College-Wide Forum Updates Community on Designing for Success Initiative

FEBRUARY 4, 2019

The Designing for Success college-wide forum opened to a room full of dedicated faculty, students and staff in the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) Fiterman Conference Center on February 4.

BMCC Interim President Karrin E. Wilks gave welcoming remarks and thanked the event’s organizers, including Professor Eda Henao, Executive Director Deanne Southwell, Administrative Assistant Grace Brown, Executive Secretary America Roman, and Administrative and Planning staff member Tanya Hughes.

February 2019 Design for Success forum

During the day’s events, Wilks said, “We will share what our goals are, provide updates from Designing for Success working groups and solicit feedback on the college’s strategic planning priorities for Spring 2019.”

The BMCC Designing for Success initiative is part of the college’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan: Reaching Greater Levels. “We are limiting the scope of what we do to the things that work really well, in helping us dramatically improve student success,” Wilks said.

February 2019 Design for Success forum

The college’s biggest challenge is retention, she said. “We have significant equity gaps in retention and data that show, for example, the most students ever on the dean’s list, as well as the most students on academic probation. We need to look closely at the data.”

The forum’s breakout sessions presented updates from the Designing for Success working groups. Wilks encouraged those in the audience to engage with members of committees outside their own.

Sessions took place within these areas of focus: Designing for Success Working Group Presentations; Equity, Inclusion and Retention Presentations; Supporting Student Success/Cross Committee Sessions; Designing for Success: Brainstorming Groups; and Debriefing and Next Steps.

February 2019 Design for Success forum

BMCC Admissions Specialist Jose Altamirano, a member of the Redesigning Onboarding working group says, “Overall, the forum was very informative. The visualization of data from the different groups made their findings come to life for me. For example, looking at our admissions process, visualizing what our students experience, this helps us look at points of failure, or ‘pain points’ and where we can make improvements. In addition, it helps our colleagues and members of the Enrollment Management team understand the complexities of our process, offering insight and provoking change.”

Altamirano also attended a session outside his working group, led by Dean Christopher Shults, and which focused on academic progress.

“What I heard in that presentation was how we project a negative connotation when we use terms like ‘probation’, and how we need to look at our policy and communication, and assess how we could turn it into something that is more supportive, like the PASS (Plan and Appeal for Student Success) workshops,” says Altamirano.

“Instead of being reactive, we can be more proactive, and provide interventions for students who are at risk of not doing well academically—before they hit that low point. I came away from the forum with a lot of ideas, and an understanding of how what we’re all doing in our different areas, overlaps and ultimately impacts students in important ways.”

Members of the BMCC community are encouraged to join a Designing for Success working group by contacting the committee chairs. The working groups include Designing Career PathsImplementing Career CommunitiesRedesigning OnboardingDesigning First-Year Success and Designing Pedagogy and Research for Student Success.


  • College-wide forum provides updates on Designing for Success initiative
  • Efforts are part of the BMCC Strategic Plan, Reaching Greater Levels, 2015 – 2020
  • Students, faculty and staff attended breakout sessions focused on improving equity at the college and student success

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