After six months on the job, QCC’s President, Dr. Luis G. Pedraja began his second All College Day talk with a nod to the MLK Breakfast held at the college on January 15, in honor of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As the guest speaker at that event, Dr. Pedraja discussed the division that is in the country today, noting there seemed to be a rhetoric of hate.
“I believe we are better than this and I will strive to ensure everyone is welcome here,” he said. “Education plays an important role in creating equality.”
Dr. Pedraja discussed his continued mission to ensure that all students at QCC attain success. He told those assembled that he has been working with staff and faculty to develop a culture that is transparent and inclusive for all.
“Together we share a common value and vision, working for students’ success,” Dr. Pedraja said, adding that QCC students have a determination to come to class in order to help themselves attain a better tomorrow, regardless of the obstacles they face.
Dr. Pedraja also discussed the new signs and the Welcome Center and how he hopes this brings a more welcoming environment to the campus.
“We are committed to welcoming all,” he said. “All are welcome regardless of race, ethnicity, religious view, gender or sexual orientation.”
Dr. Pedraja cited the need for higher education in order to match the needs of the future workforce.
“We are not valuing education, so there are not enough people going into higher education. Studies show that by 2020, 65 percent of the jobs will require some college,” he continued, adding that even Massachusetts falls short of that number and in minority communities those numbers are even lower.
To help try and address some of these issues, Dr. Pedraja said they have started a pilot initiative of community-based learning centers, which will begin in the fall. He said the college is in the process of partnering with three different agencies to create centers in the communities where students live. The community centers will offer a safe place for students to study and offer free Wi-Fi and some computers and printers in order for students to do their classwork.
“A community college cannot just be defined by the walls of our campus. It must be present in our community,” Dr. Pedraja said, adding that the current locations being discussed are the Worcester Housing Authority, QCC’s Downtown campus and Catholic Charities.
Dr. Pedraja also discussed developing a mentor program by the fall that will work with members of the community and QCC alumni to act as an “intrusive program mentor." He said the program will involve proactively reaching out to students to help with their needs, especially in the first year of college.
Wrapping up the morning presentation were Strategic Planning Core Team co-chairs, Kathy Rentsch and Ingrid Skadberg who discussed the Strategic Plan Position Report.
After the presentations, staff and faculty broke up into different groups to informally discuss and suggest actions and strategies to accomplish the goals of the Strategic Plan.