Dear BMCC Community,
Welcome all of you to the 2020-2021 academic year. As we enter our fourth week of the fall semester, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times, which are redefining our lives at home and at our wonderful institution.
I am humbled and honored to be the President of Borough of Manhattan Community College. As President, one of the great joys is to get to walk the campus, feel the energy radiating from students, faculty, and staff, and to connect with new colleagues committed to doing the good work of education. While I am excited to take on this role, I am saddened that it is primarily at a distance. What saddens me more, however, are the struggles experienced by our students. From struggles with technology, the loss of jobs, or most devastatingly, the loss of friends and family, they are enduring tremendous hardships as they seek to improve their lives. I want to thank each and every one of you, many of whom are experiencing difficulties in your own lives, as you teach, support, and care for them.
While this semester could be described as anything but normal, we must continue the work at hand; however, we cannot simply continue to do as we always have. Now is the time to evaluate what has and has not worked over the past six months to determine how we not only respond in these difficult times, but also how we plan and prepare to better educate, serve, and support our students.
For these reasons, I am announcing that BMCC will be completing its strategic plan this October and will be engaging three committees to support its implementation. These groups are the Strategic Planning Committee, the Equity and Inclusion Task Force, and the President’s Research Advisory. These three institutional bodies will begin their work in early October, shortly after the completion of the Aspen Institute’s Virtual Site Visit.
Strategic Planning Committee
I commend the work of the Strategic Planning Committee and the Designing for Success Phase I teams who spent more than two years engaged in intentional redesign work. I have been made aware of the scope and scale of the effort, have spoken with some of the membership, and have reviewed the reports and other documentation developed by and provided to the committees for their work. The current strategic planning draft, including the revised mission statement and addition of a vision statement and institutional values provides BMCC with a plan that will guide our work to enhance student learning and success, improve college operations, and address systemic racism in and outside of the College.
As I have reviewed the plan and spoken with Cabinet members, it is clear that nothing should be removed from the current draft. It is important to note, however, that the College, city, and world are very different in 2020 than in 2018 when the planning process was initiated. Accordingly, I will be reconvening the Strategic Planning Committee in October to consider ways in which the plan can better prepare the College to support our students, New Yorkers directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic recovery of the city. Moving towards the realization of our mission and vision requires a strategic plan that strengthens the teaching and learning environment, prepares our students for high potential careers, and positions us as a preferred workforce partner during NYC’s economic recovery and beyond. We are close and with some additions, this plan will allow us to accomplish these ambitious goals. Upon completion of the plan, the work of this committee will shift to implementation and yearly review of the plan. More information will be provided about this transition in the future.
Equity and Inclusion Task Force
I have also been made aware of the work of the Equity and Inclusion Task Force – which was established in 2017 with the charge of providing recommendations designed to reduce equity gaps and increase feelings of inclusion for faculty, staff, and students. This committee met with faculty and staff, reviewed existing data and program evaluation reports, supported ongoing research, and reviewed policies and practices impacting not only students, but also faculty and staff. The work of this task force was central to the Designing for Success initiative and the impact of this work can be seen in the draft of the 2020-2025 BMCC Strategic Plan. I applaud the work of this task force.
To ensure that the important work of addressing equity, inclusion, and social justice continues at BMCC, I am reconstituting this group with a new name (to be determined by the membership), as a steering committee rather than a task force, and with an expanded charge. As a steering committee, this group will not only make recommendations, but will also aid the college in the implementation and monitoring of the new strategic plan. Membership will include some who served on the Equity and Inclusion Task Force, individuals who indicated their interest in continuing the conversation after the College town hall on systemic racism, and those recognized as social justice leaders. This committee will be convened for its first meeting in October and will be among our most important bodies as we implement our strategic plan.
President’s Research Advisory
The President’s Research Advisory includes faculty and staff who are actively engaged in research associated with student success. I was pleased to learn that Interim President Wilks had reached out to not only acknowledge the expertise that exists at BMCC, but to establish a body designed to learn from and act upon the recommendations of the College community. As I have reviewed both the outgoing and draft strategic plans, it is clear that student success is the foundational goal for both plans. Accordingly, this group will be critical to the implementation and review of the strategic plan.
I will be continuing this advisory body with the current membership. The body will be convened shortly after the completion of the 2020-2025 strategic plan. I look forward to working with these dedicated faculty and staff and to learning more about how we, as a College community, can better position our students for success in the classroom, in their careers, and in their lives.
This letter contains a great deal of information and details many efforts that will occur both quickly and simultaneously. There are likely concerns, questions, and suggestions and I remain open to hearing and addressing them where possible. After consulting with Cabinet and speaking with academic leadership at the College, I determined that each of these institutional groups are vital to moving the College forward and that we must engage them in the work of implementing the strategic plan immediately. Given our enrollment situation, the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased calls for justice, the economic devastation in NYC, and most importantly, the academic, career, and life success of our students, we don’t have any time to waste.
We serve a predominantly Black and Brown student population and are located in one the most diverse cities in the world. We were the epicenter of an international pandemic and the aftereffects laid bare the systemic inequalities in this city and, in fact, widened disparity gaps. To not act now is, to me, inconceivable as it would abdicate our role as a center for hope, a social justice advocate, and as an agency designed to address systemic racism, poverty, and injustice. We will leverage the knowledge, capabilities, and capacity of our committed faculty and staff by expanding the charges and empowering the aforementioned institutional bodies to transform our future.
As a native New Yorker who has experienced both the hope and the struggle that our city offers, I take VERY seriously our responsibility to help students Start Here… Go Anywhere. We are trending in the right direction as evidenced by the Aspen award, but we cannot be satisfied yet. We have more to do. Fortunately, your tremendous work offers a framework to realize our mission and vision. It is my intention to move this good work forward, to position BMCC as a leading institution, to continually learn and improve as a college, and to strengthen our ability to support to revitalization of New York City.
As the fall semester moves ahead, we will continue to do everything we can to keep the BMCC community safe and to empower you to learn, teach and work in the ways that are best for you. Thank you for your continued dedication. I am proud to be your president and to serve this great institution.
Anthony E. Munroe
President, Borough of Manhattan Community College