MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT
FÉLIX V. MATOS RODRÍGUEZ - SPRING 2013
Spring 2013 is the official 45th anniversary semester. I know that by now some of you might be a bit tired of all the 45th hoopla, but just as anniversaries provide opportunities for celebration, they also present opportunities for reflection and growth in a culture of continuous improvement. Reading Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir, My Beloved World, over the winter break, I was struck by the following words: “But experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire.” I think few would argue that in the forty-five years of Hostos’ existence, we have been able to do both: realizing the dreams of individuals and a community while always maintaining a sense of aspiration and possibility.
Hostos Heritage Lecture Series
We are delighted to announce the launching of the Hostos Heritage Lecture Series, which soon will present very distinguished speakers in its first three events. The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of United States and its first Hispanic member, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz, and television journalist and author Cheryl Wills will visit Hostos on February 2nd, February 4th, and February 7th, respectively, to talk about their latest literary works and interact with the campus community.
Justice Sotomayor, who was born and brought up in the Bronx, will speak about her new memoir, My Beloved World. The book tells the story of a life that has been shaped by both tragedy and triumph. Sotomayor’s mother Celina graduated from the Hostos nursing program in 1973, and the proud daughter will be returning to the college for the second time since she spoke at the commencement ceremony in 2010.
Born in the Dominican Republic and reared in New Jersey, Junot Díaz has become a figure celebrated by both Latinos and non-Latinos during America’s current political, social and economic shift. In 2008, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction as well as a National Book Critics Circle Award for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Diaz’s latest book, This Is How You Lose Her, is also receiving critical acclaim.
In celebration of African American History Month, author and television journalist Cheryl Wills will visit Hostos Community College to discuss her acclaimed book, Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale, which tells the story of the author’s great-great-great grandfather Sandy Wills and his service with the United States Colored Troops who fought for their freedom during the Civil War.
Please go to the 45th Anniversary weblink (www.hostos.cuny.edu/45anniversary/) for more information on the wonderful events planned for the next couple of months.
Some Recent Accomplishments by the Hostos Faculty, Staff, and Administration
In this spring communication, I often highlight some important institutional and individual accomplishments of the fall semester. As usual, I have plenty of material from which to choose as many Hostos faculty and staff members received impressive awards, large grants, and honors.
In September, the jury and members Marcos Martos Carrera, Ismael Pinto Vargas, and José Antonio Bravo of the Luis Alberto Sánchez Institute in Lima, Peru, declared Professor Isaac Goldemberg the unanimous first place winner of the 2012 Luis Alberto Sánchez Essay Award for his most recent book, Las sombras en el espejo: ensayos sobre literatura latinoamericana contemporánea.
In November, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) named Professor Rees Shad the New York State Professor of the Year. He was selected for this honor from a group of nearly 300 top educators in the United States.
Professor Shad was instrumental in securing a $610,135 grant from the National Science Foundation for “Designing Future for Games: Games for Multi-Media.” He and his collaborator, Professor Catherine Lewis, believe this program will help to engage media students more thoroughly with science and mathematics. The grant will also help to facilitate Media Design students’ understanding of STEM-based subjects by framing math and science with game design. This will serve as the foundation for programming-centric courses and provide students with the skills they need to pursue careers in interactive media as well as other STEM-centric fields.
Hostos was also awarded $229,079 from the “STEM Educators Expansion Directive” (Project SEED) initiative of the National Science Foundation‘s Robert Noyce Capacity Building Project. Professor Sarah Church, Principal Investigator for the SEED initiative, undertook this project because she recognized the vital importance of recruiting and cultivating potential candidates for the STEM fields from the underrepresented populations served by Hostos. The SEED team at Hostos are Professor Vladimir Ovtcharenko (Natural Sciences), Co-PI; Professor Ross Flek (Mathematics), Co-PI; Professor Francisco Fernández (Natural Sciences), and Professor Sarah Sandman (Digital Design).
