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Presidential Speeches

Spring 2010 All College Meeting

All College Meeting
February 1, 2010
2 p.m., Maureen Stapleton Theatre

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2 p.m. President Matonak speaks
Good afternoon and welcome to the Spring 2010 All College Meeting.

The fall semester went by so quickly, that it hardly seems possible we are gathered here already for the spring semester!  I am sure you all agree that we have had a great 2009-10 school year so far. I will be sharing with you some of these accomplishments later.

2:03 p.m. President Matonak introduces Gregg Sausville
We have so much to be proud of at this college. Most of all, is the academic reputation which that you have all worked so hard to achieve. I am proud to say that we have the BEST, most talented and dedicated faculty in the State. And we have a very student-centered staff who create an environment so that our students succeed beyond their wildest dreams. That is what we are all about.

As is our practice, I'd like to invite Gregg Sausville, interim president of the Faculty Association, to the podium.

2:04 p.m. Gregg Sausville speaks
2:09 p.m. President Matonak returns to podium
Thank you, Gregg. The Academic Senate plays an important role in the development of a collaborative and collegial environment at Hudson Valley.  And normally at this time I would be inviting Rosemary Schultz, the chair of the Academic Senate, to speak.  Surprisingly, she'd rather be in Costa Rica on a tropical vacation than with us today.  I hope she is having a great time.

2:10 p.m. President Matonak introduces new employees and retirees
This afternoon, I want to recognize all who have recently retired and recognize their contribution to the excellence of Hudson Valley Community College and also introduce our new employees. I will then update you on matters that have impacted us since the 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 represent 197 years of service to Hudson Valley.

  • Christine Beckstein
  • Charles E. Cobb
  • Thomas G. Griesemer
  • Betty J. Mangold
  • Robert J. Ormond
  • Norman Palitsch
  • M. Terri Pennisi  (I told them that they are still on Sabatical)
  • Vincent Pennisi

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 they have done throughout their careers at the college. 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 would like to recognize those faculty members, non-teaching professionals and classified staff members who have joined the college community since our last All College Meeting in September, and those current employees who are working in new positions. Please stand when I call your name.

  • Eric Armstead
  • Susan Barranca
  • Richard Bennett
  • Alicia Carr
  • Eileen Casey
  • Anne Collins
  • Michael Engle
  • Kenneth Dagostino
  • Jason Degnan
  • Andrew Donovan
  • Steve Derby
  • Stacy Dugon
  • Gina Greco
  • Louisa Heffernan
  • Antoinette Howard
  • Delia Hubbard
  • Wendy Hudy
  • Richard Lawrence
  • Elizabeth McLean
  • Gail McCart
  • Jeffrey McMinn
  • Dr. George L. Nagy
  • Normand Ouimet
  • Erica Puentes
  • Nathan Pennisi
  • Lori Purcell
  • Deborah Renfrew
  • JoAnn Roberts
  • Dawn Rung

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.

2:10 p.m. President Matonak offers remarks


Hudson Valley Community College is one of the largest community colleges in the State University system, and last fall we set several new records in enrollment.

The college had 13,523 total students for the fall semester, including those enrolled in the College in the High School program, compared to 12,787 in Fall 2008. That was a 6 percent increase.  The college also was up 10 percent over last year in new students enrolled in a degree program – bringing the total to 4,112.

Much of the school's overall growth can be attributed to online learning. The number of students taking online courses exclusively – 1,048 – was up 9 percent over 2008. The number of online courses offered by the college has doubled since 2004 and the number of students taking those courses also has doubled during that time period.

Another growth factor is the number of non-matriculated students. The number of those students was up 2 percent over last year, from 1,617 to 1,654.

Last fall, we began offering two new certificates and one new degree program. Biotechnology and Bereavement Studies are the two new certificate programs, and a new degree program in Theatre Arts has drawn a class of 20 new students to the college.

Even though our numbers keep increasing, we are able to maintain a low student-to-faculty ratio. Over the college's 72 degree and certificate programs, the overall student/faculty ratio still remains at just over 20 to1.

I believe these numbers demonstrate that students are continuing to look first to Hudson Valley Community College for their higher education, and I know that this growth is a direct result of the high-quality education we offer.

The spring semester is right on track for another record breaker.  We fully expect our final enrollment will be 12,000 students when the College in the High School numbers come in.  As of last Friday, we are up 12% over last year at this time.


At our recent All College Meetings, I have been updating you on the progress of TEC-SMART.  I'm pleased to say that we began offering classes there last week.  More than 160 students are taking English, math, history and sociology, to name just a few classes being held at the facility.  And the semiconductor manufacturing seniors are completing their program in TEC-SMART's new semiconductor lab.

