Our new president here at SMCC, though new to our college, has a wealth of experience when it comes to the challenges of running a community college. President Joseph Cassidy began his tenure in education as a faculty member at Washington County Community College. Eventually he went on to serve as the president of the WCCC faculty association and later of the college itself.
In the 2015-16 academic year he served as president of WCCC and Eastern Maine Community College simultaneously. Before that he was a practicing lawyer and served the city of Calais as its mayor.
President Cassidy is well versed in the unique challenges of both the very small and the very big when it comes to keeping bureaucratic systems running properly. In the coming years, he hopes to bring the skills he has learned to his position at SMCC, to promote innovation and collaboration among students and faculty alike.
Last week I sat down with him to get a picture of what those challenges look like, and what the job of the college president looks like from day to day. We spoke about the unique obstacles of running two colleges at the same time, and the lessons that he brings from those experiences to his current role.
He spoke about the different styles of leadership required to manage a smaller college like EMCC, where there were fewer levels of bureaucracy between him and the rest of the faculty. “Many of the jobs of a college president involve a lot of problem solving,” he explained. As president, it is his job to help the faculty and provide them with everything they need to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. As he put it: “You have great teachers, you have great faculty who are trying to do good work, and very often the president’s job is just to make sure that everything is working for people.”
We also talked about some of the issues he has faced just in his first month on the job. As most of you know already, the Spring Point Hall dorms are currently closed and undergoing treatment for mold. I spoke with President Cassidy about how he and his staff are tackling this issue. “We’re doing everything we can to support our students and to mitigate this challenge in a way that’s healthy and smart for the campus, “putting student needs first,” he said.
This summer has been one of the most humid and uncomfortable on record, thanks in part to a rare weather pattern. The Bermuda High is a wind current that takes warm, humid, Caribbean air and circulates it into the Atlantic. This year, the Bermuda High had a change of heart and decided to point itself towards the North. This surprising — if not impolite — change has resulted in discomfort for New Englanders. When humidity levels are this high, the body’s ability to cool itself is compromised. Despite a summer with no major heat waves and an unremarkable average temperature, coastal New England has experienced almost record humidity levels.
People may not have been thriving, but at Spring Point Residence Hall, black mold found its opportunity to flourish when the ventilation system malfunctioned.
The Energy Recovery Ventilator™ was an expensive piece of equipment responsible for exchanging old, stale air from inside Spring Point for new, fresh air from outside. Malfunctions in ERVs aren’t uncommon, especially when they’re overworked during summers. When the ERV stopped working, new air was pumped directly into Spring Point without first being dehumidified. Mold began to grow after the water-laden air was cooled by air conditioning and began to condense on ceiling tiles. In an interview, SMCC Director of Communications Clarke Canfield called the combination of humidity, heat and broken ERV the “perfect storm” for a pre-semester panic. Continue reading “Black Mold enrolls at SMCC”→
You may notice the flag today is lowered to half mast. On this day 17 years ago our country suffered what was arguably one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in U.S history. The September 11 attacks were a series of four hijacked airplanes all coordinated by the terrorist group known as al-Qaeda. The attacks resulted in 2,996 deaths, over 6,000 more injured and a dispirited country.
Aimy Lainoff the Veterans Affairs Certifying Advisor here at SMCC, carried out a tribute in remembrance of this event at 9 a.m today, September 11. Joe Cassidy, our school president, said a few words, and a Fire Science student played the bagpipes in honor of the event. Many of the veterans that attend SMCC joined the military specifically due to the impact of 9/11
“Our enemies have made the mistake that America’s enemies always make. They saw liberty and thought they saw weakness,” George W. Bush said shortly after 9/11. The horrifying attacks will forever hold a place in history and although they were devasting, we will always remember the bravery so many people showed that day.
Last April, the SMCC Business Club made their annual pilgrimage to New York City, taking in the sights and experiencing NYC from a variety of points of view. This year’s group was the Business Club’s largest and most diverse yet!
Leaving from our international hostel in Chelsea, the Club visited historic Trinity Church, world-famous Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange (from the outside, where the pic was taken), Federal Hall, Trump Building, iconic Wall Street symbol, “the Raging Bull” statue (now, with the “Fearless Girl” statue), Alexander Hamilton Custom House, and other famous business landmarks. Then, we toured the sobering and beautiful 9/11 Memorial reflecting pools and got a breathtaking top-floor view of NYC and Manhattan (and beyond) from the One World Observatory tour.
Several Business Club members took in a Broadway performance of “The Lion King,” while others visited the world-famous Times Square, some ventured to the Village and others headed off to Brooklyn — proving the old adage that there is indeed something for everyone in New York City! The Club ended its jaunt in NYC on Saturday eve as all members went to the New York Comedy Club for a raucous multi-comedian performance.
It was a wonderful trip, and everyone got to know each other better while enjoying the uniqueness of the Big Apple!
The U.S. economic climate in 2018 is harsh and unforgiving. Minimum wages now barely cover the ever-rising costs of living. Fruitful careers require expensive degrees that take years to earn. Neighborhoods that once housed the working class are being gentrified, leading to the displacement of many families. Gone are the days of the “American Dream.” A country built on the notion that hard work would ensure equal opportunity has abandoned its roots. Nowadays, climbing the ladder of success is an arduous task. One that requires both sacrifice and struggle.
Maine is not immune to the financial crisis plaguing our country. According to the most recent statistics, 12.5 percent of residents fall beneath the poverty line, one in seven people deal regularly with food insecurity, and at least 6,300 individuals statewide are currently unhoused. And their distress is evident. The streets of Portland paint a somber picture. It is a picture of destitution and drug-abuse, of mental illness and malnutrition, of anguish and adversity. All of which stand in stark contrast against a backdrop of trendy restaurants and esteemed learning institutions. Continue reading “Poverty on Campus”→
Feza Mitima is our fashion spotlight she is a style-conscious student who feels very passionate about individuality. Inspired by both modern-day social media influencers and vintage icons, her style is a unique blend of the old and new. Feza has a particular interest in the funky fashions of the 80’s and 90’s. As an aspiring graphic designer, she has an artists mentality. She describes clothing as “the best way to express her creativity on a daily basis” which is of great importance to her. Keep killing it, Feza!