George R. Boggs, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Community Colleges, spoke on Nov. 20 to participants in the College's Leadership Institute at the College's Coffeehouse. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AACC represents more than 1,100 associate's degree granting-institutions and some 12 million students.
The College's Leadership Institute invites applications from faculty, administrators and classified/confidential staff who are interested in seeking leadership positions in the future or honing their leadership skills for the positions they currently hold. Part-time faculty, administrators and classified/confidential staff who have been continuously employed at the College for a minimum of two years also are welcome to apply. Members attend monthly sessions designed to build both individual and organizational capacity.
The College opened a new Veterans Resource Office in spring 2009, thanks to a federal grant. The office, which qualifies the College as a "military friendly" institution, is located in the Career Services Center in Room C1-34 in the College's Center for Business and Industry.
Many of the veterans who seek out Steve Bachovin in the Veterans Resource Office have recently returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the veterans resource coordinator, Bachovin's job is to help former and current members of the military access benefits under the Post 9/11 GI Bill of last August. The new GI Bill applies to people who served in the military after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and it provides more educational benefits than the previous GI Bill.
The enhanced benefits cover virtually all tuition, books and living expenses for the veteran student who chooses to attend a publicly funded institution. The benefits, which are transferable to a veteran's spouse or children, can be applied to vocational-technical, undergraduate or graduate programs.
The opportunity to obtain a college degree virtually free enticed thousands of veterans to enroll in institutions of higher learning last September, creating a flood of paperwork that overwhelmed the Veterans Administration's approval process. As a result, veterans at the College and across the nation did not receive their financial aid in time to pay tuition and rent.
Bachovin was kept busy between the veterans, financial aid and registration, until the VA struggled to catch up on its paperwork and put money in the hands of the vets. "There is concern now with the late tuition fees that VA has yet to send out," Bachovin said. "That's going to be ongoing."
He urges veterans to have patience with the VA and the College registration process. "Many are first generation college-bound, and there are some school policies that trip them up," Bachovin said. "I let all of them know that I am their advocate here at the College, and that I share their frustration."
Bachovin works 15 hours a week as coordinator for the Veterans Resource Office. Air Force veteran Mark Kuhta, 30, a History major, said Bachovin has been a great help to him. Kuhta was one of about 300 military veterans and active duty personnel attending the College during the fall term 2009.
More than 100 people, representing businesses and government agencies, filled a room in the College's Center for Business and Industry on Dec. 10 to hear how they could better match job seekers to jobs in the midst of the nation's prolonged recession.
The informational program was sponsored by Corporate Solutions at the College and included presentations from Fred Dedrick, deputy secretary of Workforce Development for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry; John Nelson, regional manager for WorkKeys; Mary Molusky, a KeyTrain representative; and Nicole DiGiulio, the training and development manager for the Philadelphia Water Department.
Dedrick said although the city had a more than 11 percent unemployment rate and the state a nearly 9 percent unemployment rate in December 2009, there were opportunities for employers and job seekers, especially in the health care and education fields.
The challenge, he said, is matching the skill sets of the thousands of job applicants to the needs of employers. Tools that allow government agencies and businesses to make the match will be in great demand in the coming years as employers seek to sift through and find the most qualified workers out of the thousands of applicants, he said.
Two job assessment tools that are used by many employers nationwide and by Pennsylvania businesses and government agencies are WorkKeys and KeyTrain. WorkKeys is a system for measuring, communicating and improving the common skills required for success in the workplace. KeyTrain is an interactive training system for career readiness skills that is based on ACT Inc.'s WorkKeys Assessment System and the National Career Readiness Certificate, which is requested and required by many employers. WorkKeys was developed by ACT, Inc., the creators of the ACT college entrance exam.
Corporate Solutions offers WorkKeys job profiling and individual skill assessments, as well as basic skills training using KeyTrain.
Dedrick said the state is using KeyTrain for weatherization projects which help the environment and help people save money and energy. Pennsylvania went from receiving $25 million annually in federal weatherization funds to receiving $250 million, with an expectation that 29,000 weatherization projects will be completed in three years. With so much in federal funding allotted to weatherization projects, it is essential the state find skilled workers to fill the weatherization jobs. The benefit of the state using job assessment tools like KeyTrain to fill the weatherization jobs, Dedrick said, is that once job seekers' skill sets are identified, they can be matched with jobs or be referred to training that can help them qualify for weatherization work.
On Oct. 9, students and professors from the College participated in the Mid-Atlantic College Student Literary Magazine Conference, co-hosted by the College, at Ocean County College in Toms River, N.J. The College was represented by members of CAP Literary Magazine, New Visions, Limited Editions and the Spoken Word Poetry Club. Former students Russ Coley, Kim Hartsfield-Stokes and Henri Colin, who were CAP Literary Magazine editors and are now attending other colleges, also participated in the conference.
