Faculty Comment to the BOT by Prof Shannon Toler | Jan 21, 2021

Happy New Year! I hope that you all enjoyed a nice holiday season.

It feels food to be back…I was actually in my office one day this week for the first time since March 16. I did not expect to feel such an overwhelming sense of peace and satisfaction when I walked into the BIC. But it grounded me back to my role and purpose as an educator in a way that I did not expect. Frankly, I have a job that has translated very well to online. I did not fully realize how much I missed being on campus. I hope that you all can get back to some kind of socially distant, face to face format for your meetings soon, especially because I wish for you to have time with our Student Trustee, Samiha Syed, who so clearly embodies some of the best of what happens at COD.

Today was our second day of In-Service and we had some interesting speakers. I am grateful to hear voices from outside COD that can give us ideas and insight to ponder as we look to our future. I hope that you all have a chance to watch their presentations, especially Dr. Lowery-Hart because he really brought home the notion that it is an entire institution’s coordinated efforts that support student success. And those efforts are an investment.

One of the institutional efforts that received special recommendation from Dr. Lowery-Hart was tutoring. He suggested that it was the one very reliable predictor they had to a student succeeding in a course.

I hope that there will be further discussion about that. COD is very fortunate to have a Learning Commons that does outstanding work, including tutoring, to support teaching and learning at COD. There is no area on campus that embodies individualized attention to student needs more than our Learning Commons.

And this is an area that has thrived remarkably in our pandemic times. While there are many people we have to thank for that, including but not limited to, Ann Guenther, Margaret Hernandez, Sandra Marchetti, Jane Schubert… I want to especially applaud their leader, Manager of Learning Support Services, Diane Szakonyi. The things they have been able to accomplish – in both the Learning Commons and Testing Services – are because they have a leader who listens to them, supports them, inspires them, and advocates for them. This sounds like run of the mill leadership stuff…but it’s really not. The concept of leadership is easy to talk about, but not so easy to live by.

Leaders like Diane are why COD can thrive even during a pandemic. Leaders like Diane are the reason that I have a workplace that gives me goosebumps when I return after a long time away.

I hope that everyone is healthy and stays healthy.

Take care,

Shannon Toler
Professor & Chair, Business/Management/Marketing/Business Law