December 11, 2013 | Salute to Scholars, The University
An Innovative Guttman Makes the City Its Campus
A YEAR AFTER the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College opened its doors, some students say it offers more than innovative instruction — it also creates the perfect marriage of city and campus life. “This college paved the way with its brand new educational curriculum. But they’ve also paved the way in campus life — the college has been able to add something more to make me feel like this is my second home,” says second-year student Stephen Icaza.
Guttman Community College, formerly known as the New Community College of CUNY, opened in the fall of 2012. It’s the first CUNY community college to open in more than 40 years, and it was renamed after the University received a $25 million gift from the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation. The donation, the largest to a community college in New York history, was given to support the college and other community college initiatives to boost student retention and graduation rates.
Located in Midtown Manhattan, the college is housed in a seven-story, 92,000-square-foot building overlooking Bryant Park. While it may be limited in space, the city serves as an extended campus, says Icaza. “We’re near Times Square, there is a park right outside and we have a huge library next door. It’s like our campus is as large as our surroundings,” says Icaza, speaking in the Information Commons — the college’s nontraditional library.
The Information Commons, described as “a library for the 2.0 world” on the college website, is a social space where students access an extensive digital library and online database. Surrounding city institutions, such as the main branch of the New York Public Library, bolster the resources of the college library, which has a small collection of books.
Guttman offers five degree-granting programs, including associate degrees in liberal arts and sciences, information technology and business administration. Its innovative curriculum includes a mandatory summer bridge program that prepares students for college course work. Students are also required to attend school full-time during their first academic year.
Although the college’s primary objective is to increase student retention and graduation rates, creating a supportive community is also a key part of its mission. “I don’t think any student will ever feel like a number here, even in the five years that we will grow. The message we hear from the school is that there is an actual relationship between the student and the teacher. So it’s no longer student-teacher, it’s now student-mentor,” says Icaza, of the college that opened with an inaugural class of 300 students. Enrollment will grow to approximately 5,000 students when the college moves to its permanent home at 59th Street and 10th Avenue.
“I knew since day one of researching the faculty and staff that they were gathering quality teachers. But I’m also having such a fun time being studious while being surrounded by so much culture,” says Icaza.
THEHOTSPOTS AT GUTTMAN
- The Hub: At Guttman, the Hub is the center for student services where you can visit financial-aid, bursar, registrar and admissions offices.
- Information Commons: This untraditional college library is located in the main section of the first floor. Students gather in this space for the purpose of research and collaboration.
- Atrium: The student lounge – with a view of Bryant Park – also houses the Compass, a resource center staffed by peer mentors who engage students in campus life by planning and providing information on events and activities.
- Peer Mentor Room: To ensure success, peer mentors are on hand to support the academic and student life experience at Guttman.
- Student Lounge: Located in the lower level of Guttman, the student lounge has vending machines and a Ping-Pong table.
Quick Facts About Guttman
- First community college to open at CUNY in over 40 years
- 494 students
- Five associate degree programs
- Enrollment: 62% female, 38% male
- Subway lines – No. 1, 2, 3, 7 and B, D, F, M, N, Q, R and S
- 11 Manhattan buses, including the M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6 and M42