The pinnacle of one's college experience is often commencement day. Held on May 16, 2016, Saint Paul College's Commencement Ceremony was an extraordinary evening. The Class of 2016 numbers approximately 1300 students; and 499 graduates “walked” at the commencement ceremony as friends, family, faculty and staff all proudly witnessed this wonderful celebration. It was the culmination of our students' hard work and determination in earning their certificates, diplomas and associate degrees.
The profound economic impact these graduates will have in our community and beyond is simply immeasurable. And more than that, we hope that the impact of what they’ve learned and accomplished while at Saint Paul College will prove to be immeasurable in their own lives. Our graduates are well on their way in their life's journey, eager to start their new jobs and join the workforce in new careers; many are transferring to four-year institutions. I like to think of it as delivering on the idea, that when our students start at Saint Paul College, they can go anywhere.
In my commencement remarks, I shared a quote that really resonates with me about "The Value of Service" from Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore:
"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."
I believe that we are a college that lives the value of service. I see evidence of it every day in our hallways, classrooms, labs, offices and the grounds of Saint Paul College. I am truly thankful to be here, where our faculty and staff provide valuable service to each other and to our students daily.
Here’s a short recap of a few of my activities this week:
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Leadership Council - I attended a two-day meeting with MnSCU presidents from two-year colleges and four-year universities at the MnSCU System Office, discussing several issues related to strategic operation of each of our respective institutions.
Friends of Saint Paul College Foundation Board Meeting - We discussed the Friends of Saint Paul College Foundation Strategic Plan and fund raising priorities to make education affordable and within reach for our students.
President’s Advisory Council - Our administrative team members joined me at our President’s Advisory Council meeting. The President Advisory Council members are volunteers and tireless community leaders who provide me and the College with advice about national, regional, and local trends related to programming and initiatives so we can meet and exceed the needs of students and our Community.
Neighborhood House Board Meeting – I attended a Neighborhood House Board Retreat meeting at Neighborhood House, an intentional partner of Saint Paul College.
Minnesota Philanthropy Partners – I attended the quarterly Board of Director meeting to discuss the Minnesota Philanthropy Partners Community Impact Grant Making and a host of strategic priorities and policy advocacy.
Minnesota State University Student Association Meeting (MSUSA) – I met with Chancellor Rosenstone and MSUSA students, as part of their monthly meeting. MSUSA represents the students interest as system wide policies regarding tuition, financial aid, academics and others are reviewed and implemented. Representatives of MSUSA also work with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) staff on budget issues and building project planning. MSUSA also works with the Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA) which represents the public two year college students.
Construction System Workforce System Change – I along with Dean of Workforce and Continuing Education attended a construction occupational sectorial system change meeting at the Associate General Contractors (AGC). Participants included construction firms, community based organizations, labor unions, employer organizations, and representatives from philanthropic organizations. This project is funded by DEED, McKnight Foundation, and Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Workforce Innovation Network.
Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) - I attended a meeting at the Wilder Foundation about Intercultural Development Inventory IDI. A group of major companies and firms from Minneapolis and Saint Paul are meeting quarterly to discuss issues related to diversity and economic development in our community.
Of special note: Gateway to College Graduation
I was fortunate enough to give the welcome keynote to this year’s Gateway to College students who graduated from Saint Paul Public Schools and Saint Paul College. I can't say often enough how much intentional partnerships really matter. One such partnership is that of Saint Paul Public Schools, Saint Paul College and the Gateway to College Network and it serves young adults ages 16 to 20 who have dropped out of high school or are significantly behind in credits and unlikely to graduate. The program enables students to complete their high school diploma requirements while simultaneously earning college credit toward a college degree or certificate. And, complete college courses while attending Saint Paul College. A great win-win for each student! Please go to www.saintpaul.edu/GatewaytoCollege to read more about this impactful program and watch the great video featuring students benefitting from Gateway to College. We appreciate everyone's collective work efforts to make this partnership a fantastic opportunity for our students.
Again, special congratulations to the Class of 2016. Thank you for choosing Saint Paul College!
Rassoul Dastmozd, PhD
Saint Paul College