The annual CUNY English Summit was hosted October 26 by Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY), in the Fiterman Hall Conference Center.
CUNY Interim Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz joined BMCC Interim President Karrin E. Wilks to welcome attendees from BMCC, across CUNY and community colleges around the country.
The daylong event examined strategies proven to close the achievement gap in English and writing courses. Speakers shared insights on how to scale up—apply successful strategies to a larger segment of students—and implement remediation reform across college systems, and with different groups of students.
At BMCC, supporting students whose academic success includes remedial requirements is an important component of the college’s Designing for Success initiative.
The complexity—and urgency—of that initiative is echoed by community colleges across the country, and the summit opened with a panel on the national perspective of remediation reform, facilitated by David Crook, Associate University Provost, CUNY.
“Change takes time,” said Maria Cornier of the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University, who was joined on the panel with Jamey Gallagher of the Community College of Baltimore County, and Summer Serpas of Irvine Valley College and the California Acceleration Project.
Another panel, “The Case for Change: What CUNY Data Tell Us,” featured Michael Guy, University Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, CUNY, and Sarah Truelsch, Director of Policy Research, CUNY.
Implementing co-requisite instruction—classes in which developmental and credit-bearing content is blended, in order to move students more effectively through remediation—was the subject of a panel facilitated by Caroline Pari-Pfisterer, a deputy chair at BMCC.
Panelists included CUNY professors Heidi Johnsen, LaGuardia Community College; Donna Kessler-Eng, Bronx Community College, and Jane Hindman, Guttman Community College.
“CUNY Start and Faculty: Working Together Toward Transformation” was a panel featuring Susannah Thompson, director of curriculum and instruction, CUNY Start/Math Start, along with participants from Queensborough Community College, CUNY, including David Humphries, Interim Assistant Dean of Faculty; Bonnie Flaherty, CUNY Start/Math Start director; Elizabeth Carroll, CUNY Start instructor and Beth Counihan, a professor of English.
Jamey Gallagher and Summer Serpas presented a lunch workshop on principles of teaching co-requisite writing courses, and BMCC Acting Provost, Erwin Wong, delivered closing remarks.
“Regardless of where we come from, we have a common theme—our commitment to student success,” said Wong. He acknowledged the wide scope of findings and insights presented at the day’s sessions and reminded the audience, “One size does not fit all. If you have just two or three significant takeaways from today’s sessions, that is what might make a difference to the percentage of students in your classes who are not doing as well as they could be.”
Whatever approach is used, “We have to connect with our students,” he said. “Once they know you care, they will work very hard to reach their goals.”
For more information on strategies to improve remediation outcomes at BMCC, please contact Acting Provost Erwin Wong, firstname.lastname@example.org.