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June 05, 2002- Palikir, Pohnpei

Update from the President's Office - No. 211

June 05, 2002MEMORANDUM

To:       All Regents, Faculty, Staff, and Students

From:     Dr. Michael Tatum, President
Subject:  Update from the President's Office-No.211

As the new president of COM-FSM, I would like to sincerely thank one and all for making me feel so very welcome. Thank You All. From the time of my arrival on May 17th, I have felt as though I have arrived “Home” and immediately have had a sense of being a member of the COM-FSM “Family.” Once again, I Thank You All for making me feel welcome.

On the afternoon of May 17th I had the honor of attending the Staff Awards ceremony at the FSM-China Friendship Sports Center, where I was invited to make some introductory remarks. Once again, I thank both faculty and staff for making me feel so welcome, and allowing me to share in this special and intimate occasion.

The week of May 20th was a busy one and certainly a “baptism by fire” for me. It was a week of meetings and introductions, with the main focus being our quarterly meeting with the Board of Regents. The introductions included a visit to the FSM capitol to meet with FSM President Leo A. Falcam. President Falcam was most gracious to myself and the Board of Regents, sharing with us his perspectives relating to importance of education and the important role that COM-FSM has in preparing future leaders. Each of us left the meeting with President Falcam with the feeling of having been well instructed. Thank You to President Falcam for taking the time to visit with us.

Other introductory visits included timely meetings with Speaker of the House Feliciano Perman, Vice-Speaker Quirino Mendiola, Pohnpei State Governor Johnny David, and select members of the National Congress. We thank each of our governmental leaders for taking time from their busy agendas to visit with our Board of Regents and myself.

The Board of Regents meeting had as it’s focus many important items crucial to the operation of COM-FSM. Among the most important was the 2003 Board approved budget for the college and preparations for the Congressional Budget Hearing. Also considered were issues relating to the care and use of the FSM-China Friendship Sports Center, and individual state campus concerns regarding finances, curriculum, etc.

Besides meeting with the various campus directors, department heads, and staff regarding budget items and various other miscellaneous concerns, the Board of Regents and an entourage of COM-FSM representatives attended Budget Hearings at the National Capital with the Congressional Budget Committee. After a short introductory speech given by me, Vice-President Ringlen P. Ringlen addressed the committee, after which the committee pinpointed their concerns with specific questions regarding such salient topics and issues as: program expenditures, student financial aid, the FSM Fisheries and Maritime Institute, the new B.Ed Program, and the major problems facing the Chuuk campus. Special thanks goes out to all of the members of the Congressional Budget Committee for their insightful inquiries and concerns. Appreciation and thanks also goes out to our terrific COM-FSM support team of Vice-President Ringlen P. Ringlen, Dr. Greg Myers, Dr. Richard Womack, Dr. Glenn Snider, Comptroller Danny Dumantay, and Campus Directors Penny Weilbacher of the Pohnpei Campus, Joakim (Jojo) Peter of the Chuuk Campus, Kalwin Kephas of the Kosrae Campus, Joe Habuchmai – Director of Academic Programs, Dr. Karl Brookins representing Land Grant, , Mattias Ewarmai – Director of FSM Fisheries and Maritime Institute, and to our Board of Regents for professionally representing COM-FSM in these legislative hearings.

In the afternoon of May 22nd, Dr. Greg Myers conducted a Planning Council Meeting that was well attended. The plan was reviewed, along with the role of the Planning Council. Part of the meeting focused on the Pohnpei Campus mission statement, goals, and priorities, and a review of the overall strategic plan.

