graduation, that these students know that there are jobs available to them so they can enter the workforce and have the means to support themselves and begin repaying their student loans.

Governor Susana Martinez Welcomes Franco Whole Foods
That is why the event today announcing that Franco Whole Foods has chosen Las Cruces to locate their manufacturing plant was so important for me to attend.  The potential to add 160 new jobs to Las Cruces and  Doña Ana county is important to each of us.  The investment that Franco Whole Foods will make in our community will have a rippling effect that will bring positive results to our community.  It was also important to me to share our story of working with companies to provide corporate training so that the company continues to have the best trained workforce possible.  It is also important for the community to know that our Career Services Division is willing and able to help employers gain access to individuals seeking jobs.



This type of announcement should be celebrated.  We should also applaud the efforts of the Messilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVED), Las Cruces city officials, state officials, and the numerous private sector individuals involved in assisting Franco Whole Foods in assessing this area to become home for their manufacturing. I welcome Franco Whole Foods to Las Cruces.

To read more about the announcement click here.

Educational Acess: Overcoming Transporation Challenges

Sometime today you will walk to your car, get in, started it up and head to your destination.  This is an act repeated millions of times each day by millions of people.  However, for many others, transportation is a barrier keeping them from accessing the essential services, like education, they need to conduct their daily lives. 

On Saturday, June 7th, community members and leaders from the Empowerment Congress, a project of the Ocotillo Institute for Social Justice, held a celebration at the Chaparral Fire House to inform citizens of the community about the pilot transportation project in the south valley of  Doña Ana County.  The Empowerment Congress along with the South Central Regional Transit District (SCRTD), responded to requests by the citizens of the district, worked with eight communities including La Union, Chaparral, Del Cerro, Radium Springs, Doña Ana, Butterfield, Organ and Moongate to provide transportation routes in the south valley that will connect the citizens of the south valley with the doctors, retailers, employers and  DoñaAna Community College's Gadsden and Chaparral Learning Centers. 

I had the honor of congratulating the Empowerment Congress, SCRTD, and the community leaders on launching such an important initiative that will make it easier for the citizens of the south valley to access the very important locations they need.  This pilot project is only the beginning.  The future of the transportation initiative is dependent upon a levy that will appear on the November, 2014 ballot which, if it passes, will continue funding for this project. 

I had the opportunity to talk with several people who live in the south valley who attended the celebration.  Each expressed their thanksgiving for Doña Ana Community College's presence and commitment to the south valley.  Additionally, each of them shared with me how the new transportation route will help them to access doctors, grocery stores, and maybe even take a class at DACC now that they have a way to get to our Learning Centers. 

Tonight when I get in my car, start it up, and begin my short journey home, I will remember the people of the south valley who are so thankful for transportation to the vital services they need. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Who Am I and What's My Agenda?

I can imagine there is a natural curiosity as to why this Ohioan and former Michigander would be coming to New Mexico, to become the next president of Doña Ana Community College (DACC).  Certainly people are wondering where I might be taking the college (Vision & Agenda) and what I might be like.  The purpose of this post is to try to answer those initial questions.

Being in office for only a week, it would be premature to articulate a vision for the college.  The college has been extremely busy during the past year and has put into place a number of important initiatives focused on enhancing academic quality and student success while ensuring a culture of shared governance.  I want to build upon those initiatives.

There have been consistent themes I have heard during my interview process and since signing my contract on March 12th.  Those themes have been articulated by both internal and external constituents.  They include:

1.  Transparency and communication:  This can include consistency when applying policy and procedures as well as aligning policy and procedures.

2.  Accountability:  Ensure that when we say we are doing something, we actual complete the task at hand.

3.  Academic Quality:  Ensuring that all programs that can be accredited are accredited.  This also includes developing a robust program review process that ensures quality and relevancy of programs to ensure the educational needs of our students and the business community are being met.

4.  Our relationship with New Mexico State University (NMSU):  Ensuring that there is a strong, collaborative, mutually beneficial relationship between DACC and NMSU.

5.  Dual Credit & Early College High School:  Continuing to improve our relationship with our public school partners in order to ensure that high school students have the opportunity to earn college credit while completing their high school diploma.

6.  A Pathway from DACC to NMSU for Transfer Students:  With the proposed admission standards at NMSU, ensuring that students who attend DACC earn college credit that is transferrable to NMSU and applicable to the degree programs of their choice.

In the next few months I will be working closely with my administrative team to review the initiatives currently underway that are designed to address the above themes that.  Additionally, my short term goals include:

1.  Familiarizing myself with college and university policy, procedures, and practice.
2. Developing internal relationships.  This includes: visiting different divisions within the college; attending division meetings; visiting branch learning centers; attending internal meet & greet events.
3.  Developing external relationships.  This includes visiting local businesses and industry, meeting with business leaders and community partners, meeting government officials, meeting local school officials, meeting with donors, and attending external meet & greet events.
4.  Exploring opportunities to building relationships with DACC alumni.

Last, there is a natural curiosity about me.  What am I like?  I could answer that question by describing activities I enjoy, but instead I will list adjectives that describe me as a person.  I am:

Passionate
Reflective
Introverted
Visionary
Optimistic
Principled
Spiritual
Objective
Realistic

Those are the qualities I bring to what I do.

In the next few months I am looking forward to learning more and more about DACC, Las Cruces, and the many communities within  Doña Ana County that we serve.


Las Cruces Sun News Article

Welcome to the Dona Ana Community College President's Blog

Welcome to the Doña Ana Community College (DACC) President's Blog. The purpose of this blog site is the inform the community about the activities of the President of DACC and the role the college plays in Dona Ana County.

Doña Ana Community College was established in 1973 at the request of the Gadsden, Hatch, and Las Cruces school boards to provide vocational and technical education opportunities to the citizens of Doña Ana County. DACC is independently accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The community college offers instruction leading to associate degrees and technical certificates and preparation for further academic work. Community education and adult education also are offered.

On June 1, 2014, I began my tenure as the ninth president of Doña Ana Community College. As President, I wish to keep the community informed of mattes pertaining to the educational outreach and mission of the college. This blog has been established as a means of communicating with both the internal and external communities that DACC serves. I invite you to follow the blog and learn more about how DACC serves Dona Ana country in Southwest New Mexico.