Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) President Antonio Pérez presented the annual State of the College address to the College community on March 7 in Theatre 2 at BMCC’s 199 Chambers Street campus.
A PowerPoint presentation of infographics and photographs highlighted the President’s three themes: “our unrelenting commitment to enhancing student success, our commitment to pursuing equity and inclusion for our faculty, staff and students, and our journey toward recognition as the preeminent urban community college in the United States.”
Those commitments, said President Pérez, reflect the College’s mission and goals, revised in recent years by more than 300 members of the College community and affirming “BMCC’s obligation to support our students in and out of the classroom and to ensure greater preparation for the world of work.”
Helping students move up the economic ladder
Some encouraging news in the Address included BMCC’s performance rankings. According to Community College Week and based on data from the U.S. Department of Education, BMCC ranks #5 nationally, and #1 in New York, for conferring associate degrees in criminal justice. BMCC also ranks #10, nationwide, in conferring associate degrees in all subject areas, to minority students.
More good news relates to the upward economic mobility of BMCC students, according to a study sponsored by the Equality of Opportunity Project. With data mined from 30 million students’ educational and tax records, the study concludes that while BMCC students have median family incomes among the lowest nationwide, 41 percent have moved up at least two quintiles, the units of measurement for income in the United States.
“We view poverty as a social justice issue,” said President Pérez. “It is our duty to assist students in gaining the education and experiences that prepare them to move up the economic ladder.”
Leading in support of immigrant students
President Pérez went on to share evidence that BMCC is making progress in reaching its strategic goals, as outlined in the College’s Middle States Self-Study, part of BMCC’s ongoing accreditation process through the Middles States Commission on Higher Education.
For example, in relation to the goal, “Strengthening College Readiness and Improving the Effectiveness of Developmental Offerings,” the President reported that 75 percent of BMCC students earn a GPA of 2.5 or higher by the end of the school year. He also talked about the success of CUNY Start at BMCC, and accelerated courses that enable students to complete their developmental requirements in half the time.
Altogether, said President Pérez, these efforts emphasize the College’s commitment to ensure student success and equity of opportunity.
Regarding undocumented students, “BMCC continues to be a leader in CUNY’s community colleges through its partnership with TheDream.US,” the President said. “We have the largest cohort of scholars at the community college level and among the top in the CUNY system, in terms of recruiting and enrolling Dream scholars.”
He talked about the Fall 2016 college-wide immigration town hall BMCC hosted, and monthly immigration clinics held for students to meet with experts and get answers to immigration-related inquiries. These efforts are made possible through offices at BMCC including Single Stop, which provides legal support for students with immigration issues and showed a seven percent increase in free tax filings over the last year.
Faculty and staff share thoughts
“I value the opportunity to speak with the College community and to share our successes, reaffirm our values and communicate what lies ahead,” the President said in his closing remarks. “I am truly humbled by the hard work and enthusiasm of our students, the commitment to teaching and learning by our faculty, and the dedication to enhancing the environment for student success by our staff. Based on these efforts, BMCC is reaching even greater levels, and this upward trajectory is not by accident. I thank you all for your contributions and good work — both of which are essential to our continued success.”
Afterwards, members of the audience shared their thoughts on the event. Deborah Harte, Student Life Manager in the BMCC Single Stop Office said, “The statistics that President Pérez shared clearly validate the work that we do in Single Stop and other offices that provide support to students, beyond the academic support available on campus. All the support the students are getting, felt materialized for me by the data on their outcomes. It was a proud moment.”
Academic Literary and Linguistics Professor John Beaumont, Director of the BMCC Teaching Academy, said, “It’s really impressive to see the commitment to student success and the positive change that is happening at BMCC. At all levels of the college, there is clearly a commitment to faculty and initiatives to improve student outcomes. There is also real focus on the part of the administration to rally us together as faculty and staff to advance the mission of student success.”
BMCC Counselor Precious Sellers-Mulhern commented, “I thought the slide show was a good way for people to focus on important information like statistics. I was also very pleased to hear about all the new initiatives.”
“In general, it was great to see that the College is pursuing efforts to improve student education and outcomes across a variety of areas,” said Christopher Stein, Chair of the Media Arts and Technology Department. “From grant funding to programs that provide student support to curricular programs, it is encouraging to see such a diverse set of initiatives.”