BMCC 2002 Foundation Gala Celebrates the Rebuilding of Lower Manhattan

March 29, 2002


After a trying year, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) will celebrate the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan at the fourteenth annual gala. This year’s gala will take place at the Ritz Carlton, Battery Park on May 21 at 6 p.m. Proceeds benefit the BMCC Fund Inc., which awards scholarships to students.

Cochairs of this year’s gala are Jerry Callaghan, formerly with Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and Mark Beckerman, a retired veterinarian. Dr. Beckerman is also a BMCC alumnus. Originally slated for Windows on the World, the traditional site of the gala, the BMCC Fund, Inc. selected the new Ritz Carlton in Battery Park as the site for the 2002 gala in October.

2002 Gala Salutes Kathryn Wylde and Carl Weisbrod

The 2002 Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) Foundation Gala honors two downtown community leaders who are playing key roles in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan—Kathryn S. Wylde and Carl Weisbrod.

Wylde is president and CEO of the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce. She is also the founding president and CEO of the New York City Investment Fund. These funds provide financial support and business expertise to new ventures that stimulate job growth and economic growth in the city. Ms.Wylde’s leadership has been critical in the early stages of planning for the rebuilding of Lower Manhatttan. “Her encouragement has heightened the profile of the college as an economic development partner with the business community of Manhattan,” said BMCC President Antonio Pérez. Ms. Wylde received the BMCC Community Service Award at the college’s 2001 commencement where she presented the keynote address to the graduates.

Carl Weisbrod is president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, Inc., a $15 million business improvement district that is the largest in the United States. Since it began in 1995, Mr. Weisbrod has led the Alliance in the revitalization of Lower Manhattan, making impressive gains in the occupancy of commercial buildings, creating a 24-hour community, and inducing 800 IT companies downtown by creating a new information technology district. Since September 11, Mr. Weisbrod has been a steadfast leader in the rebuilding effort, advocating for relief and incentives for businesses to stay in and return to the neighborhood. “Mr. Weisbrod has introduced many new corporate partners to the college and has been instrumental in encouraging new research and training incentives that serve the Manhattan business community,” noted Pérez.

BMCC Serves as the Community’s College, Helping to Revitalize Lower Manhattan

Borough of Manhattan Community College is playing a vital role in the revitalization of Lower Manhattan. For three weeks after September 11, BMCC served as the command center for the rescue and recovery effort. Four schools occupy lots adjacent to BMCC, but the college was the first to reopen on October 1, despite the loss of a building housing over 40 classrooms. The college’s early reopening helped to serve as an economic engine for the downtown community, bringing more than 17,000 students and over 2,000 faculty and staff members into the area and into neighborhood businesses.

BMCC continues to lead revitalization efforts with the opening of the Skills Exchange this spring. This cutting-edge workforce development operation will provide assessment, certification, training, and career guidance to the displaced worker, the emerging worker, the incumbent worker, and employers. The Skills Exchange will play a vital role in helping New Yorkers rebuild their lives.

New Yorkers Are Enrolling in BMCC in Record Numbers

This semester, BMCC experienced its highest spring enrollment ever. While this is testimony of the college’s leadership and the strength of its programs, it also points out a tremendous need among New Yorkers. They are turning to their community college during this period of economic downturn to help them change careers and to acquire new skills and credentials. They will form New York’s workforce of tomorrow. But today, these students have tremendous needs.

Many struggle to support themselves while they are in college. Many have to support not only themselves, but their families as well. The majority of our students take courses at night because they work during the day. The average income of a BMCC student is $22,000 per year.

Gala Funds Scholarships for High Achieving Students on the Road to Success

Proceeds from the Gala fund scholarships for high achieving students who demonstrate financial need. “Our graduates tell us over and over that BMCC was the springboard to their success,” said BMCC President Antonio Perez. BMCC graduates transfer to prestigious colleges and universities, crediting the community college with giving them their start. Last year’s valedictorian went on to Yale, and the president of the Student Government Association transferred to Columbia after graduation. Other BMCC graduates have graduated with honors from Barnard, Vassar, and Smith. This year, Mount Holyoke accepted all of the BMCC students who applied.

For gala tickets and more information, contact Ellen O’Neill, BMCC dean of college development, at 212-220-8021.

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