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Presidential Speeches

Fall 2006 All College Meeting

2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, 2006
Maureen Stapleton Theatre


  • Good afternoon, and welcome to the Fall 2006 All College Meeting.

  • Before I begin my formal remarks, I would like to take a moment to say a few words about Kermit Hall. During his brief tenure as the president of the University at Albany, he became a good friend to me, to this institution, and to the Capital Region.

  • I enjoyed working with Kermit because he understood the tremendous impact - that collaboration between his institution and our institution – has on this region, and the greater role that higher education can play in the vitality of the Capital Region. His vision, and partnership, will truly be missed.

  • Today also marks the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack on our nation, and I would ask that we pause for a moment of silence to remember those who died that day, and to honor the men and women now serving – and those who have served– in the armed forces. We salute their bravery, courage and their sacrifice.

  • This is a troubling time to be a citizen of America and a citizen of the world. At times like this, it is easy to retreat into a cocoon of fear and apathy. It is easy to abandon hope. You may think “with all of this animosity, and war, and frightening decisions that are made at the highest levels on the world stage, what can I possibly do? How can I possibly make a difference?”

  • Well, I believe strongly that all of us in this room make an important difference because we are opening the minds of the world’s future leaders and voters. We may be educating a future Congressman, a Senator, or a President: of the United States or a global business; a local entrepreneur: A United Nations reporter: A community activist…. Or a religious leader.

  • No matter where you go in the capital region, the evidence of the leadership of our graduates is all around you. We are educating future school board members, Marine sergeants and political party workers…. We are doing more than providing the capital region with a trained workforce.

  • As educators, we teach our students how to learn. How to think for themselves. How to be informed and engaged citizens. How to be tolerant of diverging viewpoints and ways of life. We educate students to not only be leaders in their fields, but leaders in their local community…and also leaders in the global community.

  • It’s hard not to be reflective on a day like this. It is September 11 th, and we continue to read of war. Of violence and of anger….

“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.
Our requirements for world leadership, our hopes for economic growth, and the demands
of citizenship itself in an era such as this all require the maximum development
of every young American\'s capacity. The human mind is our fundamental resource.”

  • This was a statement made by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as part of a special message to Congress. And this quote is just a relevant today as it was in 1961.

  • I will move on now to topics that might seem more pedestrian, but in many ways they are not. We are important to the fabric of our local community, and the global community.

  • We are educating the next generation of world citizens. By working together on these issues, we will make this institution stronger, and enhance our ability to educate our community’s future leaders.

  • This afternoon, I’m going to focus on four key areas that will shape the focus for this academic year. – strategic planning; budget and enrollment; facilities; and resource development.


  • Let me begin with strategic planning. I can’t stress enough the importance of this process – to me, to you, to the future of Hudson Valley.

  • I want to reiterate what I said in my All College remarks a year ago: It is not my vision, but our collective vision, that will allow this institution to move from good to great. The strategic planning process is the perfect vehicle to get us there.

  • Throughout the spring and summer, 182 of you shared your thoughts and great ideas, participating in 27 focus groups designed to identify the college’s strengths and weaknesses, positive and negative trends in the community, and the challenges that impact our work.

  • Thank you to everyone who participated in that process and I would like to personally thank those who served as facilitators and note-takers during the focus groups. Please stand when I say your name, and please hold your applause until I have acknowledged everyone:

Michele Catone-Maitino, Bryan Eaton, Bill Eckert, Susan Gallagher, Tara Farley,
Margaret Geehan, Kathy Quirk, Gerard McEneaney, Nancy Goody, Chris Helwig,
Judy Hitchcock, Karen Holmes, Jeanne Kelleher, Holly Pennock, Kelly Sweener and Janet Twardzik.

  • I want you to know how much I appreciate your energy, insights and efforts.

  • As you will see in the strategic planning update on the website, much of your feedback was similar in focus and content. In some cases, one person may have listed something as a strength that someone else listed as a weakness. That’s OK – this data is preliminary. As the Strategic Planning Team synthesizes it, they will work to resolve any conflicts, evaluate duplication and identify the areas where there is greatest consensus.

  • While the team does its work, I encourage each of you – especially those who didn’t participate in the focus groups – to review the preliminary focus group report, which will be posted to the Planning and Research Web page, and offer your input.

  • After the Strategic Planning Team completes its work, the Senate Planning Committee will integrate the finely tuned focus group information with external research about the region’s economic forecast, employment outlook and census data. Taken together, all of this data will form the foundation for the development of the institutional directions and priorities that will be forwarded to senior staff next semester for consideration.

