Monday, March 17, 2008

Connecting with our Community

Last fall, FLCC completed a comprehensive Facilities Master Plan designed to identify needs for new and renovated facilities on campus over the next five years. The plan offers a wide range of projects, but our priorities are very clear: classrooms and laboratory environments that support learning and improved student space on campus. Our project includes two related projects. The first part calls for building a new Student Services Center which would include a convenient "one stop" enrollment center (admissions, registrar, financial aid, advisement, etc.), student life offices, a modern style cafeteria, the bookstore and a general purpose 350 seat auditorium space. Moving these functions to a new building would open up a considerable amount of space in the main classroom building, which would be completely renovated in the second phase of the project to include new science labs, general purpose classrooms and additional space for growning programs like music recording technology. This project will change the face of FLCC and would make a tremendous difference for our students for years to come.

This spring, I've begun reaching out to a wide variety of community groups to talk about FLCC - what makes us special, our new strategic plan and goals, the results of our recent economic impact study, our facilities plans and the important role community colleges play across this country. Last week, I spoke at a Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce "Bagels and Breakfast" meeting, and I met with Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES and also with the superintendents of area school districts. This week I'll be sharing the presentation with both the Geneva and the Canandaigua Rotary as well as with the FLCC Foundation Board. College officers and members of the Board of Trustees are participating in this outreach effort, which will include more than twenty community organizations over the next two months. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to listen to the members of the community we serve and also let everyone know about the exciting new directions at the college. In April, we'll host a community forum and will invite everyone in the area who has an interest in the college to come to campus and learn more about the future of your community college.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

FLCC Goes Green

Our campus-wide Sustainability project is off to a great start! This week, I was proud to sign the Presidents' Climate Commitment on behalf of the members of the FLCC campus community. Several people have asked me to share my remarks at the event and also the highlights of the pledge itself. Below please find my remarks from the signing ceremony:

"T. S. Eliot once wrote: Between the idea and the reality, Between the motion and the act Falls the Shadow. … Between the conception and the creation, Between the emotion and the response Falls the Shadow Al Gore referenced T.S. Eliot two years ago to frame the pervasive state of denial and inaction that he observed on many fronts in this country regarding climate change. Since that time, as the scientific evidence pours in, it has become increasingly difficult for anyone to assert that climate change is a myth. While our earth faces an environmental crisis, many Americans have been hovering in T.S. Eliot’s “shadow” between the idea and the reality, between the emotion and the response for some time. It is fitting that this country’s colleges and universities have taken a stand to address climate change and most importantly – have gone beyond the easy rhetoric. Presidents at a wide range of institutions of higher education have joined together to take specific actions to reduce greenhouse gases on their campuses and have made a commitment to support education and research on sustainability. I am proud to join them in that commitment today. The College and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment is not an insignificant pledge and I do not sign it lightly. Finger Lakes Community College has a long tradition of dedication to preserving our environment, and it is appropriate that we take this next step together. It is on your behalf that I sign this document today. We must fulfill this commitment together. While there are some environmentally responsible operational changes we can make as an institution- and we will - much of the real difference will come from the day to day actions of individual members of the campus community. Today I’m asking you to stop and think about the steps you can take as an individual that will have a significant impact on the environmental mark you leave on this world. Let me take a few minutes to share with you the commitment I am making today on behalf of FLCC:Presidents signing the Commitment are pledging to eliminate their campuses’ greenhouse gas emissions over time. This involves:

  • Completing an emissions inventory

  • Within two years, setting a target date and interim milestones for becoming climate neutral.

  • Taking immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by choosing from a list of short-term actions.

  • Integrating sustainability into the curriculum and making it part of the educational experience.

  • Making the action plan, inventory and progress reports publicly available.

