Select this to enable text only view

Convocation Remarks

Dr. Chris Reber, President

August 20, 2015

It’s a great pleasure and honor to join you this morning to begin another wonderful year of challenge, adventure, discovery and success!

Today marks a milestone in the history of CCBC as we welcome many new and recently-hired employees, including a new vice president, a new interim vice president, two new deans, a new director of facilities and grounds, a new reference librarian, women’s volleyball coach, and eight new full-time faculty members. All of these colleagues bring valued skills, experiences and perspectives to our students, our college and our community.

I want to thank everyone in this room and many others for your involvement in our searches last spring. How did we ever survive April? We are able to welcome our talented new employees because of the hard work, commitment, and professionalism of everyone here and in our community who participated on search committees and in candidate interviews.

I also want to acknowledge the legacies of our 23 faculty and staff retirees. Their years of dedication and contributions live on at CCBC as we move toward the future. Please join me in a round of applause for all members of the CCBC community, including our current and retired colleagues!

We welcome our new colleagues warmly to CCBC and look forward to our work together in the months and years to come in support of our students and our community. In a few minutes our vice presidents, deans and directors will introduce new faculty and staff colleagues. But first, it’s my pleasure to introduce our new college leaders.

Sally Mercer joined CCBC as our new Vice President of Human Resources in May. Sally is a seasoned human resources leader with over 15 years of leadership experience in higher education in addition to corporate experience. For more than a decade she worked in various human resources positions at Saint Mary’s College in Maryland, including Director of Human Resources and then Associate Vice President of Human Resources. In her most recent position she served as Director of Talent Management for Hudson Valley Credit Union in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Sally holds an Associate in Applied Scence degree from the College of Southern Maryland; a Bachelor of Science degree in Law and Public Policy and Business Management, and a Master of Science degree in Human Resources and Management from the University of Maryland; and post-graduate certificates from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and Cornell University’s School of Continuing Education. She is already making substantive contributions to CCBC. Welcome to your first full year at CCBC, Sally!

Next, it’s my pleasure to introduce someone with whom I had the pleasure of working for over ten years at Venango College of Clarion University before joining CCBC last year.

Dr. Shelly Moore began her position as Dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health in June following the retirement of Linda Gallagher. For the past 11 years, Shelly was a member of the faculty and administration at Clarion University, where she served as Interim Director of Clarion’s School of Nursing and Allied Health; chair and administrator of the Department of Nursing; and a tenured member of the nursing faculty. Along with her team, Shelly gained approval for two new nursing programs at Clarion – a four-year bachelor of science in nursing and a doctor of nursing practice – creating the most extensive academic ladder of nursing program credentials within the entire Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. As director of the School of Nursing and Allied Health, Shelly provided leadership for robust nursing, medical imaging/radiologic technology, allied health and respiratory care programs.

Shelly earned a Ph.D. in Nursing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania; a Master of Science in Nursing and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from Clarion, Edinboro and Slippery Rock Universities Master of Science in Nursing program; and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Slippery Rock University. She is credentialed as a Certified Nurse Educator by the National League of Nursing and has a special interest in assisting at-risk students. Shelly, welcome to CCBC and this very important leadership role!

Dr. John Higgs joined CCBC in July as the first Dean of the School of Business, Arts, Sciences and Technology, the result of merging two previous divisions into a new integrated school. He comes to us from Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin, where he served as Dean of General Education and Business for the past 11 years, and, prior to the merging of two divisions, as Dean of the Business Division. Earlier in his career, John served as Vice Commander and Dean of the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School and in other leadership roles in the United States Air Force. He served in positions from instructor to squadron commander to dean, and has taught in multiple disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

John holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Innovation from the University of Colorado, Denver; an M.A. in Administration and Leadership from the State University of New York, Plattsburgh; and a B.S. in Business and Economics from the University of Maryland.

The new School of Business, Arts, Sciences and Technology is comprised of over 50 programs in business, technology, science, mathematics, communications, criminal justice, education, social sciences, humanities, fine arts, general education, and developmental education disciplines. John is off to a great beginning and we look forward to his leadership of this exciting new school. Welcome, John!

