Monday, September 28, 2009

The Barnfest and Hard Work

Although this is only our third fall in this community, my family and I made what has become our annual trip to the Barnfest in Remsen City, USA.  Our Barnfest experience last year created a sense of anticipation as we traveled north on Saturday – the radio never went on as the conversation was chatty, lively and brisk the whole ride.  As we turned off Route 12 and proceeded down the road into town, we all commented on the earliest leaves that had already turned.  We parked at the Remsen train depot, just as we did last year, and found our way to the main thoroughfare.

We were met with scents of fried dough, gyros, kettlecorn and cheesesteaks – the overwhelming number of people descending on this small town was inviting.  As the afternoon passed, I alternated my time between packmule, foodhandler and mobile ATM as my family transitioned from one craft booth to another.  While they smelled the homemade candles and perused the handcrafted jewelry, I had a chance to take in my surroundings – tents, booths, crafts, and food along with garbage cans, powerchords, music, and smiling faces serving thousands of people in a slow moving river of willing shoppers.  My thoughts quickly focused on the incredible amount of hard work that was necessary to make this special community event a reality.  After exchanging “hellos” with a number of MVCC faculty and staff moving among the crowd, we bought a bag of cinnamon roasted cashews from an outgoing young man who introduced himself as an MVCC student who plans on transferring to Cornell next fall.  My thoughts quickly turned to the massive volume of work by MVCC faculty and staff that was necessary to get this fall semester off to such a great start.

This past week, I had the opportunity to get out on campus (both Utica and Rome) more than I have in the past few weeks.  I talked to a lot of students (including a monthly student lunch arranged through Student Activities) and chatted informally with a number of faculty and staff.  I got the palpable sense that faculty and staff are working extremely hard. So much effort has gone into accommodating 10% more enrollment than we did last fall.  Staff are fundamentally rethinking systems and processes – implementing waitlists and electronic billing helped us respond to student demand and serve students more efficiently.  As class sizes and the percentage of seats taken increased, faculty accommodated more and more students.  All this means significant increases in student advising needs, papers to grade, quizzes and tests to review, rooms getting cleaned more often, parking and other issues. When I say our community needs us more than ever, I also believe that means we need each other more than ever.  We’re being asked to work harder AND smarter, which often requires small changes that naturally follow the kind of big changes that are currently being implemented.

Like the stunning success of Remsen’s annual Barnfest here in the Mohawk Valley, the success of MVCC lies in a large group of people who share the commitment, determination, persistence, and willingness to work hard every day to make it so.

Accommodating community demand and enrollment growth, while simultaneously working together to improve service systems; further hone teaching and learning processes; and take on a number of important initiatives to help improve this unique organization requires each of us to bring our best to work everyday.  I can’t say how proud I am to work at MVCC, with so many people who bring the College’s very powerful mission to life on a daily basis.  If you have any thoughts on this post, please contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.