The other labs – geothermal, alternative fuels, large wind and photovoltaic – still are under construction.  A couple of them will be ready for a sprint start.

We are very pleased with the progress of the facility and it will certainly be a jewel in Tech Valley.  But instead of me going on about it – I'd like to show you a video that tells you more about what an incredible extension of the college TEC-SMART is.


And now here are some photos taken just last week.


Many of you are responsible in some way for this achievement, so I would like to thank the entire campus community.  This was truly a college-wide project.  And I encourage all of you to visit TEC-SMART.

Construction Updates

The new parking garage is on track to open for the Fall 2010 semester.  The foundation for the entire building has been poured and is complete.  If you have been over there in the last couple of weeks, you have seen the enormous crane on site.  The crane is needed to erect the precast concrete sections. 

The work of erecting the precast sections will continue until March, at which time the building will basically be up and standing.  After March, the process of finishing the electrical, plumbing, and Public Safety satellite office will be accomplished.

At September's All College Meeting, I asked all of you for your understanding and patience with inconveniences that come with campus construction and renovation projects.  I we knew how to do it quietly we would. But I want to tell all of you how much I appreciate your understanding.

In addition to the parking garage, this summer we will begin a major project to reconstruct the Q-Lot and the B-Lot into one large lot.  Q-Lot was built in 1991.  Over time, the fill and sub-base have shifted, causing the pavement to fail.  When we consulted with the architect, it made sense to reroute North Drive in a slightly northerly direction, increasing parking on the B-Lot side and decreasing parking on the Q-Lot side.  This project will be complete for the fall semester, but the lots will not be available over the summer for parking.

I thank you for your understanding and patience as we transform the campus so that we can better serve our community and enhance teaching and learning.

But we are not done yet! Just as one new construction project is beginning to wrap up, it will be time to start another one.

In early December, the Rensselaer County Legislature passed a $27.2-million bond resolution for the new Science Center and renovations to Fitzgibbons and Amstuz.  The State of New York, through the Dormitory Authority, agreed to bond its 50 percent share of this project – also $27.2 million.

What this means to us is that we can start the planning for this project this winter – almost a year-and-a-half ahead of schedule.  Last fall, the college sent out request for proposals to architecture firms.  A committee of faculty, administrative staff and Department Chairperson Peter Schaefer reviewed the proposals, conducted interviews, and made a recommendation to the Board of Trustees at its December meeting.  At the January meeting of the Rensselaer County Legislature, Mosaic Associates was approved as the project architect.

We want our new science center to be an advanced 21st-century facility outfitted with the most state-of-the-art equipment and labs. We want this facility to match the quality of the exceptional faculty and staff who will inhabit the building.

It will be Mosaic's priority to solicit the input of all faculty and staff affected.  It is expected that this process, and production of construction documents, will take until the spring of 2011.  At that time, the college will issue bids for the construction of the facility.  Construction should start during the summer of 2011 and be completed in the summer of 2013.

The new Science Center will be located just west of the old Brahan Hall.  The cost for this facility is approximately $35 million.  The balance of the funds being bonded will be used to renovate Amstuz and Fitzgibbons.

I will keep you updated as we move through this process.

New York State Budget/State Aid Budget Cuts

Last December, New York State lawmakers passed a deficit reduction package that had a direct impact on Hudson Valley.  The plan called for a 5 percent reduction in base state aid to community colleges.  For us, that meant a cut of $935,000 in aid this fiscal year.  And then last month, Governor Paterson announced his proposed Executive Budget for 2010-11.  The Governor is proposing another state aid reduction, that for Hudson Valley would be $4,106,425 or a 15% cut. This is not good news and if the Governor's budget is enacted, it will significantly impact us.

We must continue to be prudent with our spending, and mindful of our budgets.  Together over the last several years, we have worked together to position this institution to be fiscally sound and strong.  We will work hard advocating to the legislature to minimize the impact, but it is a certainty that we will receive additional cuts. Stay tuned.


Even though funding at the state level has been cut, we are still able to expand offerings and maintain our academic excellence.  This is done in part, to the grant funding we have received from the state and federal governments and private foundations. 

Last fall, for example, the college was awarded a $3.5-million grant from the United States Department of Energy.  The grant will be used to provide training to the Northeast Solar Workforce Training Project – a Hudson Valley-led program that has established a network of certified instructors across the Northeast, which will have a significant positive impact on the photovoltaic industry and the promotion of sustainable renewable energy.  It is intended to address the critical need in New York for qualified solar system installers.

I encourage you to review the grants process and search for opportunities to secure external funding for projects that further the mission of the college.  You can find this information under "Grants Development" on the college's Web site.

On these Web pages you also can get information on other grants received over the last few years.

