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Presidential Speeches

Fall 2008 All College Meeting

All College Meeting
Sept. 15, 2008
2 p.m., Maureen Stapleton Theatre

2 p.m. President Matonak speaks

Good afternoon and welcome to the Fall 2008 All College Meeting.

The beginning of a new academic year is always so exciting. It offers new opportunities, a fresh start and the potential to make a difference in the lives of our students. Whether it's in the classroom, on the ball field or in the library – we, collectively, are doing just that. I have to say that in all of the time that I have been here at Hudson Valley, this has been the best start up for the fall semester.

As each semester begins, I strongly believe it is important for all of us – faculty and staff – to come together and recommit ourselves to the mission of this college. Last spring we held this meeting in the sports complex and invited the entire campus community to attend. Unfortunately, due to the recent flooding, we weren't able to use the space. So for the first time we are Webcasting this meeting for the entire campus community.

The screen behind me should look very familiar. When you arrived this afternoon, you received a program and a car decal. I hope you are as proud as I am to be a part of the Hudson Valley family and will display your decal with pride. For those not in attendance with us today, a program and decal can be picked up in the Office of Communications and Marketing in Guenther 267 and also in my office.

2:03 p.m. President Matonak introduces Terri Pennisi

Hudson Valley 's solid academic reputation is due in large part to the hard work of our talented and dedicated faculty. As is our practice, I'd like to invite Terri Pennisi, president of the Faculty Association, to address you.

2:04 p.m. Terri Pennisi speaks

Thank you, Terri. The Academic Senate plays an important role in the development of a collaborative and collegial environment at Hudson Valley.

2:09 p.m. President Matonak introduces Joan Shack

I now invite Joan Shack, chair of the Academic Senate, to say a few words.

2:10 p.m. Joan Shack speaks

Thank you, Joan. And thank you both for being here today.

2:15 p.m. President Matonak introduces Gregg Lewandusky

The reason all of us are here is for the students. So I thought it is important to include one of them in today's presentation. This young man is off to a fine start as Student Senate President. Please join me in welcoming Gregg Lewandusky.

2:16 p.m. Gregg Lewandusky speaks

Thank you Gregg – I know you and your fellow Student Senators will do a great job this year.

2:19 p.m. President Matonak returns to podium

This afternoon, I want to recognize all who have recently retired and recognize their contribution to the excellence of Hudson Valley. Second, I will introduce you to our new employees. I will then review with you our fall enrollment numbers, update you on initiatives and projects and I will inform you of matters that may have an impact on all of us.

And then I will spend most of my time discussing a call to action to the entire campus community and the task force that will lead us in the right direction.

Retirees and New Employees

So let's get started with those folks who have retired since our last All College Meeting.

  • Leona A. Bishop
  • Barbara C. Coon
  • Bryan Eaton
  • Margaret A. Fiset
  • John R. Lupe, Jr.
  • Ulla Manning
  • Carol Peston
  • John S. Rebel
  • Ronald S. Shelli

I want to thank them for all that they have done throughout their careers at Hudson Valley. Each of these individual's respective length of service is outlined in today's program.

Next, I'll recognize those faculty members, non-teaching professionals and classified staff members who have joined the college community since our last All College Meeting in January, and those current employees who are working in new positions. Please stand when I call your name.

  • Kevin Benesch
  • Michael Bernacki
  • Gwendolyn Bloss
  • Dave Bochette
  • Louise Bradford
  • Tammy Broadhead
  • Nicholas Byrne
  • Carol Campbell
  • Robert Canniff
  • Kathleen Carney
  • Donna Champion
  • Harold Collins
  • Kelly Crupi
  • Jason Degnan
  • Charlotte DeJesus
  • Martha Desmond
  • Bernard Dooley
  • Tara Farley
  • Maureen Ferraro-Davis
  • Sonya Fisher
  • Carmine Franco
  • Frank Gallo
  • Bettina Hamm
  • Elaine Harwood
  • Jason Helwig
  • Christine Jenkins
  • Ritamarie Jimanez
  • Hannah Karikari
  • Debra Kowalski
  • Brian Levin
  • Maribeth Malenkiewicz
  • Sara Marozas
  • Gayle Martel
  • Norine Massella
  • Barbara McBride
  • Lisa Miller
  • Kathryn Pearson
  • Kristan Pelletier
  • Anthony Podlaski
  • Bruce Reardon
  • Sarah Retersdorf
  • Jessica Shahda
  • James Smart
  • Joseph Stenard
  • G. Jack Urso
  • Dr. Sondra Valle
  • David VanAken
  • Kenneth Villeneuve
  • Tamara Warika
  • Theresa Yerdon
  • Walton Yoder

Good luck to each of you in your new positions. And remember, you are now a member of the Hudson Valley family and we are here to support you.


