CommunityPlunge
It’s now a tradition.  Day two on campus for new Mount Ida students is spent working with non-profit organizations as part of the 3rd annual Community Plunge.   “It’s important that our newest members of the Mount Ida community embrace the concept of doing well by doing good from their arrival,” says Gregg Grenier, Director of Community Engagement.

For Community Plunge, Mount Ida’s Center for Community Engagement reaches out each summer to community groups to ascertain what their needs are and then aligns those needs with the energy and willingness of our new students. These students are joined in the community by Orientation Ambassadors, Resident Assistants, and Mount Ida staff members.

This year, 300 people participated in 13 projects (5 on-campus and 8 off-campus) for an average of 3 hours each. “This equates to an economic impact on the Greater Boston community of $26,100,” says Grenier.  Based on the calculations from www.independentsector.org/volunteer_time, a volunteer hour in Massachusetts is worth $29.

“We are proud of our students and the enthusiasm they showed.  They were up bright and early, dressed in their Community Plunge shirts (designed by student Corey Brindamour) and raring to go,” Grenier says.  “Quite impressive when you think this was their first full day as college students.”

This year’s volunteer activities included:

  • On-campus projects:
    • Students created get well cards for “Cards for Hospitalized Kids”
    • Students wrote letters to soldiers through “A Million Thanks”
    • Students helped draw/paint/craft decorations for the “American Cancer Society’s” high school and college conference
    • Students participated in a focus group to test the usability of the “Wadsworth Library’s” website
    • Students sorted books for the “Prison Books Program” in partnership with the “Wadsworth Library”
  • Off-campus projects
    • Students sorted and packaged donations at “Cradles to Crayons”
    • Students tagged, sorted, and packaged donations at “Boomerangs Thrift Store” that is part of the AIDS Action Network
    • Students helped clean, prepare classrooms, and greet guests at the “West Suburban YMCA”
    • Students helped set up preschool classrooms at “Family ACCESS of Newton”
    • Students helped set up classrooms, create bulletin boards, and paint murals at the “West Roxbury Urban Science Academy”
    • Students helped place yard signs around Newton for the “Newton Community Farm’s” fall festival
    • Students helped pick up and deliver donations from the elderly for “Newton At Home”
    • Students helped clean public buildings, playground, and grounds for the “Chesterbrook Community Foundation”

August 29, 2016

This is the fifth time that I have had the honor of appearing before you to begin the college academic year. I don’t know where those five years have gone, time has moved very fast from the day that we met in the old Carlson building before it was transformed into the Student Center, before this room became a place for conferences and ideas rather than pizza and food lines.

But the essence of these changes has not been primarily physical. The physical changes on this campus – and there will be many more in the next five years – are easy manifestations of a deeper change in the College, while at the same time staying true to our principles.

Those of you who have been here much longer than I know that the values that sustained the College during some pretty challenging times were focused upon the success of each student, and to nurture each student, in ways that were not accomplished at other Colleges. Through levels of attention and caring and a working environment that was less combative and, yes, more compassionate than other institutions, Mount lda created a community that encouraged the success in college of students who were not likely candidates for that outcome.

So, in fact, the most important institutional changes that have occurred over the past five years are not bricks and mortar, but the growth and maturation of our human capital: four distinct schools with expanding programs and curricula – each developing an independent identity through Deans, departments and dynamic faculties, a comprehensive student affairs organization which fosters student government, on-campus and off-campus student engagement, supportive residence life and counseling for a generation of young people that faces unique challenges and pressures which impact the path to their future success.

Matched to our programmatic growth, we have undertaken a fundamental change in the way the College operates as a business. Five years ago, with dedicated staff and administrators, the College was, nevertheless, held back from realizing its potential.

Its operations were not driven by the data and information systems that had benefitted the growth of our competitors and peers. Just to give you a few examples:

There was no strategic enrollment plan identifying the students who would benefit by attendance at Mount lda. As a corollary, there was no marketing or branding plan and certainly no digital mechanism for monitoring prospective applicants. Financial aid and student support was haphazard, such that retention of students failed in the first year for lack of family resources. There were no student success coaches or consistent outcomes assessment mechanisms. And, for all practical purposes, the alumni and development organizations – the bedrock of financial support for private institutions – did not exist. We had no list of College alumni and certainly no plan for engaging those few who we knew about.

