February 29, 2012 | Borough of Manhattan Community College
“We are succeeding hourly and daily,” said BMCC President Antonio Pérez, who has overseen the college’s growth for the last 17 years.
“BMCC continues to be recognized as a leader in urban-serving education nationally,” he told a full audience in Theater II, on the main campus.
“We attract talented, enthusiastic and motivated students from all five boroughs and from over 165 countries…We have more undergraduate students than any other school in CUNY—more than Baruch, City College or Hunter. We have more undergraduate students than NYU. This is a serious responsibility, and we are excelling in our charge.”
In 2011, the President said, Community College Week ranked BMCC number two among all community colleges in the nation for awarding Associate degrees in business. The college ranked number three in awarding computer and information science degrees; number two in the nation for awarding degrees to African Americans; number two, east of the Mississippi, for awarding degrees to Hispanic students, and number five—nationwide—in awarding degrees to underrepresented students, overall.
New degrees of excellence
“Since last spring, we have added 55 full-time faculty in the areas of accounting, business, computer science, English, health education, mathematics, media, modern language, music, art, science, nursing, social sciences and speech,” said President Pérez—bringing the number of full-time faculty with doctorates and terminal degrees to 455.*
“We also depend upon a large and qualified pool of adjunct faculty,” he said, and invited new faculty and staff in the audience to stand and introduce themselves.
Guided by outstanding faculty, Pérez said, “our Nursing and Allied Health Sciences departments have consistently high graduation rates and state-of-the-art resources,” such as the recently opened New York Simulation Center for Health Sciences, located in Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital Center.
“NYU and CUNY, with BMCC as the lead institution, have now opened one of the largest urban health care simulation training centers in the United States,” he said. “BMCC received 21 million dollars in state and city funds for the construction of the facility, and the Center has enhanced training for our students in the nursing, emergency response, and other health care programs.”
Moving on to programs that “prepare our students for the 21st century workforce and transfer to the senior colleges,” Pérez described BMCC’s latest joint degree program with John Jay College, an A.S. in Accounting for Forensic Accounting.
Other new degree programs, he said, include those leading to an A.A. in Communication Studies, an A.S. in Science and Mathematics for Secondary Education, and an A.S. in Geospatial Science.
The College has also created letters of intent for A.S. degree programs in gerontology and history, as well as for an A.A. in Spanish-English translation program that will articulate seamlessly with the B.A. in Spanish-English translation at Hunter College.
And to address the needs of displaced workers hardest hit by the economic recession, the President added, “we are also developing a certificate program in Accounting, that will be offered by our Accounting Department.”
These new programs reflect the college’s “tireless efforts to secure articulation agreements with CUNY, public, and private senior colleges,” including Baruch College, Brooklyn College, John Jay, Lehman College, New York City College of Technology, The New School, SUNY Empire State, and Metropolitan College, he said.
“Our campus has fully embraced the use of technology, in and out of the classroom, and with particular attention to the needs of developmental students,” the President told the room.
“With the help of our new E-Learning Director and staff, “ he said, “and with a $2.9 million Title V Grant for the improvement of our E-Learning program, we have begun to implement the suggestions of our experienced, E-Learning Task Force.”
Measurable successes initiated by this task force include the fact that “BMCC’s e-learning course retention is equal to that of the face-to-face classes,” said Pérez, “and our hybrid course students have better average persistence than face-to-face students.”
Focus on retention
BMCC was recently awarded a $100,000 seed grant, the President said, from the New York Community Trust to develop a Freshman Academies program for fall 2012.
“The Academies will provide guidance and coaching to incoming freshman who are majoring in the liberal arts, and they will select from five academies,” he said, adding that those academies will be focused on Visual and Fine Arts, Understanding Human Societies, Health and Wellness, Language and Literature, and Math Science and Technology.
The Academies also will engage students in learning communities, service learning, project-based courses, community-based research, academic support groups, and capstone courses, said President Pérez, and co-directed by Deans Michael Hutmaker and Michael Gillespie, they will “provide a dedicated college advisor in developmental reading and writing courses.”
One-hundred million-plus ways to support student success
According to President Pérez, “Despite the ever-changing federal financial aid policies, BMCC remains highly ranked in the nation, among the top 20 colleges for Pell Grant recipients and funds disbursed.”
BMCC students receive 12% of the federal aid dollars disbursed to CUNY students, he said, and in 2010-2011, “Students received over $100 million in total financial aid by year’s end,” with TAP funding increasing from over 13,000 in Fall 2010, to nearly 17,000 in Fall 2011.