Come March, the U.S. Census Bureau will set up shop at Community College of Philadelphia to recruit and train enumerators (a.k.a. census takers) to help complete the 2010 headcount of everyone in America.
The College is one of many community locations that will host Census Bureau training operations for the thousands of people who will be hired to conduct the census. Census jobs pay well, and the hours are flexible. A census taker working during the Address Listing operation will work 20 to 40 hours per week for several weeks, largely on a schedule of their choosing.
If you are ready to apply, the Census is primarily looking for U.S. citizens, 18 years of age or older, with a valid Social Security number. In some cases, citizenship may be waived, such as when bilingual ability is required and no U.S. citizens are available. Also, you will have to pass a background check and complete a written test of basic skills, such as reading, working with numbers and interpreting information.
The decennial census is an important source of information. Census data is used to determine representation in government and to help direct funding for projects, such as roads and other community needs. To contact the Census Bureau, call 1-866-861-2010, or visit http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/.
Simone Zelitch, associate professor of English and director of the College's Creative Writing certificate program, has been awarded a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship based on the partial manuscript for her fourth novel.
Zelitch is one of 42 prose writers selected from among 993 eligible applicants. Each of the 42 fellows will receive a $25,000 grant.
She will use the money to complete work on Judenstaat, a speculative fiction novel set in a Jewish state established in Germany in 1948. "The very idea of Judenstaat is potentially a provocation, and I will admit that the conceit almost threatened to overwhelm the story," Zelitch said.
Zelitch had only a few rough chapters of the manuscript to submit with the NEA application. However, by the time she got the call announcing her selection for the fellowship, the first draft of the novel was done. She will use the fellowship grant for further research and revisions.
"I'm grateful that I had the good sense to offer the panel rough, new work, as it means that the fellowship was awarded not on the basis of what I've already done, but where I'm going," she said.
Zelitch said she has been working on the manuscript for five years, somehow finding the time for the research and writing despite the demands of her teaching responsibilities and building a Creative Writing program. The stress sometimes got to her.
"Once, I dreamt that I told a group of hostile students that I hadn't marked their papers because I was finishing a chapter of my novel, and the students laughed maniacally and shouted, ‘You're not a writer! You're a teacher," Zelitch said. "Of course, I'm both, but it's often difficult to say as much to students who have good reason to demand my full attention."
The Philadelphia native is the author of three published novels: The Confession of Jack Straw (1991) Black Heron Press, Moses in Sinai (2001) Black Heron Press and Louisa (2000) G. P. Putnam, which was the recipient of the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers. Her work has also appeared in The Lost Tribe Anthology and has been featured in an NPR broadcast and the published anthology Hanukkah Lights.
Zelitch, 47, started teaching at Community College of Philadelphia part time in 1993. She became a full-time instructor in 1999. In addition to directing the Creative Writing program, Zelitch co-directs the College's Poets and Writers Series and coordinates a faculty and staff fiction writing circle.
"I owe a debt of gratitude to this college, a place that both attracts and encourages writers, both students and faculty," Zelitch said, after being notified of the NEA fellowship.
Like Zelitch's previous novels, Judenstaat uses historical events as a backdrop for complex characters and thought provoking stories. The novel's speculative premise reflects Zelitch's early fascination with the works of science fiction writers Kurt Vonnegut and Ursula K. Le Guin. Vonnegut's novels, "particularly Slaughterhouse-Five, gave me a sense that fiction could do anything it wanted to do," she said in a 2000 interview with bookreporter.com.
Zelitch has a bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Michigan. She joined the Peace Corps in the early 1990s and was assigned to Hungary, where she began work on Louisa.
Capital Campaign Update
Expanding Possibilities: The Campaign for Community College of Philadelphia is well underway, with the College Foundation committed to raising $10 million. To date, the campaign has raised more than $6 million in support of student scholarships and two capital expansion projects, one at the Main Campus and one at the Northeast Regional Center.
On Dec. 10, the campaign steering committee held its first meeting. Under the direction of its co-chairs, James E. Nevels, founder and chairman of The Swarthmore Group; and Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, president and CEO, Eastern PA, NJ and Delaware, Citizens Bank; the 23-member committee will lead the campaign into its next phase by focusing on the solicitation of gifts from the corporate community.
As we continue to raise funds for the campaign, we hope you will join us in our efforts to meet the Kresge Challenge, which would provide $1.2 million in additional support.
To join Expanding Possibilities: The Campaign for Community College of Philadelphia, please visit the campaign Web site at www.ccp.edu/site/expandingpossibilities/.
For more information on the campaign, please contact Susan Piergallini, vice president for Institutional Advancement, at email@example.com or at 215-751-8205.