I want to thank students, faculty, staff and the rest of the Becker community for the welcome my family and I have received since our arrival in July of 2010. Now that my leadership team and I are well underway with priorities to move Becker College forward, I feel I can take the time to open a new line of communication: The President´s Blog. I will be writing periodically about topics of specific interest to current and prospective students and their families and also of general interest, and I invite you to participate in this extension of the Becker College community.

Students, how can we support your success?

You have just survived midterms, and thoughts of your college success have probably been front and center lately. Did you ace your tests, and are you feeling proud that the hours of studying you invested paid off? Did you not do so well, and are you having second thoughts about some of the choices you made? So I ask, how can we support your success?

I want to make it clear that I have high expectations. My administration and staff know that I have high expectations. I have high expectations of you, because I know that you and your families have high expectations of Becker College. When I attended Morehouse College, it was drilled into us from day one until graduation: “You will make a difference.” And I have been fortunate to have mentors that have supported me in that mission. This is something I want to share with Becker College students. You face a future of change unlike any other generation, and we intend for you to leave Becker as highly educated, responsible citizens, prepared to contribute to a global society.

Grades play a significant part in having a successful college experience, but they are only the most obvious part. Your choices directly reflect how successful you will be in college. If your roommate, or another student on your floor, is being too loud, affecting your ability to concentrate while studying, you have choices: a) ask them to be quiet, b) move to a quieter location, or c) consider where and when are the best places and times for you to study, and plan accordingly.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, whether it is by an uncooperative housemate, homework, class load or other issues that affect your success at Becker College, I urge you to ask for help. How can we support your success?

There are many places to turn to for help: RAs and residence life staff for resident students; student affairs staff for all students; advisors, professors and the Collaborative Learning Center for academic help; student administrative services to help navigate your accounts; counseling and health services to help support your emotional and physical success; and campus safety staff to protect you and inform you about how to protect yourselves and each other.

You must make the choice to participate in your own success. We are here to support your success and help you discover positive choices. I believe the best ideas come from you, so tell me, how can we support your success?

The Three Pillars, part 1

I had a conversation recently, about the “three pillars” of global citizenship. This is a topic I will return to often as I move into the next six months of my presidency. We joked about what the physical pillars should look like-Ionic or Doric? Given Becker´s continued success in videogame design-digital technology-maybe holographic pillars would be more fitting.

The pillars are academic excellence, social responsibility and creative expression. They are essential elements in a rewarding college experience. Such endeavors are responsibilities of the college and of the students, a symbiosis in which both entities are transformed.

I have seen an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as academic, in faculty members at Becker. A prime example is Dr. Vladimir Pistalo. He is somewhat of a celebrity in his native country of Serbia. The author of 10 books and numerous stories, Dr. Pistalo´s latest novel, “Tesla, Portrait Among the Masks,” has been a bestselling book in Serbia for two years and the book most read in Serbian libraries. He received the NIN Literary Award for best novel, considered one of the highest honors for Serbian contemporary authors. Dr. Pistalo was a visiting professor at the University of Belgrade last year and contracted the translation of his book into other languages-including English. He also took a short trip to Japan in the fall to lecture and give readings at a literary conference.

While the primary focus of Becker faculty is on the student, a number of faculty and instructors have published and presented at conferences in their fields, including Dr. Janardan Kumar, professor of chemistry and microbiology; Dr. Kerri Augusto, professor of psychology; Dr. Susan Whitehead, assistant professor of science; Dr. Margaret Delano, associate professor of veterinary science; Dr. Linda Denault; professor of education; Dr. Sheila McAvey, professor of English; Dr. James Belpedio, professor of history and government; Dr. Caroline Crocker, assistant professor of psychology; Dr. Adriano Marzullo, assistant professor of mathematics; and Dr. Calin Galeriu, adjunct instructor of physics.

I intend to spend much of the spring semester telling more Becker stories-students, alumni and faculty; more stories of academic excellence, social responsibility and creative expression.

Possibility Thinking

Socioeconomics persists as one of the greatest challenges to academic success. The recent release of The Nation´s Report Card for grade 12 in reading and math seems to bear this out. Black and Hispanic students score 26 points lower than White students in reading and at least 30 points lower in math. Math scores are lower at city schools. Reading scores go down for students whose parents did not finish high school.

College students reading this are probably thinking, “What has this got to do with me?”

Let me ask you, were you prepared for college? How did you get here? Were you on the college track in high school? Or, were you determined to succeed? Did you have the vision to see beyond your circumstances, whatever they were?

Possibilities are what will take us beyond our limitations. The only thing that limits you is the inability to think about possibilities. You only need to look and listen to find possibility thinkers-teaching your class, in the chair next to you, in the next room in the residence hall. I have spoken with students who have succeeded despite socioeconomics, gender discrimination, family illness, or having to learn English as their second language.

Where have you seen possibilities instead of limitations? Here is where it “has to do with you.” You have the responsibility to pay your success forward. We have a great group of student tutors at the Collaborative Learning Center (CLC) on campus. We have student athletes that inspire elementary and high school students at sports clinics. The nursing program is a success incubator where students are constantly mentoring and supporting each other, with the nurturing of faculty with decades of experience.

I encourage you to take a personal assessment:

  • How are your grades? If you need help, ask your professors, classmates, visit the CLC.
  • Where can you eliminate a perceived limitation and replace it with a possibility?
  • Where can you create an opportunity to pay it forward?

Responsibility and Accountability

In my four months as president of Becker College, responsibility and accountability are recurring themes in many conversations. In fact, together, they are one of my strategic priorities for moving the College forward. I believe that Becker College is in business, ultimately, for our students, and that makes all of us responsible and accountable.

Our responsibilities to our students include the following:

  • Provide a quality, fully-rounded education
  • Stay in the forefront of meeting the needs of our students
  • Prepare students to become global citizens
  • Develop students to become lifelong learners
  • Provide the maximum return on students´ investment in their Becker College education

Furthermore, as a college, we are responsible for providing quality in academics, student services, facilities and grounds. I have charged not only my leadership team, but every individual employed at Becker College, with being held accountable for contributing to that quality.

Delivering quality requires that those being held accountable must be empowered. This holds true in any organization, and it is the responsibility of leaders to listen for good ideas and to encourage everyone to share their ideas. Not every idea will be a touchdown, but we must listen and keep trying.

At the beginning of the fall semester, I asked my entire staff, “Do we hold ourselves accountable to ensuring that each and every day we wake up trying to figure out how we will help each student to have a transformational experience?”

We are committed to that mission, and I hope that all of you wake up every day and try to figure out how to participate with us in creating a transformational experience.