Tuesday, February 17, 2009

MVCC Student Access Fund

Last year an insightful group of faculty and staff recommended that the MVCC Foundation bring focus to the annual gift campaign. From that recommendation and subsequent campus conversations, the MVCC Student Access Fund was created to provide assistance to students who have a household income too high to qualify for federal financial aid and yet too low to make the cost of college affordable. In the few weeks following the creation of the fund last spring, 100% of the Board of Trustees and record numbers of faculty and staff raised $21,000. Their efforts provided 81 students with $200 stipends this past fall. Given the feedback we received from so many of these students, we know every bit of aid makes a big difference.

We are looking to build on the $5,000 that remains in the fund to establish a permanent endowment for the MVCC student access fund. This will take a couple of years if we are to continue making annual awards, but with the commitment we have internally and the potential we have for appealing to donors in the community, we can do it.

As part of the MVCC Foundation Annual Fund Appeal to faculty and staff, I invite you to consider the Access Fund. More than 40% of MVCC students come from families who earn more than $35,000 – which prevents them from qualifying for the maximum amount of tuition assistance from the NY State Tuition Assistance Program. For these students whose family income exceeds the limits for maximum TAP awards, MVCC will make an award, depending upon identified need, toward tuition and fees. For students whose family income exceeds the national poverty threshold, but qualify for the maximum amount available from federal and state tuition assistance programs, additional scholarship assistance from The Access Fund will be made available for books, transportation, and other school related expenses.

To be eligible for The Access Fund, a student must:
• Be a New York State Resident
• Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the first day of classes
• Be eligible for the federal Pell Grant Program or the NY State Tuition Assistance Program and received less than $1500 in financial aid
• Be enrolled full time (minimum of 12 credits per semester)
• Have successfully completed a minimum of 15 credits
• Maintain satisfactory academic progress while at MVCC (defined as a GPA of 2.5 or better)
• Reapply each year they are enrolled at MVCC

Similar to our amazing collective effort with the United Way campaign last fall, I have high hopes that we'll exceed our $21,000 level from last year. MVCC faculty, staff and retirees will soon receive information on the MVCC Annual Campaign where they will be able to make their gift. Thank you for your consideration and continued support of our students here at MVCC. For more information on the MVCC Student Access Fund, please contact Frank DuRoss at fduross@mvcc.edu.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Community's College

This past Friday evening I had the good fortune to attend our Black Student Union/Caribbean Club's 1st Annual Black History Month dinner. The keynote speaker, former NFL player and current Under Armour executive Mr. Troy Barnett, provided an inspirational speech about how to be a successful leader. What was equally inspirational was the fact that the leaders of the BSU/CC designed the event to raise money (more than $700) for the House of the Good Shepherd and Emmaus House - two important local charities. Their efforts to engage and get involved in the community reminded me that MVCC really is the community's college. Our mission is to promote student success and community involvement through a commitment to excellence and a spirit of service. A number of recent efforts highlight the power of that mission and the impact we can have on our community.

MVCC’s Human Services Student Club is currently planning a benefit dinner to support the new Veteran's Outreach Center. We have a substantial number of veterans in this community and the new Center consolidates all veterans services into a single location. They have moved in to the former YMCA downtown and need to raise funds for operation and renovation costs - MVCC students are at the forefront of making this happen. The event is scheduled for Saturday, March 14th. For more information, contact Tony DeNoto at (315) 533-1362.

During the holidays, our community involvement kicked in to high gear.
- The end of semester employee gathering raised more than $1,200 to benefit the Salvation Army, adding to the more than $800 raised by employees who served as volunteer bell ringers. In addition, the holidays were a little brighter for 35 children who received toys that were donated because our MVCC colleagues responded to requests from our Angel Tree.
- The MVCC Baseball Team collected over 200 toys for the Holly Days Program which delivers them to needy children in the Mohawk Valley.
- The Alumni association partnered with the American Red Cross to organize a blood drive and collected 110 pints (exceeding the 100 pint goal) of blood at the Utica Campus in a single day effort!
- We exceeded our campus United Way campaign goal of $9,000 by raising a total of more than $10,000 in pledges and donations from faculty and staff!
- Despite terrible weather, our Welding student club joined together to clean up Oneida Square on national clean up day.