I am pleased to update on what, institutionally, we've been up to since last we met.


I'd like to start my remarks this afternoon by giving you an update on our enrollment for fall. As you recall, last fall we experienced the highest enrollment in the history of the college – a head count of 12,346. As of September 12, we are at 11,029 total students and 8,447 full-time equivalents. That's 4 percent higher than the total number of students at this point in 2007. In FTEs, we are up by 4 percent. With the College in the High School students added to those enrollment numbers, I fully expect us to exceed last Fall's numbers.

Breaking our own records seems to be a trend for us. Last May, the college celebrated its 54th commencement with the largest graduating class – 1,842 students. And something that I am very proud of, we also had a record number of honor graduates – those students who completed their studies with a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher. Among 2008 graduates, 433 achieved honor status

Why are so many students choosing Hudson Valley? Yes, we are affordable, but they choose Hudson Valley because they know that they will receive a quality education and a full educational experience here. And they know that four-year institutions and employers are choosing Hudson Valley students because our students are prepared well. So, in other words, they choose Hudson Valley because of the great work that you all do and the commitment that you make for them.

We should all take great pride in the work that we do. Together, we can ensure that Hudson Valley is positioned to meet the needs of these students and address the demands of Capital Region employers.


Each year when developing the college's budget, the goal is to continue a tradition of providing high-quality education at an affordable cost – for both students and taxpayers. In doing so we look to you – the faculty and staff – who have analyzed trends in the marketplace and academia and sought insight and expertise from those who serve on our advisory committees.

This July, the Rensselaer County Legislature approved this year's operating budget of $94.5 million.

The college's approved budget overall is increased by 8.5 percent from fiscal year 2007-2008.

For the first time in the history of the college, it is necessary for capital maintenance projects to be included in our operating budget. This is 4 percent of the budget increase, or $2.5 million.

Facilities, inside and out, need to be maintained to ensure a safe, healthy and usable academic environment. Needing attention are:

  • Hudson Hall Roof Replacement
  • McDonough Sports Complex Roof Replacement
  • Marvin Library Bathroom Renovations
  • Library Exterior Concrete Repairs

This budget does not include an increase in base state operating aid, so it was necessary to include a modest tuition increase of $100 (or 3.5 percent). With that increase, in-state tuition now totals $2,900. With this we still remain one of the lowest tuitions in the state.

Access is key to our mission at Hudson Valley. If we are to continue to be the economic engine that drives the Capital Region, we will require additional financial support. It is critical to our ability to serve our students and the community. This is why we have embarked on a fundraising campaign.  

Fundraising Campaign

Last January I was proud to report to you on the internal phase of the Foundation's fundraising campaign. At the close of 2007, commitments from our faculty, staff and board members, as well as early external donors, had crossed over the $2 million mark.

This extraordinary commitment from all of you gave us the momentum to move on to the next phase – the external campaign.

At the end of May we launched the college's first major gifts campaign – the most ambitious fundraising effort in the college's 55-year history. We implemented this campaign, entitled The Promise of Our Region: The Campaign for the Community, to garner private support so that we can maintain the margin of excellence we are committed to.

At the kick-off event the campaign's Honorary Chairman, James Barba, who is President and CEO of Albany Medical Center, announced that Albany Medical Center had committed $175,000 per year for at least 10 years, starting in 2009, to expand the college's nursing program. That's $1.75 mil over 10 years.

To quote Jim – "If the Capital Region is to have the learning environments, instructional quality and affordable programs that changing economic times demand, then we must invest in Hudson Valley Community College. We simply can not do without it."

This philanthropic effort is an important one – the campaign will raise money for restricted funds which will allow us to expand crucial high-cost programs, offer more scholarships and provide the latest in classroom technologies.

As part of the campaign efforts, this fall the Foundation will host its third Celebration of Excellence gala. These celebrations raise funds in support of the college\'s high-cost, high-need educational programs, and also serve to enhance the awareness and understanding of the college's diverse offerings to the greater Capital Region.

