THE BCC SENATE MEETS IN CYBERSPACE
The Bronx Community College Senate convened at noon on Thursday, May 14, in some 100 residences in the New York City area, all brought into one virtual room courtesy of Cisco Webex.
Those present included Senate Chair Roni Ben-Nun, BCC President Thomas A. Isekenegbe, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Lester Edgardo Sandres Rápalo and over 50 voting members who electronically cast their yays or nays on everything from name changes to BCC courses to the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.
“I am pleased to present for your approval a new strategic plan for BCC,” said Dean for Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment Nancy Ritze. “It was informed by the recommendations of our self-study for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and included wide representation from the campus community.”
The plan was approved by 50 votes. “Congratulations, everybody,” said Professor Ben-Nun, who earlier this month was elected Chair of the Department of Art and Music. “We have our map for the next five years.”
But the big issue on everyone’s mind was of course the coronavirus pandemic and its profound impact on the College, which is now conducting all classes and business online. “I want to thank everybody for working through these tough times,” President Isekenegbe told his colleagues. “At the end of the day, I think it’s going to make us a better institution.”
The Q and A session likewise focused on the challenges of distance learning, with particular concern about training for the faculty in this new style of pedagogy. Provost Rápalo informed the Senate, “There’s training taking place as we speak by CUNY Central for 68 faculty and we’re working at BCC to create online training that will help faculty and students get up to speed.”
The Provost thanked those who just the day before had participated in online training in blackboard. “That shows your commitment to student success.”
The hazards of working from home were not only discussed but summed up by several interruptions of the meeting by “Mr. Whiskers,” one of several cats in the home of Professor Ben-Nun. Eventually, Mr. Whiskers was exiled from the room with his owner’s observation that “He goes crazy sometimes, the others are all good.”
One of the last questions was about the air quality in the buildings when the faculty staff and students return — a sign that this date is already on everyone’s mind.