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Community College of Rhode Island

President Di Pasquale's CCRI Day address

Nov. 12, 2014

CCRI President Ray Di Pasquale• Good afternoon.

• It's wonderful to see such a great turnout here today for CCRI Day, as the Community College of Rhode Island celebrates its 50th anniversary.

• On behalf of the community college, our 18,000 students, our 1,200 employees and our 64,000 alumni, welcome.

• I'd like to start by thanking Governor Chafee for declaring this CCRI Day and for being such a great friend to the college over the course of his time in office.

• I'd also like to thank the mayors and town managers of this great state; many of who are honorary chairs for our 50th anniversary and many of their towns and cities are ringing their bells at noon to commemorate this day.

• Fifty years ago, Governor John Chafee and the state legislature had the vision to bring a community college system to the state of Rhode Island.

• Community colleges represented opportunity. A chance for everyone – no matter where you came from; no matter how much money your family had or didn't have – to further their education.

• For many, it was the first time that anyone in their family attended college. For many, it was a way out, a chance to better themselves and their family's future.

• Fifty years later, community colleges across this country still represent the same opportunities.

• Affordability, accessibility, open access to all and a quality education has always been, and remains, our mission.

• Take a look at CCRI today. We started with 325 students and 11 faculty members in an old mill building on Promenade Street in 1964 and we have grown to nearly 18,000 students per semester, making us the largest community college in New England.

• We have four campuses that stretch across the state – in Warwick, in Lincoln, Providence and Newport – and two satellites, one in Westerly and one in Downcity Providence.

• We are truly Rhode Island's college.

CCRI Day Proclamation

• We're proud of our more than 64,000 alumni, most of who live here in Rhode Island. We're proud to provide workforce training for 30- to 35,000 Rhode Islanders annually, and a number of the state's leading employers. We're proud to provide Rhode Island with more health care workers than any other college. And we're proud to have answered the call on Rhode Island's resurgence in the manufacturing sector with dedicated space, new programs and state-of-the-art equipment.

• Our student body is the most diverse in the state. This fall, nearly 37 percent of our students self-identified as minorities, the highest percentage of any institution of higher education in the state.

• We are graduating more students than ever before. The past two years, we saw more than 2,000 students receive degrees and certificates, the most ever. We are also transferring more students than ever.

• Some of you have attended our graduations. If you have, you've heard some of the most inspiring stories from our students that you'll ever hear at any college.

• Students who grew up living in cars. Students who fled war-torn countries. Students who attended class while working two jobs and caring for sick parents. The list goes on and on.

• I'd like to think that's who CCRI is and what CCRI represents. An opportunity and a chance where none had previously existed. A promise that perseverance can pay off.

• Barbara Mikulski [muh-COOL-ski], a United States Senator from Maryland, said, and I quote, "Community Colleges are one of America's great social inventions – a gateway to the future for first time students looking for an affordable college education, and for mid-career students looking to get ahead in the workplace."

• And President Barack Obama had this to say: "With the changing economy, no one has lifetime employment. But community colleges provide lifetime employability."

• Those two quotes succinctly sum up what CCRI has been over the past 50 years and what CCRI will be going forward.

• I don't know what the community college will look like in another 50 years, but I do know this: CCRI will always be at the forefront of providing educational opportunity for those who are willing to work for it and will always be a willing partner in Rhode Island's economic growth.

• On behalf of CCRI and myself, thank you again for being here today.

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Last Updated: 3/6/18