In addition to government aid, BMCC’s Student Affairs department provided $320,000 in scholarships in the Spring 2012 semester alone, and the College is concluding a three-year, performance-based scholarship study, managed by the Financial Aid Office, that has provided more than 1,300 students with nearly $1.5 million dollars in assistance.
Aware that students sometimes face unexpected financial difficulties—which impacts their academic progress—the Office of Student Affairs offers emergency aid in the form of short-term loans for books, transportation costs, food, and housing, and “This past year, the office assisted over 700 students who needed short-term emergency aid,” the President said.
For students who need longer-term assistance, BMCC’s Single Stop office connected them with over $3.6 million in government benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, childcare assistance, housing assistance, and transportation, he added.
Streamlining campus services
The BMCC Enrollment Management Team continues to develop strategies to maintain enrollment and retention standards, said President Pérez, adding that the college has met its enrollment goal of 24,000 (+/- 500) this semester.
“To streamline our students’ enrollment experience, we have put Web registration and online orientation in place, along with orientation sessions for family members and transfer students,” he said, “and our Financial Aid office now works with students earlier in the process, to ensure their timely receipt of funds—not to mention, shorter lines and less frustration.”
Other campus services have become more effective by coordinating their efforts, Pérez explained, and these include CUNYStart, CLIP, BLIIS, MEOC, and Immersion, he said.
In addition, vital student support staff in Student Affairs, as well as staff in Financial Aid, Single Stop, ECC, the Scholarship Office, Counseling, and the Women’s Resource Center are now permanently linked—and are much more able to provide efficient and comprehensive services for students.
These coordinated efforts also benefit specific populations that once had to seek assistance and resources in different offices all over the campus, Pérez said.
Now, for example, faculty and staff have been trained and certified as SAFE Zone Allies for members of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender student community. And to better serve veterans at BMCC, the college has set up partnerships between various offices, services and resources, and created a Web page that is specific to their needs.
For students seeking their place in the workforce, Pérez said, The Center for Career Development provides as many as five workshops, seminars and other activities a week, and collaborates with Academic Affairs to stay aware of career trends.
Career-minded students have also benefited from faculty efforts such as those of Professor Karasek of the Media Arts and Technology Department, who arranged a student tour of the Scripps Network, home of HGTV, the Food Network, and the Travel Channel, and helped students become aware of emergent careers in the field of media, the President added.
The Center for Career Development has also brought hundreds of employment recruiters to campus, for Career Fairs and other events that connect our students with jobs, advice and opportunities.
Supporting student leadership
“Student Leadership is pivotal in the future of our college,” said President Pérez, and talked about programs on campus such as Goldman Sachs/ BMCC Leadership program; the Academy for Leadership and Service through Student Activities; the SGA Leadership Retreat; the Women’s Resource Center Leadership Program; the Peer Achievement Leaders, and the Welcome Ambassadors.
Also, Pérez said, BMCC students expand their leadership skills by participating in off-campus events led by student organizations and faculty advisors.
For example, BMCC’s Finance and Economics Club, guided by Professor Yanni Tournas, received first place honors in the Federal Reserve’s College Fed Challenge, held at Pace University.
In addition, “We have again partnered with the national research organization, MDRC, to provide targeted support for the student population of African-American and Latino men experiencing academic difficulties in college,” the President said.
That support includes access to mentors, academic advisors, and tutors; customized workshops, lectures, seminars, and meetings with guest speakers, plus students who successfully complete their courses, will be awarded a generous stipend.
Effective, accountable—and periodically reviewed
The college is now engaged in preparing a Periodic Review Report, said President Pérez, explaining that, “This report, due at the mid-way point in a ten-year accreditation cycle in June 2013…will present evidence that we have updated our facilities and technology master plans, and strengthened our educational assessment to support student learning.”
Professors Gay Brookes, Chair of the Department of Developmental Skills, and Kay Conway, of the Department of Business Management, are working with the Office of Academic Affairs, and “are doing a superb job as co-chairs of the periodic review process,” Pérez said. “We are well on our way to completing our final Periodic Review Report, which will be submitted to the Middle States Commission in the fall of 2012.”
In addition to the Periodic Review Report, he said, “a campus-wide effort has begun to enrich our BMCC Strategic Plan with strategic projects and initiatives. Our Strategic Steering Committees and Work Teams have been doing extensive research into best practices, and they are now presenting excellent, actionable, proposals to the BMCC Collaborative Improvement Council.”
Excitement builds, as Fiterman Hall rises to completion
“We will soon have more space to learn, think and work together,” said President Pérez, and drew sustained applause as he added, “The excitement is building as Fiterman Hall nears completion. We will be offering classes in the new space, Fall 2012.”
The new space, he said, will include community gathering areas, a public art gallery, a restaurant, and a conference facility.
