President Toler’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | April 25, 2019

To our departing trustees – please accept our gratitude. Trustee Wozniak – you have been a familiar face around campus events for more than a decade and you have worked to do what you thought was best for COD. Trustee Bennett – you brought board governance experience at a time when we needed it. Thank you for every question you asked, every phone call you were willing to make and take in order to figure out the answers to those questions. Student Trustee Paul – thank you for work to bring accomplished and diverse groups of students to these meetings.

To our newly elected trustees – Maureen Dunne and Annette Corrigan, and our new student trustee, Jasmine Schuett, please accept our warm welcome. We look forward to working with you and discussing shared priorities for COD.

Yesterday we celebrated the work of our administrative professionals with an appreciation lunch coordinated by some of our office technology students. I’d like to thank Casey Emerich, assistant professor in our Office Technology Program, and her students for their hard work in designing and implementing such an event.

These colleagues, our administrative professionals, are everything around here. I started thinking about body metaphors and I couldn’t decide between the backbone, the muscle, the brain…the reality is that they are all of it. People like Barb Groves, Katrina Holman, Linda Hickman (who retires in five days), Cindy Flynn… These are the shoulders I tap. The people who bail me out when I’ve forgotten something. Who save me a phone call – or literal odyssey through the portal to find a form. Sometimes we all want to be taken care of. These are the people who take care of us. I hope we are doing the same for them.

My last point is about learning…which is hard work. It takes practice and it takes failure. It can challenge previous assumptions. It can involve re-learning things. We talk a lot about classrooms that feel “safe.” The truth of the matter is, our classes aren’t safe because learning is inherently uncomfortable. It’s because of that discomfort that other kinds of safety are so important. It’s because of that discomfort that respect is so important. Our students, ALL of them, deserve an institution that respects them. They deserve an institution that embraces differences and views those differences as a source of richness to our community. They deserve an institution that wants to do the hard work of learning about them.