Skip to main content

The Gifts We Give

Cliif and Jack in front of paulownia tree

We spent the 4th of July weekend at Solomons Island on the Chesapeake Bay. It was our first visit in ten years after spending more than ten Independence Day celebrations there with our children.  Solomons and the 4th of July are part of their collective memory of family fun with our family friends, Jack and Mary Wills.

The big old farm house with its great porch and lovely view of the Chesapeake has been in Mary’s family for many years. As we first drove up the gravel driveway, one of the first things that caught my eye was the big, beautiful paulownia tree which has shown signs of age as it has expanded and tilts slightly with its roots exposed. As I stood and viewed the tree, it became a metaphor for my friendship with Jack, a friendship spanning 52 years. Jack and I met in college and were pledge brothers in Delta Tau Delta. Jack held tenure as social chair and I was president in my senior year.  After we received our bachelor’s degrees, I stayed at the university for a master’s degree and Jack went to law school at SMU in Dallas and then to the Thunderbird Institute in Arizona to study international business. He then moved to DC where he met Mary, who introduced him to Solomons and his love of the bay.

Flash forward ten years and I moved to DC to work at Northern Virginia Community College and renewed my friendship with Jack. This was in 1976 and the friendship has been constant. Jack and I may both have roots in Texas but it is that paulownia tree in Maryland’s Eastern Shore that symbolizes our lifelong friendship. As I viewed the picture of Jack and me beside that tree, I also remember the saying I have framed beside pictures of my children. This is the saying:

There are two gifts we should give our children; one is roots, and the other is wings.

At RCC, this is also a gift we give our students. We want them to remember and value their time with us, and I personally hope they find friendships they will always carry with them. But we also want them to have wings, wings to soar and to reach their full potential.

I smiled when I read what the World Paulownia Institute says about these trees. Perhaps this instruction should be given to all adults when they think about becoming a parent. This instruction is also what we at RCC want to keep in mind as we assist, educate and nurture our students.

The World Paulownia Institute states, “Grower Beware: Paulownia is not a plant it and forget it tree.  All Paulownia Plantations require critical care and management. Paulownia Plantations that are not cared for properly FAIL.  The cost to maintain a Paulownia Plantation is substantial; if you are not prepared to follow explicit growing requirements and fund the annual costs associated DON’T PLANT.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Tribute to Trustee Richard E. Voigt

Richard E. Voigt Memorial July 13, 2018
​Remarks by President Emeritus Cliff L. Wood I love/loved Dick Voigt and was honored when his beloved Elisabeth asked me to speak this morning.  Elisabeth, you know you were the love of his life and that he adored you, “his great beauty.”  That’s a sentiment shared by many of us—you are beautiful in every way.    I remember Dick telling me when he knew he loved you.  He had returned to Germany to visit you in your hometown and you were together at a bar.  He looked over and there you were, elegant and sophisticated, leaning against a grand piano, another love of his.
I first met Dick in 2005 shortly after I came to RCC and when Dick was appointed Trustee, a position he held at the time of his passing.  A few days after Dick’s appointment, he called and invited me to lunch before I had a chance to call him.  I was impressed by his warmth and generosity of spirit, and my feelings have never changed.  Dick told me that as a Trustee, his job was to supp…

Goals and Gold

My goal when I came to RCC in May of 2004 was to create a student-centered environment that put students and their learning and success at the center of the institution. I knew that for that to happen, there had to be transformation and change. And, since teaching and learning are the primary mission of the College, I knew that first we had to look at how we teach and how our students learn. Early in my tenure, I established the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), and now, after more than ten years, CETL has thrived, and each year it has provided an array of programs to help and encourage our faculty.

In addition to CETL, over the last several years, the State University of New York (SUNY) has charged its community colleges with looking at how they teach, especially in the areas of English and math, and to re-think remediation. RCC has emerged as a leader in both of these areas, and SUNY cites RCC as a model for its new math program called QUANTWAY and our developme…

A Special Holiday Gift from the Riversville Foundation

On Tuesday, December 6, RCC and BOCES administrators gathered for a luncheon with this year's student recipients of the Riversville Foundation scholarship awards. The Riversville Foundation was founded in 2006 by Barton Biggs, a former partner at Morgan Stanley and founder of Traxis Partners, a hedge-fund based in Greenwich, CT.  Biggs, who died in 2012, believed in the power of education, and particularly the importance of a college degree. While Riversville has primarily worked with four-year institutions, beginning in 2014, the Riversville Foundation began a collaboration with Rockland Community College. This year, full one-year scholarships were awarded to 21 RCC students, a commitment of more than $95,000.

Under the direction of the Riversville Foundation's Executive Director, Bruno Casolari, a former Director of Resource Development at RCC, the Foundation has awarded more than $135,000 in need-based scholarships to more than 25 Rockland Community College stud…