Community Day 2016

By Dr. Drew Bogner, President

Welcome to Community Day. I hope everyone had a great summer - I'm so excited about this year.

At Community Day our agenda historically includes:

  • An inspirational speech by me - we'll see if that happens
  • A thoughtful prayer/ mediation service - I'm sure that will happen
  • A dynamic speaker - we have that lined up again
  • And sharing of data, and an update on facility changes that occurred over the summer

I assure you that Jimmy and the maintenance team worked their magic again this summer. Knowing that you have good research skills, we set up a web site that contains all of this information so I encourage you to look at it. We will be sending out an email to remind you of the address.

Dr. Drew Bogner, PresidentNow, let's move onto today's event. This year's theme is: "Mission: Living it forward." During the 2015-2016 year we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the College and the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Dominican order.

At the beginning of this celebration, during last year's Community Day, S. Mary Pat Neylon, Prioress of the Order and Professor of Communications, challenged us to be agents of transformation and proponents of truth, continuing to witness the power of the mission bequeathed to us by the founding sisters and the 32 generations of Dominicans who have come before.

"In order to have a present," S. Mary Pat reminded us, "you must be rooted in the past." The past work of the Dominican Order is long, 800 and one year; it is dynamic, it is rich and varied, ranging from mystics to logicians and activists to healers and at its root it is transformative - to each of us personally and to society at large.

"We are the third generation of Molloy," S. Mary Pat observed, having just completed our 60th year.

We are the sandwich generation with a double responsibility - capturing and witnessing the past, with the last of the first generation all but gone and carrying it forward in new and enlivened ways. Hence the theme of today and the year... "Mission: Living it forward."

Today, we officially close the year-long double anniversary celebration. To remind all of you of this celebration you received a coin on your way into the theater that was designed to commemorate these milestones.

To further recognize the impact of these important anniversaries, we will be embarking on a renewed commitment to mission. We have a fiduciary duty to carry forward the work started by St. Dominic and the Sisters of Amityville. I am reminded of this duty each time I go to the Priory at Amityville or listen to the Dominican Magnificat.

This fiduciary duty has two parts: first, that we continually make the College and what we do relevant to the times, and second, that we insure what we do is grounded in the tradition and charism of the Order of Preachers.

As I reminded a student on class night last May, we are all Dominicans. We are all members of the Order of Preachers, preaching in the strongest way possible by how we live our lives - preaching by right actions, by living meaningful lives, by living a caring, giving, and loving life.

I have asked Ed Thompson and Cathy Muscente to lead this mission effort, but it really falls to each one of us to accept the responsibility to be ambassadors of mission, to be faithful fiduciaries of the mission bequeathed to us by that remarkable group of women who founded the College and nurtured it - to live the powerful values contained in the mission and bring these values to our students and the community.

This renewed commitment to mission starts with a greater understanding of the Dominican approach to life, its values and commitment to a particular social vision. So Ed and Cathy have enlisted the talents of Maureen Carey and Joanne O'Brien, who have crafted a series of educational programs that will occur throughout the year starting today with the meditation and remarks by S. Terry Rickard.

It will include as well, a deeper and longer orientation program for new employees and a renewed commitment to hiring for mission.

This renewed commitment to mission will drive our planning process continuing the wide involvement of the Molloy community that we used to design the 2020 Strategic Planning.

Our task this year is to produce the operational plans, strategies, and processes that will allow the College to achieve the items we set out in the Strategic Plan. Coming from the collective imagination and energies of the Molloy community, we felt it only fitting that we design a document to share this vision with the wider community. When you leave the theatre, you will receive a copy of this publication.

Lastly, but oh so important, this commitment to mission will reverberate through the exploration and design of a new set of general education undergraduate requirements and a set of core education curricula at the graduate level. Leading this effort is our new chief academic officer, Dr. Ann Branchini.

Following an intensive national search, Ann was recommended by a stellar search committee. Ann brings 13 years of experience as a chief academic officer. Having worked with Ann now for three months, I can say that she is a talented, perceptive strategist that values the input of others.

Ann is committed to creating an environment that fosters teaching and learning as well as leading the effort that will result in a revised set of education outcomes for undergraduate and graduate students. This will not happen quickly, nor should it. As Ann has noted and I quote "We need to think deeply and critically about the skills, knowledge and abilities we want our graduates to have, and how we get them there. We need to design purposeful and intentional learning opportunities, explore pedagogies that support that objective and build capacity to be flexible and resilient in the rapidly changing educational environment." Ann will be sharing her vision and personal philosophy with the faculty this Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

At the root level we are a value driven organization. Drawing from the work of the 2020 Task Force on values we strive to:

  • Provide a welcoming, hospitable environment for students, faculty, staff and administrators
  • Be inclusive respecting and celebrating the differences within our community
  • Be compassionate and kind to others
  • Encourage transformative learning
  • Exchange ideas in search of truth
  • Reach out where there is a need and recognize that each one has a part to play in creating a better world

The values contained in the Mission - in the unique charism of the Dominican are powerful and transformative. I'm sure you have heard me say this many times, but it bears repeating- we were founded as a transformational entity - to transform our students, and through them to transform society into a more just and compassionate place. We promote values and we add value.

