Evolving World, Evolving Mission

June 2, 2020

Greenfield Community College has updated their mission statement, purpose, vision and core values. Approved early Spring 2020 by the college’s Board of Trustees and the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, the revised mission was conceived as part of a multi-phase strategic planning process initiated by Yves Salomon-Fernández, GCC’s 10th President.

Review of the old mission — held for the past 12 years — commenced on October 7, 2019 at an All College meeting with faculty, staff, students and the public. The process, which continued for the next four months, included the involvement  of the Assembly and the College Council; a series of facilitated dialogues with campus constituencies; various surveys to stakeholders (including alumni); and multiple rounds of revisions, including a near-final version presented to the campus community for feedback via email in January, 2020.

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Robert Cohn has been connected with GCC for over 40 years. “When we speak of GCC, we think of committed and passionate faculty and staff and, above all, how we can all do our best to foster student success regardless of the direction they want to take,” he reminds us. “That is our mission in the simplest of terms.”

Mitch Anthony, President Elect of the GCC Foundation, facilitated a portion of the on-campus dialogues in November, during which Student Senate, Public Safety, Adjunct Faculty, Librarians, and community members discussed the identity and future of the school. “I was particularly blown away by the Student Senate,” Mitch shares. “These students — who came from all backgrounds and income levels — were just so full of important insights and ideas.”

Like the old one, the new mission upholds GCC’s dedication to caring, inclusion, and life-long learning. “In the end, all it took was a tweaking and an update from our old statement,” says Amy Proietti, Coordinator of Financial Aid and Secretary of the Assembly, “Commitment to students, lifelong learning, accessibility, and the community are unchanged. In this way, who we are is a constant.”

Marie Breheny, GCC’s Director of Assessment describes, “It was important that we preserved what is special about GCC. For example, ‘teaching and learning together’ is a phrase that comes straight from our old mission. We carried it forward because it remains at the heart of what we do and what we value. The same is true for our emphasis on being an open access institution for all who seek to learn and our role in helping students reach their full potential.”

New to the revised mission and its accompanying statements is language to describe the college’s sharpening focus on innovation, equity and resilience. Even before Covid-19, the college was looking to regional demographic shifts, employment trends, and statewide priorities and initiatives, considering how they would need to creatively adapt and prepare students to be successful in an ever-changing future.

“What is most instructive for us as a learning community is seeing how issues of resilience, innovation, adaptation, and agility were already featuring prominently in our mission and vision discussions prior to the global pandemic,” shares Yves Salomon-Fernández, “We continue to learn a lot from COVID-19 and it is influencing how we live our mission and realize that common vision with and for the communities we serve. I am proud to serve such an extraordinary group of visionary co-stewards at GCC and within the broader community.”

Leigh Rae, President of the GCC Foundation and a member of the steering committee for the strategic plan, points out that with Covid-19, inclusion has taken on a new kind of importance. As the school has moved online, the college has made remarkable effort to get technology into the hands of each student they serve. “This is one example of how we are already living our mission,” says Leigh. “We can’t leave anyone behind.”

The revised mission — created through the work of so many — strengthens the school’s pivotal role as a partner, collaborator, anchor and steward of higher education within Franklin County. Leigh Rae reminds us, “The new mission reflects the idea that opportunities of today might not look like what they did yesterday and we need to work together — all of us — to raise the tide for everyone in this region.”