Tonight we congratulate the COD students who will walk across the stage next Friday night to receive their diplomas. It is an important ritual and we are proud of them and the work represented by the conferral of degrees.
We also want to congratulate all COD retirees; we celebrate their service and we will miss these valued education professionals. And of course, we welcome our new faculty hires and we are proud of our outstanding faculty colleagues as well as the professors who are being promoted tonight.
It’s been a busy year at our school, and teachers and students at COD continue to absorb significant changes—from various reorganizations of people and space, to the lifting of COD’s HLC probation and how we must prepare for our next site visit, to changes in federal law and policies that impact many of our students. Many of these changes have been a long time in the making; some are welcome, and some are not. So it is important in an education environment to value and build into the change process a period of evaluation; to ask the question, did these changes accomplish what we hoped? How can these concepts be improved or corrected? Enacting change without methodically evaluating its impact can create questions and doubt, and cultivate resistance to the next big idea—even if it’s a good one.
As we move into the next academic year, it will be important for faculty and administration to work more collaboratively on establishing the priorities for our college and our students. As we revisit the Strategic Long Range Plan and the Facilities Master Plan, we must do so through processes that are inclusive and that tolerate and then integrate dissenting views in order to reach rigorously vetted conclusions. And it means relying on experienced education professionals to evaluate the outcomes of those plans, and cultivate an institutional openness to re-evaluate and change based on an honest assessment of what is right for our students, for real students, overall.