So what has changed? First of all – and I really mean this in a way that is not intended to be patronizing to any of you – you are the most dedicated and selfless work force that I have encountered in my almost fifty years in higher education. And here are a few things that you have done: (a) Create new academic programs and curricula to energize our four new schools (b) Undertake service learning and grant funded research (c) brought speakers and conferences to the campus in increasing numbers (d) created a faculty governance model appropriate for the college and consistent with our peers (e) professionalized student life and resident life creating the foundation for true student engagement and learning, not only in our classrooms, but in our residence halls, on our athletic fields and among our student organizations (f) created industry leading models for student success and assessment of learning (g) improved the financial aid awarding and monitoring process leading to dramatically improved retention of our students (h) created data driven procedures for enrollment and marketing (h) dramatically improved our budgeting and financial forecasting process (i) improved public safety and the mechanisms for protecting or students under Title 9. (j) begun the proceeds of correcting years of neglect of our information technology systems (k) and for the first time in the College’s history established a data base of almost 30,000. Alumni – something that prior administrations had ignored.

There is a lot more stuff – and I apologize for leaving it things out that you have done which would add measurably to this list. The point is, however, that the accomplishments have been both incredible and transformative – and candidly have begun to put this college on a map of accomplishment in residential higher education that we did not think possible.

And, you have done this while remaining true to principles of diversity and first generation education not achieved by our peers: 33% diverse and 40% first generation students.

Our task now is both to continue on this path of improvement, but as important, to make sure that our gains are sustainable.

We need to strive for quality and excellence ín our educational program – not shy away from rigor and increasing the expectations we have for our students.

We must improve retention. That is everyone’s job.

Each of our schools should continue to develop the uniqueness of their faculty under the leadership of committee cha¡rs and the Deans. This is the customary governance model in colleges and universities and there is no reason why we should not jo¡n those ranks,

On the side of our administration and staff, we need to reinvigorate the involvement of our rising directors and assistant deans in a management council in order to increase involvement, share ideas and advance proposals for the college as a whole.

It is important, as we grow, that we not lose touch with our colleagues in other departments. Mount lda survived and has persevered because of the close connection among all of those who work here crossing department lines. We should not lose those connections and working relationships

Finally, I think I owe it to each of you to describe what my job in going to be in the next few years, lt is to create, with you, a unique and sustainable institution of higher education, one that has overcome the financial mismanagement of past years and creates realistic growth models for its day to day operations and its capital base.

Getting to that point is still a challenge, as it is for many small tuition dependent colleges, but we have moved very far in the past five years to the amazement of our competitors and peers, many of whom are struggling now to catch up with our success in career focused liberal education. There is no question in my mind that we add measurable value to the lives of our students. We need to continue to be in the programmatic forefront of that process and effort. For that I will depend on each of you.

My task will be to develop the financial resources to equal your programmatic success. I will continue to try my best to bring funds into this institution to match the success that you are having with our students. Between our joint efforts, I think we can continue to build a very special, very unique institution that will grow in prominence and stature.

Each of you has my thanks, each day, for the work you do to reach this goal.

 

ZipCar

August 30, 2016

Dear Mount Ida Community,

I am pleased to announce that Mount Ida College is partnering with Zipcar.

Students, faculty & staff at Mount Ida College can now have wheels with no strings attached. Zipcar, the world’s leading car-sharing service, is now on campus, with two Zipcars available in the Campus Center lot.

Here’s how it works:

There are four simple steps to Zipcar freedom.

  1. Join today at http://www.zipcar.com/universities/mount-ida-college
  2. Reserve a car online or on your phone for as little as an hour or as long as seven days.
  3. Scan into the car using your Zipcard. (The keys are already in the car.)
  4. Drive away. (Just make sure to return the car at the end of your reservation.)

With Zipcar parked right in the Campus Center lot, it’s easy to check out Newton Centre, get downtown, run errands, or even take a road trip. And since Zipcar covers gas, insurance, and 180 miles per day, you can enjoy the freedom of the open road without any of the extra costs.

Find out more –  Join today at http://www.zipcar.com/universities/mount-ida-college

Join us for a Zipcar kickoff event on Thursday, September 8, 2016 from 11:30 – 2:00.

For more information on i.d. and/or documents needed for international students please refer to zipcar.com/apply/foreign-drivers 

Sincerely,
Laura DeVeau
Vice President of Student Affairs