“The building is located just a few steps away from an area of national significance, revered by Americans everywhere,” he said. “People come from all over the United States to remember, and BMCC’s Fiterman Hall will be a reminder of our national commitment to all students during challenging times. Our students are the future of New York City, and our country.”
In addition, he said, Fiterman Hall will add about 40% more instructional space to BMCC, providing 80 additional labs and classrooms.
This new space will enable the College to make critical improvements to its main facility at 199 Chambers Street, including “complete retrofitting our facilities to comply with current ADA standards, and renovating the heating and ventilation systems,” Pérez said.
The College is now upgrading labs and facilities for BMCC’s science majors, he said, thanks more than $1.2 million in U.S. Department of Education funds to retrofit three classrooms into a state-of-the-art student science research facility.
Also, said Pérez, “as we address the issues of the physical space, it’s important to note that BMCC is fully committed to the goals of a sustainable future. Our 10-year BMCC Plan for Sustainability includes ambitious goals for energy conservation; curriculum and education; procurement; waste management, and recycling.”
“Since BMCC began, we have been clear that our mission was to serve the residents of New York City, especially during hard times,” said President Pérez.
Each year, BMCC “partners with corporations, elected officials, local boards, community leaders, and government agencies to organize events and provide space for meetings, conferences, and programs,” he said. “Over the past year, BMCC co-sponsored over 50 events open to the community, including the Tribeca Film Festival.”
Thinking globally means preparing students to be a vital part of the economy of New York City and the nation as a whole, the President explained.
BMCC’s Center for Adult Continuing Education & Workforce Development, he said, engages local businesses in dialogue about improving workers’ skills, and supports the Mayor’s Age-Friendly NYC Initiative by acting as an AARP training site. Likewise, the Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center (MEOC) in Harlem plays a critical role in helping students upgrade their employment skills, and prepare for college entry exams.
The President also announced the upcoming retirement of the MEOC’s director, Rodney Alexander.
Reaching out, through Public Affairs
“Another way that we reach out, is through the Department of Public Affairs,” said President Pérez. “The Department of Public Affairs is the narrative voice of BMCC, telling the stories of high-achieving students, faculty and staff.”
Through the latest technology, he explained, including Web articles, print journals, videos and other media, Public Affairs presents the BMCC community in an up-to-date and welcoming manner, making it easy for students, staff and faculty to access the constant stream of information that keeps a college running.
“Through our Web site and other media, we find what we need to know about special events, scholarship opportunities, and registration deadlines,” said Pérez. “The Department of Public Affairs is a critical force in keeping the BMCC community aware of tutoring and counseling services, career fairs, student internships, and vital emergency or weather-related updates.
The Web site is also a place to learn more about BMCC’s academic departments and professors, he said, as well as CUNY initiatives that BMCC is part of, such as the college’s drive to be tobacco free by this coming September. Stories of the BMCC community are posted on YouTube, ITunes U, Twitter, and in keeping up-to-date with student needs, the department even created a BMCC “app,” so students can access all of these resources on their mobile phone device.
Leading to a better future
“Students come to us from all over New York City and the world,” said President Pérez, as he closed his remarks. “It is our responsibility and our privilege to serve these students. I know we will continue to ensure that the BMCC experience fully prepares them to realize their tremendous potential and to build a brighter future.”
“BMCC works because you care deeply about each other,” he said, “and because you work very hard; because you are optimistic that all of us, together, are steadily making improvements; improvements that will lead us to a better future for our students, our colleagues, our college, our city and our nation.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: To read the President’s 2012 State of the College address in its entirety, please click HERE. Also, the Address can be found on the “About BMCC” page on the BMCC Web site.
*New faculty and staff include—Aliied Health: Ruthan Russo; Business Administration: Anne Marie Basic; Academic Counseling: Robert Cortes; English: Timothy Keane; Health Education: Patricia DeFillippo and Sophia Aidiniou; Mathematics: Zhi Fang Wu, Nicole Taylor-Buckner, Susan Licwinko, Jae Ki Lee, Yevgeniy Milman and Lina Wu; Medical Technology: Ruthann Russo; Nursing: Nickla Galloway-Brown and Sophia Clark; Registrar: Kaleena Murdaugh; Science: Shalva Tsiklauri, Bogdan Danila and Joseph Ganser; Social Science: Jamie Warren, Kelly Rodgers, Kristin Elliott Hood (Zetta Elliott), Jose Haro, Marci Littlefield and Samantha Bankston; Speech, Theatre, Cinema: Tzu-Wen Cheng, Gillian Bonanno and Benjamin Powell; Teacher Education: Meghan Fitzgerald; Testing & Evaluation: David Phillips.