Please note: This was published over a year ago. Phone numbers, email addresses and other information may have changed.
Preston Pulliams' In-service Speech, Fall 2004
Photos and Story by James Hill
Introductions Good morning. First, I want to thank Chair Dana Anderson and all of our board members for their support and dedication to Portland Community College. They devote countless hours to this college and their commitment to the college, staff and students is truly extraordinary. The District President’s Cabinet makes up the leadership team that carry out the Board goals for the college and the broad operation and direction for the college. I want to take this time to introduce the members of the Cabinet:o Campus presidents: Our newest campus president, Algie Gatewood, Cascadeo Nan Poppe, Extended Learning Campuso Bill Christopher, Rock Creeko Paul Hill, Interim, Sylvaniao VP for Administrative Services Randy McEweno VP for Academic and Student Services, Guy Sieverto Associate VP for Finance, Wing-Kit Chungo Associate VP for Technology, Leslie Riester o Director of Affirmative Action, Sylvia Welcho Assistant to the President, Neal Naiguso And I want you all to meet Geri Mitagyow, my administrative assistant.o And, I also want to acknowledge Jan Coulton and her contributions.I would also like to introduce two other people who hold significant leadership roles at the college:" Lucia Barnett, President of the classified employee federation" Michael Dembrow, President of the faculty federation. Acknowledgements/RecognitionsThe reason that we all are here at PCC is to serve our students. Our student speaker this morning, Rachael Valdes, is a great example of the thousands of students who are working so hard to achieve their dreams and complete their educational goals. o The PCC Foundation, as well as all of the staff and faculty here at the college, helps students like Rachel succeed. The Foundation was able to provide Rachael with a scholarship because so many of you contribute to the scholarship fund. I want to thank you for your support and encourage all of you to consider donating to the Foundation if you do not already do so. o You will see this morning the Foundation staff and the staff campaign committee, dressed in Hawaiian garb and led so ably this year by Marc Walters and Betty Kendall. Will Mark, Betty and the Foundation staff please stand?Major accomplishments and achievements have been made in the past couple of years, and I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous work done by staff. o As many of you know, next spring the college will go through its ten-year accreditation review. This is also a major undertaking starting two years ago, led ably by Guy Sievert and Lauren Kuhn and implemented by all of you who have been a part of one of the accreditation committees. Will all members of the self-study Steering Committee please stand? Will all faculty and staff who participated in the self-study committees please stand? I want to take this time to thank Guy Sievert for his leadership in this effort. Many of you know that Guy will be retiring at the end of the academic year, and will continue to lead the accreditation effort through June of 2005. We have started a search for a new VP for academic and student services.o The team of staff people, led by Tammy Billick and Rebecca Mathern, who worked so hard this past year to make MyPCC a reality. This is a major accomplishment for the college that will greatly benefit our students and employees. Will all of you who worked in any way on the MyPCC project please stand?o I also want to commend the Educational Advisory Committee under the leadership of Karen Jolly for their important work on matters so critical to the operation of the college. I will be depending upon them and their advice on academic matters a great deal during the months ahead. Will the EAC members please stand?o As we move on this year in implementing the educational master plan, I want to thank the members of the college-wide Planning Council, and Susan Bach, who have spent many hours taking hundreds of ideas and focusing in on those that will make a difference to our students. Will members and past members of the Planning Council please stand?o This fall the college will open six new buildings. The amount of construction activity that the college has managed over the past several years is unprecedented. Many staff members have been affected by the construction, and by the moves, and I want to thank you for your patience and cooperation during this period. Many people deserve notice for their work, including Steve Sivage, and all the other people in Physical Plant and on the bond teams across the district. Will all the bond team members please stand?o And finally, I want to thank Susanne Christopher and Denise Rogers for planning this year’s in-service and Susanne for agreeing to lead our staff development effort full-time during the coming year.Body of the SpeechI want to thank all the staff and faculty members for your warm welcome for not only me but also for my wife Joan who is here this morning.Now you need to know that I feel under a lot of pressure here. This speech is my first major address here at the college. I have received lots of advice regarding what I should speak about (vision, mission, challenges, congratulations, jobs and duties). Most advice given to me is regarding the length of this address. So I am sensing some pressure that whatever I say does not take too long.Now I need to warn all of you that I was raised in the Church. Not just any church but the Baptist Church. And not just any Baptist Church, but a Southern Baptist Church. So you know one thing that I have been exposed to are long, long sermons. How many Baptists out there know what I mean?Let me share with you one of my early experiences: My grandmother, who was very religious, decided that I needed some church so when I was very young she came and picked me up to drive out in the country to her little Baptist Church. Now I wanted to impress my grandmother so I asked lots of questions. So we were seated up in the church. When the deacon began to pray I asked grandmother, "What are they doing?" and she explained that they were