Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ceremonies as a Tether Amid Change

Next week, we will welcome students to MVCC at our New Student Convocation. Although I imagine this may have been done in the early days of the College, a ceremony like this has not been held at MVCC in recent memory. It’s an important ceremony to anchor the college experience for new students and frame their time at MVCC to get them off to a great start. New Student Convocation also provides a perfect pairing with graduation — the most visible and significant ceremony of a college experience. 

As another start to an academic year begins for us, I am reminded of the importance that ceremonies, events, and celebrations have for our organizational culture. We live in an age of change, and MVCC, by our very nature as a community college, is constantly engaged, staying ever nimble and responsive to the changes in our community.

This summer, we’ve experienced a number of major changes — a $30 million redevelopment of the Rome Campus; a renovated bookstore and food service area at the Utica Campus; a transformation of the Utica Campus Learning Center into the new Learning Commons; a full replacement of the platform and support columns on Payne Hall; and a redesign of the Academic Affairs administrative structure that also resulted in nearly 70 full-time employees changing offices.

We’ve also recently added new academic programs like small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) Associate in Applied Science degree and Mechatronics Certificate to respond to the region’s emerging UAS and nanotechnology industries, and we’ve relocated our thINCubator and Carpentry/Masonry programs to adjacent spaces on Broad Street in Utica’s Bagg’s Square. In addition, we’ve received major programmatic grants like Title III: Pathway to Graduation Project, College-Community-Connection (C3) program, and the Advanced Institute for Manufacturing that serves manufacturers in the six counties of the Mohawk Valley region — that’s a lot of change!

With so much change in motion, ceremonies, events, and celebrations tether us and provide a certain level of consistency and community that unites us and serves as a reminder of the importance of our mission and connects us to our vision of transforming lives through learning. This week we’ll all gather for our annual Fall Opening and August Institute, which signal the start to the new academic year. Student Welcome Week, Completion Day, Phi Theta Kappa honor society induction ceremony, and other student-focused events help create a rhythm to the fall semester that closes with graduation and our bi-annual Celebration of Success. Our annual Data Summit and January Institute for faculty and staff kick off the spring semester, which winds down with an annual scholarship ceremony, athletics banquet, student honors brunch, and other events that culminate in our large graduation ceremony, Summer Institute and recognition luncheon, and year-end Celebration of Success that all then give way to the altered rhythm of summer in Upstate New York.

The daily experience of working in a community college can be inspiring. Helping students and our community clearly presents a feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself; however, ceremonies, celebrations, and events add something special to the culture of an organization. The addition of New Student Convocation will add a distinctive element for the College and serve as yet another reminder of why change is important in the first place — to enhance the student experience and increase their chances for success.

If you have any questions or comments on this post, please contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.