Eugenio María de Hostos Community College | 2020 Hostos Year-in-Review

The year 2020 will not be soon forgotten. Faced with the reality and unimaginable consequences of a global pandemic, Hostos responded with resilience, strength, and solidarity. The College accomplished much regardless of the circumstances. Our many happenings, highlights, achievements, and events are captured in this 2020 Year-in-Review digest.
The COVID-19 pandemic demanded a quick pivot to a distance learning model that tested the education system. Hostos remained steadfast. With the support of the Hostos Information Technology Department and EdTech, the faculty quickly modified their syllabi and pedagogy, and delivered online classes. And students completed their courses, surpassing expectations, the largest number of students filed their candidacy for their graduation as members of Hostos’ 50th commencement class, and first-ever virtual ceremony – a testament of Hostos’ strength.
Student support services remained a priority in AY 2019-2020. The Division of Student Development and Enrollment Management (SDEM) and the Division of Institutional Advancement (DIA) worked to keep the food pantry's supply plentiful. The Hostos Food Pantry staff, Public Safety officers, and the Mott Haven Bar and Grill helped thousands of Hostos, and other CUNY students and veterans receive food during the spring and summer pandemic surge. The Counseling Center continues to provide access to support students, faculty, and staff. The College provided computing devices to those who needed them, with help from Hostos students. Wireless hotspots were also made available to students who lacked internet connection and granted registered students CARES Act relief.
Hostos experienced several significant administrative shifts throughout the year. Hostos welcomed home Dr. Daisy Cocco De Filippis, who previously served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the College from 2002 to 2008. She returned in August as Interim President, after a 12-year tenure as President of Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC), and now President Emerita. Dr. Cocco De Filippis’ appointment as Interim-President of Hostos makes her the first Dominican woman to lead a CUNY community college. Dr. Cocco De Filippis has since appointed Charles I. Drago, former Chair of the Allied Health Sciences Department, as Acting Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. Professor of Mathematics Olen Dias, Ph.D., was appointed Acting Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. And, Dr. Anders (AJ) Stachelek was promoted to Director of Academic Assessment. Former Director of the Office of Financial Aid, Leslie King, now serves as Interim Associate Dean of Student Development and Enrollment Management. The Division of Academic Affairs welcomed two newly-elected chairpersons in the Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education Departments: Ernest Ialongo, Ph.D., and Jacqueline M. DiSanto, Ed.D., and Academic Affairs also promoted seven faculty members to full professors.
Despite the shifts caused by the stay-at-home orders, the Hostos leadership team delivered on its vision and worked together to advance the Strategic Plan’s college-wide priorities, and the Hostos’ Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) responsibilities were validated when the CUNY Trustees reaffirmed its support of the MSCHE accreditation process and commended us for our strong fidelity to the Hostos mission.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education VP of Institutional Field Relations and liaison to Hostos Community College, Dr. Paul Starkey, underscored the Trustee's confidence during his virtual Self-Study Preparatory Visit (SSPV) on October 21, 2020. Dr. Starkey commended our robust Self-Study Design (SSD), including the communication plan, which is grounded in regular college-wide open forums and frequent updates about progress. He also commended our adherence to the proposed timeline, the strong commitment of the Steering Committee and Working Group members, and the progress we’ve made evaluating evidence through the lens of our mission.
Much credit goes to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Research, and Assessment (OIERA) led by Assistant Dean for Institutional Effectiveness, Strategic Planning, and Assessment, Babette Audant, Ph.D. The OIERA is undertaking a substantial role in steering the direction of the operational and strategic plan. The office is also working to strengthen and systematize assessment college-wide and project managing the MSCHE’s self-study process.
Furthermore, OIERA’s Director of Assessment, AJ Stachelek, and Associate Director of Institutional Research and Assessment, Dereck Norville-Bowie, are engaged in refocusing long-time efforts by faculty and staff and systematizing the assessment of Student Learning Outcomes across academic and AES units, respectively, with the support of assessment taskforces (AATF, AESAC, GEATF). OIERA’s Senior Director of Institutional Research and Data Analytics, Piotr Kocik is taking the lead in developing a framework for organizing, and managing data across the college, including those used to support and inform assessment. 
Hostos MSCHE Co-Chairs Professors Kate S. Wolfe and Nelson Nuñez-Rodríguez and the MSCHE Steering Committee agree that systematizing assessment is an important part of the institution’s continuous growth and progress. Documenting past efforts through the lens of work happening presently is critical to the self-study process. Staff and faculty across Hostos are contributing to this work and developing the skills and knowledge to sustain it.
Support and assessment go hand-in-hand with serving. The establishment and implementation of the Hostos Serves Series during the 2020 fall semester were about addressing and strengthening our people. Two six-hours sessions will take place each month throughout the academic year, covering topics such as customer service, body language and emotions, generational perspectives, communications and technology, team development, change management, roles and responsibilities, and difficult people. The workshops are led by Waldemar Kostrzewa, Dean of Community Engagement at Naugatuck Valley Community College.

