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Leadership Is About Serving Others, Not Yourself

Jul 17, 2020 7:22:11 AM / by Dr. Luis G. Pedraja

It is hard to believe that it has been three years since I joined the QCC family. It seems like it was just yesterday that we embarked on our joint journey. As I prepared to assume the presidency, I sought advice from experienced presidents. In their advice, common themes emerged: seek the advice of experts and listen to them; surround yourself with capable people and empower them to get the job done; live with integrity and humility; be visible and accessible; be fair and consistent; when possible seek input, data, and make informed decisions in a timely manner; be respectful; take
criticism gracefully; do what you believe is right for the college and the people it serves; give credit to others when things go right, take responsibility when they don’t; be courageous; etc. But the most important lesson I learned is that leadership is about serving others, not yourself. I do not know if I’ve always been able to live to these ideals, but I will always strive to do so. Throughout the years in various roles, I have learned that while a position might give you authority, respect and trust has to be earned. I hope to continue to earn yours.

In the last three years, together we accomplished much. Our collective efforts, commitment to student success, teamwork, and hard work has yielded results and made us stronger. Before the onset of the pandemic, and counter to national trends, we stabilized our enrollment, improved retention, and added to our reserves. In spite of the pandemic, we were able to quickly transition to remote learning and operations, increase our support for our students, and protect our community.

While we were far from perfect, we prevailed while others failed. We are stronger as a college because of you; because of all of your expertise, hard work and dedication. We can be proud of what we’ve accomplished, but we must continue to look to the future and build on our strengths. We still face uncertain times, but we face them with the certainty of our resolve.

Currently, the State has entered phase three of the reopening plan. However, as you might recall, the State’s time-frame and guidance for higher education institutions is slightly different. We are currently in phase two, with phase three beginning in the fall. As we look toward the fall, we continue to review and finalize our plans. Experts continue to warn that the pandemic might be worse in the fall. While many institutions are rushing to bring students back to campus, others, like us, will continue to operate remotely and maintain a limited on-campus presence.

Recently, Harvard, UMass Boston, UMass Amherst, Princeton, USC, and many community colleges, like us, announced that they will be operating primarily remote with very limited students on campus. I believe we are in good company.
We made a brave decision earlier than most, but it was the right thing to do. During the pandemic, the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff are and will continue to be our priority. Student success is not possible if students and faculty are sick. Given that Latinx and Black Americans are disproportionally affected by the virus to a greater degree than other demographics due to existing equity gaps, putting our students and community at further risk would go against our commitment to equity. We may hope for the best, but we must prepare for the worst. Simply because we can do some things, doesn’t always mean we should – and when the lives of our community are at stake, I would rather err on the side of caution.

We’ve made some difficult decisions and I am sure more will lie ahead, but together we will get through these difficult times. Stay healthy, stay strong, QCC strong!

Topics: Community College, education, Dr. Luis Pedraja, Fall Semester, community, Quinsigamond Community College, coronavirus, virtual

Dr. Luis G. Pedraja

Written by Dr. Luis G. Pedraja

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