President's Office

Remarks delivered by President Mitchell
at the Fall 2017 Convocation on September 5, 2017

CHANGE…has come.

Change has come to Massasoit Community College.

Well…THAT’S not really true. When you think about it, we’re in higher education. We are all about change. Our students are constantly changing. 15 years ago, just over 20% of our student body identified as an ethnic minority. In the Fall of 2016, that number was nearly 43%. Beloit College points out in their recently published Mindset list for the Class of 2021 that for the incoming freshman this fall, Peanuts cartoons have always been reruns, Panama has always owned the Panama Canal and Sacagawea has always graced the US one dollar coin. In all likelihood, the very people walking into your classroom today are vastly different from the crop of students that walked into the first section you ever taught.

We change constantly to better serve our students and to provide them a first rate educational experience in the time they share with us here. Look no further than our new Vet Tech program or the construction of our new Engineering lab in Canton to see the evidence.

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We change the way we provide our service, the way in which we instruct, or the manner in which we put our best selves forward. Our Advising and Counseling team has fully implemented College Scheduler and it’s changing the way our students approach their college careers. Students using it are taking, on average, 2.2 more credit hours per semester than those enrolled the traditional way. This gets students even more engaged in the college community and gets them to complete their studies sooner than in the past. We are constantly changing. It’s the natural order of things. Sure, some changes have higher visibility or broader impact than others. But still, we are constantly evolving as people, as professionals, and response to the ever changing needs of our students. It’s perpetual.

“But change is hard…”

I cringe when I hear that. It can be true. It takes effort. But meaningful, purposeful change is necessary in our industry. Look back 20 years. The landscape around us is radically different now. We are asked to do so much more and are handed fewer resources to do it all with. Creative, innovative, critical thinking is more important than ever to our industry. It’s that very type of thinking that brought us the articulation agreements for the specialized aviation program with Cape Cod Community College and the streamlined pathway from Massasoit to Bridgewater State University. We have to adapt to the needs of our students and their needs change in direct relation to the world we are sending them out into when they leave our campus.

I stand here before you truly humbled. It is MY distinct honor to lead this organization. I’m a Brockton kid from the South Side of town. I walked the streets of this city growing up. I’m a person who walked these very halls as a student and then, years later, as a colleague. My return to Massasoit in 2012 was a personal homecoming. And now to stand here addressing you as the president of Massasoit Community College,… I almost don’t have the words.

We will talk more about my plans for the College when we meet next week for an All College Town Hall meeting. I will have some remarks on the state of the College, the challenges we face and how I plan to lead through them. But I want to make you one promise right now. Every decision I make, every direction we take, every change we undertake…will be with the best interests of our students at the forefront of our minds.

We, in all likelihood, will not agree ALL the time. That’s ok. Those of you that know me and have worked with me know I WANT YOU TO PUSH BACK. I want your input. The institution needs your input. We can only get stronger through a respectful exchange of opinions and ideas. And after that exchange, we may not see eye to eye. I welcome healthy disagreement. But in the end, the immutable focus of everything we do HAS to be our STUDENTS and their best interests.

Our students are the life’s blood of this institution and they have coursed through our hallways and classrooms for 51 years now. If we find that shaking the way the institution has done things in the past is in the best interests of our students, then shake it we must.

I am excited. I hope you are too. WE have a lot of work to do, my friends. A lot of work to do. But dedicated people such as yourselves have sat in these seats for over half a century now and they have answered the call to prepare our students for what comes next. I have no doubt we are up to the task just as they were. So let’s get started.

We have the distinct honor today of hosting Dr. Christopher Lee. In a moment, Chief Diversity Officer Yolanda Dennis and Executive Director of Human Resources Margaret Hess are going to step up here and give a more formal introduction but, Dr. Lee, please allow me to welcome you and tell you how excited we are here at Massasoit to have you join us as we kick off the 2017-2018 Academic Year. Thank you for being here and we look forward to spending time with you today.

Folks, we’re here to listen to Dr. Lee. Not me. So I’m going to wrap it up. But in closing, I look around the room and I see a lot of familiar faces. I see people I’ve come to know the last few years. There are some faces that take me back to my first stint at Massasoit. I don’t want to date anyone but I think there might even be a face or two in here that saw the student version of Bill Mitchell. It’s striking to me, as I look around this room, how many people come to Massasoit…and STAY. I know people stay for all sorts of reasons. Just the fact that they stay says something about our institution. It certainly says something about your commitment to what we are trying to do here. That shared commitment is special. People can go their entire professional lives and not come across this in their careers. But we get to live with it every day. As certain as I am that we have challenges before I, I am just as certain that we, the Massasoit family, can overcome those challenges.

We have no choice, really. Our students require it.

William Mitchell
Interim President Massasoit Community College