talking to God asking for his blessing.When the choir began to sing I asked my grandmother, "What are they doing that for?" and she said that they are singing praises to God so they can get his blessings.When they began to collect the offering I asked my grandmother "What are they doing that for?" and she said that they are collecting money to help the poor.And finally when the preacher got up to begin his sermon, he slowly took his watch off and placed it on the podium, and I turned my grandmother and asked, "Now what does that mean?" and she turned to me and said, "Not a damn thing!" Let me assure you that my remarks are not going to be too long this morning.I am pleased to have been selected as PCCs District President. This appointment is the realization of a personal and professional dream and a wonderful journey that started in 1964 when I enrolled at Muskegon Community College in Muskegon, Michigan.You see, I represented at that time a profile that many of you see here at PCC today. My father worked on a farm in Arkansas. He migrated to Muskegon, Michigan after World War II. My father was a factory laborer with no formal education. My mother was a housewife who worked part-time sewing for neighbor families, and had no formal education. But they both had this dream that their children will all get an education.I was the oldest of six children and was the first in my immediate family to graduate from high school. I remember how proud my dad was telling our neighbor that I was graduating from high school.Although my dad worked in a local factory and in a carwash at night, he told me that there was not enough money for me to attend the University of Michigan where I had been admitted. So with the help of a scholarship for tuition and books from the local Rotary Club, I enrolled in Muskegon Community College.It was there that I discove
red myself, where faculty and staff took the time to help me discover my potential. They helped me strengthen my writing skills and served as professional role models for me. And most importantly, they encouraged me. Those two years at my local community college and my family’s dreams and support were the foundation for all my future academic and professional success. All my brothers and sisters also attended Muskegon Community College or other community colleges and then transferred on to acquire bachelors and some even graduate degrees.It is this experience that helps me understand the dreams and aspirations that students bring when they enter our doors here at PCC. These dreams represent their futures, their plans, hopes, and desires and I as a community college professional, must do everything in my power to help them realize their dreams through our classes and services.We must always be aware how fragile these dreams can be, how they can teeter so precariously between fulfillment and failure. Therefore, we must be forever vigilant and continuously assess and be accountable for our programs and services. We must also be aware that we are in an age of blinding transformation; this society is rearranging its economy, its world view, its basic values, and its key institutions. Therefore, we must continually ask ourselves:’ Are we mindful of the changing profiles and needs of our students?’ Are we responding to the changes in the marketplace and its impact on our delivery of programs, instruction, and services?’ Are we adequately preparing our internal workforce to effectively carry on our mission and to protect our legacy?’ Are we promoting ourselves and lobbying proactively with our community partners and collaborators who believe and support our mission?’ Are we offering services and instructional programs that will help our students be productive, educated, and well informed citizens so that our communities are vital and healthy and America’s workforce has no equal around the world?Now I am very aware that through the college’s accreditation process, its educational advisory committee, and the planning council, there has been an assessment process occurring. I also believe strongly that it is time to begin implementing some critical initiatives here at Portland Community College.Thus, I ask you to work with me this academic year:" To continue implementing our educational master plan, especially in the areas that will promote and strengthen student success." To promote and strengthen PCC’s role as this state’s leading workforce development engine." To actively assist me to pressure and lobby for additional federal and state appropriations." To implement additional recruitment and hiring initiatives that will provide career pathways for internal staff and faculty and will also help to further diversity our faculty and staff." To begin increasing our PCC foundation endowment over the next five years from 1.5 million dollars to eight-ten million dollars, so that no student will be denied access to PCC for financial reasons.And finally" To create and implement an integrated college marketing plan that will tell our wonderful success stories to the region we serve.I believe that if we can make some significant progress in these six activities and initiatives, we will create a transformation here at Portland Community College that will truly strengthen this college and our services to the Portland Community.ConclusionIn conclusion, I am convinced that at Portland Community College there will always be one certainty – our students will continue to place their educational plans and dreams in our hands. And in our service to students, we will continue to stress our humanistic and caring atmosphere, to offer quality educational services and to empower all students to lead rich and fulfilling lives.I look forward to working with all of you, not only during the coming academic year, but also for many years ahead. Each and every person here is important to the health and vitality of the college and our ability to meet students’ needs. As I close, I want to share a quote with all of you by John Schaar who wrote,"The future is not someplace we are going, but one we are creating. The paths to it are not found but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination."Good luck and have a very successful academic year!