This year\'s benefit will be held Thursday, November 6 and will showcase Hudson Valley Community College\'s Allied Health programs. I want to thank Patty Hyland, Jeanne Kelleher, Elaine Reinhard and Carol Bosco who have been spearheading this event. And I'd like to extend an invitation to all of you to join us in making this the most successful gala so far.

What I haven't mentioned yet is the goal of the campaign. In spite of the downturn in the economy, we have tasked ourselves, our supporters and friends with raising over $10 million dollars in cash and pledges.

And I am so excited to tell you that we have surpassed $5 million and are well on our way meeting this challenge.

As you recall, we had a great year last year from a facilities standpoint.


In September, we received $13.5 mil (thanks to Senator Bruno) for the TEC-SMART facility in Malta. For those of you who are new to the college, we have a very exciting project in development and it's called TEC-SMART. TEC-SMART stands for "Training and Education Center for Semiconductor Manufacturing and Alternative Renewable Technologies."

TEC-SMART will be a state-of-the-art educational facility located in Malta. Starting in the Spring of 2010, we will be able to train the 500 to 600 technicians needed for Tech Valley.

Once established, TEC-SMART will feature classrooms and labs that will be used to train the area's workforce in emerging technologies, including semiconductor manufacturing, alternative fuels, photovoltaic and other renewable energy programs. The facility will also provide energy efficiency training for the building trades.

Since our last All College Meeting, Joe Sarubbi, the executive director of TEC-SMART, has been moving forward with plans to build the training facility. Last Friday we met with the architects and construction firm and we are looking forward to getting some shovels in the ground ASAP. Right Joe?

TEC-SMART builds on Hudson Valley's longstanding commitment to technology education.

Brahan Science Center and Parking Deck

Last November, Hudson Valley received an unprecedented show of support when the Rensselaer County Legislature approved the entire Facilities Master Plan, which totals nearly $200 million.

This approval was necessary before we could make a request at the state level for 50 percent of the funding for the projects in the Master Plan.

I am pleased to say that this spring the State Legislature approved a $122 billion budget that included $35 million for Hudson Valley. The capital projects funded in this state budget are for a new parking deck and construction of the Brahan Science Center.

Construction of the 750-car parking deck will start in early Summer of 2009. Faculty and staff will be allocated 250 of these spaces and 500 spaces will be for student use. And construction of the new state-of-the-art Brahan Science Centerwill begin after 2012.

The remainder of the master plan will be dependent on the state budget approval process and which budget cycle it is approved in.

New Initiatives

Now I'd like to tell you about two new initiatives that I am very excited about.

LaPan Services Building

Many of you may not know that the college has a new building on campus – the LaPan Services Building. And many of you might think, I thought we already had a building by that name. Well – yes and no.

The new LaPan building is 28,270 square feet and houses the offices of Physical Plant as well as our maintenance workers and grounds workers. In addition, the building is also home to the campus mail room, print shop, graphics studio and central receiving.  

The old LaPan building and physical plant were torn down and made way to construct a new student parking lot. The lot, opening this week, will offer 300 more parking spaces for students.

The addition of parking spaces is very exciting news. But there's more.

The LaPan building's entire heating and air conditioning system is powered by the waste engine heat from the Cogen Plant. Using a renewable energy source means no cost to the college for the building's heating and cooling. Which – up until last Friday – was working really well.

In any event, I encourage you to stop by and visit the new site. If you go by foot, head down the paved pathway between right field of Joe Bruno Stadium and the football field. Or if you are in your vehicle, drive down North Road to the very end, beyond the Cogen Plant.

Discovery Grant

Earlier I spoke about the need for private resource development so that we could maintain the margin of excellence we are committed to. And that is crucial. But it also is crucial that we build on that excellence internally.

I am so pleased to announce the most significant grant award on campus in the history of the college. The competitive Discovery Grant, funded by the Hudson Valley Community College Foundation, will seek to award an annual prize of up to $10,000.

The Discovery Grant has been established to recognize and promote a culture of excellence at Hudson Valley. It will fund an initiative of an outstanding member of the Hudson Valley family each year and provide resources to enhance the college.

The grant may be used to foster a proposed learning experience that supports the college's mission, vision, and values within the context of student learning, or may be used to access professional development opportunities that advance personal skills and expanded understanding within a chosen discipline. It also may be used to further advance technologies across the campus as well as enhancement of the overall environment.

The very first award recipient will be announced at next September's All College meeting. The deadline to apply is May 2009. Details of the Discovery Grant and the application process will be released in tomorrow morning's Chronicle. I encourage you to consider applying.


