My name is Dr. Michael Duggan. I’ve been a counselor for students with disabilities here at the college for 16 years. I always tell students I am one of the luckiest guys in the world because I get to go a job every day I genuinely, passionately love. I had the honor or meeting many of you when I received the Outstanding Advisor Award back in May. I’ve also received the Outstanding Divisional Faculty Award, Club Advisor of the Year award, and been a finalist for the Overall Outstanding Faculty award several times previous but never winning. I like to think I’m the Susan Lucci of COD….
As a Counselor—myself and all my other Counseling faculty colleagues listen to students often when they’re in the darkest of times—when they’re having a panic attack over coping with an abusive family member, facing depression when they’re feeling isolated and alone, or anxious when they’re not sure how to face this complex world we live in. Here at COD I’ve had the honor of establishing Autismerica, a support group for adults on the autism spectrum, the COACH program which provides vocational training to adults with intellectual disabilities, and most recently, a mentoring program for COD Buddies. I’m so incredibly proud of this school for supporting these efforts, and so incredibly proud of my fellow full and part-time counselors who inspire and encourage students and myself every day. if any one of them were up here they could share similar stories of their own amazing endeavors they have taken on out of a love for students. They are a special group.
The passion for wanting to make a difference I think is the common thread of everyone in this room, including you, the Board have in common. We are all willing to do whatever it takes, even taking risks and putting ourselves in difficult positions that stretch ourselves if we believe in our hearts it will make a difference. When I wrote the original program proposal for our COACH program for intellectual disabilities, it was rejected. A year later, I tried again, and it rejected….and rejected….and rejected….On my fifth try, and, with a new institutional direction and brave administrators and board members perhaps like yourself you took a risk and it was funded. Now, just two years later this June, we celebrated our first graduation. I know some of you were there for it and if you were, you know there wasn’t a dry eye in the house seeing these students beam in pride as they walked across the stage!
Please, please, look into your hearts and work with us to find a resolution to this contract. Make the concessions that need to happen to end this. The things we are asking for—which my colleagues will do a much better articulating than I ever could—are the very same things that allowed us as counselors to develop the programs here at COD we are all so very proud of. I know you are all good people who care about doing what’s right and are passionate about making the world a better place. I see it when our President is comes to our Autismerica meetings interacting with concerned parents and our students, I see it when Board Trustee Dr. Dunne unveils a support program for STEM students, I see it when Trustee Holan attends our COACH graduation. The hours upon hours of negotiation meetings, administrators engaged in concession planning, and concerned faculty like myself losing sleep could be used developing all kinds of new innovations that would make us all proud. Let’s end this and talk about the programs and services we can develop together. I know we, the faculty have lots of great ideas, and I bet you, as the Board do as well. I believe in us all. Thank you.