The folks on MVCC’s Rome campus have done a wonderful job, identifying and addressing community needs as well. In addition to collecting hats and mittens, and Toys for Tots, Rome campus students and staff have joined in the the efforts to raise funds for the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society. MVCC’s Student Nursing Organization – out of the Rome campus – has held a series of successful blood drives for the Red Cross. And the Dental Hygiene program is offering free teeth cleaning to residents of Rome Memorial Hospital’s nursing home unit.

We are also fortunate to have Team MVCC - a small group of dedicated faculty and staff that coordinates efforts at the College when we need to come together as a team to get involved in the community. Last year was their first year in operation and they had multiple successes. They pulled together 89 faculty, staff and students to participate in America's Greatest Heart Run/Walk, raising more than $4,000 and another 100+ participants and $2,500 in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk last fall. Team MVCC is gearing up for an even larger effort for the Heart Run/Walk next month and will hopefully lend their power to help set a new participation record for the annual Ted Moore Run/Walk later this spring on Saturday, May 2nd.
I like to say that community colleges should mirror the communities that they serve and it's clear that MVCC is working hard to mirror the generous nature of our community. I didn't intend to capture all of the examples, but our community involvement just continues to impress and make a growing difference in our community - truly making MVCC the community's college.

If you have any thoughts on this, please contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Who knows what's bad or what's good?

I'm shoveling a little more than last year. Shoveling the driveway, like mowing the lawn is quiet time for me. Many a blog post has been conceived while shoveling, which combined with my Michigan roots, is probably why we still don't own a snowblower. I'm mindful of the fact that only so many winters remain where I'll physically be able to shovel the driveway, but until then I'll continue to reap the benefits of this time for reflection. A recent storm came with some heavy snow (wetter than usual), that appeared to get heavier with every pass. It didn’t help, seeing various trucks plowing neighborhood driveways and, then, waving to the neighbors as they exited a spotlessly clean driveway, motoring merrily down the street, seemingly without a care in the world. My motivation waned and, just as I was feeling that this shoveling thing was more than I really needed, another neighbor sporting a plow on the front of his pickup slowed, asked, “need a little help?” He and his truck made a few magical sweeps, and the snow disappeared from the driveway. A few days later, another neighbor stopped by with a snowblower to take care of the thicker snow piles at the end of the driveway, saying that he'd be glad to help “any time.”

The generosity of these neighbors reminded me of a book given to me by a kind soul last fall - The Geography of Thought - how Asians and Westerners think differently...and why. The book contrasts Western philosophy (rooted in the work of ancient Greeks) with Eastern philosophy (rooted in Confucianism and the ancient Chinese culture). A passage from the book connected with my shoveling experiences of late.

"There is an ancient Chinese story, still known to most East Asians today, about an old farmer whose only horse ran away. Knowing that the horse was the mainstay of his livelihood, his neighbors came to commiserate with him. "Who knows what's bad or good?" said the old man, refusing their sympathy. And indeed, a few days later his horse returned, bringing with it a wild horse. The old man's friends came to congratulate him. Rejecting their congratulations, the old man said, "Who knows what's bad or what's good?" And as it happened, a few days later when the old man's son was attempting to ride the wild horse, he was thrown from it and his leg was broken. The friends came by to express their sadness about the son's misfortune. "Who knows what's bad or good?" said the old man. A few weeks passed, and the army came to the village to conscript all the able-bodied men to fight a war against the neighboring province, but the old man's son was not fit to serve and was spared." The story, which goes on as long as the patience of the audience permits, expresses a fundamental of the Eastern stance toward life. The world is constantly changing and full of contradictions" (pp 12-13).

Who knows what's bad or what's good? At the same time I was lamenting my curse of shoveling a seemingly endless amount of snow, my spirit was renewed through the friendly actions of some very kind neighbors - leaving me in a wonderful mood, buoyed by affirmation of the generosity found in this community. The notion of who knows "what's bad or what's good?" will likely apply to the state's fiscal crisis as well - we know it's bad in Albany, but hopefully some good will come from our economic tribulations as well. You can share your thoughts with me at presblog@mvcc.edu.