Last week, I held a series of Town Hall meetings at each of our three campuses in Wellesley Hills, Framingham, and Ashland. While I had prepared some written remarks to ensure that colleagues across the campuses were getting the same message, each meeting had its own flavor. In many ways, the diversity of our programs, faculty, and staff is reflective of the diversity of our students, their interests, pasts, and aspirations for the future. The level of engagement and the willingness of colleagues across our campuses to offer examples of what we do exceptionally wells and identify areas where we can grow were remarkable, and their candor was authentic.
In two weeks, we’ll be welcoming students back to our campuses. To me, students are the soul of this institution. They add excitement and optimism to the air. They have great hope for their future, regardless of how hard their present may be. Their presence is invigorating. I know I draw a lot of energy from having students on campus and most of us do too. I want to thank Kathleen Kirleis, the Enrollment Management and Student Development team, IT, our Student Orientation Leaders, Staff, Faculty, and all others who have worked throughout the summer to orient our students and prepare them for success at and beyond MassBay.
Last week I entered my one-year term as Interim President with a deep sense of appreciation for the responsibilities that come with the role. The campus embraced me with a contagious air of optimism. From those who maintain our campus facilities to our librarians, our learning specialists, student orientation leaders, the faculty who were on campus, and the staff, it appeared that everyone is prepared to work hard and have fun also. We have some serious and immediate challenges before us, but we also have great talent, wisdom, and creative minds to confront them. As a sector, we value discourse in higher education and I plan to make the best out of this cherished tradition.
Besides compensation, which is typically the most divisive issue between management and faculty, transitioning to teaching online over the last decade has proven to be a contentious issue at most higher education institutions — private and public. As I prepare to take on the help of my current institution, I have no doubt that this will be an issue for my administration. Adhering to the old adage, I prefer to ask my colleagues to take on challenges that I would also be willing to embrace myself even if I’m skeptical, bordering on fearful at first. I had taught research methods and assessment online during a 16-week traditional semester and a 12-week summer schedule both in person, fully online, and hybrid. It was difficult, but doable. With slight modifications, I was able to teach using the same syllabi that I had used for my face-to-face classes. This year, I was asked to teach our Advanced Leadership course fully online and in an accelerated summer session.
By Jeanie Tietjen, Assistant Professor of English at MassBay
on September 15, 2014
In the wake of Ferguson’s delayed start to the school year in response to the shooting of Michael Brown, National Journal reporter Janell Ross reached out to educators around the country—including the Center for Trauma & Learning in Post-Secondary Education (CTLPSE) at MassBay---regarding the impact of trauma on academics. Referred to me by the Trauma & Learning Policy Institute (TLPI), Ross and I discussed some of the relationship between violence and learning we see in post-secondary classrooms. Ferguson schools’ delayed opening offers an explicit example of less well-recognized reactions to violence we see in our classrooms every day. In describing student reactions to a campus safety officer in our classroom, I hoped to illustrate how community issues—such as students’ diverse experiences with policing—are not separate from teaching and learning. Campus and community issues do not exist distinct from one other, but mutually inform conditions and goals of both.
More specifically, Ross and I discussed how trauma and violence in private and community life clearly impact post-secondary issues such as persistence, retention, and completion. At MassBay, we are impressed by the tremendous resilience our students demonstrate: some of them have served in combat, survived domestic violence, political violence, or profound economic displacement.
This is a re-post of a blog post Originally Posted on
Community College Life: Reflections of an Equity-Driven Working Mom on September 7, 2014 by Yves Salomon-Fernandez, Ph.D.
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Topics: Academic Honors