Since my arrival at Fulton-Montgomery Community College in July 2006, I have seen the potential in this community for growth and prosperity. Clearly, FM's Board of Trustees hired me because I have spent a great deal of my career working with economic development professionals, community leaders, and educational institutions, to foster development and growth for each community in which I have lived. My interest in community development is reflected in FM's Mission Statement.
So why do I feel so strongly about this? Throughout my entire career -- as I have pursued higher education -- I have wanted to utilize my position to make my community better. Marian Wright Edelman (a long-time advocate for youth) said, "Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it." I believe that to be true.
As I work with various groups and talk with elected officials at all levels of government, it looks like we all want something similar -- our community to grow and prosper. It seems to me that the number one challenge we have is defining "community." For those who govern Amsterdam, the community is Amsterdam. For those who govern the Town of Mohawk, the community is Mohawk. For those who govern Montgomery County, the community is the County. But for some of us, like the members of the CEO Roundtable, the community is our two-county region.
Defining the "borders" of our community doesn't seem that difficult; yet, it may be the one, and most important, factor that keeps us from truly achieving prosperity. Many of these "borders" were established when people lived in, worked in, socialized in, and nearly never left their small community. Today, with the invention of the car and all, few of us stay in our community for the day. Many of us travel throughout our region to create a life. We live in one community, work in another, shop in a third, and socialize in many.
Imagine where our community (region) would be if we could work together for the growth and development of our area; if we just spent some time thinking about how a positive development in one area of our region impacts all of the other areas in our region. How might we maintain our emotional attachment to our local community but see the bigger region? How could we develop a model that provides services, underutilized in one area, to another area that needs these services and benefits both (or even more) areas in the process? It seems to me that there must be a way. If educated and reasonable people could work together, I know that our region would be an area of private investment that would rival any other.
Fifty years ago, the two counties got together to create Fulton-Montgomery Community College. That effort has turned into an institution that is leading the way. FM is respected all across the state with our innovation, culture, and success. Our communities have sent residents to FM who have moved on better prepared to take on the challenges of the future here and in other regions. FM is an outcome of great vision and collaboration.
Surely by working together toward a larger vision and through collaboration, all areas of our community can prosper. We at FM are here to help, foster, or lead our community through such a collaboration. I hope for the benefit of all of us, we're ready for the challenge.