As most of you are aware, our former Vice President for Finance and Operations, Steve Danik, resigned in June for personal reasons. For those of you who have not yet met him, I’m pleased to introduce Scott Monit, who joined us over the summer as Interim Vice President for Finance and Operations. Scott is no stranger to CCBC or to our community. He has served in numerous executive leadership roles in regional organizations, including Heritage Valley Health System and PGT Trucking, among others. He has been very active in community service over the past 20 years, having served as chair of the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee and in many other community leadership roles. Most notably, he has chaired the CCBC Foundation Board of Directors, where he championed our mission and vision.

Scott earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Dayton and his MBA from Point Park University. He will serve in this role through the academic year while we conduct a national search, and he is already making a very strong contribution to CCBC. Thanks, and welcome, Scott!

I look forward to working with all of you in the coming year to serve our students and our community and to realize our collective vision and aspirations for CCBC.

As I begin my second year at CCBC, what continues to inspire me most is the commitment that everyone here has to our students. We have the privilege of working in an institution that changes and transforms lives and it’s clear that our core common value – what everyone champions here – is our students and their welfare.

The 2014-15 academic year was a monumental one for CCBC thanks to the efforts of everyone in this room other than our newest colleagues, to our trustees, and to many others who are not here today. I’d like to take a moment to review some major accomplishments that have set the stage for a tremendous upcoming year of opportunity for all of us, our students, and our community.

On July 1, 2014 – my first day at CCBC – I received a letter from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education notifying us that CCBC was being placed on warning for needed attention to Middle States accreditation standards 7 and 14: Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes, and Institutional Effectiveness.

All members of the college community immediately rallied together, and, one year later, we have established a new culture of planning, assessment and improvement that will greatly benefit CCBC as a stronger institution with respect to our ability to achieve our goals and continuously improve our performance in service to students and the community.Together we developed a new Institutional Effectiveness Council, appointed a new Faculty Fellow for Planning, Assessment and Improvement, and we worked with a consultant throughout the year to assess all of our programs and services, with full participation from every area of the college. And in June we were informed that we have been removed from warning status and are fully reaccredited!

During the past year we also worked together to begin to develop and implement an enrollment management plan, creating a new cross-college enrollment management group, offering new programs, enhancing our marketing efforts and focusing on student achievement and success. We were recertified as an Achieving the Dream Leader College and began to work with a new ATD leadership coach and a new data coach, both of whom visited CCBC last spring and plan to visit us this fall and next spring to help us move to the next level in our student success agenda. Thanks to these and other efforts, we are turning the corner on a multiple-year enrollment decline that nearly all Pennsylvania community colleges have experienced, and we are poised to begin to grow our enrollment.

A particularly successful new venture is our Aviation High School Academy. Thanks to the efforts of Colonel Bill Pinter, Dean of our School of Aviation Sciences and many other colleagues, the academy has quickly gained the attention of the entire region and has inspired a plan to develop five additional academies over the next five years, supported by a recent $1.5 million gift from Lincoln Learning Solutions, Inc., the largest gift in the history of CCBC.

Another very important priority last year was our work together to create a strong sense of community among our faculty and staff, a commitment to the principal that every person matters, and a new commitment to transparency, open communication and shared governance. We began holding monthly "CCBC Forum" meetings, communicating routinely across offices and divisions, celebrating our successes, honoring those who have contributed to the welfare of our students and region, and becoming an institution with a shared and collective vision and positive morale. Nothing brings me greater satisfaction than the progress we have made in this endeavor, and I am honored to be a part of this community, where everyone is deeply committed to the success and well being of our students and of one another.

We have also made great progress in the area of student life. Thanks to the leadership of Jan Kaminski, John Ashaolu, Patrick Phillips, Fran Siters, Coach Steve Brodzinski and many others, we have implemented a new set of principles for our athletics program that focus on academics first, and we now welcome a new men’s basketball team to CCBC and new coaches to our women’s volleyball and softball teams. We also celebrate the beginning of a comprehensive club sports and intramurals program in our Dome, and a plan and vision to renovate the Dome to become a hub of campus and community activities.

