This spring I had the pleasure of interviewing the president of Dutchess Community College, Dr. Pamela Edington
Alexa Weinberg (AW): How does it feel to be the first female president of DCC?
Dr. Pamela Edington (PE): I’m very proud to be the first woman in the role, and understand that the distinction carries with it challenges, responsibilities and tremendous opportunities. Only 30% of all U.S. colleges and universities are led by women, which is even more striking when you consider that women make up well over half of all college students in this county. One day, a person’s gender is going to be irrelevant to a conversation about leadership, but for now, it is salient. I hope by seeing a woman president at Dutchess Community College, other women and girls aspire to rise as high as their goals and ambitions take them.
AW: What do you hope changes at DCC under your tenure?
PE: Among my priorities are increasing student success and strengthening efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion. We’ve implemented several programs and services to enhance teaching and learning, and to ensure that all students have the support needed to achieve their goals.
AW: How has the addition of Conklin Hall impacted DCC?
PE: Having students in the residence hall has increased participation in clubs, attendance at athletic events and created a more vibrant campus community. It’s also brought more diversity to our campus, as we’ve welcomed both local students and those from other areas of the state, the country and the world. Having individuals of different backgrounds – especially international students – enriches our campus environment and benefits the entire student body.
AW: You mentioned Eleanor Roosevelt as one of your role models, so I’m wondering who else impacted your life and why?
PE: I’m inspired by the students who attend DCC and the faculty and staff who are committed to their success. On a more personal note, my parents – who raised seven children — were tremendously influential. My father had only an eighth grade formal education, but would say that he earned advanced degrees from the university of hard work. We learned our work ethic as children from dad. My mother, who had a high school diploma when she married my father, eventually entered college as an adult and ultimately earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. We learned from her never to let go of our dreams. I often talk to students about Dr. Theisen, who taught my first sociology course in college. As a result of his inspiration and belief in my abilities, I majored in sociology, attended graduate school and became a college teacher. Dr. Theisen has been a lifelong mentor to me. I encourage all students to seek a Dr. Theisen from within our faculty and staff at DCC. It can make a world of difference in your life.
AW: What is different about DCC and your former school, Norwalk?
PE: There are many similarities, but I’ll focus on three differences. First, as part of SUNY, the largest public university system in the country, DCC offers students extensive resources, as well as significant advantages when transferring to four-year schools or entering the workforce. Second, this is an incredibly collaborative community. The College is fortunate to work very closely with our county executive and legislature, as well as with local businesses and nonprofit agencies in order to align efforts and leverage resources. Our ability to offer students free transportation on the county busses, as well as our very successful Service Learning program, which gives students hands-on experience in real-world settings, are examples of what can be accomplished when we all work together toward shared goals. Third, our location in an area steeped in history, surrounded by natural beauty and within 90 minutes of New York City, is ideal.
AW: What has changed at DCC since your interview with Ricky Sanchez in November of 2014?
PE: That interview was done just three months after I came here … I’m certainly better able to find my way around campus now! Institutionally, we’re making great strides in addressing student success. Program, facility and service enhancements across campus, and our DCC Cares initiative to help meet students’ non-academic needs, will continue to move the dial on retention and graduation. And since I learned early that food is important to college students, I’m happy to report that Chartwells, our new food service provider, seems to be getting high marks – and the recent addition of Dunkin’ Donuts has been a crowd-pleaser!
AW: Can you speak a little about the “Think Ahead” program?
PE: We’re so proud of this new initiative, which helps young adults with intellectual disabilities develop job and life skills while enjoying a college experience on our campus. We welcomed our first cohort of students into the two-year program in September, and another group will be starting next fall. The program, led by a Think Ahead instructor and established in collaboration with Dutchess County and local agencies, has been life-changing for many of these individuals, many of whom also work on campus as part of the experience. It’s a win-win for those in the program, as well as for our campus community … and it fully supports our county’s “Think Differently” initiative.
AW: Is there anyone or any department on this campus that you think deserves more recognition?
PE: Quite frankly, I think everyone at Dutchess Community College deserves more recognition. Transformational things happen in our classrooms and offices every day and almost all of them go by unnoticed. Our students work hard to balance their education with work and families and our faculty and staff work equally hard to provide the attention and inspiration our students need to be successful at DCC and in life. Amazing things happen at Dutchess Community College all the time!
As a student and resident at Dutchess Community College I was so glad to be able to discuss DCC with our eager President.