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21 November 2012

Thanksgiving, community colleges, and changing lives

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.
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This is the first Thanksgiving in my new role as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. While reflecting on this yesterday, I decided to send out the following e-mail to all of the faculty within our region:

Faculty,

Before you head off for the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate everything you do for our students. For some this is a very difficult time of year and this can hold especially true for our students as they struggle their multiple commitments. What often happens though, is that we sometimes forget to recognize those co-workers around us who struggle as well. If you know of someone within your academic area who needs support, I do hope you will reach out to them this holiday season.

So what am I thankful for? Being a part of this campus and having the opportunity to serve each of you as we strive to change the lives of our students. Thank you for letting me (sic) a part of your team.

Steven

Generally I struggle when sending out mass email to faculty. I consider whether the message is relevant, beneficial, and/or productive. Once I write a message, I often go over it numerous times as I know that the English faculty are out there picking it apart for grammatical and spelling errors.

I have an industrial background and do not have what I would call, exceptional writing skills, as is evident by my exclusion of a word in the last line. On this occasion though, I didn’t want my message to seem contrived, but heart felt. I decided to stream of conscious this one and just let it flow.

Feedback from the faculty has been positive, but my absolute favorite of the bunch was from a faculty member who mentioned that they decided to go to a food bank to make a donation after they read my message. When they spent time talking with folks, they found out that several of our students were recipients of these donations.

That’s what community college service is all about folks. Changing lives and making a difference. To all of my fellow community college faculty, staff and administrators:

Happy Thanksgiving!

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