Dear Friends, Alumni and Colleagues:
I start with an exciting announcement, one that promises to further enhance our effectiveness in delivering on our academic mission. On June 24, the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York approved the appointment of Dr. Claudia V. Schrader as Bronx Community College's new vice president for Academic Affairs and provost. Dr. Schrader was previously associate provost for academic development at William Patterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. Prior to that she was interim associate provost and assistant provost at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Dr. Schrader brings to us extensive teaching experience and an assessment-driven mindset that focuses on using available data as a tool to bolster student retention and graduation. Her official start date is August 5, and I look forward to welcoming her to our leadership team.
The 2012-13 school year at Bronx Community College ended with a crescendo of exciting activity. Our 53rd Commencement exercises on May 31 saw 1507 students receive their associate's degrees and various certificates under a great white tent pitched on Ohio Field. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the Tony-nominated book for the Broadway musical In the Heights, delivered the commencement address. You can hear part of Ms. Hudes' speech and see photos from the commencement in this video of highlights from CUNY graduation ceremonies across the city (The BCC portion begins at 1:05). New York State Assemblywoman Carmen E. Arroyo was presented this year's President's Medallion for her tireless social activism. The Class of 2013 valedictorian, Menelik R. Goodwin, who graduated with a 4.0 G.P.A. and chose New York University from among the eleven top colleges and universities to which he was accepted, quoted reggae artist and social activist Jimmy Cliff as he told his classmates, "When obstacles and trials present themselves, always remember that the harder they come is the harder they fall."
This spring has been replete with examples of BCC's energetic involvement in the world — both inside and beyond our gates. To cite several:
- On Wednesday, June 5, the Twentieth Annual Bronx Community College Film & Video Festival was held at Manhattan's Clearview Chelsea Cinema. On hand were Professor Jeffrey C. Wisotsky, director of BCC's Media and Digital Film Production Program, and Dr. Debra A. Gonsher, head of the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, who have guided every incarnation of this student filmmaker showcase since it began two decades ago in a café near Times Square. Our corporate hosts for the evening were the Eastman Kodak Company, Avid Technology, B&H Photo and, of course, Clearview Cinemas. Awards were handed out at the end of the night, including the $5000 Marie Nesbitt Promise Award, which went to Sebastian Rothwyn for his James-Bondian mini-thriller, Double Agent. BCC alumnus Vikki L. Pryor generously funds the award.
- On May 4, our campus hosted the Annual Hall of Fame Walk and Run. Now known as Run the Bronx, this beloved celebration of healthy living and fitness was launched 35 years ago by my predecessor, President Emeritus Roscoe Brown, Jr. Thanks to a collaboration with many community partners, such as event chair Joe Kelleher, chairman of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and other Bronx-based health businesses and non-profit organizations, this year's run attracted 1,179 avid marathoners, casual walkers, couples with small children, people over 70 and groups from local businesses, schools and community centers — along with BCC students, staff and faculty. Bronxnet captured the high spirits of the day.
- Also in May, the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced that two BCC faculty members — Professor Tom Cipullo and Substitute Assistant Professor Steven Burke — would receive two of the four Arts and Letters in Music Awards, given to composers "who have arrived at his or her own voice." Each honoree will receive $15,000, half of which must go to the production of a new recording. Both professors, past recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships, cite their BCC students as inspiration for their work.
- April saw the launch of our new President's Lecture Series, an occasional public forum that will explore subjects of interest to BCC and the larger community. Taking place in the auditorium of our historic Gould Memorial Library and cosponsored by BCC's Criminal Justice Academy, our first lecture, "Guns: How Do We Stop the Violence?" brought together a distinguished panel representing the judicial and criminal justice systems and the pro-gun control lobby to examine a timely topic that deeply touches the lives of our student body and the Bronx. Our moderator for the event was Carol A. Robles-Román, CUNY trustee and New York City deputy mayor for legal affairs and counsel to the mayor. Nearly 300 students and members of the general public attended the event, engaging in a provocative discussion about ways to stem America's epidemic of gun-related violent crime. The robust exchange of viewpoints can be sampled here.
- BCC continues to strengthen its offerings in the sciences, particularly in areas impacting the sustainability of the planet Earth. On the roof of Meister Hall, the highest point on our campus, there is now a device that breathes in the air of the Bronx and measures the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by this borough and city. Those gases impact climate change around the world. The state-of-the-art equipment was installed by Alejandro Prieto, a BCC student in Earth Systems and Environmental Science, under the guidance of Dr. Neal Phillip, most recently chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, now interim associate dean for student success in the Office of Academic Affairs. That greenhouse gas monitoring station atop Meister will eventually become part of a worldwide network of a hundred such facilities around the world.
Earlier this spring, we also welcomed Karla Renee Williams Esq. to the campus, as BCC's executive counsel to the president and labor designee. Barred in Wisconsin and licensed to practice in New York and Georgia, Ms. Williams comes to us most recently from the bar review unit of Kaplan Test Prep. Her background includes experiences in Georgia as assistant solicitor general and an assistant district attorney.
Finally, I want to draw your attention to one of the latest aesthetic enhancements to the campus — eight lifesized portraits adorning the walls of the breezeway between the lobby of Colston Hall and the registrar's office. Working under the supervision of Lisa Amowitz, art department deputy chair and digital arts curriculum coordinator, a team of students and recent graduates from the College's Digital Arts Program posed and photographed their peers, then used a digital drawing program to create the sequence of arresting images. This ambitious venture was made possible with support from David A. Taylor, dean of administration and finance. It is part of a larger, ongoing effort to display more original artwork around our campus, thus continuing a tradition that goes back to Stanford White, the legendary architect who designed our first great buildings more than a century ago and whose vision influences the development of our campus to this day.
My thanks to every citizen of Bronx Community College who contributed invaluable talents to BCC life this past semester and helped us "define what matters"!
Best wishes for an enjoyable summer.
Carole M. Berotte Joseph, President