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Presidential Speeches

Fall 2009 All College Meeting

All College Meeting
September 14, 2009
2 p.m., Maureen Stapleton Theatre


2 p.m. President Matonak speaks

Good afternoon and welcome to the Fall 2009 All College Meeting. This meeting always reminds me of the squad meetings on Hill Street Blues. Who remembers that show?

It is always so exciting to begin a new academic year. 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.

This summer went by so quickly it hardly seems possible that we have started a new academic year. For those of you who were gone for the summer – welcome back. And for those of us who were here all summer – we won't tell the others how much fun we had!

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

We have so much to be proud of at this college. Most of all, we are proud of our stellar academic reputation. Obviously, this is due 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 the podium. Among other things, Terri will explain why it is that my alma mater, Michigan State, always beats her alma mater, Notre Dame.

2:04 p.m. Terri Pennisi speaks

2:09 p.m. President Matonak introduces Rosemary Schultz

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

I now invite the new chair of the Academic Senate, Rosemary Schultz, to say a few words.

2:10 p.m. Rosemary Schultz speaks

Thank you, Rosemary. Congratulations on your election, and I wish you well. And thank you both for being here today.

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 Community College and introduce our new employees. I will then update you on matters that have impacted us since last time we met.

Retirees and New Employees

So let's get started with those folks who have retired since our last All College Meeting. Together they have 217 years of service to Hudson Valley.

  • Katie Dermott
  • Roswitha Dorr
  • Joseph R. Doyle
  • Edwards Fleming
  • Alden Gaudreau
  • Rauf Imam
  • Sally McLaughlin Bauer
  • David Venson Sr.

It is my hope that each of them will participate in the Keepers of the Flame, a social, educational and advisory group that provides retirees the opportunity to stay connected to the college.

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. Please join me in recognizing these individuals for their service, and wishing them well in their retirement and future endeavors.

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.

  • Susan Acciani
  • Nicole Arduini-Van Hoose
  • Dr. Donna Barron
  • David Birch
  • Carol Campbell
  • Carolyn Tyson Clark
  • Richard Coffey
  • Tammy Conway
  • Jerome Crucetti
  • Thomas Davis
  • Carl Deitrich
  • Dr. Stephen Derby
  • Ann Dumas
  • Edward Farrington
  • Tara Fracalossi
  • Carmine Franco
  • Sara Garrison
  • Dr. Peter Gemellaro
  • Rochelle Goldfarb
  • Otis Grice
  • Samantha Henrikson
  • Cherie Horton
  • Hannah Karikari
  • Dr. Elena Keesee
  • Dr. Nola Kelly-Gondek
  • Noah Kucij
  • Kristina Lewis
  • Wayne Lewis
  • Eileen Maloney
  • R. William Mitchell
  • Jennifer Moran
  • Mary Muzerall
  • Sandra Myers
  • Aaron Nooney
  • Andrea Palerino
  • Blake Pavlik
  • Kristan Pelletier
  • Amanda Peppler
  • Caelynn Prylo
  • Anthony Quenelle
  • Rosanne Raneri
  • Kate Rodriguez
  • Adam Rupeka
  • Kyle Schuttenberg
  • Eric Seburyamo
  • Jessica Shahda
  • Brandon Shaver
  • Roberta Sims
  • Jasmine Smith
  • Marcella Smith
  • Halina Snyder
  • Peter Stix
  • Brooke Teiper
  • Melissa Thomas
  • David Van Aken
  • Michael Washco
  • Michael Winnie

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.


When we met last January, I began my remarks by talking about the economic climate in the country and in New York State. And I said to you that together we needed to be prudent with our spending and mindful of our budgets while at the same time not compromising the essential programs and services we provide our students and the community. Thanks to the stimulus dollars, we did not experience the anticipated cut in state aid. We didn't get an increase either.

I also mentioned to you that during these difficult economic times, this community and our students were going to need Hudson Valley Community College now more than ever. Whether they wanted to save money to transfer on to a four-year institution or needed to be retrained because of a job loss – we were going to be here to serve them.

Well, I've got a news flash. They arrived! Enrollment is once again at record levels. We fully expect our final enrollment will be about 13,500 students as soon as the College in the High School numbers come in.

I have to say how proud I am of all of you for the way you have stepped up this year. In fact, I will go even further. I would like for all of you to please stand. You all deserve a standing ovation and a round of applause for all of the great work that you do.

I am not the only one who has recognized your fine work. I have heard compliments from students, faculty, staff and community members.

From the custodians and maintenance staff who make this campus look great, to admissions who increased applications by 14%, to financial aid, cashiers, testing, advising, department chairs hiring faculty and adding sections… and campus security managing the parking…...I've gotta stop there because I will leave someone out.

You all have contributed to a GREAT start to this semester and I thank every one of you. GREAT JOB!!! and THANK YOU!  

