Please click on the link below to view the video about the Fine Arts programs at MVCC.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Here at Mohawk Valley Community College, we strive to make a college degree an attainable goal for everyone, whether they are just out of high school or an adult in need of a career change and new skills. We have staff dedicated to helping every type of student start out on the right path, and our faculty and staff are here to help every step of the way, right up until graduation.
It all starts with our Admissions Department, where all potential applicants have the opportunity to discuss their program options and preparation, and get some assistance navigating the application process.
Check out this video, which offers an inside look at MVCC's Admissions Department.
Monday, December 3, 2012
A wise colleague recently reminded me of the power of gratitude and the often forgotten notion that a few words of appreciation go a long way in fostering positive energy in an organization – and it doesn't cost a thing! I’ve also been revisiting Professor Kim Cameron’s work on positive organizational psychology and found the following very interesting.
A research study (Emmons, 2003) required a group of students to keep daily gratitude journals and another group to journal their frustrations. “The students who kept gratitude journals, compared to frustrated or neutral students, experienced fewer physical symptoms such as headaches and colds; felt better about their lives as a whole; were more optimistic about the coming week; had higher states of alertness, attentiveness, determination, and energy; reported fewer hassles in their lives; engaged in more helping behavior toward other people; experienced better sleep quality; and had a sense of being more connected to others” (Cameron, 2008).
Could the positive effects of journaling gratitude also come from simply practicing gratitude more frequently? Each year our visiting professors from Kien Giang Community College in Vietnam observe and comment on how often we say “thank you” – “Americans say thank you three times for everything.” Expressing appreciation for gifts and other tangibles is, indeed, deeply layered into our society. Regularly showing gratitude for a job well done, however? Not so much.
One of my favorite “Thank You” cards has a cover that says, “Thanks for being...” The notion of expressing appreciation for simply being who they are, is to me, a powerful message. We’ve all done some very good work developing a comprehensive recognition program at MVCC. However, the most meaningful recognition often comes from the simple, positive, supportive individual interactions between caring colleagues every day. Equally as powerful might also be what is not said – people being more intentional with their choices to find their words, and deliver their messages, in the kinder, gentler ways more likely to sustain or build effective working relationships.
I think human instinct most often favors paying close attention to negative signals – probably going back to our early days of hunting and gathering when ignoring negative signals was often fatal. We need far more positive interactions to outweigh the significance of and orientation toward negative ones. It’s often too easy to spend time at the end of a workday reflecting on one negative interaction, despite having had plenty of positive interactions. With a greater emphasis on gratitude, perhaps we can help create a more supportive, more reaffirming environment of gratitude and inspire a reciprocity that might provide results similar to those achieved by the students who journaled their gratitude in those studies a decade ago.
If you have any comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emmons, R.A. (2003). Acts of gratitude in organizations. In K. S. Cameron, J.E. Dutton, & R.E. Quinn (Eds.), Positive organizational scholarship (pp. 81-93). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Cameron, K.S. (2008). Positive leadership: strategies for extraordinary performance. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Monday, November 19, 2012
I recently had a discussion with a colleague about what employers expect of our graduates. The next day I happened across a promotional piece that asked, "Would You Hire You?" The question provoked some thoughts about what is really important in today's workplace and how I may have acquired some of the skills that might actually result in me "hiring myself.”
Most employers want their employees to be hard workers, reliable, ethical, and willing to respect, serve and connect with others. Over the past decade, colleges have increasingly taken on the task of educating students – formally and informally – to gain these and other essential skills. The fact is that, not so many years ago, these skills were most commonly taught at home. I am most certainly thankful for learning the importance of these skills from my parents and am also thankful for the opportunity to apply them at a fairly young age.
As a teenager, I had the good fortune to work in the pro shop of the public golf course in my hometown. The golf pro, Denis Husse, who is still there all these years later, was a fantastic person who knew the importance of setting high expectations. He modeled the way, creating a vibrant workplace that made me want to be there. He used to tell us that the way we treated our customers could give our course the feel of belonging to an expensive private country club. We worked hard to learn golfers' names, showing interest in hearing about their round of golf (no matter the score!). We went the extra mile to show we appreciated them. We hustled to serve and make each golfer feel important. Denis also reinforced his belief that treating each other respectfully and professionally would translate into how we treated our guests. So we did, and it did.
I worked three summers there – opening the shop some mornings at 5:30 a.m. and/or closing at 9:30 p.m. – at times working as many as 70 hours in a week – and was rewarded way beyond my $3.50 hourly wage. I was educated by a great leader who didn't ask us to do anything he wouldn't do himself. The emotional intelligence he displayed so effortlessly back then is what I work on every day now – because I know how he made me and all my co-workers at the golf course feel. Thinking back now, it was a great initial experience for my working career.
I wonder, if I had not had the opportunity to work in that pro shop all those years ago, whether I'd be as willing to hire myself today ... and I'm thankful – to Denis and that old job – that I'll never have to answer that question.
To share an insight or thankful experience, please contact me at email@example.com.
Monday, November 5, 2012
Sometimes the changes in our society feel like a hurricane with swirling winds changing the way we live and work. As enrollment growth tapers off at community colleges around the country, the brief breath is less the eye of a hurricane and quite possibly more like the beginning of a tsunami – where the tide rushes out to sea before it comes crashing ashore and changes the landscape forever.
