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Showing posts from 2012

Students Say It Best

My holiday gift to you is to share a remarkable essay from a remarkable RCC Nursing student. As I always say, "Students say it best," and Holly Friedberg is no exception. In addition to being very active in the Nursing Student Association, Holly, a veteran, is also actively involved in our Veterans Student Association. United Hospice of Rockland has a relationship with Choice Trust, an NGO which provides palliative care to hundreds of persons who are sick with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses in the Limpopo region, a rural and impoverished area of South Africa. My wife, Wylene, chaired a committee for United Hospice to raise funds for Choice Trust and to provide support to the caregivers who work for that organization. Wylene reached out to our Student Nurses Association who helped her in several fundraising projects. As a result, two RCC students, Holly Friedberg and Yolanda Isom, were able to travel with a group to South Africa. The following is what…

Going Home

You can go home again, and I did just that the first weekend in November when I traveled to Dallas, Texas, to attend my 50th High School Reunion. I was born in Dallas and graduated from William M. Lipscomb Elementary School, JH Long Junior High School and Woodrow Wilson High School in the heart of Big D. These were all great public schools that opened doors for many students and provided all of them with a good education. I kept thinking about that as I enjoyed the most special feature of this reunion: it was the time I spent with two lifelong friends, best buddies I met more than 60 years ago. In the past they might have been called bosom buddies, my homeys, or BFF’s but to me they were Richard and Billy Ray with whom I celebrated all rites of passage and to this day, except for my wife, they know me better than anyone. They know my fears, my insecurities, my dreams and my regrets, and still they are my best friends.

I met Bill Ray in the first grade. His mother Sue was m…

Experiencing STEM Education

At every level in education, a major topic of the day is the need to expand STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). This is true at all levels, and there is also great interest in exposing females to these career fields. This reminds me of my children’s maternal great-grandmother, whom I knew. Her name was Della Permethia Henderson McDowell, as befits her generation at the time of her birth. She grew up in Paris, Texas and married young. Her husband owned a lumberyard and died young, leaving her to run the business and raise two small boys. She did both well and was able to send her sons to college during the Great Depression. One was an All American baseball player who played professional baseball and became a university coach. The other became a university president. Della loved math, and practiced algebra well into her nineties. Her son would buy her the latest algebra text from the university book store and she spent hours “doing algebra” on legal…

The Skin You Live In - Building Friendships Across Cultural Lines

RCC students celebrate Club Fest 2012 and foster new friendships.
The title of “This Month From Cliff” is the title of a new book by Dr. David D. Ireland, the pastor of Christ Church, a six thousand member multicultural congregation in New Jersey. The book came in the mail last week and was sent to me by a faculty member at the County College of Morris, where I served as Chief Academic Officer for seventeen years. The note accompanying the book from this art professor reads as follows:

Enclosed you will find a book by my pastor.  As I reflected on my experiences at CCM, I thought of your leadership.

I then became curious and delved into the book. Here is what Dr. Ireland wrote in THE SKIN YOU LIVE IN:

Personal relationships are the bedrock to all aspects of social life.  They are also the gateway to the corporate board room, the police force, and every place of influence in all aspects of society.
As I read this, a light came on. This is the thesis of RCC’s signature course,…

An Island…A Treasure

Last weekend I checked off an item on my “bucket list” and visited Fire Island, a magic strip of sand 30 miles long resting between The Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It was as I had anticipated—a magical weekend with our surrogate grandchildren: Sam (10), Julianna (8), and Cece (3). These three along with their parents, Ken and Lynn Marran, live across the street from our old address in Mendham, NJ. Ken and Lynn came to Mt. Paul Road as bride and groom, buying the house across from us, a small replica of our house that was originally built for a mother-in-law. Over the years, the Marrans have transformed the house so that it is now a very large and very lovely family dwelling, a show place really, where Ken’s design skills and Lynn’s gardening expertise are evident.

Last year Ken inherited the house on Fire Island, a house that had been in his family for three generations. Early in the 20th Century, his grandmother bought lots of “cheap land” and built a summer …

OUT of Africa

“Students Say It Best” Rockland Community College prides itself on its heritage of excellence and diversity. These qualities are evident in many ways including RCC’s programs, services and activities. Our college family knows how to celebrate and honor its diversity and the best example of this diversity lies in our amazing student body, one that is diverse in age, perspective, background and experience. Our student body is comprised of residents of Rockland and a very special group of international students that come from over fifty countries around the world.

OUT of Africa to RCC came Ronald Lawyer, a very special young man, in the spring of 2010. In May of 2012 he graduated from RCC with an outstanding academic record. In the fall of 2012 he will enroll at Mount Saint Mary College on a full scholarship majoring in Nursing. The scholarship is valued at $53,000 per year and is renewable for two years.

