Notes from the President

Chris Gray, Ph.D. | Erie County Community College of Pennsylvania

I try to avoid generalizations, but I would venture to guess that most people have heard Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare at some point in their lives.  In this story, the tortoise just keeps on going and continues making incremental progress while the hare sprints and lunges ahead at an unsustainable pace, ultimately exhausting himself and falling short of his goal.  In their epic race, the slow-moving tortoise is able to best the quick-moving hare through sheer persistence.  From this classic children’s fable emerges the maxim that slow and steady gets it done. 

As we move to finals week of the Spring 2022 semester here at EC3PA, we are very much acting the part of the tortoise.  We are building this institution little by little and growing slowly in ways that are deliberate and make sense.  We have offered classes at times that make sense for our students, and we began by offering specific degree and certificate programs that make sense and will help contribute to workforce development here in Erie County.  We are making careful and deliberate decisions that will help EC3PA to grow slowly and steadily.  And little by little, we are adding to our faculty, staff, administration, and student ranks.  It’s ok to grow slowly; it’s what is supposed to happen if we are to build a lasting institution focused on student success.  And there are hints of this coming future afoot on campus already.  Unbelievably, we’ve finished a full academic year as a college!

This week is a very exciting week for EC3PA as our students finish up their Spring courses, as we prepare to put Spring 2022 into the books, and as we gear up for Summer classes with Fall 2022 in the back of our minds.  Final exams are concluding, and final grades are due next week.  It feels like time for a victory lap, and we definitely want to celebrate all of the hard work that our students have done over the last eight months.  So, we do have a fun evening planned to do just that:  EC3PA Day at the Erie Seawolves. 

On Friday, May 6, EC3PA Day begins at 6:05pm in UPMC Park.  We’ll have a group of seats, and it will be a fun time to unwind, chat, and celebrate the end of the academic year together.  For a baseball aficionado like me, this is an event not to be missed.  In fact, I am going to be there and will actually throw out the first pitch! 

From the time I attended my very first Chicago Cubs game as a young boy, I’ve been a fan of — or maybe obsessed with? — baseball, so this opportunity is a true honor for me.  Spending some fun downtime with our first group of EC3PA students is going to make this an amazing evening, and I can’t wait.  We’ve come so far together, taking one slow step at a time and moving inexorably toward educational excellence. We did this together, adjusting on the fly and pivoting when needed.  We met our students where they are and continue to work to help them realize their dreams.  And we are slated to offer a bevy of new programs in our next academic year to help reach more students to do the same.  It’s hard not to be excited about the steps that we’ve taken together so far.  And we’ve literally only just begun.

Next year, we hope to see EC3PA’s first class of graduates cross their own finish line and head off to do whatever comes next in their educational or career journey. We will watch these students cross the stage, adjust their tassel, and leave as college graduates.  As this first year shows, we are definitely on track to make that a reality.  We are closing the book on this first chapter of EC3PA’s history and opening another. 

But first, we celebrate together!