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Showing posts from 2011

There's No Dream That's Too Big

I loved my holiday card for this year, a card with a quote from Lady Gaga, “There’s no dream that’s too big.” As I sat at the breakfast table, thinking about what that phrase meant, the dream catcher in our kitchen window caught my eye. The dream catcher is a neo-traditional Native American object whose name means “spider” in the Chippewa culture. It is a hand-made object based on a willow hoop over which is woven a loose net or web. While dream catchers were adopted by the Ojibawa (Chippewa) Nation, their use was embraced by Native Americans of many nations. Traditionally, Native Americans hang the dream catcher above the bed to “catch the bad dreams” in the web and allow only good dreams to pass through.

The dream catcher in our window was a gift from our youngest daughter, Toni, who has always had “wanderlust” and pursued her dreams with passion and determination. Toni was an excellent student, both in and outside the classroom and always sought opportunities that cha…

Opening New Doors, Opening New Windows

On a recent Saturday morning, my wife, Wylene, and I had the opportunity to open a door that was new to us. It was the door to the Ark at Temple Beth El in Spring Valley. It was a privilege and honor given to us by two special young men and wonderful friends, Harrison and Charles Dranoff. The twins gave us the honor of opening the Ark at their Bar Mitzvah, which is the “coming of age” ceremony for young Jewish boys in their thirteenth year; it is their “boys to men” ritual.

We are Episcopalians, not Jewish, and I am what in the “trade” is called a “cradle Episcopalian.”  While I have attended other Bar and Bat Mitzvah, I have never participated in one, so this was very special for me. At one point in the ceremony, the rabbi suggested the congregation read a selection on a particular page in the Prayer Book. My wife pointed to one passage she thought I would especially like:

“We sit in community: elbow to elbow, eye to eye, so close, perhaps, we bruise against each other.”

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

The United States Congress has declared the period of September 15 through October 18 Hispanic Heritage Month. This commemoration is important to me because of the beauty of Hispanic culture and the countless contributions made by people of Hispanic heritage to America and the world.

As a child growing up in Texas, I had limited world experiences. My family did very little traveling and I grew up in a very homogeneous community. I was, however, aware that in Dallas in the 50's there were three groups - the white majority, African Americans who did service work in our communities, and somewhere in far north Dallas a growing group of Hispanics, primarily immigrants from Mexico. I was thoroughly unaware of the latter two cultures that were so different from my 'WASP" neighborhood.

When I was eleven, however, I had a wonderful experience. Our neighbors, the Smiths, who were surrogate grandparents, invited me to travel with them to Donna, Texas, over five hundred …

Ten Years Later

The following remarks were given by President Wood at the 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony held at Rockland Community College on September 9, 2011.

September 11th will forever be etched in the consciousness of all Americans, of caring people everywhere, and of all who work or reside in Rockland County. It is a day when we remember the victims of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack on America that occurred 10 years ago. It is a day when we remember our vulnerability, when we reflect on all the privileges and all the opportunities given to us as citizens of this great land, a day when we are reminded that our way of life, our values are viewed negatively by some, and it is a day when we come together, despite any cultural or political differences we may have, to honor the memories and spirits of those who lost their lives that fateful morning in 2001. Workers, students, passers-by, heroes and victims—all innocent and valuable individuals. We mourn their loss and we mourn our …

Fishing for Jobs

The adage below is a metaphor for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Open For Business” plan, a new state government approach to economic growth and job production. To that end, Governor Cuomo has established ten Regional Economic Development Councils whose goals are to empower local experts to create jobs, jobs, jobs. The councils are made up of business leaders, public officials and educators. I am honored to have been named to the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council that includes Orange, Ulster, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Sullivan and Rockland Counties.