Catherine Alves, Assistant to the Athletic Director for Academic Support at Hostos, has been appointed to the Foundation Fund Committee of the National Association of College Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA). In this role she will assist in planning the Foundation Auction; procure donations for this event; assist with theme and program activities; plan fundraising activities for various events; and identify potential donors for legacy giving and corporate programs that match NACWWA’s mission.
In January, Chief Librarian Madeline Ford was notified that as the result of an application prepared by Assistant Professor and Acquisitions Librarian Jennifer Tang, ours is among a selected group of libraries and state humanities councils selected to receive theMuslim JourneysBookshelf. Developed by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA) based on the advice of scholars, librarians, and other public programming experts, the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf is intended to address both the need and desire of the American public for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations. Each participating library will receive 25 books, three films, and access for one year to Oxford Islamic Studies Online.
All libraries that have received the Bookshelf will also be eligible for upcoming public programming grant opportunities. Support for the development and distribution of the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf was provided by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York, with additional support for the arts and media components from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.
Dr. Magali Figueroa-Sánchez, Executive Director of the Hostos Children’s Center, reports that the center has received a grant of $828,624.49 from EarlyLearn NYC. For the first time in nearly 50 years, the city changed its funding system in an effort to bring consistent, high-quality child care and early education to New York’s neediest children. The EarlyLearn NYC grant allows the Hostos Children’s Center to offer a unique, innovative model that merges child care and early education into a single seamless system at little or no cost to eligible low-income families.
The United States Department of Education’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program has also provided $159,190.91 for the center, and Hostos’ required contribution as the contractor is $70,936.37. The center’s capacity is 116 children, and space is still available at this time. Please contact Dr. Figueroa-Sánchez for further information at 718-518-4175.
Hostos Honored by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU)
On Sunday, October 21, 2012, Hostos Community College received HACU’s Outstanding Member Award at the association’s 26th Annual Conference, which was held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. I was also appointed to HACU’s Governing Board at the conference. HACU, the only national educational association that represents Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), was established in 1986 with a founding membership of eighteen colleges and universities (Hostos is one of HACU’s founding institutions). Today HACU represents more than 400 institutions committed to Hispanic higher education success in the United States, Puerto Rico, Latin America, Spain, and Portugal.
Exhibit of José Buscaglia’s Work in the Longwood Gallery at Hostos
From September 24 through December 8, 2012, Puerto Rico in Its Labyrinth, Chronicles of a Country and a World in Crisis, a collection of works by Puerto Rican artist, educator, and social scientist José Buscaglia, were shown in the Bronx Council on the Art’s Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos. The exhibit, which was curated by Wallace Edgecombe, consisted of 30 new paintings and four sculptures that comment on the legacy of colonialism and the history of oppression in the Caribbean, the Americas, and Africa. On November 14th, Buscaglia participated in an open conversation about his life and work with noted scholar Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones.
Fall 2012 was an exciting semester for the Hostos Caimans. The women’s volleyball team had their most successful season since 2007, finishing with a record of 7-15, advancing to the CUNYAC Semifinals, and reaching the Region XV Tournament. Men’s soccer had their most successful season to date, finishing second in the CUNYAC and advancing to the Semifinals in the Region XV Tournament. They finished the season with a record of 8-4-2 (best in school history). Women’s basketball had a good start, beginning the 2012-2013 season 6-4 overall and 3-1 in conference play. Men’s basketball started the 2012-2012 season with one of the best records in the country, going 11-1 overall and 4-0 in conference play.
The Caiman’s basketball teams have a retention rate of over 90 pecent from the Fall 2012 to the Spring 2013 semester. This is a new trend for Hostos.
Physical Infrastructure Improvements
CUNY in the Heights
In September 2012, “CUNY in the Heights” moved to a state-of-the-art space in the Inwood Center at 5030 Broadway. On September 23rd, a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the new building. Administered by Hostos in collaboration with Borough of Manhattan Community College, the program has a fifteen-year lease for 15,000 square feet in the mixed-use building bounded by Broadway, West 214th Street, Tenth Avenue, and West 213th Street.
