Faculty and Staff Convocation Focuses on Celebrating Achievements, Recommitting to Meet Student Needs
Kicking off the academic year, the 2023 Fall Faculty and Staff Convocation on September 8 celebrated BCC’s achievements, while looking forward with messages of hope, renewal, unity and recommitment to meeting a range of student needs. New leadership, including Interim President Dr. Milton Santiago and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Luis Montenegro, delivered welcoming remarks and greetings at the Roscoe Brown Playhouse.
“At BCC, we have so many pockets of excellence,” Dr. Santiago said to a room full of energy and positivity. “I want to express my gratitude to each of you for the enthusiasm and passion you bring to our classrooms and labs every day.”
Dr. Santiago said it is incumbent upon all faculty and staff as one community to prepare BCC students to grow, to excel, to succeed – to either go for a four-year degree or a job within their chosen fields. He said he is a firm believer in BCC’s student-centered approach and the need to constantly engage all students.
Dr. Santiago added that BCC has the resources to support students with all kinds of needs. He said the campus community must work together to ensure that students are aware of all that is available to them to help overcome academic, social and economic challenges.
“We stand here is this regalia today because we want to recommit ourselves to our mission so that eight months from now our students will get across the stage with their own regalia and graduate,” Dr. Montenegro said.
Dr. Miguel Hernandez, a retired Superintendent of Schools, served as a guest speaker. Dr. Hernandez shared his childhood story of his five brothers and two sisters in “survival mode”, with his father living paycheck to paycheck. “All I knew was that I wanted financial security as an adult and that college was the answer. I had to find a way to get it,” he said.
While at Montclair University, Dr. Santiago was Dr. Hernandez’s academic adviser. “Dr. Santiago told me that each semester I would become smarter. And, he was right, I did. I became the first in my family to graduate from college – all made possible because my adviser cared,” Dr. Hernandez said. “He put his heart, sole, spirit and passion into his work, his students. He cared about me from the heart and made me push to get through college. To all professors and advisers, I urge you to care from the heart. You have the power to transform lives.”
Dr. Hernandez emphasized the importance of students making connections by getting to know their advisers and professors. He said attending faculty office hours is key.
The Honorable Adriano Espaillat, U.S. Congressman for the 13th Congressional District (who grew up on the same block as Dr. Santiago) also was a guest speaker. He echoed the themes of hope, tolerance, and unity, calling BCC “the people’s college” that keeps the door open for everyone and an “Incubator of dreams for decades.”
Roni Ben-Nun, Chair of Art and Music professor, addressed the Convocation for a final time in his BCC Faculty Senate Chair role. “Our students come here like I came here. They need us. They need this chance. The fear of poverty and trying to make a better life for themselves is real,” said Ben-Nun. “Wherever we can make a difference, we must. Whether it’s in a class or office, every student must get the absolute best treatment.”
The Convocation concluded with a special luncheon gathering. A separate Fall 2023 Convocation for students was held the day prior.