TV Ads

If you have watched television lately, chances are pretty good that you have seen Mike Bender, Carol Bosco and Tamu Chambers.  They are starring in television ads on behalf of the college.  An additional ad was produced with alumna Amanda Keenan, class of 2000.  Amanda works for LeChase Construction and is the project manager at TEC-SMART.   In each spot, the person describes what he or she values the most about the college. We currently have five ads produced and running, and the plan is to build a library of 12 ads throughout the year.  The objective is to feature as wide an array of our diverse community as possible. We will be recruiting students and more faculty and alumni for the next series of ads.

I have personally received numerous compliments from people in the community and across campus. Great job, Mike, Carol and Tamu!

If you haven't seen the ads, I suggest you check them out – there is a link to them off the college's Web site homepage.  And keep watching as new ones are produced.


Now, the question of the day.  What do pumpkin palooza, ultimate frisbee basketball and volleyball all have in common?  Ken Dagostino – the college's new coordinator of intramural programs and head men's basketball coach.  They are the very successful intramural programs that Ken introduced last semester.  More than 224 students and staff members signed up for these activities.  The college is looking to expand the program even further, so if you have some ideas for other intramural activities, please let Ken know.

Student Story

One of the great things about being president of Hudson Valley is hearing the stories from students and alumni on the impact this college has had on them.  And then I get to share those stories with community leaders, business partners, parents, new students and today, you.

Let me read you some excerpts from a recent e-mail I received.

"It is important that I send this letter of thanks to you and the Hudson Valley Community College faculty. This institution was the first phase of my future.  Without Hudson Valley Community College, there would be no admission into the State University of New York at Albany and no registration for the Law School Aptitude Test on June 7, 2010.

I came to Hudson Valley in the Spring 2008, a 37-year-old, African American woman. I had never been on drugs, but still managed to make horrible choices out of immaturity and confusion.  I was a teenage mother and a high school drop-out.  I did earn my GED in 1988.

Subjected to an utterance of insults, including the famous five insulting words of ‘you will never be anything,' I remembered those words the first day of classes in January of 2008.  The reminder of those words was the spark of fire beneath my feet. 

I earned Cs my first semester. My discouragement was replaced by determination. The mentality of refusing failure was confirmed when I received two letters indicating I made your president's list in the Fall of 2008 and again in Spring of 2009. I am not an emotional woman, but reading the letters of accomplishments brought tears down my face.

I think the Creator knew Joevonne Brace would need a Hudson Valley Community College.

I think the Creator knew I would need Professor Joseph Cardillo, Professor Annie Rutsky, Advisor Jeanine McCartan, Professor James Slattery, Professor Rochelle Goldfarb, my Spanish Professor, Dr. Tamu Chambers, Professor John Holde …, Professor Mary Borden, Counselor Jamie Miller, Professor Jon Zehnder, Professor Stephenne McFadden and Professor Matthew Zembo. I almost convinced myself that Professor Zembo\'s goal in life was to \"haze my pledge process\" into the fraternal order of Western Civilization History. The transfer counselors, Shauna Case and Mr. Ellis, who took the time with my questions about the University at Albany.

The Financial Aid Office, Cashier\'s office, The Book Store employees… There are so many people listed, because each point of contact had such an impact.

Please receive my sincere words of gratitude."
--Joevonne W. Brace

Thank you – all of you – for you commitment to these students and this institution.  Collectively, you are positively impacting and changing the lives of so many people.

Conclusion/President Obama's Visit

Having read Joevonne's story again, it occurs to me that there is someone else who understands the importance of higher education and the impact that this college has on students and this region.  And he made a special trip to campus to tell us so.

Exactly one week after the Fall All College Meeting, at which I concluded my remarks by telling you about President Barack Obama's $12 million community college initiative to help rebuild the capacity and competitiveness of America's workforce, the president came to our campus.

On September 21, 2009, the history of Hudson Valley Community College was forever changed.  President Obama came to campus to laud this college for taking a lead role in helping to rebuild the regional economy.

The President used his visit to upstate New York to talk about the central importance of education in the nation\'s economic resurgence, and the role community colleges will play in shaping the American workforce for the 21st century.

The visit of a standing president to our campus is no coincidence. It is the result of years of academic excellence, purposeful innovation and hard work by all of you.  Let us feed off the positive attention President Obama's visit has generated and continue to provide the outstanding, student-centered teaching and learning environment that drew him here in the first place.

More directly, I would like to thank the people on this campus who put in long hours to bring the event together. Faculty members in the technologies, physical plant and events staff, Viking Video Technologies, members of the administration, public safety staff and many, many others who ensured that President Obama's visit showed our campus in the best possible light.

I would like to conclude by taking a look at some of the memorable moments from his speech.


Have a great semester!