Construction Updates

I probably didn't have to tell you we had record numbers – the parking lots are at capacity and we are using every inch of this campus during our peak times. The new parking lots in front of the BTC opened for the new academic year as well as student overflow parking in front of and behind the Country Grove. (Jim, we need to rename the parking lot behind McDonough, so that we can have G Lot behind G Building?)

And we are on track with the construction of the parking garage and it is expected to be ready for the Fall 2010 semester. The garage will have 800 parking spots – 300 for employees and 500 for students. I'd like to thank the Faculty Student Association for their partnership.

This garage would not be possible without their financial contribution of $8.8 million. This financial commitment was needed before the State of New York would fund its half of the project. Thank you.

Over the summer, the sports locker room in McDonough underwent a full renovation. If you saw the locker room, you would know that it in desperate need of some work. I have to thank the FSA and the Athletic Department – they stepped up to the plate and funded the majority of the costs needed for this project. The total cost for the renovation was more than $500,000 and they contributed more than $400,000. Thank you for understanding the importance of this project.

If you just got back to campus a couple of weeks ago and were looking for the people from the Foundation, Respiratory Care, Paramedic and Verizon-Next Step programs or some of the Workforce Development folks. Well, we kicked them off campus. Last spring, we leased 35,000 square feet on two floors in the Rensselaer Technology Park. And over the summer they moved in. The programs now have new classrooms, laboratories, simulation rooms and office space. Patty, Marv, Rich and the rest of the staff….how do you like your new digs?

As you know, office space and classroom space is at a premium on Hudson Valley's campus. This move to the Tech Park provided much needed space for these departments and moved employees out of the Hy Rosenblum Center. The HRC needs an enormous amount of repairs. We have contracted with an architecture firm that will do an assessment of the building this fall and make recommendations on what to do with the building. It might be in our best interest to renovate or it might not be worth salvaging at all.

Has anyone heard the rumor about the possibility of La Salle Institute merging with Christian Brothers Academy? Yes, it is true that they are discussing it. And yes, we might have an interest in the property IF they decide to merge. No decision has been made. At this point all we can do is wait to see what their final decision is.

In the beginning of August, the college hosted a steel topping out ceremony in Malta at our TEC-SMART location. The event is a tradition in which the last steel beam is put into place and marks a milestone in the construction phase. I'm pleased to say that we are right on schedule to open the facility in January 2010.

TEC-SMART, which stands for Training and Education Center for Semiconductor Manufacturing and Alternative and Renewable Technologies, will feature more than a dozen state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories that will be used to train the workforce in green technologies, including semiconductor manufacturing, photovoltaic, geothermal, alternative fuels and wind energy. In addition, courses will be offered at the facility in Business and the Liberal Arts and Sciences area, including English, psychology, math and more. We are very excited to be a part of the development of Tech Valley and all the potential it brings.

Another very exciting project I'd like to update you about is the Brahan Science Center. This spring, Rensselaer County agreed to bond its 50 percent share of the $54 million needed to build the science center. This fall, the State of New York will bond the other 50 percent of the cost. What this means to us is that we can start this project this fall – almost a year-and-a-half ahead of schedule. We will begin this fall with a request for proposals for architectural services. This new building is so important to this campus and our students that we have made a decision that the architect we select must have extensive experience and expertise in constructing science centers.

We want our new science center to be a state-of-the-art facility that exceeds the capabilities of others throughout the state and country. Once the architect is selected, it will be their priority to solicit the input of all the faculty and staff affected.

Not only are we outgrowing our facilities, but the number of students and visitors on campus is taking its toll on our aging infrastructure. It is expected that this year 13,500 credit-bearing students, 6,700 non-credit students and more than 350,000 visitors will be on campus. If we are going to continue to serve our students and the community, we must make the necessary improvements and updates to the facilities, parking lots and grounds. The college is committed to maintaining and upgrading our infrastructure.

Again this year, we are scheduling renovations and other improvements to our facility. Two of our major projects will be to reconstruct Q-Lot and replace the Campus Center roof. Q-lot, which is where the motorcycle classes are held, was built in 1991. Over time the fill and sub-base has shifted, causing the pavement to fail. The Campus Center roof has never been replaced and is currently 34 years old.

Now that I've talked about construction and renovation projects on campus –I have just one very big request – please understand that with the improvements and upgrades to our campus come some inconveniences. But trust me when I tell you it will be worth it. Sometimes it takes a little noise to transform this college so that we can serve our community and enhance teaching and learning. Thank you all for your understanding, patience and flexibility.  

Athletics Update

Another thing that we are proud of is creating an environment to enhance student engagement and involvement on campus. It is important that students have the opportunity to experience a well-rounded collegiate experience – and participating in sports can add to that. Building on the many successes our 14 teams have experienced over the years, two new sports have been added this year: women's golf and men's cross country. Please take the time to get out there and cheer on our Vikings!

Discovery Grant Update

At the Fall 2008 All College Meeting, I announced the most significant new grant award on campus in the history of the college. The competitive Discovery Grant, funded by the Hudson Valley Community College Foundation, seeks 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.