  • Once identified, those directions and priorities will provide the framework for our strategic plan – our road map for our future.

  • When you think about it, this strategic planning process is nothing more than an extension of what we do every day to ensure that our programs and services meet the needs of our students, employers and the region.

  • We are constantly evaluating our programs to enhance course transferability and to ensure that our students are receiving cutting-edge instruction and our graduates have the skills that the region’s existing – and prospective – employers demand.

  • When Advanced Micro Dynamics announced in June that it would build a new computer-chip manufacturing plant in Saratoga County, we were already prepared by developing our Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology program to teach our students the skills to be clean room technicians.

  • And when the state announced its plans for an alternative fuel research lab at the Saratoga Technology and Energy Park, we were there, having leveraged our 53-year history of providing automotive education to create a new program – to be offered next fall – that will train the next generation of technicians to repair hybrid cars, and vehicles that run on compressed natural gas or fuel cells.

  • At the same time, we are exploring the creation of a center for renewable energy training that, if funded, would position Hudson Valley Community College as a leader in the state’s efforts to reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and the development of innovative energy solutions to guarantee a more sustainable future.

  • In addition to all that I have already outlined, it is important to note that we also will offer five new programs this semester – two Dental Assisting certificates, one credit and the other credit free; two new Building Technologies certificates in the Heating, Air Condition and Refrigeration field, and an associate’s degree in Biological Sciences.

  • With those additions, we now offer more than 70 degree and certificate programs. I would like to thank everyone who worked hard to bring those new programs to fruition; I look forward to announcing another group of new programs in the spring.

  • Each of these programs builds upon our existing strengths, while tapping into our keen knowledge of the community we serve. As Thomas Edison said:

“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets planning.”

  • Remember, each of you know this institution better than anyone else. Through strategic planning, we can channel that collective wisdom and insight to make Hudson Valley Community College the best that it can be. I look forward to sharing with you our progress in this important area when next we meet.


  • Now, to budget and enrollment.

  • Approved by the Rensselaer County Legislature in July, this year’s budget totals $83.4 million. This year, like last, we are facing skyrocketing utility costs, particularly for natural gas, which is necessary to run our cogeneration plant.

  • While we continue to address the issues of burning methane in the cogeneration plant, I urge each of you to make energy conservation a priority this year. Turn off the lights when you leave a classroom, shut down your computer at the end of the day, and remember the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. Every little bit helps.

  • Despite higher expenses, we have not asked our students to pay more in tuition. For the second year in a row, tuition remains at $2,700, the lowest in the state, along with Dutchess and Monroe.

  • The state Legislature made tuition stability possible by providing Hudson Valley and all community colleges with the second-largest increase in base state aid in history – $175 per FTE – which brought state aid to community colleges to $2,525 per FTE.

  • In addition, the state provided another $100 per FTE in supplemental aid for high-cost, high-demand programs in the technologies and allied health fields. But even with those additional allocations, our students still shoulder 45 percent of the cost of their education. That’s too high.

  • I plan to continue talking with our state legislators with the hope that they will continue what they started. It is my hope that we can build upon this positive momentum, and we will move closer to the funding model originally intended for community colleges: one-third state funding, one-third local funding and one-third funding from students.

  • At the same time, our advocacy efforts on the federal level have begun to bear fruit. This summer, we received word of three potential federal earmarks.

  • The infusion of federal funds for the Nursing program – as much as $500,000 announced by Senator Clinton and $572,000 announced by Representative Sweeney – would allow the college to enroll an additional 32 students who will complete their associate’s degrees in four years by attending the program during the evening and on weekends.

  • Meanwhile, another $200,000 has been earmarked for the development of a model automotive dealership on campus, thanks to Senator Schumer’s efforts.

  • All of these earmarks, although announced by the federal officials during the summer, still have hurdles as they progress through the political budget-making process. But we are heartened that we have come this far.

  • These earmarks are significant because they will act as seed money, allowing us to work with our health care and automotive industry partners to secure additional funding from the private sector, which would allow us to sustain these initiatives over the long term.

  • Our advocacy on all fronts – local, state and federal – is crucial because Hudson Valley – indeed, all the state’s community colleges – provide thousand of New Yorkers with an accessible, affordable path to higher education.

  • On to enrollment. As of Friday – two weeks into the semester – our enrollment stands at 7,863 full-time equivalent students, which is -1 percent lower than last year at the same time.

  • Although our enrollment should exceed 12,000 students for the third consecutive year – our growth has clearly leveled off. As a result, we need to dig deeper to analyze our enrollment trends and determine how the college should respond to these enrollment trends. We all must remember that because of our funding model, our budget is solely dependent upon our enrollment.