While we've launched this new initiative with a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm with informational sessions, t-shirts, "go-green" sponsorships on television, sustainable item give-aways and identifying our individual carbon footprints, it is the next steps that will make the real difference. Now is the time for us to be conscious of the ways our individual actions impact the environment, both at school and at home. We all need to break habits and just take a moment to think before we act. We will be taking college-wide steps to act in a more environmentally responsible way and in the months ahead we'll also celebrate the creative solutions found by FLCC individuals and departments.

This week's events were just the beginning of a long-term commitment as we work to fulfil the element of our vision statement that reads, "FLCC enhances the quality of life throughout our community with a commitment to modeling and teaching environmentally sustainable practices and through active outreach as stewards of the natural beauty of the area."

Monday, March 3, 2008

Let's get started...

These are exciting times at Finger Lakes Community College! My blog is an opportunity to share with you some of the initiatives that are underway and let you know in an informal way how I've been spending my time. I hope you'll send me your thoughts and ideas about how we can work together to make great things happen at FLCC.

There's a lot going on, so let me just let you know very briefly what's been keeping me busy in recent days.

I've continued to meet with people in the community to listen to their ideas and talk about partnership opportunities. For example, in the last week or so I've met with President Braveman of Nazareth College; Joe Marinelli, Superintendent of Finger Lakes BOCES; George Hamlin of Canandaigua National Bank and Jim Homberger of Silver Hill Associates (our landlord at the Wayne County Campus Center). The FLCC Athletic Advisory Group is investigating how we compare with other community colleges in athletics and will be making some recommendations - what a dedicated group of community folks! I met with them recently and we had a very interesting discussion about athletic facilities at FLCC. This issue came home to me when my husband and I attended the FLCC women's basketball Region III tournament this Saturday, hosted at Tompkins-Cortland Community College in their incredible, brand-new fieldhouse complex. As you know, our first priority as we attack facilities issues is the new Student Services Center and the renovation of classroom space in the main classroom building. However, we also need to keep an eye on what other colleges are doing with athletic facilities and we need to be open to establishing partnerships in the community to help us upgrade in this area, as well.

Our strategic planning efforts continue with the four work groups staying quite busy throughout the month of March on identifying measures for our strategic objectives. We are on schedule to complete the strategic plan by the end of the spring semester. We have been meeting to work with the county on financing options for Phase One A/B of our Facilities Master Plan. This project is extremely important to the college. The classroom learning environment is the heart of Finger Lakes Community College. Our facilities project will allow for classroom, laboratory and studio renovation at the main campus and campus centers. It also supports an infusion of technology into our learning environments, helping to create seamless transitions for students to the workplace or to four-year colleges and universities.

Tomorrow evening I'll be meeting with the Alumni Association to update them on what's been happening at FLCC and discuss our future direction. Thanks to Alice Gerace in Educational Technology, I will be launching a new PowerPoint presentation, which will be used throughout the spring as we reach out to a wide variety of community groups in our service area to tell them what's happening at the college and listen to their ideas.

Last Tuesday, our FLCC delegation participated in SUNY Day in Albany. The team involved with our lobbying effort included: Amy Pauley, Milton Johnson, students Susan Briggs and Kolin Leibenguth and me. Amy did a great job of pulling together "leave behinds" for our legislators to remind them of our three primary talking points. We are concerned about a proposed $50. cut in state aid for community colleges, which would amount to approximately $187,000 lost to FLCC. As Amy noted, that amount is very significant to us: it is the equivalent of four faculty positions or the entire budget for student life. We also talked about a proposed change in the retirement system that would result in a costly unfunded mandate for the college. Finally, we asked our legislators to restore special funding for the five small community colleges (FLCC is not in that category) because it is critically important for them. We met with Assemblyman Errigo, Senator Winner, Assemblyman Bacalles, Assemblyman Oaks, Senator Volker and Senator Nozzolio. We were held up and missed our appointment with Assemblyman Brian Kolb, who is an alumnus of FLCC and a long-standing good friend to the college. Fortunately I was able to meet with him later in the week here in Canandaigua at Patty's Place. Now I've officially been to the place where the locals hang out for breakfast!