Spring break is here!

I’m just back from the League for Innovation conference in Boston – they were still digging out from under the snow! It was a thought-provoking, impactful conference. First, let me congratulate our John and Suanne Roueche winners: Patricia Barnes, Anne Marie Mosher, Nancy Pea and Howard Rosenthal. Anne Marie said the conference ‘was an excellent opportunity to pick the brains of people who are always thinking. It was interesting to see all of the new app ideas that have been dreamed up to help students stay motivated. It was an honor to be recognized by my leadership team.’

My conference experience reiterated one important point – we are all in the student development business, and I know that Flo Valley goes above and beyond to create meaningful classroom and campus experiences.

As most of you know, St. Louis Community College has a new chancellor. Jeff Pittman, Ph.D., statewide vice president of corporate college services and online education at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, has accepted the position of chancellor, effective July 1. In the coming months, I’m sure Dr. Pittman will be visiting the campuses and meeting everyone. Welcome Dr. Pittman!

A district wide email was distributed yesterday outlining the new schedule for housekeeping. This schedule is effective March 23. Please be mindful that it will take a while for adjustment – some things to think about with this change:

  • Room setups/scheduling should be done as soon as possible. Room requests cannot be confirmed until a room setup has been received, processed and confirmation sent to the requester.
  • Please have patience – there will be an acclimation period, as housekeepers get used to their new schedules and assignments. You’ll also notice fewer staff during the day, and more in the evening.

KUDOS

  • Let’s congratulate our SEED students and Susan McKnight for their successful trip and presentations at the Clinton Global Initiative in Miami. They received many accolades and one student, Anderson Lima, was selected as a finalist. He presented his project to a panel of judges and was selected as a Resolution Fellow, and will receive the funding he requested, approximately $4,000 to invest in his project.

AROUND THE CAMPUS

  • Better Family Life Inc. will offer St. Louisans with misdemeanor warrants an opportunity to move past these issues through the 2015 St. Louis Metropolitan Area Amnesty Project. The program at STLCC will be conducted over two days, March 14 and 18, and will allow individuals to resolve outstanding warrants with city and county municipalities at two campuses (Florissant Valley and Forest Park). The event at Florissant Valley will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, in the gymnasium.

And finally, I hope all of you have an enjoyable and fun spring break. Come back restored, refreshed and renewed and ready for the rest of the semester! Thanks for reading the blog.

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A short note while waiting for spring …

If you’re tired of making snow angels, raise your hand.

Okay, who’s ready for spring break? I am! I’m also ready for warmer weather. Enough of this winter! Do you have spring fever yet? Are you ready for the St. Louis Cardinals? The first spring training game is Thursday. Let’s get ready to root for our hometown team!

The last few weeks have been busy. As most of you know, the district chancellor search committee was busy picking candidates to forward for interviews. I hope you take time out to go to the campus open forums and ask questions. Your opinion does count.

March is Women’s History Month and Florissant Valley is celebrating in a big way! Thanks go to Janice Nesser-Chu and WHM committee for putting together a calendar full of events sure to inspire and spark conversation. The month kicks off TODAY with “Telling our Stories/Impacting Our Communities: The Moms of Cold Water Creek and FV SEED Students Speak Out,” and a Celebration Circle. Please check the schedule listed above to check out these events.

On March 4, Cecelia Nadal, founder and Executive Director of Gitana Productions Inc., will give the Women’s History Month Keynote Address. Gitana Productions Inc. is an arts and education organization that uses music, dance, drama and education as vehicles for bringing diverse groups together in acceptance and mutual understanding. She will speak from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in the Terry M. Fischer Theatre.

This past Saturday found us “Falling in Love in Five Courses.” I enjoyed attending the event and talking with community members who know and appreciate the value of St. Louis Community College. I was seated with Michael McMillan, president and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis. He is a big champion and supporter of the work we do. I find this encouraging, especially now with all the talk about community colleges. We need as many champions as we can handle. We were also well represented by our students, Bradley Rayford and Kyle Lackey.

Have you been keeping up on your reading? Check out this interesting article from the New York Times.

Thanks for reading this short blog and have a great week!