Ronald grew up in the small African village, Eremon, Ghana, which had …

Three and RCC is Still a Charm

May is Older American’s Month.  This year, President Barack Obama wrote the following about this special month:

“Our seniors make countless contributions as active participants in communities across America. From our parks and schools to our faith and service organizations, the generosity and talents of active seniors augment our children's education, bring our families together, and strengthen the fabric of our society. This year's theme for Older Americans Month, "Never Too Old to Play," celebrates the accomplishments of older Americans and encourages them to find even more ways to stay engaged.”

Staying engaged embodies the actions and spirit of this year’s recipient of the award for Rockland County’s Outstanding Contribution by a Senior, Margaret McKee. Ms. McKee received her award on May 23, 2012 when RCC hosted Senior Awareness Day, an annual event of Rockland County’s Office of the Aging.

Margaret McKee is an 87 year old senior who never misses an op…

The Rainbow Connection

A Career, Not a Job “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” has always been one of my favorite songs. In fact, Edward Simons, who conducted major musicals in the Big Apple, played it at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of RCC. For me, it is a symbol of the promise of tomorrow and all that tomorrow can bring. I thought about this on Sunday as I handed diplomas to hundreds of students at our 2012 Commencement. As I watched this rainbow of humanity, our very diverse student body, my hope for them is that RCC becomes that rainbow connection for them. I hope their RCC experience connects them to higher education and to a job and then to a career. Like most parents of young adults whose dream is for their child to have “a job with benefits,” I also want all young people to have a career.

A career is more than a job. It is a way of life where you not only earn “a living wage,” but it also gives you a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment and the feeling that your work makes a differenc…

Yom HaShoah Commemoration

Holocaust Remembrance Day
April 22, 2012
Sponsored by the Holocaust Museum and Study Center, Spring Valley
Welcome Remarks
by Cliff L. Wood
On behalf of the entire Rockland Community College family, I want to welcome you all here today.  At RCC, we take the word “community” in our title very seriously, and you are an important part of our community. We are honored to be the hosting venue for this important Yom Hashoah Commemoration.

This remembrance is an important occasion for all of us, not just for those who are Jewish. For the subjugation and persecution and genocide of any group during the Holocaust, and even in modern times, is, or should be, abhorrent to all people. In commemorating Yom Hashoah, we remember what happened. In remembering what happened, we are reminded that such a thing can happen. By that reminder, we are encouraged and hopefully inspired to be sure to do our part, both as individuals and as a community, to prevent such a thing from ever happening again.

Young Alumni of Distinction

The theme of this year’s RCC Foundation Leadership Luncheon was “Men of Distinction” and we honored four outstanding men who have contributed significantly to the College and community.  The honorees included the following:

Dr. David Beisel Professor, History
Francisco A. Garcia-Quezada Adjunct Professor, Spanish
Bill Longhi President and CEO Orange & Rockland Utilities, Inc.
Lawrence Saint-Victor Actor & RCC Alum
At the luncheon we also featured some recent graduates who have already distinguished themselves academically and professionally. The current status of the academic achievement of success of young men, however, is changing dramatically. Last year our Foundation Luncheon focused on “Women of Wisdom” and apparently, young women have the maturity and understanding of their matriarchs and in the words of Virginia Slim, “They have come a long way baby”.

What follows are the graduation statistics for Americans for the 2011-2012 Academic Year.

Graduate Degree % Men % Wome…

Students Say It Best!

On February 7 and 8, RCC celebrated the outstanding accomplishments of hundreds of local middle school and high school students of color in the categories of academic success, community service, artistic expression, athletic ability, leadership, or personal triumph and success. Joined by their proud family members, the young award recipients filled the theater for two consecutive nights of celebration. They were privileged to hear from several outstanding guest speakers, including Jordan Zuber-Banks, whose speech I am sharing with you here. After all, students say it best!

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and good evening to the leaders right in front of me. It is an honor to speak with you tonight. Before I begin, let me say, congratulations on your achievements, and distinguishing yourself from your peers. You may have noticed I said, “The leaders in front of me,” not future leaders or any variation of the phrase. For as young adults you are not just the future, we are …

Living the Dream

Today’s world is challenging and complex, and as a college president I could allow myself to get caught up in a dilemma. That dilemma would be arguing about the value and purpose of education with intellectuals and academics. They might argue that the value of an education is simply the process of expanding one’s intellectual capacity—and that is a good and noble goal. For those people, education is the end itself. Today, however, in my position, I know that the “great expectation” is to be sure our graduates are ready for the world of work. For many, education is the means to an end.  Education, technical training, skill development, many believe, should enable a graduate to be employable. In my experience, this is also the motivation of students of all levels of ability: what they really want is the ability to take care of themselves and the people they care about.

In today’s world with the economy in turmoil and high levels of unemployment, the promise or possibility of…