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Strategies of a Premier Community College

President Antonio Pérez delivers the 2014 State of the College address.
President Antonio Pérez delivers the 2014 State of the College address.
March 20, 2014

“Our continuing goal is to be the premier Community College in the nation,” said BMCC President Antonio Pérez as he opened this year’s State of the College address in Theatre II on the BMCC main campus.

“In 2013, Community College Week ranked BMCC as Number 2 among all the two-year colleges in the nation for awarding degrees to African Americans and Number 4 nationally, in awarding degrees to underrepresented students in general.”

The President went on to highlight strategies leading to those outcomes.

Strategic Goal #1: Excellence in Teaching, Research and Learning

“Our faculty are world-class scholars and teachers,” said President Pérez, adding that since last spring, “we have added 38 full-time faculty. We now have almost 550 full-time faculty members teaching at BMCC.”

Another highlight he shared was a new partnership between the American Association of Advertising Agencies and BMCC, CUNY and the NYC Department of Education.

This collaborative effort will establish the Manhattan Early College School for Advertising (MEECA), the President said, and “pipeline high-potential youth into the industry,” providing graduates “with a credential, a high-school diploma and associates degree at no cost.”

He also talked about BMCC’s proposed Community Health and other associate degree programs that will address workforce demands in areas such as gerontology, animation and motion graphics.

In addition, BMCC is creating a certificate program in Health Informatics, as well as Liberal Arts programs in History, Sociology and Psychology.

Strategic Goal #2: Student Success and Retention

President Pérez discussed the academic challenges many students face, and supports in place to address them, including the BMCC Innovation in Reading and Writing Initiative, the Quantway Network in Mathematics and the BMCC Freshman Learning Academies.

For example, he said, “In our developmental writing courses we have incorporated grammar diagnostic software that allows faculty to determine students’ specific areas of weakness in mechanics, so that lessons or small group work can be tailored to their specific needs.”

That and other measures have resulted in the CATW writing exam’s pass rate going from approximately 39% to 62%, he reported, “the highest in CUNY.”

Another form of academic support is being provided by the Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center (MEOC), President Pérez announced, explaining that MEOC now offers free developmental instruction on the BMCC campus, while the CUNY Start program out of the Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development continues to build students’ ability to pass the CUNY entrance exams.

The President also shared that BMCC is currently the leading Quantway College in the nation, with the pass rates for BMCC’s Quantway students significantly higher than in traditional algebra classes.

Other initiatives to build students’ academic performance include the Freshman Learning Academies, which significantly raise student pass rates, and the BMCC Enrollment Management Team.

Generous friends of the College

A program close that is “close to my heart,” the President said, is the Early Childhood Center, which received over a quarter of a million dollars last year to help support its daily operations and ensure the academic success of BMCC students who are parents.

Even more student support will be possible in the next few years, he said, thanks to generous friends of the college including the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, which will provide a grant of $300,000 over three years, to build students’ skills.

Donations to the college in general have risen, the President shared.

Last April, he said, the BMCC Foundation sponsored a 50th Anniversary Celebration for the College on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, raising over 800,000 for the BMCC Foundation Scholarship Fund—nearly double the amount raised in 2011.  

This year’s Scholarship Gala, “Reaching for the Stars: The Next 50 Years at BMCC,” will be held on the 54th floor of the newly opened 4 World Trade Center building.

Other celebrations include last September’s Steinway Soiree—the College’s first—in the Shirley Fiterman Art Center featuring guest artists Paul Shaffer, Roberta Flack, Art Garfunkel, Lew Soloff and Peter Cincotti, and showcasing BMCC’s talented art and music faculty, the President said.

Most recently, in December, BMCC received a major gift of $250,000 from the Derfner Foundation to establish a new Communication Center, which will help BMCC students improve their speaking and presentation skills.

Strategic Goal #3: Organizational Effectiveness and Accountability

During the last year, BMCC submitted its Periodic Review Report to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The College was reaffirmed for accreditation and “commended for establishing a variety of methods and process for assessing the strategic plan and for using those results to promote institutional renewal,” said President Pérez.  

The college’s plan addresses a number of issues including physical space, “and it is important to note that BMCC is fully committed to the goal of a sustainable future,” said the President.

“We are halfway through the 10-year BMCC Plan for Sustainability which includes ambitious goals for energy conservation, curriculum and education, procurement, waste management and recycling.”

In addition, he said, when the BMCC roofing project is completed, the college will embark on the installation of a 300+ KW solar panel array which will be the largest such installation in Manhattan.

“This will greatly reduce the College’s carbon footprint,” said President Pérez.

Strategic Goal #4: Global Engagement and Economic Development

“Since BMCC began, we have been clear that our mission was to serve the residents of New York City,” the President told the audience in Theatre II.

Supporting this mission is a $3 million Health Information Pathways grant from the US Department of Labor “which will establish the only Health Informatics Specialist Certificate Program in the City of New York,” he said.

The President also noted that “together with a $2 million CUNY TAACCCT grant and the $2.8 million Health Lattice Program grant from the US Department of Labor, BMCC has become a leader in the field of Health Information Technology.”

He added that BMCC was the first Community College in the United States to have been awarded a Race to a Job grant by the Wadhwani Foundation, an international private foundation focused on workforce development.

“BMCC students arrive from all over New York City and the world,” President Pérez said in closing.  

“It is our obligation to ensure that the skills, knowledge and competencies that our students build through their experiences at BMCC prepare them for personal and economic success, as well as full and responsible participation in the 21st Century global community.”

To read the President’s address in its entirety, click here.

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  • BMCC ranks Number 4 among all community colleges in the nation for awarding degrees to underrepresented students
  • This success is due to strategies and projects related to four strategic goals
  • Increased hiring of full-time faculty, new development programs, generous private grants and other initiatives are also key to student success

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