President's Monthly Report
President’s Report and Updates
President's January Report/ February Update 2023
Dear College Community,
In our first weeks of 2023, we honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a month of giving, where our KCC community donated in bulk personal hygiene products like soap, lotion, combs, brushes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and baby wipes. These generous donations will be distributed to our most vulnerable population in times of emergencies. Thank you to all those who donated and to Hattie Elmore, director of the Access Resource Center, whose support services serves as a retention tool that addresses the often less discussed needs of our students. We remembered the victims of the Holocaust on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, through our community candle lighting, and are reminded to never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust. We honored the bravery and dedicated service of our Law Enforcement on National Law Enforcement Day. We displayed KCC’s commitment to creating inclusive spaces through the launch of our THRIVE 4-part training in supporting the needs of justice impacted individuals, achieving the highest participation rate of any CUNY college. We also engaged in a community discussion around the key priorities and ideas that will build awareness around what our most pressing religious and/or ethnic issues are on our own campus. We look forward to utilizing the Climate Grant awarded to KCC to further these efforts.
Our Governance Review Adhoc Committees (GRAC) are actively meeting and developing recommendations for consideration which will be completed before April 18. The intent is to hold a larger retreat with the College Council where we can engage in a thoughtful discussion about each of the recommendations. Ideally, I would like the governance plan to be approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees in the spring so that it can be implemented in the fall. However, I am committed to ensuring a deliberate and thorough review, which may mean it will not go to the BOT until the early fall. More information regarding next steps will be forthcoming. I want to take this opportunity to once again thank all the faculty and staff who are serving on GRACs and participating in this process.
Join me in congratulating several members of our college community as we spotlight their work and contributions: Dr. Michael Rodriguez, director of the Men’s Resource Center, participated in a panel discussion about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contribution to labor struggles and worker rights in last month’s episode of Mike Gillian: Let it Rip; Christine Zagari-LoPorto, associate dean for Continuing Education and Workforce Development, has been appointed president of Continuing Education Association of New York (CEANY); VP Simone Rodriguez, of our Workforce Development, Continuing Education & Strategic Partnerships division, was featured on the East New York edition of DiverseCITY highlighting KCC's new satellite location at Chestnut Commons in Cypress Hills; Prof. Bob Blaisdell authored a new book "Chekhov Becomes Chekhov: The Emergence of a Literary Genius" (Pegasus Books); and Provost Russell and I joined the DOE Chancellor David Bank's recent visit to John Dewey High School to talk with students from its Teachers Academy which is part of the Chancellor's Future Ready NYC initiative, committed to preparing diverse future teachers for the classroom.
We continue to applaud the work of our Enrollment Management Team and Advising Academies, ASAP and College Discovery in their efforts to recruit, register and retain students for the spring semester. As of the writing of this report, we are 2.2% ahead of where we were last year for total degree seeking students enrolled. With two weeks left until the start of the spring semester, we still have significant work to do to with regards to enrolling students.
I understand how the recent news regarding the University’s financial challenges may stoke feelings of worry and uncertainty. I don’t need to remind you of the critical role we play in helping students to achieve their educational goals. As I have shared with you, we made it through the pandemic and while we didn’t know that these challenges would be waiting for us on the other side, we hoped that students would be waiting for us, and they are. They are ready to start, restart and complete their journeys and they have chosen Kingsborough as that vehicle to educational attainment and economic prosperity.
During the pandemic, we had to adjust to our circumstances, and now we are being called to do the same even without many of our longtime friends who are retiring or pursing new opportunities. At KCC, we are taking this opportunity to right size our hiring and spending to ensure alignment with our priorities. VP Rios, Provost Russell and I have met with the Personnel and Budget Committee, and will be meeting with Program Directors as well to discuss the budget. We will continue to focus on our priorities and be active in our communication and transparent in our decisions, which are made in order to meet required University savings targets for this year and next fiscal year. We continue to work with our elected officials to advocate for resources for the College.
One only needs to look at the results of the last administration of the COACHE survey, data from our Faculty and Staff Satisfaction Survey, student outcomes data and other measures and sources to see that diversity, equity and inclusion are areas in need of attention, and which often impact the college climate. We are excited to present two finalists for the DEI position to the college community at a virtual open forum in the coming weeks. More information will be forthcoming regarding registration as well as the candidates’ materials. As I have shared before, the Assistant Dean will work collaboratively across all units of the College, with faculty, staff and students to advance practices related DEI. We are doing all that we can to build bridges. The hiring of faculty as part of the BRESI program, an Assistant Dean for DEI, the call for participants to provide direction for our Campus Climate Grant, and a number of heritage activities like Black History Month, Holocaust Remembrance Day and National Coming Out Day, provide numerous opportunities for us to meaningfully support students and engage with each other and build bridges of tolerance, understanding and appreciation.
As I close, I want to return for a minute to November 2022, there was an incident involving students in the cafeteria. Students were detained. I wrote to students on November 8, and held a townhall to address the misinformation that was being circulated around campus about the incident. As you know, we are required to adhere to the FERPA rules. As such, it is not appropriate or allowable to discuss any students’ records. And despite seeming college-wide interest in this matter, this position will not change.
Colleagues, we have a skilled and knowledgeable Judicial Affairs office that many people on our campus community have relied on and have entrusted with addressing conduct issues with students that I know many of you have encountered in your classes and offices. This office’s protocol has not changed, and we need to continue to allow them to do the job they have always done with integrity, compassion and with the safety of all members of this community in mind.
What I can say and have said before is that I fully understand the sentiment across the country and our city regarding law enforcement officers. But I also know that at KCC our Public Safety Officers work to ensure the safety of every member of our college community. With all that we see happening around the country on college campuses, I am grateful that we have a team that is committed to ensuring our safety. That work comes not only in the form of diffusing issues of conflict, but it is also in the form of the many times they intervened silently to support members of this community in medical or emotional distress and protect their privacy.
Focusing on a matter that is already being handled and addressed by the appropriate persons on campus, diverts our attention from the hundreds of students who have given up and decided not to come back to campus; from the many who visit our website to look up the hours to the food pantry because they don’t know if they have enough money to buy groceries; from the students who are couch surfing because they don’t have homes; from the students in your classes who are afraid to return home because of they are victims of domestic violence; and the many other students who just found their way home from being incarcerated. They are all here at KCC trying to earn their college degrees and we have an opportunity to make a real difference here.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the Black History Month Committee for the extensive programming they offered to the college community. As we approach March, our month-long celebration of the accomplishments of women, the beginning of the spring semester, the work in front of us right now, and our work ahead, I am drawn to the words of Anne Frank:
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
Colleagues, I am grateful that we are not waiting, and that with each day, we continue to build upon Kingsborough’s strengths while fulfilling our mission of student success.
Claudia V. Schrader, Ed.D.