This new space has classrooms equipped with wireless connections and SMART Boards, computer labs, conference rooms, and offices for 150 faculty and staff members, and it will enable the programs to operate six days a week throughout the year.
Center for Workforce Development & Continuing Education
On October 17th, Hostos opened its new Center for Workforce Development & Continuing Education in the former Bronx Terminal Market Building at 560 East 149th Street. This facility is a $1.4 million investment that made it possible for the college to expand the Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development’s popular programs, including General Educational Development (GED), English as a Second Language (ESL), job training in the fields of technology, adult literacy, College for Kids, and more. Providing 8,300 square feet of space, the building will also house new programs such as the Center for Bronx Non-Profits (CBNP), a convening, training and resource sharing space that has received funding from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and The New York Community Trust. A new executive director will soon be hired for the center.
Among other new programs are the Bronx Workforce1 Career Extension Center, a joint venture with Federation Employment and Guidance Service, Inc. (FEGS), and the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS). These programs will benefit Hostos students through career placement.
The new building will also help to meet the needs of community members who have been seeking continuing education and workforce training in record numbers—individuals that local businesses and elected officials are depending upon to be the engines that drive the local economy.
Other ongoing physical infrastructure improvements that were initiated last year include the following: continual remodeling of bathrooms throughout the campus to make them ADA compliant; creation of two new study rooms in the library; renovation of the second floor of the B Building to provide space for the Student Success coaches, as well as the fourth floor in late May and June; and renovation of the Division of Institutional Advancement offices in the D Building.
On October 3, 2012, Conversing Bricks, a meaningful permanent art installation by Hatuey Ramos-Fermín,was unveiled in the Memorial Garden at Hostos. This event marked the end of three years of work to create a pro-immigrant message that encourages dialogue, conversation, and thought. The project emerged from a campaign waged by anti-immigrant groups that sent bricks to members of Congress who opposed the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the United States. The bricks contained messages such as “Build a Wall,” “No to Illegals,” and “Secure our Borders.” Of the thousands of bricks sent to Capitol Hill, 273 were collected for this project, which had the support of Congressman José E. Serrano. Artist Ramos-Fermín, a faculty member at Hostos, was awarded a grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Community Arts Development Fund for the project. Conversing Bricks is constructed in the shape of a round table with the intention of transforming messages of hate into a place for dialogue about issues of citizenship, immigration, and human rights.
Student Success Coaches Initiative
Initiated last summer, the Student Success Coaches Unit (SSCU) was established to meet the various support-services needs of our students in order to increase their academic success and degree completion. Our goal is for every Hostos student to have a coach assigned to him/her to provide assistance in navigating the college. The coach remains assigned to his/her student as long as the student is enrolled at Hostos. The objective is for every Hostos student to have a coach by the end of the 2014-15 academic year.
At present, the unit has nine (9) coaches—Derek Ivery, Alba Lynch, Sasha Ortiz, Luz Pagán, Frances Plata, José Ramos, Jeanette Rooney, Safiya Solomon, and Carmen Sosa—who meet periodically with the new students and design conference sessions to meet their individual needs. These sessions address the students’ interests, grades, goals, and attributes. They also include interventions to overcome academic challenges or to help the students find ways to maximize their learning experiences. This approach is consistent with the feedback received from the Foundations of Excellence Self-Study, and will help the students to make the most of their first-year experience.
Office of Institutional Research and Student Assessment (OIRSA)
The Office of Institutional Research and Student Assessment (OIRSA) was established in response to the recommendations made during our Middle States accreditation process and as result of our Strategic Plan goal of creating a culture of continuous improvement. As Hostos fulfills its mission and implements its five-year strategic plan, OIRSA plays a pivotal role in providing data and analyses to support the development of academic policy, the evaluation and assessment of college programs, and reporting to CUNY Central and outside agencies, including the Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education.
OIRSA is headed by Acting Assistant Dean Richard Gampert; the staff will include an assessment coordinator and three institutional research specialists to work with the five divisions of the college in assessment and in developing the college-wide annual operational plan.