Concurrently, and although physically distanced for almost a year, the College remained active in the virtual sphere. While the pandemic shook the confidence of tech systems, Hostos’ IT took swift action and created its Be Ready page—still the one-stop area for all things tech and distance learning at the College.

While physical distance might still impede full immersion into society, Hostos engaged in college-wide gatherings held throughout the semester, as in the Stated Meeting of the College, MSCHE Open Forums, and OAA open houses. The political and racial tensions that engulfed the nation and the world did not go unnoticed by the Hostos community. The Student Government Association, in partnership with the Office of the President, Office of Student Activities-SDEM, and Office of Academic Affairs, held a Black Lives Matter Forum for the College community. Hostos’ Day-of-Action addressed systematic inequality issues at the city, state, and national level in education, employment, healthcare, housing, politics, and beyond. As a result of the BLM Forum, a three-part “Race in America Town Halls” will be announced in full in early 2021.

The Dominican Studies Association’s 9th Biennial DSA2020 Virtually@Hostos conference, “Crisis of Truth, State of Emergency, and Social Responses: The Urgency of Dominican and Ethnic Studies in the Present Hour,” held on December 4 and 5, was a resounding success. It gathered an international and first-class artists, educators, doctors, judges, and community leaders. The two-day conference attracted over 500 attendees representing 13 Countries, 92 Universities, and 28 cultural centers and professional institutions. Across 17 sessions and 41 panels, participants enjoyed timely discussion on diasporic issues impacting the Dominican community in the United States and beyond.

The Hostos Division of Institutional Advancement ensured that students got access to the emergency support they need to persist through these challenging times. Hostos, the second smallest of the CUNY community colleges, ranked second among its peers in funds raised for the CUNY Tuesday campaign. That our alumni are playing a role in the City's livelihood during the pandemic should come as no surprise to us; in case you are wondering who is out there, check the Alumni on the Frontline series. We are proud of our Caimans who supported our local and extended community and those who worked on the frontlines.
Professor Sarah Hoiland led the Presidential Debate Watch parties by gathering and holding conversations with thoughtful and determined Hostos alumni and student leaders. The Center for Teaching and Learning, through EdTech, continually served up several types of workshops and tips to empower faculty and students during these technologically swift times. Moreover, the College kept library hours and sharing institutional campaigns, news, and student support updates through social media.
In the absence of live programming due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture (HCAC), in partnership with BronxNet, presented full-length programs from past performances at the Center. And, what’s more, despite the pandemic the HCAC saw audience growth. Its online offerings attracted large (and international) audiences – proof positive of the strength of its programming and of the power of art to soothe and enlighten in difficult times.
Dr. Cocco De Filippis brings culture to the forefront, no matter where she goes. Literary talks and inspiring camaraderie are some of the things she spearheads to bring her community together. And that she did as soon as she arrived at Hostos by launching the monthly series Veladas Hostosianas | Hostos Culture Talks. During the Fall of 2020 alone, through the Culture Talks, Hostos has spotlighted emerging, established, and renowned authors, poets, and educators as well as doctors, politicians, and government diplomats.
Through the Veladas Hostosianas, Hostos has welcomed Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Hostos Professor Sandy Figueroa, and Hostos student leader Isabel Neira Sánchez, for an evening conversation as part of Puerto Rican Heritage Month. Curated by Associate Professor Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla, Puerto Rican poets Ángel Lozada, Carmen Bardeguez-Brown, Urayoán Noel, and Myrna, Nieves were part of the Hostos Culture Talk lineup. The short film “Los Reyes Cantores,” by Professor Joelle Gonález-Laguer, screened in time for the holidays. Earlier in the fall, Veladas Hostosianas presented MARGINALIA, a book by first-time published author and Hostos Game Design Professor Juno Morrow, marking LGBTQ+ History Month, National Coming Out Day, and Transgender Day of Remembrance.
In addition, Interim-President Daisy Cocco De Filippis and Associate Dean of Community Relations Ana I. García Reyes, welcomed the Latin American Council of Consul Generals on October 14. They awarded CLACNY the Distinguished Latino Leaders Award during a virtual ceremony with guest speaker, CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez.
Connected by name to Veladas Hostosianas | Hostos Culture Talks is the Hostos Review / Revista Hostosiana. Associate Professor Lara-Bonilla, as director of the Latin American Writers Institute and chief editor of the journal, announced in October the launch of Issue No 16 of the Hostos Review / Revista Hostosiana. Composed and prefaced by guest editors Dr. Claudia Salazar Jiménez and Dr. Larry La Fountain-Stokes, the issue includes poetry, fiction, and chronicle, in English or Spanish, by eighteen contributing authors from across the Americas. The issue was conceived as a space for authors and scholars to engage in a much-needed trans-American dialogue about what it means to write queer/cuir literature today in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Issue No.16 is available here.