  • An Enrollment Committee, led by Vice President Popovics, will begin exploring those issues this month, working collaboratively to develop a comprehensive enrollment plan that will ensure we are serving our students, and the community, to the best of our ability. A list of the committee members is included in your handout.

  • Also, the college has contracted with a new firm to be its advertising and marketing partner. Cognitive Marketing of Rochester was chosen from a field of 36 firms and will provide a fresh approach in our promotional initiatives.


  • Another key piece to our recruitment and retention efforts are our facilities. Consider this statistic from a recent study by the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers: nearly 74 percent of students named facilities related to their majors as “extremely important” or “very important” in choosing a college.

  • Our current master facilities master plan, which runs through 2008, has made a tremendous impact on the heart of campus. Construction of our new, $8.4-million administration and classroom building is progressing on time and on budget, and when it opens in Spring 2007, that building, along with the newly-renovated Siek Campus Center, truly transforms the heart of campus.

  • A beautiful feature of that new building will be the two-story atrium that will serve as the new home of the college’s Teaching Gallery, a “living laboratory” that exhibits work by professional artists and Fine Arts faculty and students, giving our students the opportunity to learn from faculty, peers and gifted regional and national artists.

  • The interior of Campus Center has been overhauled and updated, with the second floor featuring a new food court and dining area, complete with wireless Internet access.

  • Other renovations include a coffee bar with a comfortable, living room-inspired seating area on the first floor and a new lobby for the Maureen Stapleton Theatre. A re-dedication ceremony is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006; please mark your calendars, and join us.

  • If you haven’t noticed, we have added 38 new computer kiosks across campus for students to do their web surfing. Hopefully this will relieve the stress on our computer labs.

  • We also plan to explore an issue that has long been discussed, but never formally studied: whether the college should offer on-campus housing to our students. To that end, the Faculty Student Association plans to engage a firm to complete a student housing feasibility study.

  • It is important to note that this process is in its very early stages – and pursuit of a feasibility study should in no way be interpreted as tacit approval for such a concept. We need to fully explore this issue, and I welcome your input, suggestions and feedback.

  • In addition, the physical plant crew has done yeomen’s work to get campus in shape for this semester – the list of projects completed during the summer is included in your handout – but more work needs to be done.

  • Many of you have provided valuable feedback to our facilities master planners, Clark Patterson, throughout the spring and summer to develop the college’s master plan for 2009 to 2013. The recommended plan will be delivered within a month and I’m sure that it will address the following pressing concerns:

    • The demand for additional parking, as well as the need for improved traffic circulation across campus and in parking lots;

    • The deterioration and inadequacy of three key classroom buildings – Brahan, Higbee and Lang – each of which date back to 1961; and

    • The need for additional faculty office space.

  • We need to ensure that the quality of our academic buildings and facilities equals the quality of our instruction and sophistication of our technology. This new master plan, which will be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval in October and the Rensselaer County Legislature the following month for approval and funding, will provide the foundation for that to happen.


  • The fourth, and final, area that I would like to update you on is resource development. We’ve made some great strides in this arena during the past three years – increasing leadership gifts to the Foundation more than ten-fold, more than doubling the size of the Annual Fund, and securing the largest gift to the college in its history by an alumnus, a $480,000 life insurance gift by Robert Pratt, a member of the college’s first graduating class.

  • And on Oct. 20, the college will host its inaugural Celebration of Excellence gala to support an endowment created by the Foundation to benefit the college’s Dental Hygiene program. This initiative, which will serve as model for other endowments created to benefit our high-cost, high-demand programs, has already raised more than $200,000, just $50,000 shy of our short-term goal.

  • Continuing this momentum, the Foundation conducted a feasibility study to determine whether the time is right for the college to embark upon its first-ever comprehensive major gifts campaign to build additional resources for its future.

  • Conducted in June by The Clements Group, the nation’s leading fund-raising counsel to community colleges, the study sought to quantify public opinion and community support for such an ambitious endeavor. Forty-six men and women – movers, shakers and opinion leaders in the Capital Region – were surveyed.

  • I’m pleased to report that the results were overwhelmingly positive, with 98 percent of those surveyed having a favorable overall impression of the college. The college’s potential areas for funding – enriching the quality of teaching and learning, removing barriers to a college education for all citizens, workforce development and emerging societal needs, and technology expansion and facility maintenance – also resonated with the group.

  • So what does all of this mean? I believe that the time for a comprehensive fund-raising campaign is now.