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Drawing the perfect circle

Do you ever sit and think about the circles you move in? Who or what are inside your personal circle? Last week, there was a lot of discussion and healing around circles.

We began last week with a wonderful African American History Month kickoff celebration. Our keynote speaker, Kenneth Murdock, gave the students a lot of food for thought. He centered his talk on picking the right people to be in your circle of influence and how that circle can help you get ahead in life. The celebration was wonderful, from the delicious food to the soul stirring performances. Kudos to Gwen Nixon and her staff for putting on a great event!

Students also had the chance to participate in what is becoming a Florissant Valley tradition: a Listening Circle. We had a great dialogue between students, community members, and local law enforcement. If you haven’t attended one, I would suggest you make the effort. I always consider the Listening Circle to be a recharging moment – it’s a chance to listen and truly understand what our students feel, think and experience. If your schedule permits, take some time out to listen or participate in the next Circle. Wesley, LaRhonda and Annie, that’s a hint to schedule then next one!

On Friday, more than 60 children came into our circle of influence and nurturing. Students from Duchesne Elementary School arrived on campus to get the ultimate STEM experience. I am always excited about having young people on campus and exposing them to all the wonderful programs we have. They are a part of our community, and they should see us as a viable option when considering college. I always say it’s never too late to start recruiting.

AROUND THE CAMPUS

  • Dr. Dennis Michaelis, STLCC Interim Chancellor, visited the campus on Thursday to take part in an open forum. The questions were good, the dialogue was informative and the chancellor appreciated chatting with a “full house.”
  • “6 Degrees of Separation” makes its debut at the Terry M. Fischer Theatre on Friday. Mark your calendars and try to come out to see the show on these dates and times: 8 p.m. Feb. 13, 14, 20,* 21 and 2 p.m. Feb. 15. (*the Feb. 20 show is sign interpreted)
  • Florissant Valley will join 75 other colleges and universities to host the 2015 Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, and Science (TEAMS) Competition on Friday, Feb. 20. TEAMS is an annual competition for middle and high school students designed to help them discover their potential for engineering. STLCC-Florissant Valley has been hosting the TEAMS competition since 1993. The TEAMS competition will be based on the 2015 theme, The Power of Engineering. Students will focus on energy and its relationship to engineering.
  • Carol Lupardus (VPAA) has been talking about this video for a while – it’s something light and humorous to consider on those days when nothing works. Always remember to have Plan B or you’ll get stuck!

One last thing, if you get the chance, take a look at the following op-ed by First Lady Michelle Obama. In it, she discusses the importance of high school counselors and how they build the bridge to college for our students.

Thanks for reading the blog and have a great week!

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Welcome back to the spring semester!

It’s good to be back to kickoff what I’m sure will be a wonderful semester! I’m just getting back to my office after enjoying a sunny yet brisk day. In addition to students being back on campus, there have been a lot of interesting events to enjoy. I had the chance to listen to a presentation given by Professor Linda Collins. In “A Change is Gonna Come:” Healing in a Time of Racial Unrest, Dr. Collins compared the race riots of 50 years ago with the recent unrest in Ferguson and beyond.  She also discussed how communities can heal from these divisive events. I hope you got the chance to listen – – it was thought-provoking.

We had a busy Service Week. Along with the traditions of welcoming each other back to campus, we got a lot of mileage out of our middle name: Community. On January 10, 150 people between the ages of 14 and 24 attended the Ferguson Commission’s meeting at Flo Valley . The youth summit marked a “critical beginning” for the commission in the listening process involving young people, said the Rev. Starsky Wilson, co-chairman. As you know, the Ferguson Commission was created by Gov. Jay Nixon to address “social and economic conditions” highlighted by protests. The budget for the 13-month endeavor is about $1.3 million.

We also partnered with several community organizations to sponsor North County Opportunities Expo: Trades, Training and Apprenticeships on Jan. 13, on campus.

The Expo included workshops and helpful information on how to find resources to prepare for employment in the building and skilled trades. Approximately 371 attendees had the opportunity to explore various training opportunities in union trades, highly technical skilled utility work, and advanced manufacturing. Resources were available on-site to help individuals address career roadblocks.

