Greetings members and colleagues,
In light of ESATYCB’s upcoming 25th anniversary in 2017, it is a good time to reflect on our association and to consider its future directions. I have been a member of the organization since I started teaching at Orange County Community College in 2002, and ESATYCB has been a great way for me to meet others teaching biology from all corners of the state. These relationships are vital to our group and I wonder how we might increase these networks throughout the year. One step in this direction has been the beautiful redesign of our webpage (www.esatycb.org) and our officers have discussed other ways to keep in touch via social media. I am curious about what ideas you may have for the future growth of our association.
There are many issues on individual campuses that would benefit from statewide discussions. A recent example is the development of an Associate in Science-Biology Track. Another issue we are facing in Orange County is declining enrollments. Not just a local issue, this has been the trend in SUNY Community Colleges since 2010. In response, our faculty is being tasked to develop new certificate programs and alternative scheduling formats. We have also been more aggressively recruiting high school students in the STEM fields. Additionally, our faculty has been discussing ways to push the State University of New York System to meet its long-neglected financial obligation to its community colleges. Is enrollment at your college declining? What strategies are you pursing in response?
In addition to enrollment issues we are being asked to increase our assessment efforts. Guided in part by the assessment workshop held during our spring conference, one member of our department has reinvigorated our departmental approach to assessment by developing a flexible model that can be applied to many courses. How is your department addressing assessment?
In my department, I am lucky to witness outstanding teaching on a daily basis. The caring and compassion I see directed towards our students is a constant source of inspiration. As I settle in to grade a pile of papers, I know that I am not alone. I am a part of a team who is quietly but persistently nudging, correcting, and thoughtfully commenting on student work one paper at a time. What I hear in our hallways strengthens my resolve to devotedly attend to each of my students’ day in and day out. What inspires your teaching?
As your president I am interested in supporting connections in ways that will benefit our institutions as well as our individual teaching. Indeed, the strength of our association is in our ability to make those connections. I hope you will send me any suggestions you may have and I look forward to seeing you at our next conference in the spring.
Jennifer C. Merriam
SUNY Orange – Middletown Campus