Celebrate and appreciate

November 18, 2021

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

A time for fellowship and food. A time for relaxation and reflection. A time for recognizing the people, places and things for which we are grateful.

I’ve offered my gratitude in this blog near this holiday for our faculty, our staff and our students. For our Pioneer Pantry, our building projects and our expansions. For our initiatives and our partnerships. And more.

I am also thankful for our success as a top-ranked institution of higher education, not possible without the outstanding professionals who served as president before me.

There was Dr. James A. Lawson, Dr. Thomas Ten Hoeve, Dr. Frederick W. Woodward, Dr. William N. Price, Dr. Thaddeus Penar, Dr. Fred Bartok and Dr. Cynthia Azari.

I am grateful for them.

I am grateful for how BC3 has improved lives for those gathered around Thanksgiving tables for nearly six decades.

I am grateful for you.

And I am, as always, so very Pioneer Proud!

Another merry go-round

September 7, 2021

It was a lazy summer day circa 1982 at our beloved Ellport playground.

My brother, Mike, best pal, Billy, and I lay on our backs, spinning on a merry-go-round and gazing at the overcast sky. We spent many hours at our hometown playground, conveniently located next to Billy’s backyard.

It was on that merry-go-round where the three of us made a pledge: to be there, in the stands, when our beloved Steelers claimed a fifth world championship. Although our means of income as teenagers consisted of umpiring Little League games and picking strawberries, we were committed to our pact.

That pact took us in 1996 to Tempe, Ariz., a trip funded not by umpiring or picking strawberries but by my hawking O.J. Simpson and Walter Payton rookie cards and by my brother trying to secure the purse of a tough-man competition. Unfortunately, my brother drew a Mike Tyson-lookalike in his opening match, and worse yet, in Super Bowl XXX that Sunday, the Steelers suffered a knockout punch, losing to the dreaded Cowboys.

That pact next took us in 2006 to Detroit for Super Bowl XL. Mike, Billy and I were there, in the stands, when our beloved Steelers claimed that fifth world championship and ring, the “one for the thumb” we all coveted.

The wait was over, our childhood pledge to one another fulfilled.

I know I use football clichés and comparisons. But that’s what growing up in western Pennsylvania does to a person, especially one shaped by the rise and fall of the steel industry and the thrill of cheering for an NFL dynasty.

Butler County Community College claimed our own “one for the thumb” for 2020. BC3’s ranking as the No. 1 community college in Pennsylvania by BestColleges.com added to four previous No. 1 rankings by either BestColleges.com or Schools.com since 2015.

Now I have learned of yet another No. 1 ranking for BC3. This one from Niche.com. That’s six for our college and matches the current six world championships won by the Steelers.

Being No. 1 six times in six years – it can leave one’s mind spinning, much like being on a merry-go-round.

Like those Super Steelers of the 1970s and 2000s, our college is filled with All-Pros and Hall of Famers.

We have an exceptional faculty that delivers quality instruction much like Terry Bradshaw delivered long passes to John Stallworth and to Lynn Swann. We have a dedicated and talented staff that paves the way for our students much like Dermontti Dawson paved the way for Jerome Bettis. And we have an amazing Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Directors that provide integrity, wisdom and values much like that of the Steelers’ Rooney family.

Here’s to another great Steelers season and to an even better academic year at BC3 … and a Stairway to Seven for both organizations in 2022.

I’ll be watching this one from the President’s Office.

A date to reflect

June 2, 2021

We did it.

Our college successfully navigated a spring semester, a walk-thru commencement and the start of summer sessions as the clouds of COVID-19 may be lifting.

I was happy to see the calendar reach June 1, 2021, and to reflect on our recent milestones.

Yet June 1, 2021, has far greater significance than reviewing the strides BC3 has taken during the pandemic.

This date marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre. The Oklahoma Historical Society writes that it believes those 18 hours constituted “the single worst incident of racial violence in American history.”

Some estimate the number of people killed to be as many as 300, and the number of homes and businesses destroyed to be at least 1,000.

