Another college is having its faculty convocation today. And as people do these days, one of my friends who works there is tweeting what’s happening. Apparently, the college president just reminded the faculty that they have a noble purpose.
Although some people are making snarky remarks, I think it’s a good reminder. In the days before classes start, many things happen. Syllabi have to be written, put into course shells, and made accessible. Students who did not preregister have to be advised into a shrinking number of available classes. There are polices and procedures that have to be introduced or reviewed. It can be overwhelming and tiring. And that’s not even counting trying to get ready for the first class.
But we at community colleges have always had a noble purpose. For decades we have been the place that welcomes:
- First-generation college students whose families know little about the inner workings of higher education.
- Second-language students who are not only battling language differences, but cultural differences as well.
- Students who have the ability but not the financial means to start out at a four-year college.
- Adults who are coming to college unsure of their skills.
And that noble purpose goes beyond the classroom. More than one frustrated student has been encouraged to persevere because of a kind word from a division secretary, a clerk in admissions, financial aid, testing, or a security guard. A tutor who says, “You can get this.” may just be the encouragement a student needs. And those of us in the library are often astounded at how grateful students are at what we consider fairly minor things, such as helping them print or showing them the location of their class.
When you know your noble purpose, it suffuses all that you do. Even the very smallest things.