Bronx Community College Pays Tribute to Five Leaders and BCC Supporters at Annual Gala

Bronx, NY – The Bronx Community College Foundation held its annual gala at The New York Botanical Garden on April 20, 2010. The “Building on a Dream” themed event honored Allan H. Dobrin, Dr. Kenneth Olden, Beverly Spitzer, Howard Stein and Van Thompson. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, civic and business leaders, and members of The City University of New York central administration were on hand to celebrate with the honorees. Student scholarship recipients also attended the event.

“Your presence reaffirms your heartfelt commitment to Bronx Community College and the work that we do to serve our students,” said President Carolyn G. Williams while thanking guests who came out to support the College. “The learning environment at BCC, created and nurtured by our excellent faculty and staff, provides the strong foundation our students need. Higher education is the key to progress and BCC continues to lead the way in forward-looking academic programs.”  

Allan H. Dobrin, executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer of The City University of New York, received the BCC First Knight Award. Dobrin created the CUNY Task Force on Sustainability to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions; CUNYfirst, a five-year, $250-million project that is streamlining information systems; and the CUNY Productivity Initiative, which saved more than $50 million in four years. His career in public service spans more than 25 years. He was previously commissioner of the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. He has also held key positions at the Board of Education and Bellevue Hospital.

Van Thompson is project manager for the New York office of Skanska USA Buildings. He received the Building on a Dream award for his commitment to the development of minority, women and small business owned companies in the construction industry. He has been instrumental in leading the efforts of Skanska’s seven-week Construction Management Building Blocks training program. Two sessions of that program were presented at Bronx Community College. Students received training in marketing, estimating, project startups, closeout scheduling, human resources, environmental health and safety bonding. They were also provided with an introduction to securing loans, sustainable development, and the U.S. Building Council’s LEED certification process. More than 60 contractors completed the seven-week program.

Howard Stein and Beverly Spitzer, longtime supporters of Bronx Community College, received the Legacy Award. They were recognized for their belief in the importance a college education has for students today. For Spitzer, college is important because it’s when students begin to seriously learn responsibility. “College gives students opportunities to expand their minds and take courses that open up new areas they may not have considered or explored,” she said. Spitzer once managed her own interior decorating company and helped start a fabric protection company called Fiber-Seal.

Stein incorporated Rite Check Check Cashing Services in 1956. It now has eight branches in the Bronx and four in Harlem. Although he never went to college, Bronx Community College’s campus has always been special to him.  He was six years old in 1926 when his hardworking parents moved to West Burnside Avenue, two blocks from the campus. “My father drove a taxi. My mother set up a beauty parlor manicure table in our apartment. She made 25 cents a client doing manicures and eyebrows,” said Stein. “Those quarters helped to keep us above water.”

Dr. Kenneth Olden received the Robert L. Clarke Award for Scientific Achievement, in memory of Robert L. Clarke, one of BCC’s most beloved chemistry professors. Olden was recently appointed founding dean of the School of Public Health at The City University of New York. He is a former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxology Program in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A cell biologist and biochemist by training, he has been active in cancer research for almost four decades. He was director of the Howard University Cancer Center. He was a professor in and chairman of the Department of Oncology at Howard University Medical School in Washington, D.C., from 1985 to 1991.

Founded in 1957, Bronx Community College (BCC), the oldest of City University of New York’s six community colleges, serves as the engine for academic and economic mobility for motivated students from diverse backgrounds and preparations. More than 11,000 students from over 109 nations are enrolled in 30 associate degree and certificate programs including Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Computer Graphics, Nuclear Medicine, and Business Administration, Digital Arts, Computer Information Systems, Education Associate, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Liberal Arts, Marketing, Accounting, Human Services, Media Technology and Paralegal Studies. BCC’s 43-acre campus, high above the Harlem River, features architectural masterpieces of Stanford White and Marcel Breuer, as well as the Hall of Fame of Great Americans, the nation’s first hall of fame. BCC President Carolyn G. Williams is in her 14th year of leadership service to the College, which is located on a 43-acre campus at 2155 University Avenue at West 181st Street , formerly New York University’s uptown campus until 1973.

The College is home to initiatives not commonly associated with two-year institutions, such as the Center for Sustainable Energy, which promotes the use of renewable and efficient energy technologies in urban communities. The National Center for Educational Alliances (NCEA) ) is currently collaborating with South African Further Education and Training Colleges and universities to create linkages between these institutions and is also working to enhance student and academic support at the colleges.. NCEA also coordinates the College’s global initiative which facilitates global learning within and outside of the classroom.

Bryant Mason / (718) 289-5208 /