Clearly, we have much for which to be thankful as we work together this year to build upon the framework of the past 14 months and prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary of service to Beaver County and the surrounding region in 2016-17.

I’ve spent the summer talking with many of you – and our students, trustees, Foundation Board members, elected officials and other community leaders – about our priorities for the coming year. Informed by these discussions, I have developed five presidential goals that I would like to share with you, and, as always, I invite and welcome your input and suggestions.

  • First, I want to lead and support college-wide efforts to further develop a sustainable college culture of planning, assessment and improvement, including the development of CCBC’s new five-year strategic plan, the integration of student success and Achieving the Dream initiatives, efforts to achieve key performance indicator benchmarks, efforts to prepare for our December 2016 Monitoring Report to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and activities of the Office of Planning, Assessment and Improvement, and the Institutional Effectiveness Council.
  • Second, I want to lead the continued development and implementation of a comprehensive, systemic and sustainable college-wide process for enrollment management that facilitates planned enrollment growth through new program development; that refines when, where and how programs are offered to reach an expanded population of students; and that integrates marketing, recruitment and retention strategies so that they are seamless and mutually supportive. We need to reverse the multiple-year trend of enrollment decline with stable or growing enrollment during 2015-16, positioning the college for an upward trend of growth over the next several years.
  • Third, I want to lead and support efforts to further develop an environment of transparency, inclusion, respect, trust and open communication that encourages the broad involvement and engagement of students, faculty, staff, trustees and community members and engenders positive college-wide morale. I want to lead efforts to welcome, orient and effectively involve new faculty, staff, students and trustees in the life of the college. I also want to provide leadership for enhanced diversity awareness, education and appreciation throughout the CCBC community, and the development of three new CCBC schools.

Let me comment on the development of the schools for just a moment.

Our reorganization last year included the merging of two divisions into one school, the School of Business, Arts, Sciences, and Technology; and the elevation of two other academic divisions into the School of Nursing and Allied Health and the School of Aviation Sciences. Each of these schools is led by a very talented dean: Dean John Higgs, Dean Shelly Moore, and Dean Bill Pinter. At Commencement last may our deans called graduates in their schools forward to receive their diplomas, and we’d like to continue to develop the identities and cultures of each school this year and going forward. This includes the development of school logos, banners, and activities. This should be a particularly meaningful and enjoyable undertaking as we prepare for our 50th anniversary this year.

  • Continuing with my goals this year, my fourth goal is to promote CCBC throughout Beaver County, the surrounding region, the Commonwealth and the nation as an institution committed to partnerships, programs and activities that support students, workforce and economic development, and quality of life for the region’s people and organizations.
  • And, finally, I want to lead and nurture efforts to continue to seek external funding in support of college goals, working closely with the CCBC Foundation, trustees, other CCBC colleagues and community leaders. We need to complete our current $3.5 million campaign and plan a year-long 50th anniversary celebration this year, and launch a new comprehensive campaign following the completion of our anniversary celebration.

Sydney J. Harris wrote, “the whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”

Tomorrow morning hundreds of new students will begin their journey at CCBC and begin the process of seeing the world through new and widened windows of understanding and discovery. Our new students bring with them hopes, dreams and expectations for a new career or a fresh start. Welcoming our new students to campus will be dozens of volunteers who will make New Student Orientation a special start to college. I’d like to thank Fran Siters and all of you who will be helping with orientation tomorrow and throughout the year.

We have the honor and responsibility of working in an institution that changes lives. I have been inspired recently by an exceptional student who was attending orientation just last year as a new student, having just graduated from South Side Area High School.

One year later, Taylor Beardmore has been chosen to represent all CCBC students on our Board of Trustees, a new position adopted recently by the Board. And what a great representative Taylor will be! She is the recipient of a CCBC Presidential Scholarship and holds a 3.90 cumulative grade-point average. She is studying Early Childhood Education, is a CCBC Student Ambassador and a member of the CCBC chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. Taylor is flourishing here as a student and plans to continue on after graduation to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Slippery Rock University. Like so many of our students, her future is bright, and much brighter by virtue of her CCBC experience and her interactions with many of you, her peers and so many others. Taylor, we look forward to your insights and contributions in your Board role this year, and we are very proud of you!