Chief Diversity Officer
Please note that Eugene Sohn’s new title is Chief Diversity Officer. This is a change required by CUNY and changes the previous title of Director of Affirmative Action, Compliance, and Diversity, noting that the mission and mandate of his office remains the same.
Implementation of the Pathways Curriculum
Throughout the Spring 2013 semester, we will be preparing our campus to implement the Pathways curriculum in the Fall 2013 semester. We will be updating our catalogue and getting our IT and other advising systems ready. It will be important to start communicating the changes to our returning students so that they can be informed about their options.
Assessment and Planning Professional Development
To advance our work on assessment and planning—as identified in the Strategic Plan and the Middle States Self-Study—staff members will participate in several professional development activities this spring. For example, departmental chairs and coordinators and members of the Senior Leadership Council are scheduled to participate in two (2) assessment and training seminars scheduled for February 25 and March 18, 2013.
As we invest in improvements in our physical infrastructure, it is also important to remember that in this new age of technology and communications, our “virtual” presence and infrastructure is equally important to attend. AVP Segal has been working on a new design and platform for our website and we look forward to having the newly designed website by the end of the spring semester.
Following are some additional 45th Anniversary events:
Hostos Day of Community Service - A Major Event to Celebrate the College’s 45th Anniversary
On Monday, April 22, 2013, the Hostos family will participate in a day of community service to celebrate the college’s 45th anniversary. This endeavor is a way of expressing our gratitude for Hostos’ past and present supporters, and “paying it forward” for our future supporters. We want to encourage community service and engagement from our students, faculty and staff and we also want to highlight current and existing efforts. Dolly Martínez, Deputy to the President, and Diana Kiselyuk, Events Coordinator, will spearhead the activity, and more information will soon be provided. Anyone with ideas and suggestions, please contact either Ms. Martínez or Ms. Kiselyuk as soon as possible.
Hostos Community College’s 45th Anniversary Gala
Hostos Community College’s 45th Anniversary Gala will be held on Friday, May 3, 2013, at the Glen Island Harbour Club, Glen Island Park, 299 Weyman Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10805. At the gala, we will honor the following outstanding individuals: Dr. Merryl H. Tisch, Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents; and Mr. Tonio Burgos, Founder of Tonio Burgos and Associates. Our Corporation of the Year for 2013 is the Famous Famiglia Pizzeria. (Last year, Famous Familglia’s CEO Paul Kolaj served as our Gala Chair.) This year’s Gala Chair is Edward T. McGettigan, Jr., Chairman, President, CRM & CEO of the American Transit Insurance Company.
Entertainment for the gala will be provided by Latino singing legends Cheo Feliciano and Danny Rivera, who on this occasion will share the stage in New York for the very first time. Added together, their careers total nearly a century, and their songs have inspired generations of aficionados in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. We will honor Mr. Wallace Edgecombe, Former Director of the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, at the concert. Stay tuned for further details.
Continuation of the Young Roots Series at HCAC
With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Hostos Community College Center for the Arts & Culture presents an innovative music and dance program titled the Young Roots Series that showcases young masters of Afro-Caribbean music and dance who combine elements of jazz, hip-hop, rock and reggaeton with the folkloric elements that are part of their cultural background. The next performance in the New Roots Series will be given on March 8, 2013, by Rockafella, a group of young Bronxite women who perform in the genres of old-school hip-hop and freestyle.
42nd Commencement Ceremony
For the second consecutive year, our Commencement Ceremony will be held in the magnificent New York City Center. The date is Friday, June 7, 2013, and the time is 3:00 p.m. Details regarding the ceremony and our Commencement Speaker will be forthcoming soon. Please stay tuned.
This is just a snapshot of some of the good work being done at Hostos and a preview of what the spring semester will hold for us. We should be proud to celebrate our many accomplishments during our 45th Anniversary, but this milestone should also motivate us to improve the work that we do and to commit ourselves to higher levels of service, excellence, and accomplishments.
Best wishes for an extraordinary Spring 2013 semester!
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Ph.D.