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.