During the past year I have also been inspired by so many of you! As examples, I’d like to take a moment to recognize three colleagues who have inspired me in different ways.

First, I’d like to recognize a truly dynamic duo: Kim Kaufman and Scott Basinger, who worked together for most of the past year as custodians in the Student Services Center, where I work. Day in and day out, I crossed paths with these valued colleagues and observed the great work that they do, and, equally important, the manner in which they do that great work. Scott and Kim work exceedingly hard to keep the Student Services Center safe, clean and attractive for everyone at CCBC. Kim has often tried to make sure that meeting rooms or other spaces are refreshed before evening meetings, caring about the experience of those attending the meetings. She greeted me warmly and enthusiastically on my first day at CCBC, asking me to call her “Cinderella,” which I often do. Kim has taken the initiative to offer suggestions that would improve how we support our students and our community.

Scott has been tireless in his contributions to our college environment, working beyond reasonable expectations in a modest but caring way, expecting no thanks but earning the respect and admiration of students, faculty and staff through his example. He takes the initiative to make me and others aware of potentially unsafe conditions that need to be addressed on campus. Scott was recently promoted to our new grounds position, and I am so happy for him! Kim and Scott, like so many of you, are kind and caring people. They smile and greet and respect everyone they see. Kim and Scott, you inspire me and so many others! Thanks for all that you do and for being valued members of our community!

Another colleague who inspires me is Cynthia Marshall.

From the moment that I arrived here, Cynthia was most gracious and welcoming. And she is that way in every interaction that I have with her. On a number of occasions she has stopped by, out of the blue, to offer words of encouragement and appreciation. Cynthia is a model for how to care about and support our students. She often sends me and others examples of her students’ work, for which she justifiably feels great pride. As many of you know, Cynthia is a yoga instructor and combines yoga with the arts in culturally creative ways that inspire students and all of us.

It’s hard for me to articulate what I most appreciate about Cynthia. In addition to her obvious dedication to teaching, she exudes warmth and kindness and respect in the very manner of her being. Many of you know that Cynthia is a Zen Chaplain and that she has a special interest in hospice patients. She has volunteered to be a community resource for people struck with great misfortune and she also participates on our CCBC Behavioral Evaluation Team.

As some of you know, I have invited members of our community who are interested in developing an Alma Mater for our 50thanniversary to join a planning committee. On the day of our first meeting, Cynthia arrived with a draft Alma Mater! Cynthia, thank you for your inspirational contributions to our students and our community, and for being such a valued member of the CCBC family!

My only regret in celebrating these fine people is the reality that there are so many others who deserve recognition. Over time I look forward to many other shoutouts!

As I shared at last year’s Convocation, I believe that at this moment in our nation’s development and in postsecondary education, community colleges are uniquely positioned to address many of the nation’s highest priorities, challenges and aspirations. This has become even more apparent over the past year, with President Obama’s introduction of America’s College Promise agenda that highlights the life-changing opportunities that community colleges bring to their students and service areas, and many other visible acknowledgements nationwide of the central importance of our mission. The mission and principles of community colleges – to meet students where they are, offer access that can change lives, and focus on the specific workforce, economic development and quality of life needs of the community – make this the most exciting and fulfilling part of our nation’s higher education system, which is clearly the best in the world.

I pledge to do everything that I can as your president to support our collective efforts to grow and excel as an institution that is committed to serving our students, community, the surrounding region and beyond. As we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary as a community of learners less than one year from now, there is much for which to be thankful, much to celebrate, and much more to do!

I encourage the entire CCBC community to share with me your thoughts, your ideas, your concerns, and to let me know how I can be helpful. Feel free to stop in and see me at the office, drop me a note, give me a call or schedule time to talk. I am honored to have the opportunity to work side by side with all of you, to celebrate our successes and work through our challenges together, and to be CCBC’s tireless advocate!

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for all that you do for our students, our academic community and our region. I look forward to a year filled with experiences that are rewarding, inspiring, and, most of all, caring.

Happy New Year!

Chris Reber