AROUND THE CAMPUS

  • We had a wonderful Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. Dr. Art McCoy gave an insightful and thought provoking keynote address about Dr. King and the work we still have to do to fulfill his dream. More than 200 people were in attendance. I look forward to next year’s event.

And finally, Gov. Jay Nixon gave his State of the State address on Wednesday. Gov. Nixon says his 2016 budget will invest an additional $11 million in pre-school, an additional $150 million for local public schools and will provide start-up grants to expand Project Lead the Way to another 350 elementary schools. He is also proposing an additional $25 million for colleges and universities, based on strong performance standards. Please continue to watch this space for updates on funding.

Thanks for reading the blog and have a great weekend!

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A Quick Note

So on Monday, we had a nice fall day – temperatures were in the 60s, the sun was out, we had a breeze, and now it’s COLD!! I guess winter is just around the corner. As we all try to keep warm, I’ve jotted down a few things I wanted to share with you.

Our fall SOAR session was a huge success! I would like to thank everyone involved who took time out of their busy schedules to work with our students. Here are some facts from Annie Wagganer:

  • You were part of a volunteer team of more than 50 faculty, staff, administrators, and students!
  • More than 200 students were given individualized attention during their registration process.

I can’t wait to see what the SOAR team will do for the spring. As we recruit and work to retain our students, don’t be afraid to step forward with any ideas to assist in this process. We are all ambassadors and recruiters for this campus. Keep in mind, our highly successful SOAR program came out of several brainstorming sessions. Congrats to Annie Wagganer and the SOAR crew for another successful session.

I had the chance to meet and chat with Afro-Italian filmmaker, Fred Kuworno about his work. He was on campus as part of the Global Film Showcase sponsored by the STLCC-Florissant Valley Global Institute in cooperation with the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago. Professor Chris Stephens arranged to have Kuworno come to campus to screen his film The Right of Soil (18 ius soli). The film examines issues of race, ethnicity, and national identity in the “new” multicultural Italy of the early 21st century. An activist-producer-writer-director, Kuworno was born and raised in Italy and is based in Brooklyn. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Mass Media, from the University of Bologna.

Branson was the place to be as the Missouri Community College Association hosted their 50th annual convention. Please visit the STLCC newsroom to see the honors our faculty, staff and students garnered during this much anticipated convention.

Planning for Service Week 2015 is underway, so if you have an idea, suggestion or something you’d like to put on the calendar, let me know.

This past weekend, during the MCCA – Student Government conference in Branson, the STLCC – Florissant Valley Student Government Association won the “Make a Difference” Award competition, and brought home the trophy!  Their “Make a Difference Project” included an application, presentation and skit for their role with the STLCC-Florissant Valley/Urban League Job Fair. SGA, with the support of the Child Development Center staff and volunteers, provided kid-friendly activities and showed the popular Disney movie, “Frozen,” for children ages 2 to 12 years. SGA played basketball and set up a gaming area equipped with X-Box and Wii for children 13 years and older. Additionally, they assisted with voter registration and served as guides who provided information and directions to the various activities on the campus. I am so proud of our students! Congratulations to Gwen Nixon and her staff on working with the SGA and guiding them towards success.

Congratulations to Shamika Black, Eric Johnson Sr., Marquis Crape and the rest of the Emerging Scholars for 2014. Black and Johnson were recognized as Emerging Scholar of the Year, while Crape received the Merit Scholar Award.

There are several exciting Global Events planned for next week. Our FV Global Gathering: Celebrating the Caribbean, Nov. 17-20 promises to be exciting and educational. I look forward to seeing you there! Click here for a schedule of events.

On Wednesday, Nov. 19, the first five $500 scholarships of the Ferguson Scholarship at St. Louis Community College Challenge Grant will be distributed to awardees. Anonymous donors along with the St. Louis Community College Foundation jointly have created the Ferguson Scholarship at St. Louis Community College Challenge Grant to assist students who reside in the 63135 and 63136 ZIP codes. If your schedule permits, please join us at 11:30 a.m. in TC 105/107.