The 35th Annual Commencement Exercises for the College of Micronesia-FSM were held at the FSM-China Friendship Sports Center. Professor Harvey Segal was most impressive as he solemnly led the procession of guests, faculty, soon to be graduates, distinguished members of the Board of Regents, and members of the COM-FSM administration to their places. The Master of Ceremonies was Vice-President Yasuo I. Yamada, who did a superb and masterful job. The keynote address was given by H.E. Larry M. Dinger, United States Ambassador to the FSM. There were a total of 134 Associate of Arts and Associate of Science Degrees awarded for the Spring 2002, Fall 2001, and Summer 2001 graduates from our combined campuses. Additionally, there were a total of 11 Certificate of Achievement presented. Of special noteworthy importance were the 30 Bachelor of Arts Degrees granted through the University of Guam and the College of Micronesia-FSM Collaborative Program. Music for the ceremonies was tastefully and artistically provided by COM-FSM Music Class under the direction of Kathy Snider. What a wonderful event! Thanks to each of you, both faculty and staff for making the event so positive. Each of you are making a true difference in the lives of our people. Bless you and thank you.

During this busy week a visit was paid to the Pohnpei Campus where the Board of Regents Meeting continued. At this meeting Dr. Womack and Dr. Snider presented important aspects of the B.Ed Program which has been developed for COM-FSM.

On Friday, May 24th, Vice-President Spensin James traveled to the Chuuk Campus where he was the keynote speaker for the commencement there. We appreciate Spensin and his contribution to making the graduation ceremonies on Chuuk a success.

This past week I had the opportunity to accompany Damian Sohl, the Director of Bilingual Education, and Dr. Greg Myers to the Palikir School for a tour of classrooms and facility. It is tentatively planned that the Palikir School will serve as a Lab-School for our B.Ed Program students once the program is operational. The principal of the Palikir School, Mr. Fred Halbert was very helpful and provided many insights to us as he introduced us to his faculty and students. Principal Halbert enthusiastically indicated his endorsement of the program. It was gratifying to see such positive learning going on at the Palikir School.

On Friday, May 31st, Vice-President Ringlen P. Ringlen served as the host and keynote speaker for the 2002 World No Tobacco Day, held at the FSM-China Friendship Sports Center. The theme of the day was “Smoke Free Sports.” Students from schools throughout Pohnpei participated in a variety of events which culminated in a series of play-off basketball games. Each participant received a commemorative T-Shirt and healthy refreshments were served.

Today, June 3rd, I had the opportunity and pleasure of addressing and welcoming the Special Education Teacher Initiative (SETTI) committee to our campus. Under the direction of Vice-President Spensin James and Joe Habuchmai, this committee has been working closely with the staff of the Center for Distance Learning, San Diego State University, in providing capacity building opportunities and distance learning course work for our faculty desiring to further their educations. We are truly appreciative for the technical assistance of Dr. Theresa Lally and Dr. Michelle Warn in implementing this important and needed program.

As the new president of COM-FSM, my agenda is straightforward and simple, based on the following simple philosophies:

1. Each of us here are Teachers. That means all of us, both faculty and staff, and that means me too. We are all teachers and we have the obligation and responsibility to teach by precept and example inside and outside of the classroom, both in our personal and private lives.

2. I believe fervently in the concept of Service. We experience growth only through unselfish service to others.

3. We should all be Lifelong Learners.

4. We must all be accountable for our particular Stewardships. This means being Responsible. I see Responsibility as being the Ability to Respond, which means no excuses or blaming, rather stepping forward and accepting both the rewards and / or consequences of our actions.

5. We must practice daily respect for ourselves, our co-workers, our friends and neighbors, and the environment of our Paradise island.

Well, enough pontificating. In closing, I want to reiterate my thankfulness or the warm and sincere welcome that you have given me, with special thanks to Norma Edwin, Hadleen Satele, and Ringlen Ringlen for their ongoing help to me during this period of transition. And I want there to be no doubt that in the short time I have been here, that I have become convinced that our faculty, staff, and Board of Regents are as excellent as can be found on any campus anywhere in the world. I know this to be true. I believe in You and I commend each of You for all that you do and for your devotion to our college and workplace. Thank You.

More next time!!

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