A century later, this is cause for reflection.

It is through education, through “teachable moments” — a line sometimes used in our industry – that the clouds of racism may one day lift.

Our college’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, launched in August, 2020, and college as a whole will continue to look for those “teachable moments.”

As we do, my thoughts, and my heart, remain with the descendants of those who lost their lives June 1, 1921. You will never be forgotten.

To learn more about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, please visit the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum website: https://www.tulsahistory.org/exhibit/1921-tulsa-race-massacre/

Commencement is our Super Bowl

May 17, 2021

Clichés by definition are phrases overused, and I tend to overuse those about football.

Chuck Noll’s “Whatever it takes” has served as a good framework regardless of the circumstance. As has my high school football team’s motto, “Big team, little me.”

Well, add another: “It’s our Super Bowl.” Yes, Commencement at BC3 is our Super Bowl. It’s the culmination of an academic year with all of the pomp, circumstance and pageantry.

Our operations staff is hard at work preparing our main campus for our unique walk-thru Commencement on Wednesday. I can smell the freshly cut grass and hear the lawnmowers through my office window as I write.

A class of 461 graduates will have the opportunity to participate in a series of mini-ceremonies. Among the graduates are:

  • a 64-year-old;
  • a student receiving one associate degree and two certificates;
  • 23 students receiving two degrees and/or certificates;
  • 8 student-veterans;
  • 7 students receiving reverse-transfer degrees; and
  • 30 percent who are 25 or older.

Like true Pioneers, these graduates have persevered under the most unique circumstances. I pass on my sincere congratulations on behalf of the entire BC3 family.

And a peek at the weather looks promising.

As former Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy once said, “Where else would you rather be than right here, right now?”

See you Wednesday!

Our resources can help

March 23, 2021

From time to time I am asked, “What do you like most about your job?”

“Our students,” I reply without hesitation.

The past year has been a challenge in so many ways. Another difficult day came last week, when college officials learned about the death of BC3 student Michael Sherrieb.

Although I did not know Michael personally, he must have made an incredible impact. Students reached out to me about Michael following the news of his death. I also understand that his faculty members are incredibly saddened by his passing.

Our college offers resources to our faculty, staff and students who are struggling in any way. Please read the important message that our Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Dr. Case Willoughby, sent to the campus community last week.

As the spring semester and another academic year move to a close, I wish each and every one of you health and success.

Friday, March 19, 2021 at 8:26 AM

Dear BC3 Faculty, Staff and Administrators, 

I am so sorry to inform you that one of our students, Michael Sherrieb, died on Tuesday, March 16. Details including calling hours for today, Friday, March 19 are in the Obituary for Michael Gary Sherrieb | Fox Funeral Home, Inc. 

We never know who may be struggling – including our students and colleagues. If you are concerned about a student, a colleague or yourself, please contact the BC3 CARE Team. Also, please consider sharing this information with students broadly. A similar email is being sent to students this morning.  

Our BC3 C.A.R.E. Team (Campus Assessment Response & Evaluation) assists students who may be in jeopardy of harming themselves or others or who are demonstrating concerning behaviors. If you are concerned about a BC3 student, colleague or yourself, please access our website for ways to report a concern. Our CARE Team is not an emergency service. In the case of an emergency, please contact the BC3 Campus Police Department at 724-287-8711, ext. 8450, or dial 9-1-1. These numbers are for emergencies only. 

Other resources:  

Center for Community Resources is local agency that provides resources to people in need or in crisis:  Information and Referral: 1-844-360-4372See their website for support in all Pennsylvania counties. Crisis Line 800.292.3866 or Text #63288 or Live chat CCR @ https://ccrinfo.orgNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline  is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). All calls are confidential.   

This is difficult news to hear. Be sure to reach out for support for yourself as needed. Many thanks for all you are doing to support our students. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. 

Take good care, 

Case Willoughby

Dr. Case Willoughby

Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management

Butler County Community College

724.287.8711 ext. 8261 | case.willoughby@bc3.edu