I would like to end this session by focusing on one facet of our institution's goals and objectives. Specifically, I would like to discuss Goal 3: To promote the integration of pluralism within the college community. We have three objectives within this goal, and they are:

  • 3.1: To develop and promote institutional programs and processes that embrace diversity;
  • 3.2: To promote affirmative action and equal employment opportunities to increase the number of faculty and staff members from under-represented groups; and
  • 3.3: To increase the recruitment, retention, success and transfer of students from under-represented groups.

Hudson Valley Community College , on some days, is the size of a small city. There are thousands of us here; each of us coming from different life circumstances. Each of us has been shaped by an enculturation process that began in childhood through our exposure to various socialization agents: among them, our parents; teachers; coaches and mentors; neighbors and peers; media; and religion. Through that process, we developed cognitions and emotions that affect all dimensions of our life.

Yes, we are all human beings and we are alike in many ways. But we differ in so many other ways. We differ by race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disability, language, work status, family status, marital status, relationship status, veteran status, and health status. We differ in our physical attributes, philosophical persuasion and political affiliation.

And yes, I know I have certainly left some things out.

From these diverse backgrounds, we have formed Values. Opinions. Attitudes. Ideas. How often do each of us take time to decenter from ourselves and think about others' perspectives? As the author Anais Nin said, \"we don\'t see things as they are, we see things as we are.\"

I'd like to share another great quote. This one is attributed to Margaret Mead, the American cultural anthropologist, who said, "if we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place."

It is time for us to contemplate this: To work on decentering ourselves in a thoughtful, systematic way. For we need to ensure that we offer a respectful, warm, welcoming, inclusive environment for a truly diverse population of students, employees, and community members. We need to ensure that we foster a climate that enhances empowerment for every member of our community.

Do we have barriers to diversity in any of our administrative practices? In our culture? Are there subtle forms of discrimination? Do our courses demonstrate sensitivity to multicultural perspectives and different learning styles? Is the language we use in our classrooms and outside the classroom professional and sensitive to the diversity of our student body? Is there more we can do to ensure positive outcomes for our diverse student body, both in and out of the classroom? Is there more we can do together to ensure a more diverse faculty and staff?

Upon reflection this summer, I have made a decision to offer an important assignment to Dr. Michael Green, Executive to the President for Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Planning, and have asked him to take the lead in helping our campus to better understand and address these questions.

In the short time Dr. Green has been with us, I and the other members of the college's staff have been very impressed with his thoughtful leadership skills and deep commitment to the goals and objectives of this institution, as well as to public higher education in general.

Dr. Green will lead a campus-wide task force comprised of faculty, staff and students. The members of this task force are on your handout today. This task force will:

  • conduct a diversity audit to analyze the gaps between where we are, and where we should be in terms of access and equity -- both as an employer and as an educational institution serving diverse students. I expect that this will include a process of collecting input from our constituencies.
  • develop a diversity action plan that will include a vision statement, objectives, strategies for accountability and assessment; and also detail the resources necessary to implement the plan.

It is my hope that this group can report back to us by the Fall of 2009. I charge this group to go beyond political correctness and surface solutions.

In a 2004 paper published in Race Ethnicity and Education, Launcelot Brown of Duquesne University made this comment: "multiculturalism cannot be left to providence. It does not just happen. It has to be actively pursued, put in place and constantly analyzed, nurtured, and supported during and after implementation. It is not a one-time thing, putting it in and it is there. It is a process that begins with the initial inclusion of persons from different groups. A process that demands the systematic putting in place of structures that support and therefore, facilitate the retention of these persons by giving them a sense of belonging to the institution."

Let's not forget: Hudson Valley Community College is an institution of higher learning that supplies leadership talent to employers in the Capital Region and beyond. Part of our mission is to help create a diverse pool of leadership talent. We need to prepare our graduates to succeed in our global community – as an employee and as a parent, non-profit volunteer and PTO member. We offer lessons for life here, and let's teach the right lessons.

I would like to close with a quote from Felix Adler, who founded the Ethical Culture movement: "[People] may be said to resemble not the bricks of which a house is built, but the pieces of a picture puzzle, each differing in shape, but matching the rest, and thus bringing out the picture."

Let us work together to build a glorious picture puzzle.

Thank you. I am so proud of the great work that you all do for our students. Best wishes for a fall semester that brings you many opportunities to grow and to help others grow.