Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What Is In a Name?

How many of you know the meaning of your name?  Renay means "renaissance" - a new birth.  The meaning certainly has foreshadowed me in so many ways.

The Vietnam Veteran Memorial in Washington D.C. was designed by Maya Lin.  Her design, at the time, was a bit controversial for a variety of reasons, but was ground breaking for her inclusion of the names of all 57,931 people at the time of the unavailing.  As of Memorial Day 2013 there were 58,286 names on the wall. Maya Lin felt the names were significant. Since the memorial was unvailed in 1982, her concept of including names has transformed the development of memorials since then.  The names have drawn many survivors of the Vietnam War to Washington D.C. to honor and remember their fallen comrades. 

One of my favorite assignments to give my social studies methods class was to have the students identify a monument or memorial on campus, including the name of a building and conduct research about the monument, memorial, event or person and then turn that activity into a lesson plan that they could teach.  I learned a great deal from my students about the people and events that were commemorated on campus.  Since then, I have moved into administration at a community college. At both of the community colleges I have served, I have noticed an absence of the similar types of monuments, memorials and buildings named after people that are so common on a university campus. I believe that it is important to capture the history of an institution. There is much to be learned about the institution from its history. The community college movement is relatively young compared to the long established universities and hasn't had an opportunity to capture the rich history. Consequently, I believe it is important for us to begin to capture the history of DACC for future generations to learn about and learn from.

Friday, August 26th we celebrated a first for Dona Ana Community College. We named a building after our first president, Dr. Alex Sanchez.  It was not the first time we have named something at the college after someone important.  Previously we named our Adult Learning Center the Quintana Learning Center after president Dr. Patricio Quintana, the second president who served from 1978 to 1988.  He was instrumental in bringing high school completion and adult basic education to our institution and so we named the Adult Learning Center in his honor.

The naming of our main building after Dr. Alex Sanchez was particularly appropriate because he founded the college from idea to reality.  He saw a real need in the community for career and technical education and worked closely with New Mexico State University, the three public school districts, the community and the legislature of New Mexico to make the college happen.  He hired the first faculty who were committed to career and technical education.  He secured funding, He worked to pass the first capital bond.  He brought programs to the community to meet needs in nursing, water technology, radiology, and construction.  The foundation he laid for collaboration, faculty dedication, and commitment to career and technical education live on at DACC.

So, what is in a name?  Often the characteristics that influence a person and the culture that surrounds them.  In this case, Dr. Alex Sanchez represents many of the values DACC continues to hold dear - a commitment to career and technical education, collaboration, and our students.  So as you enter the Alex Sanchez building, please remember fondly our roots and recommit yourself to them.

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