I am pleased to announce that the Foundation Board of Directors selected the proposal submitted by Nancy Cupolo, department chair of the Teacher Preparation Department. The award was for the full $10,000 and will used to help pay for assistive technology and software licenses as well as computer workstations for the newly developed course "Assistive Technology: Pre-K through Higher Education." This is an elective in the new Disabilities Studies Certificate program. The course will emphasize the need for universally designed instruction and address the issue of the "digital divide" that separates low- and high-income families and the educational consequences of these disparities.

Congratulations, Nancy!

Diversity Task Force Update

Another update I'd like to provide is about the work of the Diversity Task Force that also was announced at the Fall 2008 All College Meeting. The group met throughout the past year, gathering information about issues of academic, student, and workforce diversity from a variety of sources including a Web-based survey given to college community. They examined best practices at other academic institutions and reviewed diversity literature. The Task Force is now in the process of writing its final report and I look forward to receiving it and sharing it with the campus community.

Middle States Update

The college's Periodic Review Report to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education – which is a review of the college's accomplishments and its responses to the recommendations made in the college's self study and by the Middle States site visit team over the past five years – was due in June 2009.  The report was submitted and reviewed by two external reviewers, as well as a fiscal reviewer. 

Though we will not know the official response of the Commission until November, I am very pleased to inform you that the external reviewers and fiscal reviewer commended the college for its accomplishments and its responses to the recommendations. Given this and the lack of any major concerns voiced by the reviewers, I feel confident that the Commission will reaffirm our accreditation.

Environmental Sustainability Committee

I'm excited to announce the formation of the new Environmental Sustainability Committee. Over the last several years, under the direction of Patty Watt , the college's director of Environmental Health and Safety, the campus community really has stepped up its efforts to implement more and better "green" initiatives. From adding additional recycling containers around campus to establishing a car pooling Web site to using recycled products in our classrooms – we are well on our way to incorporating sustainability practices campus wide. I'd like to thank Patty and the very passionate group she works with for taking us this far. Now I'm challenging us to do even more. I believe establishing this formal committee demonstrates Hudson Valley Community College's commitment to sustainability and will help guide us to incorporating best practices throughout the campus.

Patty will chair the committee and will be looking for new members to join her group. So check tomorrow's Campus Chronicle – there will be more detailed information on the committee and its mission and how you can help.

Conclusion/Obama Community College Initiative

And finally, we all know how important the work is we do here at Hudson Valley Community College. We know the impact we have on student's lives, our community and on businesses.

This college alone has a $1 billion economic impact on the Capital Region. Just consider what the effect would be to the communities we serve if we did not exist?

Our vision for our college is to deliver what the future demands. We've got students to educate in order to meet the needs of our changing economy, we've got programs to develop in the latest technologies, and we've got a community to serve. And this is exactly what you do – each and every day with passion and commitment.

This summer, President Obama outlined his plan to reform our nation's community colleges, calling for an additional five million community college graduates by 2020 and new initiatives to teach Americans the skills they will need to compete with workers from other nations.

The $12 billion initiative was proposed to increase the effectiveness and impact of community colleges, raise graduation rates, modernize facilities, and create new online learning opportunities. These steps – an unprecedented increase in the support for community colleges – would help rebuild the capacity and competitiveness of America's workforce.

In his remarks, President Obama recognized the impact community colleges can have in turning around this country's lagging economy. He said, "Now is the time to build a firmer, stronger foundation for growth that will not only withstand future economic storms, but one that helps us thrive and compete in a global economy. It is through community colleges that we can provide Americans of all ages a chance to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to compete for the jobs of the future.\" 

I compliment President Obama's foresight in crafting this initiative. We are very excited to see that the administration understands the power of our community colleges to drive workforce development – and economic development – across the United States. I believe our nation's hope for economic renewal truly begins with community colleges, and each of you has a very significant role in that mission.

Many industries that show potential growth in innovation are closely tied with the programs Hudson Valley offers: biotechnology, nanotechnology, health care, energy – all can fuel economic recovery and job growth. Best of all, many of the well-paying entry-level jobs in these industries will go to people with an associate's degree. Just ask GlobalFoundries, who is partnering with Hudson Valley to develop their workforce.

I am pleased that the President recognizes that an investment into community colleges is necessary to achieve his goal for America that by 2020 we will reclaim our nation's position of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. To accomplish this, he is challenging community colleges to produce five million more graduates by 2020.

Last month, the Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution that formally endorses President Obama's community college initiative and commits the Board and college to doing everything it can to achieve its enactment.

Throughout the summer, we worked with AACC and members of Congress to ensure that the language of the legislation addresses our needs and positions us to be successful.

Like I said, we have accomplished a lot, and we have much to be proud of. However, we also have many challenges and exciting opportunities ahead of us. I am confident that we can meet any challenge head on, because each of you always find a way to deliver.

Thank you. Have a great semester and I look forward to hearing about all of your wonderful success stories.

And to complete my Hill Street Blues reference…….

Hey, Hey, Hey!!! Let's be careful out there.