And finally, we continue to prepare for the announcement from Prosecutor Bob McCulloch on the Michael Brown case. Please know that we are concerned for the campus community’s safety and wellbeing. Last week, Interim Chancellor Michaelis sent out a district wide email stressing the importance of signing up for the district text alert service watching the STLCC website and your own email. I stress the same – sign up for the text service and pay attention to all the information that comes through all STLCC communication vehicles.

Thanks for reading the blog and try to stay warm during this chilly weekend.

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Safety Matters

I’ve spent a lot of time talking with you, listening to make sure I understand your concerns – I want to make sure that we continue to reach out, to talk and share concerns as we await the announcement from Prosecutor Bob McCulloch on the Michael Brown case. The campus community is concerned about safety – as it should be.

Please know that the campus leadership team and campus police have been working closely with local and county police departments to determine how to proceed in the event of a campus breach. Anticipated unrest has made it necessary to draft another campus emergency plan. We’re doing what we can to ensure the safety of our campus community. But there are a few proactive things you can do.
1. Review your ACT NOW brochure. These should be hanging in your department and in classrooms across the campus. If you don’t have one, please contact Kedra Tolson.
2. Do you know who’s on the campus safety committee? Click here.
3. Who is your building safety coordinator? Click here.
4. How will you know if there is an emergency concern? We have several ways of alerting the campus community:
I. Campus-wide email
II. Campus-wide voicemail
III. Shoretel phone alert – Campus police can use your personal phone as a PA system
IV. Net Notifier– a pop-window will appear on your computer screen to alert you of emergency matters.
V. STLCC Twitter alert – If you have a Twitter account just follow @STLCCAlert using your favorite Twitter application. You will receive STLCCAlert tweets in your Twitter feed just as you receive other tweets from those whom you follow.
VI. We also employ emergency messages using the College’s text alert account: text Follow STLCCAlert to 40404. Please note that you may get several messages when you first sign up that are not from the College. To discontinue receiving text messages that are not from STLCCAlert, simply reply to the text message with the words “SET DISCOVER OFF” (without quotes). After that you will only get messages sent out by the school. Your mobile plan’s text message rates will apply.

Above all else, please use good judgment. When an announcement is made, you will be made aware and we will issue instructions to ensure safety. And please, continue to ask questions, offer ideas – we’re all in this together and nothing can defeat a unified and informed campus.

AROUND THE CAMPUS
• Want to help our students SOAR? Head over to the Multipurpose Room on Monday and Tuesday and volunteer! The SOAR (Student Outreach and Registration) sessions take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact Annie Wagganer (x4337) for more information.
• The Terry M. Fischer Theatre will present “I’m Sorry” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9. This is an FV Children’s Theatre presentation, so if you can, stop by and support the work of these budding young actors and director Dan Betzler. The performance on Nov. 7 is sign interpreted. Go here for a schedule.

Thanks for reading the blog!

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And now the end is not near, it is here!

The office is cleaned out and ready for a new occupant. I have relived my 34 years at St. Louis Community College but especially the 12 and a half years as Florissant Valley president. You know when you are in the middle of everything happening; it is difficult to really see the work that has been done. As I have reflected on this time, I am so proud of the Florissant Valley campus and my colleagues here.

We weathered the discussion around adding an alternative high school to our campus, a tragic incident in one of our campus ponds, faculty and staff transitions and loss of our colleagues and friends. We celebrated with peace poles, tree plantings, and parties. We built the Emerson Center for Engineering and Manufacturing, renovated and added onto our Student Center, renovated many spaces, moved the bus stop (more than once), and added an art gallery to the Administration Building. We welcomed students from around the world and learned so much from each of them. We received a wonderful gift from the Gateway Foundation – our Taurus sculpture – and then added a sculpture park of our own. Together we have made students our number one priority.

Florissant Valley is a special place – it is your place. It will rise to greatness because of each and every one of you. Take stock of yourself, of your contributions and choose – will you contribute to success for the campus and for our students?

It has truly been my honor and pleasure to serve with you in this community.
As I take my leave I am reminded of the words of Henry David Thoreau “Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they the latitudes and the longitudes”.

Farewell Florissant Valley.

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