I recently read an article in Time Magazine that opened my eyes to MOOCs – massive open online courses. It is education at scale. We have heard for years that top-tier universities like Stanford, MIT, and others were putting their best courses from their best faculty on the Internet for free. It has finally happened – and in a big way. Leading professors are taking the best of what they know in brain research and how people learn and are integrating it with what they know about instructional course design and assessment.
Three major ventures are leading the way. The for-profit Coursera is the largest, with 198 courses already offered with resources from 33 colleges like Princeton, Stanford, Duke and others. Udacity is also a for-profit that has 14 courses offered while EDX is a non-profit led by MIT, Harvard, Texas and Cal-Berkeley. The courses are free and gaining in popularity. More than 640,000 students enrolled in the first 13 courses and now more than 1.4 million students have taken courses from Coursera – that’s a lot of papers to grade.
I learned more about how these MOOCs are designed when I later came across a TED talk from one of the co-founders of Coursera. Here I learned that MOOCs utilize peer and self-grading and found that they are highly correlated with faculty grading. The courses start on a given day with real homework and real deadlines. They receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course, but not college credit as we know it today. A week after I read the Time article, I read an article that said Antioch University had signed a license agreement with Coursera to use their MOOCs to build new bachelor degree programs.
MOOCs aren’t likely to replace college as we know it in our lifetime. Rather, they are likely to very quickly become the next component in an increasingly diverse portfolio of community college enrollment. Just like online courses have carved out a 10 percent to 25 percent share of community college enrollments in the last 15 years, MOOCs and the certification of their competencies toward degrees are likely to do the same in half that time. We already certify previous student learning through AP credit, SAT, ACT, Credit for Prior Learning, ACE-DANTES and other means. Community colleges had best start thinking about MOOCs as well – for the wave will be crashing ashore before we know it.
If you have any questions or comments on this post, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, October 29, 2012
When Geoffrey Canada spoke on our Utica Campus earlier this month, I expected to hear about the success of the Harlem Children's Zone. He eventually got there, but Canada spent the first fifteen minutes talking about the impact that the mass incarceration of inner-city poor populations has had on families and children. I had planned this week to write about our local economy and the gap between students wanting jobs and employers decrying the dearth of trained workers to fill the open positions they have currently. But, simply, Canada's comments, along with information recently gleaned from several other sources on the subject of today's U.S. prison population shocked, saddened, and motivated me to place my focus here this week.
I first heard about the "mass incarceration of America" on National Public Radio last spring as Michelle Alexander talked about her book, "The New Jim Crow." A short time later, I read columnist Leonard Pitts' call for people to read Alexander's book and subsequently help create a national movement to make positive changes to our criminal justice system.
I checked Alexander's book out of the MVCC Library and was blown away by the facts published therein. Ms. Alexander has a number of speeches available on YouTube that provide insight and texture to the topic. (Here is a 12 minute piece.)
Since Canada's appearance at MVCC, I've seen several television interviews regarding newly released documentaries – some intense and moving, others ironic and shocking.
“The House I Live In” is a film that just opened and provides insight to the mass incarceration of young black males in this country, with the additional perspectives of law enforcement. The war on drugs has had an all-encompassing effect on prisoners as well as a broad range of emotional and other effects on the law enforcement professionals who have the challenging job of enforcing our drug laws. (Here is the powerful two-minute trailer.)
Additionally, D.L. Hughley has a short film on Comedy Central, titled the “Endangered List,” wherein the comedian proposes the not-so-tongue-in-cheek notion that black people would have more rights if they were on the endangered list. The film explores the impact the war on drugs has had on blacks in America. After speaking with private, for-profit prison owners, Hughley learns that they are able to select their prisoners based on age and health (longer sentences are more profitable!). He puts a fine point on the issue by talking L.A. gang members into buying stock in some of those particular prisons. Hughley notes that not only might some of those gang members wind up being prisoners one day, they may also be shareholders in the very prisons likely to hold them.
Irony and marginal humor aside, the facts remain – the United States truly is the largest jailor in the world.
- The United States incarcerates its citizens at a rate seven times greater than any other developed nation in the world. We jail a higher percentage of our citizens than any other country, including China, North Korea and that of South Africa during Apartheid.
- The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners.
- More African-American adults are under correctional control in the criminal justice system than were enslaved in 1850.
- Black children have less chance today of being raised by both parents than they did during slavery.
- The drug war was declared when drug use was actually declining.
- Crack cocaine use has been sentenced at a severity of 100 to 1 compared to powder cocaine – Congress recently addressed this incredible imbalance … now that ratio is only 18 to 1. Unbelievable.
- Federal drug laws prohibit convicted felons post-release (including simple drug possession) from receiving financial aid for education, food stamps, welfare and publicly funded housing. These prohibitions do not apply to violent bank robbers, white-collar criminals (think Wall Street and high finance) and, in some cases, even murderers do not face such harsh post-release sanctions.
- The U.S. prison population has risen from 300,000 in 1980 to more than 2 million today.
- By the year 2000 more people were returning to prison on drug convictions than ALL people going to prison in 1980.
- In some urban areas, more than 50% of working age African-American men have criminal records.
The quote at the end of the movie trailer above says mass incarceration in this country is a “holocaust in slow motion.” I am reminded of the great novel “Stones from the River” by Ursela Hegi that tells the tale of the Holocaust in similar form. That human tragedy gained traction over so many years that, by the time people recognized it, the scourge had progressed far beyond the collective imagination. I only hope it’s not too late for us and can only imagine how our worker shortage might be different if even half of those prisoners could find a path through college and to careers rather than "riding" the tractor beam of our current system of criminal justice.
If you have any comments or questions, please email me at email@example.com.