Springfield Technical Community College’s Professional Day once again was back on campus and featured a day chock full of engaging breakout sessions for faculty and staff.

The event had been held virtually since 2020 due to the pandemic.

At lunch, President John B. Cook welcomed back employees and asked Richard Greco, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies, to come to the stage to announce the recipient of the Joseph J. Deliso, Sr. Endowed Chair. Faculty and staff applauded as this year’s recipient, Professor John Diffley, accepted the award.

The day started with a keynote address from Dr. Adrian Haugabrook, who serves as Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the Social Impact Collaborative, Southern New Hampshire University. Dr. Haugabrook has committed his career – which spans over three years – to influencing access, equity and opportunity in the United States and abroad by leading strategy, growth and scale, social policy and change initiatives in both higher education and non-profit sectors.

His keynote was titled “Leveraging our Technical Mission for Innovation.”

Dr. Haugabrook discussed his ideas on the “Three Ways to Reduce the Barriers to Higher Education,” which was the theme of his TED Talk.

“Redefine time, place and the way that we teach,” Haugabrook said.

He spoke about other ways to innovate. The pandemic, for example, brought Zoom into many people’s lives. “We’re not going to blame everything on the pandemic, but truly one of the things the pandemic did was it accelerated both positive things and negative things,” he said.

“How many of you had Zoom accounts in 2018 or 2019?” he asked, and no one raised a hand.

“How many of you have Zoom accounts or video accounts now?”

Nearly everyone does.

In remarks made before the start of a Trends in Higher Education Workshop, Dr. Cook reflected on the morning keynote. He noted that changes during the pandemic are here to stay. “We’re not going back,” he said. “There’s no way to return to a place that doesn’t have Zoom and virtual in our lives in some form or capacity.”

The Trends in Higher Education Workshop brought together members of CampusWorks, who discussed trends and identified themes related to enrollment, student success, technology and accountability that can support institutional transformational objectives.

Presenters included Dr. Shai Butler, Vice President for Advancement and External Affairs, and Eileen Cusick, a professor in the Business Department. They are co-chairs of the Strategic Planning Task Force, which is continuing its work. The 30-member task force includes a broad cross section of voices – students, alumni, faculty and staff. In addition, the group will work with two liaisons, one from the Department of Higher Education and one from the STCC Board of Trustees.

Professor Cusick, who teaches office and information technology related courses, shared that many students had a “fantastic” experience with online learning. But, she noted, others had trouble adapting to a virtual environment.

“Everybody’s different, so we want to hear as many voices as we can related to that,” she said.

Dr. Butler echoed Professor Cusick’s comments. “We are going to be looking for the voices of this community to tell us what have been the lessons of the last three years, and we’re going to that data and put it together and share with the community what was learned,” Dr. Butler said.