Beyond the Veladas, internal town halls, and forums, Dr. Cocco De Filippis reached outside of the College and established the Hostos Community College Advisory Council this fall. Comprised of business, government, and cultural leaders connecting with the larger Metro and Bronx community is imperative for Cocco De Filippis. She seeks to foster support to enhance student advancement opportunities and career paths in higher education degrees.

Many in the Hostos family received well-deserved recognition for their professional contributions, and faculty members were awarded fellowships and grants and published papers, research, and books. Hostos has plenty to celebrate this year, ranging from being ranked No. 3 on Niche’s 2021 Best Community Colleges in New York list to seeing our men’s and women’s basketball teams earn the 2020 Region XV DIII champs' title, and much more.
Beyond the administrative, cultural, and literary college-wide gatherings set in motion by Interim-President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, her need to continually communicate with those she has been charged to serve, pushes out essential efforts. If not by virtual connection, then by publishing. Nowhere has the President’s need to speak through been more evident than with the publication of the El Semanario Hostosiano | The Hostos Weekly (El Semanario), produced out of the Office of the President.
The El Semanario’s first volume is now a 16-week catalog, that shares developing stories about our self-study process, includes poetry, essays, departmental news, and more. The effort evidences the vibrant life that Hostos keeps even while, regrettably, a pandemic surges on.
What a year it has been.