During the middle of summer, the new rankings for top value institutions came out in Money magazine. You will recall that three years ago when these rankings were first initiated, we were ranking among the top 75 in the county and the highest on Long Island. Many institutions including a number on Long Island are not even ranked, since you must maintain a minimum graduation rate. In addition to graduation rate, the rankings also look at factors such as student debt load and post-graduation salaries.

In thumbing through a copy of the magazine in my office, I saw that three colleges were highlighted, Princeton, no surprise and Michigan, again no surprise and Molloy College. We were ranked number one in a new category Money magazine had created. "Top Value All-star," that's right, number one. With the image of a Molloy pennant and our very own highlight box.

Money magazine created the category of "Value All-Star" to highlight those institutions with modest resources that create substantial value for students. As Money magazine states, we would expect that those institutions like Princeton with highly selective admissions, a powerful and generous alumni base, large endowments, and decades of reputation, would provide considerable added value for students.

A month later, paging through the Chronicle of Higher Education Almanac, I found Molloy again, this time ranked 10th for how much median earnings of graduates exceed expected earnings based on the institution's composition of majors. I noted that all those institutions above us have endowments of at least 10X more than Molloy and are at least three times older than Molloy.

We were also ranked 16th for how much median earnings exceeded expected earnings based on institutions' composition of majors, academic preparation and students' likelihood of obtaining graduate degrees.
I've had a few weeks to reflect on what these rankings really mean, what they say about Molloy and the values we espouse.

It starts first with who we serve - we are not highly selective, but moderately selective - We have raised our standards and expectations to be sure but we continue to serve many first generation college students. Twenty five percent of our students have no parents who attended college. We serve individuals of modest socio-economic backgrounds as well. Approximately half of our students come from of families who earn less than $75,000 a year.

We realize that success is not tied to background, or even measures such as SATs. We look for those who have the ability to be leaders, to be change agents, to be committed citizens, competent and creative professionals and problem solvers. Steve Bier can tell you that there is no difference between a 1200 SAT and a 1600 SAT when it comes to success, but there is a difference when it comes to a student's attitude and value system.

Second, we are committed to making higher education affordable and we work, all of us work to make this happen.

Third, our students get jobs and why is that?

It begins with competency - we arm our students with the knowledge and skills to succeed - we educate them to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, and we build their value system and sense-of-self.
We expect them to create and be able to articulate a value system that is centered on more than themselves - to have a strong work ethic, to be professional and self-confident, to be resilient, to demonstrate respect for others and embrace diversity and be descent, polite, caring members of society. We do all this with modest resources. This is, I think, very Dominican.

Dominic the itinerate left the privileged, learned role of cannon of the cathedral to go out into the world and serve directly those most in need- most in need materially, spiritually and educationally. Being itinerate meant that you served first and worried about how and where you would get the resources later. Now of course I'm not advocating this - but we have this same orientation - just look at what we've done with the most modest of physical resources and despite this limitation the students come because of you and the wisdom and caring you provide.

Dominic was a change agent. During his time the power of the church was in the monastic communities. These were highly successful enterprises, and centers of learning but only for a few as they looked inward and not outward. Dominic saw a different road to meeting the needs of society - leverage modest resources and through the gift of genuine concern and education illicit a multiplier effect.

This summer I bought a farm - I didn't buy the farm - I'm still here But Karen and I bought a farm - a 20-acre farm in Massachusetts. It has a house, a barn, woods with 80 acres of conservation land behind it. If you push through the brush on the edge of our land you will find a trail, it is well used and heads up into the conservation land to an outcropping called Joe's Rock.

Following the trail you will come to a large boulder that is the end of the rock wall that divides the property. Here the trail meets a dirt road, curving to the left it goes up the hill to the Big Apple Orchard and heading forward it becomes a wide trail that leads to Joe's rock, but to the right hidden in the brush is a small deer trail. Push your way through the undergrowth about 100 feet in and you will find a jewel of a pond, spring fed, crystal clear with water lilies and plants.

You have to really look to find the trail and many miss it, but it is the real gem along the way. Sitting by the pond I thought of all those who follow the safer wider trail and miss the real end of the journey. Today we commit ourselves to leave the safer wider trail that is the path of most higher education institution and follow our own path to bring beauty to the world...the beauty of spirit, of compassion, of love, of justice, of right relations, of workable communities and of meaningful lives.

We are all Dominicans committed to study, to spirituality, to community, to service and to truth.

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