Both Governor Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy have given this job creation project the highest priority and both are actively involved in providing leadership to the groups. The mission of these councils is clearly important as the Governor has identified one billion dollars in funds and tax incentives to be provided over the next five years to enhance economic development projects to produce jobs f…

World of Wonders

If I had to title the picture to the left, I would call it “World of Wonders,” because of my granddaughter Orly’s fascination with the world around her…everything from the goldfish and lilies in the pond, to the wriggly worms that inhabit the pond’s bank. My time with Orly in Vermont this summer was also a world of wonder and delight for me. I was reminded of the simple joys of nature and my delight while watching a hawk circling our home on Orchard Hill, or a fox in the wet grass near the woods, a scene we witnessed as we sat having breakfast on the porch. Orly took it all in and was excited, giddy with giggles and amazement.

Then, as I gardened in Vermont after Orly left, I thought about the title “World of Wonders” and remembered that it came from a novel I love by the great Canadian writer Robertson Davies. I admired his impressive demeanor, silver hair, and beautiful reading voice, when I attended a reading of his at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. His nov…

Rockland Community College is dedicated to student success!

One of my priorities is to ensure that an RCC education is accessible and affordable to all. We are committed to providing every person who comes to our doors with the opportunity to learn, to succeed, and to gain the skills and education necessary to be competitive in today’s global economy.

That is how much RCC provided during the 2010-11 academic year in financial assistance to students. This figure includes:

Federal grants and work study: $9.1 million
State grants: $2.5 million
Loans: $3.8 million
Scholarships and Student Support Awards: $803,000
3,712 students received one or more forms of assistance.
This represents 46% of the student body!

The Financial Aid office and the RCC Foundation work in partnership to provide students with funding for tuition, books and, where applicable, living expenses. Through the RCC Foundation’s robust scholarship program, hundreds of students also receive financial assistance towards continuing their education at four-year colleges a…

Students Say It Best

Students often say it best. The following remarks were given by Laura Duran, recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence at the Award Ceremony. Laura will attend Smith College in the fall.
Good afternoon and congratulations to all of you.

My name is Laura Duran and I am honored to speak on behalf of my hardworking peers and on the importance of being involved.

To begin, I have to thank everyone here for making my experience at RCC, a most gratifying one. Your diligence has helped cultivate a vibrant culture on this campus; a culture that reminds all of us that we are just as much of a college as a four year institution. Every club, organization, and individual in this room has positively affected the growth and development of the RCC community. Again, I thank you.

Two years ago I entered Rockland Community College relatively lost in my life. It wasn’t until late in my first semester that I made an important decision. I decided that I didn’t want to be…

Women of Wisdom

Good afternoon and welcome to the Rockland Community College Foundation Leadership Luncheon, whose theme this year is Women of Wisdom. We are so pleased that all of you are here. You are very special members of our community, a word and a concept we take to heart.

I am so proud of the RCC Foundation and our RCC family. Through our collective efforts we will provide to our students over $300,000 this year in scholarships and student support funds. As we planned this year’s luncheon and selected this year’s theme, Women of Wisdom, I smiled as I remembered a story about my son Caleb. I smiled more when I realized some things never change.

When Caleb was about three, we lived on a beautiful tree lined street in Washington, DC, and there was a band of little boys (6 or 7) who played in our yard all the time. On the next block, there was a little girl named Pippa with beautiful pigtails. Sometimes, in the afternoon, with her mother, Pippa would walk down the block and would sto…

Exceptional Senior Student Affairs Administrator’s Leadership Strategies and Competencies for Success

Last Spring I was asked by my close friend and long time colleague to contribute to a book being published by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). Gwen Dungy is the Executive Director of NASPA, and we have worked together twice over the years. I chaired the search committee at Montgomery College who recommended Gwen for the position of Dean of Students. Later Gwen came to work with me as Dean of Humanities at the County College of Morris where I was Vice President of Academic Affairs. Some of you may recall that she spoke at my Inauguration in 2005. We have a shared history and a long and special friendship. I was honored when she asked me to contribute to a book she was editing. I was asked to write from the perspective of a professional whose career began in Student Affairs/Student Development and who later became a president. This was a wonderful walk down memory lane for me and I had put myself back in time to remember “my awakening”…