My name is Lisa Higgins. I’ve been a professor of English at COD for 18 years and the Director of the Honors Program for the past 6 years.
Thank you for your service to the college. I know that each of you gives a great deal of your time to the school.
I wanted to speak today to share some of the inspiring things that take place every day at COD and to express my hope that our upcoming contract negotiations will not distract from these successes.
Faculty members are on the frontlines when it comes to dealing with students. We see their successes — and their struggles. Since the onset of the Covid pandemic, our students have faced more challenges than ever before. We’ve seen a clear increase in students dealing with mental health challenges, financial problems, and family issues.
But we’ve also seen an inspiring amount of resilience among these wonderful young men and women. For the past 18 years, every fall, I teach an Honors Composition class that requires Service Learning. This semester, I’ve watched as my students volunteered with food pantries, the COD garden, after-school tutoring programs, the Forest Preserve, an animal shelter, a recycling center, and other organizations. They each spent at least 15-20 hours with these organizations, helping others and writing about the experience.
I also see many dedicated COD staff and faculty members putting in the time to help students connect to service projects and track their hours.
This is just one example of the successful cooperation that goes on every day at COD. As the administration and the COD Faculty Association enter into contract negotiations, I hope that the process is handled in a collegial and swift way that doesn’t distract attention from our mission at the college. Our number one priority has to be the students. Teaching matters.