BMCC President Antonio Pérez presented his annual State of the College Address to the college community on Tuesday, March 8 in Theatre 2 on the college’s main campus. Students, faculty and staff filled the theatre’s tiered seating and the President covered BMCC’s milestones, new initiatives and achievements reached in the past year.
Kicking off with something to celebrate, President Pérez reported BMCC’s new rankings, according to Community College Week and data from the U.S. Department of Education. Among these, he said, BMCC ranks #4 nationwide, for awarding associate degrees to minority students. He also announced that 75% of BMCC graduates are enrolled in further education, and 9 out of 10 BMCC students graduate debt free.
Moving on to college-wide efforts, President Perez summarized BMCC’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, Reaching Greater Levels. Over 100 faculty, staff and administrators have formed working committees to address five strategic priorities that impact on students’ college readiness,overall experience, timely degree completion and workforce development, as well as the BMCC’s sustainability as an institution.
“What we learn from experimenting with new and scaled-up approaches will make us a stronger, more effective institution,” said the President, “known for our excellence and thought leadership in higher education, particularly regarding how to effectively serve a large community college population with diverse needs.”
Program and faculty growth
The President was met with spontaneous applause when he announced that in the last year, BMCC has added a significant number of faculty across the disciplines, resulting in totals of about 550 full-time and 1,000 adjunct professors. Also, he said, “we have hired over 150 new staff and administrators, with several new lines still to be filled before the close of the academic year.”
Reflecting the array of programs that serve high school-to-college students and those who need remediation as they enter BMCC, the President talked about CUNY Start, the Manhattan Early College for Advertising (MECA), College Now and others.
He reviewed highlights such as $875,000 awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to three BMCC Presidential Scholars; professors Kathleen Offenholley (mathematics), Frank Crocco (English) and Don Wei (CIS). Together, they are developing game-based educational materials for math remediation and to facilitate the transition of NYC high school graduates completing a degree in Geographic Information Science (GIS) at an accelerated pace.
The President also reported on BMCC Student Affairs programs including Comprehensive Assistance and Retention Empowerment Services (CARES), for students coming from the foster care system; Retention-Inspired Student Engagement (RISE), for students in good standing who have a sudden drop in GPA; the Petrie program, funded by the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation; MoneyWorks, to build students’ financial literacy, Single Stop and others.
He discussed Student Activities programs including Alternative Spring Break, in which students travel to New Orleans to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and the Student Leadership Retreat to the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York.
The pathway to greater levels
“To better serve our students, we have merged the College Computing Center, Media Center and Instructional Technology into the new Information Resources and Technology (IRT) division,” the President reported. “Additionally, we have incorporated the technical support staff from Adult and Continuing Education and the Library into IRT to better provide a consistent level of IT support and service.”
He updated the audience on BMCC’s new majors. “As part of our multi-pronged effort to improve student retention, persistence and graduation," he said, "we have aggressively sought to develop and implement associate degree programs that address growing needs in the workforce and provide an accelerated pathway to the baccalaureate." These new degree programs include Sociology, Studio Art, Art History, Gerontology and Modern Languages.
“This address highlights the demonstrable success, significant progress and exciting foundations that are emerging even as I speak,” the President said, adding that none of the accomplishments he outlined would have been possible without the efforts of students, faculty and staff.
“By attending, working in or serving this College, each of you has made the decision to invest in our success,” the President said in closing. “This investment has paid off in improved outcomes for our students … The state of this College is strong and we are on the pathway to greater levels. Thank you for all you do and thank you for allowing me to share our incredible story with you today.”