  • As I told the Board of Trustees and Foundation Board members last month, I would recommend entering into a campaign only if there is a 100percent commitment to making it a success. During the next month both board will be determining if we will move forward on a major gifts campaign.

  • Once it is determined to move forward, the college will begin the campaign’s “quiet phase” – a period of six to nine months – during which campaign leadership will be identified and top donor prospects approached for leadership gifts. At that time we will concurrently begin the internal phase of the campaign.

  • Upon completion of the quiet phase, the campaign then will move into its “public phase,” a year-long endeavor during which the campaign’s formal goal is announced and the community at large is solicited for support. During the final phase of the campaign, expected to last three to six months, the college will wrap up efforts to meet its goal and celebrate our collective success.

  • From start to finish, the process will take two years, but make no mistake about it: It will be two years well spent.

  • I would ask that each and every one of you to consider the ways in which you can contribute to this effort – let your voice be heard as we determine priorities for funding; work with the Foundation to cultivate prospective donors and identify others who may have the ability, and desire, to give; and finally, make a personal commitment to give.

  • Hudson Valley Community College is vital to the economic well being of the Capital Region, contributing nearly a billion dollars to our local economy.

  • This comprehensive campaign will give the community – business leaders, alumni and friends – the opportunity to step up, give back and make a long-term investment in our future – and theirs.


  • As you can see, we are off to a great start and this year is shaping up to be a busy one. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t take time to celebrate an important milestone in this institution’s history: the 40 th anniversary of the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center.

  • Since its inception in 1966, the EOC has served more than 47,000 men and women – that’s nearly equivalent to the population of the city of Troy itself. Through its vocational and academic programs, the center allow Capital Region residents to acquire the skills necessary to find meaningful jobs, move on to college and create better lives for them and their families.

  • In recognition of this important anniversary, the EOC will host the “Glitter and Gemstones: A Gala Event,” on Friday, Sept. 29, at Wolferts Roost Country Club. Sponsorship of the event will benefit a newly-created EOC endowment, which was established by the Foundation to ensure that the EOC continues to have the resources it needs to serve the community.

  • Dr. Lucie Marion, thank you for your continued leadership of this vital Capital Region resource. You – and your faculty and staff – have much to be proud of. Please stand and be recognized.

  • Now, it is my pleasure to turn the podium over to Dr. Carolyn Curtis, who will share with you her thoughts for this academic year. Carolyn?

2:30 p.m. Dr. Curtis speaks.

2:40 p.m. When Dr. Curtis done, President Matonak resumes speaking.

  • Thank you. I’d now like to introduce the newest members of the college community, as well as some current faculty and staff members who have assumed new roles. I would ask each of you to stand as your name is spoken; additional biographical information about each new faculty and staff member is included in your handout. As before, please hold your applause until the last name is read.

  • Alex Popovics, Anthony Kossmann, Cherie Pash-Corr,

  • Malu (pronounced Mal-ooo) Benton, Sheila McClain,

  • Maria Cholakis (pronounced Cho-lock-is), Linda Lim,

  • Jean O’Malley, Barbara Russell, Patricia Gaston, Edward Yamin (pronounced Yah-min), Nicole Fowler, Barbara McBride,

  • Kim French McMann, Cynthia Smith, Rebecca Sterling,

  • Jonathan Winnicki (pronounced Winn-ick-eee), Gail Dailey,

  • Loni Hetman, Kasya Purtell and Zachary Scarchilli.

  • Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for deciding to join our college family. Good luck, and remember that you have strong network of support among your new colleagues.

2:45 p.m. President Matonak introduces Terri Pennisi.

  • Hudson Valley’s stellar academic reputation is due in large part to the hard work of our faculty. I’d like to ask Terry Pennisi, president of the Faculty Association, to come to the podium.

2:46 p.m. Terri Pennisi speaks.

2:50 p.m. President Matonak introduces Joan Shack.

  • Thank you, Terri. The Academic Senate plays an important role in the development a collaborative and collegial environment at Hudson Valley. President Joan Shack will now share with you the Senate’s agenda for the year.

2:51 p.m. Joan Shack speaks.

2:56 p.m. President Matonak returns to the podium and concludes the Fall 2006 All College Meeting.

  • Thank you, Joan. And thank you all for being here today, and for the work that you do to keep Hudson Valley strong.

  • To close, I’d like to go back to John F. Kennedy:

Remember that our nation’s first great leaders were also our first great scholars.

  • Never underestimate the power … the impact … the meaning … of the work that you do. You are this college’s greatest asset and our graduates – our scholars – are this community’s …. this nation’s … this generation’s … future.

  • Best wishes for a successful and productive semester.