Accolades and Achievements | Students Accolades and Achievements | Division of Academic Affairs
  • Hostos Community College was awarded over $3.6 million by the New York State Education. Department (NYSED) in support of the College’s Proyecto Access STEP and CSTEP Programs. The grants, which will fund two separate proposals, will serve a total of 451 students each year and will be apportioned over the next five years.
  • The Hostos Radiologic Technology unit was the only program in the CUNY system that was able to graduate students – a testimony to the grit and determination that historically has fueled the program. Statistics bear this out: In 2020, 90% of the registered nursing (RN) students and 100% of licensed practical nursing (LPN) students passed their examinations. In 2019, 100% of rad-tech students passed their board exams. And a total of 37 men and women in Hostos’ Dental Hygiene program took their Clinical License exam in October, and the group scored a 100% pass rate
  • Assistant Professor and Librarian Linda Miles co-authored and published “How to Thrive as a Library Professional: Achieving Success and Satisfaction” with Susanne Markgren, assistant director of the Library for Technical Services at Manhattan College. The book was born out of the duo’s desire to help others discover and cultivate pathways to successful, satisfying, and thriving professional careers. 
  • Marcella Bencivenni, Professor of History in the department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, was awarded a Tiro a Segno Fellowship in Italian-American Studies at New York University for Fall 2020.
  • Professor Maria Subert completed her postgraduate studies at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.
  • Assistant Professor of History Kristopher Burrell was named an Associate Editor at the Ethnic Studies Review, a premier journal in the field of Ethnic Studies that has been in existence since 1978 and is published by University of California Press. 
  • The World Exposure Report named Hostos’ assistant women's basketball coach Dominique Winstead the NJCAA DIII National Assistant Coach of the Year.
  • Hostos Professors Ana Ozuna and Sean Gerrity were selected as 2020 Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Community College Faculty Fellows. Ozuna was selected for her project “The Early History Indigenous Freedom Seekers and African Rebels in Hispaniola and Jamaica,” and Gerrity was awarded the fellowship for his book project, “A Canada in the South: Maroons in American Literature.”
  • Associate Professor of English Anne Rounds was awarded a CUNY William P. Kelly Fellowship for her scholarly project, “Accommodating Hamlet.” In her work, she proposes and explores how to present Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the classroom through the lens of disability studies and accommodation.
  • Faculty member Andy Connolly received the 2020 Henry Wasser Award for Outstanding Assistant Professor in CUNY, an honor conferred to qualified, academically impressive Professors from the CUNY system.
  • “EdCast,” hosted by Hostos professor Linda Hirsch, received a 2020 Telly Award for excellence in cable broadcasting for the episode “How to Spot Fake News,” in which Professor Hirsch speaks with Chris Link of the New York Academy of Sciences about the ways in which teachers can help students discern fact from fiction in the news. This was the sixth Telly Award that Hirsch and EdCast have won.
  • Twelve Hostos professors were awarded research grants from the Professional Staff Congress-City University of New York (PSC-CUNY). The awardees were: Craig Bernardini, Louis Bury, Stacey Cooper, Andrew Connolly, Sean Gerrity, Sarah Hoiland, Maria del Carmen Inda Garcia, Anna Ivanova, Immaculada Lara Bonilla, Krystyna Michael, Vladimir Ovtcharenko, and Nicole Wallenbrock. Research topics run the gamut from climate change to protein development.
  • Hostos faculty member Mateo Sancho Cardiel published an article titled "Sociology: An Essential Discipline in the Time of Coronavirus” in Teaching and Learning Matters, the newsletter of the American Sociological Association (ASA).
  • EdTech Director Carlos Guevara was invited to serve as an expert panelist for the 2021 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report and as a keynote speaker at the Virtual International Congress of Research and Innovation.
  • We learned this summer that biology professor Vladimir Ovtcharenko was part of an international team of researchers that discovered and described Myrmecicultoridae, a new family of myrmecophilic spiders. 
  • Students in Professor Jerilyn Fisher’s Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies class researched, wrote and edited capsule biographies of influential women for WomensActivism.NYC, an initiative that catalogs the stories of women activists.
  • Hostos became part of the CUNY Humanities Alliance, as the Mellon Foundation awarded a $3.15 million grant to support the initiative. The grant funds partnerships between The Graduate Center and four CUNY community colleges and supports 28 doctoral fellowships aimed at enhancing opportunities for students to engage with the humanities.
  • Hostos, local organizations, and members of our extended community came together this spring to help local veterans and healthcare workers, letting them know they were not alone during the height of COVID-19 pandemic in the city. The College connected with the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) in early April to house lunch boxes that would be distributed to veterans and their families. Members of the College community also mobilized to collect Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from businesses in our community for healthcare workers at Lincoln Hospital and Montefiore Hospital.
  • Soon after a pandemic was declared in March, Hostos development manager Idelsa Méndez sprang into action, garnering support and resources for Hostos’ extended community. The New York Yankees recognized Méndez’s incredible efforts during Hispanic Heritage Month, presenting her with their Community Achievement Award
  • Interim President Cocco De Filippis was recognized in August by “City & State New York” as one of the Bronx Power 50, a list of the 50 most influential appointees, advocates, community leaders, and other figures who are moving the Bronx forward.