Created in 1968 as a result of a community movement that understood the importance of higher education, Eugenio María de Hostos Community College of The City University of New York will celebrate its official 45th anniversary on April, 22, 2013.

Just like it did 45 years ago, Hostos serves the educational needs of people from communities who historically have been excluded from higher education. Hostos takes pride in its historical role in educating students from diverse ethnic, racial, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, particularly Hispanics and African Americans. More and more students from all over the world are enrolling and graduating from Hostos and this diversity is cherished by our entire community.

“We are thrilled and delighted to share this wonderful milestone with our students, faculty staff, alumni and neighbors” said Hostos President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez . “We are also very proud of our special relationship with the South Bronx and Northern Manhattan communities. At a time when we pause to celebrate our accomplishments,  we want to thank the many community, educational, philanthropic, and political leaders who have always stood by our side.”

Established in 1968 in a renovated tire factory on the southwest corner of East 149th Street and the Grand Concourse, Eugenio María de Hostos Community College admitted a charter class of 623 students in 1970. The college grew slowly and the financial crises NYC faced during the 1970s made the college a potential target for cuts or annexation by another CUNY campus.  Through the support of community, educational, business, and political leaders, Hostos was able to weather those difficult times and begin to develop into the thriving campus that it is today.

Since that time, the college has grown into an educational and cultural leader in New York City and beyond. More students are enrolling and graduating than any point in the college’s history.  Last year’s commencement saw a record number of 770 students graduate, and a comparable number are expected to earn their degrees this June. Since 2002, enrollment in degree programs at Hostos Community College has nearly doubled—increasing from 3,670 to 6,454 in just over a decade. Our Continuing Education enrollment has also grown from 1,133 in 1994 to almost 11,000 students in 2012.

What began in abandoned buildings and cramped trailers now has a campus that includes two concert halls and theaters, dozens of smart classrooms, an art gallery, sports facilities, science labs, and dental and X-ray clinics.  And, out of 960 sections of classes at Hostos, 520 are conducted in smart classrooms. The 500 Grand Concourse building completed a $9.1 million capital project expansion in 2012 that includes a new state-of-the-art lecture hall.  Moving forward, we are fundraising for the construction of a new 170,000-square-foot Allied Health and Natural Science Complex. The new complex will provide a new home for the college’s Allied Health programs in Dental Hygiene, Radiologic Technology, and Nursing, as well as its dental and wellness clinics which will serve the health needs of the surrounding community.

What began with a handful of academic programs and teachers now offers 29 programs and has nearly 175 full-time faculty members. Throughout the years Hostos has distinguished itself for the excellence of its Allied Health offerings. New programs, such as Digital Design and Animation, and numerous dual-degree programs in Engineering, Criminal Justice, and Nursing, document Hostos’ leadership in curriculum design and innovation among community colleges.  Hostos is also home to an Early College High School and a new 9-14 College and Career Prep School in partnership with Montefiore Hospital.

The college also boasts award-winning faculty.  Among them is Professor Rees Shad, named the 2012 New York State Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation. He has been the driving force behind the digital design, animation and music programs at Hostos Community College.  Shad’s vision and persistence was indispensable for the opening of the $1.05 million, 2,000 square-foot recording studio in May of 2011 for students interested in digital media careers. He was also part of a Hostos faculty team that received an NSF grant to develop new math and STEM curriculum.

The Hostos center for Arts and Culture is an indispensable cultural partner for emerging and established artists alike. This summer the Hostos Repertory Company will be the only theatrical troupe from a community college in the United States invited to participate in the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

The college is not only addressing the needs of a growing student base, it is adjusting to the needs of the workforce in this challenging economy. Hostos is proud of its recently-opened Center for Workforce Development & Continuing Education in the former Bronx Terminal Market Building. Located at 560 Exterior Street at a $1.4 million investment, the center is an example of how Hostos continues to establish partnerships with community leaders and employers throughout the city in order to provide educational and job training services.

Hostos Community College stands today with its original mission intact and its impact and outreach greatly expanded. Our continued existence and innumerable achievements should be regarded as a tribute to all those who have taught, worked and studied here over the years. Our students are Gates Millennium Scholars, Kaplan Awardees, NSF Graduate Research Fellows, NASA Scholars, and transferring to very competitive public and private colleges.

Providing the best education to our students and serving as an anchor institution in the transformation and progress of the Bronx are Hostos’ foundational goals. During this 45th anniversary celebration, we reaffirm our commitment to our mission, and we pledge, with even more dedication and effort, to achieve it.