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The Real Cape Cod Community College

For nearly 50 years, Cape Cod Community College (CCCC) has served the ever-changing populations of its unique geographic region. While the “storybook” perception of the Cape is captured well in the 1950s hit song recorded by Patti Page, “Old Cape Cod,” that outlook comes with a great misperception of a monoculture with little or no diversity. The reality is much different. The Cape today is truly a multicultural environment built on a foundation that goes back many, many generations.

Through factual error and mischaracterization, the Last Word column by Sylvia Jimison, a former employee, in the June 26, 2008 issue portrayed Cape Cod Community College as an unwelcoming island in this sea of vibrant cultures. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the college today is annually at the center of multicultural expression and celebration.

For over a decade, this college has been deeply committed to diversifying its work force on many different levels. In fact, the college had four very prominent women of color in highly visible senior management roles for many years: a manager of a TRIO program, the institution’s registrar, the dean of enrollment management and student development, and the assistant to the vice president for administration and finance and coordinator of auxiliary services. While one has left the college, three remain and two Black male managers have joined the administrative team: the director of student life and the director of equal opportunity and institutional development — a post in the president’s cabinet.

The 2008 New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) reaccreditation self-study documents the diversity of CCCC faculty at 17 percent, far above the region’s 9.6 percent minority population as noted by the U.S. Census. The most recent report of the registrar (Spring 2008) shows minority enrollment steadily increasing over the past three years, and recorded at 12.1 percent for the most recent semester, well above the regional baseline.

The college is governed through a “townmeeting” style monthly college meeting in which open expression is celebrated. Contrary to mischaracterization by the June column, opportunities abound for collegial exchange and input throughout the year. College administrators hold open forums to hear from the entire college community, and actively seek out diverse perspectives on issues from curriculum development to student services. Day to day, the college has a single central cafeteria where it is very common to see groups of faculty and staff engaged in lively discussion during meal and break times.

Cape Cod Community College is a vibrant community filled with new ideas, celebrations of culture, and ongoing conversations about diversity. Any suggestion otherwise is simply untrue and ignores the college’s significant leadership in the multicultural arena.

• This institution has long been the region’s center of multicultural expression and awareness, hosting for nearly a decade a day-long Multicultural Festival that involves hundreds of volunteers, performers and exhibitors, and attracts 2,500 to 3,000 attendees from the region annually.

• The campus has become the center of an annual event that is very well attended and very well covered by the media, the Dr. Martin Luther King commemoration and remembrance event.

• Multicultural elements are infused throughout the curriculum, and the college repeatedly has made multicultural curriculum development a topic of professional development for both faculty and staff.

• Student clubs and organizations actively promote diversity, including The Unity Club (formerly ALANA or Diversity Club), the Gay/Straight Alliance Club, and the Student Senate, among many that host forums and other public events that raise awareness and promote collaboration.

• The annual Lowell Lecture series has repeatedly featured persons of color and others of diverse backgrounds, going all the way back to one of its earliest presentations by Dr. Maya Angelou.

• Free foreign films each semester offer a global perspective of life and cultural expression, and the college aggressively seeks out and features individuals from the widest variety of backgrounds for campus presentations and guest artists/lecturer positions.

The college very publicly recognizes today’s global marketplace and takes every opportunity to add diversity to its community and expand multicultural perspectives on campus. Far from being an island lacking diversity and seeking none, it proudly states this commitment in its mission statement, “As a learning-centered community, we value the contributions of a diverse population, welcome open inquiry and promote mutual respect. The college offers a strong educational foundation of critical and creative thinking, communications competency and a global, multicultural perspective that prepares students for life and work in the 21st Century.”

This is my personal invitation for faculty to come experience the extraordinary learning community at Cape Cod Community College and consider our opportunities to join our faculty and staff. We’d like nothing better than to enhance our already richly diverse community.

— Dr. Kathleen Schatzberg is president of Cape Cod Community College.

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