State of the College Address 2010

February 16, 2010

In the toughest times since the Great Depression,” said BMCC President Antonio Pérez, as he delivered the State of the College Address on February 16, “community colleges are receiving attention for the critical role they play in responding to a great national need.”

BMCC is meeting that need, by providing an affordable, high-quality education that leads to better employment and sets the groundwork for increasingly specialized transfer opportunities to bachelor’s programs in 4-year colleges.

“We remain in the top ten schools in the nation in the production of graduates from under-represented groups, particularly in business and technical programs,” said President Pérez, noting that since Spring 2007, there has been an almost 20% increase in applicants, and BMCC had to close its doors early for admission last fall and this spring—for the first time in the College’s history.

To maximize the success of students whose educational opportunity is more critical than ever, the College has focused on upgrading the counseling, scheduling and technical support, and services offered at BMCC. He outlined the College’s strategic priorities, which cover four main areas: teaching excellence, student success, organizational effectiveness, and community engagement and economic development.

Excellence in teaching and research
Of the 400 full-time faculty at BMCC, over 75% have a doctorate or terminal degree in their field—including five who received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mathematics Instruction—Professors Alla Morgulis, Claire Wladis, Leonid Khazanov, Michael George and Annette Gourgey—as well as Professor Kimberly Ray in the Teacher Education Department, and Science Professor Lalitha Jayant, both recognized as Scholars by the Chancellor. To support that level of instructional quality, the College provides research incentives including grant funding.

New degrees for a new world
Keeping up with technology’s impact and today’s changing workplace, BMCC has developed a number of innovative degree programs.

Two new dual degree programs with John Jay College of Criminal Justice include one in Forensic Science, and another in Criminal Justice. A Forensic Accounting degree has been developed with the Economics program at John Jay, a proposed degree in Biotechnology in conjunction with York College was just approved by the Committee on Academic Policy, Program and Research, and a degree in Geographic Information Science will soon be offered by BMCC’s Computer Information Science Department, in combination with the Social Sciences and Human Services Departments.

Assessing—and enhancing—learning
Improving instructional quality is grounded in effective assessment, and BMCC faculty teams have collaborated to meet that challenge.

Focusing on student learning outcomes and assessment methodologies, cross-departmental teams have shared their assessment experience and most effective practices, in college-wide Assessment Days.

Distance learning: Closing the gap
In the fall of 2008, the College convened an E-Learning task force, whose recommendations framed a Title V application that resulted in 2.9 million dollars to improve BMCC’s e-learning opportunities.

A full-time e-Learning Director will soon join the BMCC staff, and additional staff and support services will ensure that students struggling to meet work and family responsibilities take full advantage of online courses.

BMCC has the largest percentage of online and hybrid e-learning courses among all the CUNY community colleges, and the BMCC library has tripled its electronic book collection—which now houses 190,000 e-books, and nearly 6,000 videos.

Student success and retention
Enabling students to succeed at BMCC, a number of initiatives have been put in place. Steps Toward Academic Readiness and Success (STARS), surrounds students with academic advisement support before they even start classes, and Peer Academic Leaders (PALS), guide their fellow students in the early steps to joining the BMCC experience.

Under the Coordinating Undergraduate Education (CUE) program, Paired Learning Communities link developmental courses with credit-bearing courses, and the Navigating Through College to Success program embeds advisement in developmental courses, to keep students on track as they raise their skills to succeed.

As a result of these and other efforts, the BMCC student pass rate on the College Proficiency Exam (CPE), which precludes graduation, has a pass rate of 93%, the third highest in all of CUNY.

Career steps that start before graduation
BMCC’s Center for Career Development just launched its Career Express system, which allows employers to post their internship and employment opportunities online, and 127 employers have already created accounts.

In addition, the BMCC Academy of Leadership and Service has begun to take part in a year-long leaderships development program, through the Office of Student Activities.

Financial aid meets student needs

Over the last year, the BMCC Financial Aid Office has experienced a 27% increase in students filing for financial aid, and 12,000 students in this semester alone received Pell Advance payments to assist in the purchase of books and supplies—a 46% increase over last year.

To keep students up-to-date with the financial aid available to them, the BMCC Academic Advisement and Transfer Center, the Department of Student Life’s counseling and advisement services, and the Center for Career Development are all in place.

In addition, students benefit from an expanded registration grid that provides access to classes on Fridays, evenings and weekends.

A commitment to being effective and accountable
BMCC, which has demonstrated its organizational effectiveness to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, met all required standards for accreditation and demonstrated a sustained effort across all levels of the College to create analyses and recommendations for continued excellence.

One important result was the development of an Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Planning that ensures evidence-based decisions inform every strategic step the College sets into motion.

Another result is aggressive fundraising and grant writing efforts that have produced over six million dollars annually over the last few years, and the creation of a Dynamic Customer CARE staff development program to train managers, supervisors and over 300 front-line staff in providing better service to BMCC students, ensuring they have a positive experience at stages of their academic experience.

Continuing education: Building alliances to benefit students

“In the past 18 months,” said President Pérez, “too many of us have experienced, first-hand, the City’s historic unemployment rates across many job sectors.”

In response that situation, BMCC’s Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development has created certificate training programs that link students to areas of economic stability and growth including the health care and technical industries.

BMCC’s newly renovated Workforce Training Center at 25 Broadway in Lower Manhattan features state-of-the-art labs, “Smart” classrooms and facilities that optimize professional training in a number of expanding fields. In addition, partnerships with employers and businesses have been developed.

Generous support
Despite the City’s current economic environment, BMCC has received an encouraging number of grants and other funding.

These include a $100,000 gift from the Bank of New York Mellon; a gift of $200,000 that enabled improvements to campus electronic signage; a $105,000 gift from the New York Community Trust; a $1.4 million Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant to the BMCC Early Childhood Center, and others.

“Students come to us from all over New York City and the world,” said President Pérez, as he thanked the staff, faculty and students in attendance, before closing his Address. “It is our responsibility and privilege to serve these students.”


Editor’s note: If you like, you can read President Perez’s entire 2010 State of the College Address. Click here

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