This evening we congratulate our COD retirees; tonight’s list includes a former chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee and a former co-chair of bargaining. We thank them all for their service to our great public school and wish them the best.
It is the close of another semester, and we celebrate the accomplishments of our students. We also root for students who did not succeed in our classes, lamenting each piece of homework left incomplete, each paper or exam that misses the mark; despite the best efforts of a teacher, in the end, students are responsible for their own learning and individual agency within a given classroom. Education professionals create the conditions of possibility. Students bring to bear their own creativity, curiosity, motivation, values, ethics, and sense of reciprocity and mutuality. At its best, college education is a site for shared labor and respect for the distinct but collaborative roles between students and teachers. It is meaningful work all around.
It is hard to create the conditions of possibility for college students at a time when higher education is under siege in America. This month alone, Congress proposed taxing graduate student tuition waivers, and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act appears to include a redefinition of credit hours, the removal of student financial aid repayment benefits, and deregulation of online and for-profit providers. At a time when COD is working to repair its reputation and fulfill some fair but rigorous demands from its accrediting body, it feels like swimming against the rising tide.
At COD, we know all too well what it looks like when the worst thing happens, because it already did when we were placed on probation. Our work moving forward must continue to question: what did we learn from that, and how can we prevent it from happening again? The answer lies somewhere in the realm of collaboration and memory. And so we persist, in part because we believe in this project of public education and community good.