President's Monthly Report
Dear Campus Community,
It’s June! Pride Month and the end of yet another semester and academic year! Thank you for not only weathering the storms of the last year, but bringing sunshine into the lives of our students by casting much needed light and life into their dreams.
Like last year, we have never been at this place before, but from where I stand we are stronger than ever before. We arrived here after moving business operations online and implementing comprehensive remote teaching and learning. We worked out the kinks as we encountered them and supported each other through this new way of life at KCC. In doing so, we continued to engage in the work of the college via Zoom and added new mechanisms of communication with faculty, staff and students, and feedback to college leadership. In December, for #CUNYTuesday, we raised funds for student scholarships and by January, we laid the foundation to Go Big for Brooklyn, for what will be our first Virtual Gala in a few weeks. We launched our Governance Review, applauded our Employees of the Month and celebrated faculty and staff at the Years of Service celebration.
This past month we learned of our Maritime Program’s designation by the Maritime Administration as one of the First Centers Of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education. Kingsborough was also selected as one of eight institutions participating in the College Success for Single Mothers Project and as one of 78 higher education institutions chosen by AAC&U to participate in this year’s virtual Institute on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Centers.
In a few days, we will have a well-deserved salute to our 2250 graduates. The decrease in COVID rates and increase in vaccinations as well as the relaxation of some of the pandemic-related restrictions, allows us to include a live stream of commencement speakers and campus photo opportunities for our soon to be graduates. I hope that you will tune in to our virtual activities and celebrations of students during the coming weeks.
In the midst of all of this, a mighty group of faculty, staff and students gathered often to discuss and plan the way forward and back to campus. We all owe the leadership and members of the Forward Committee a debt of gratitude for their work on developing our Fall Reopening Plan. I appreciate how they ensured the engagement of the campus community in this process. I anticipate the plan will be submitted to the Central Office for approval within the next week. I will update the campus accordingly. I also anticipate receiving a report/recommendations from the Business Operations and Standards Taskforce that will further help us to ensure optimal operations across offices.
As you know, staff are slated to return on August 2. We are entering final exam season and our students are also in the midst of registering for fall classes. It essential that we increase the number of hybrid and on-campus classes. There are students who want to continue to take online classes, at the same time, we also have students who are anxious to get back to campus. Some of our students live in conditions that are not optimal for learning; while others perform better in the traditional face to face modality. As I have indicated before, if we do not make more in-person/hybrid options available for students, they will find a college that does. Colleagues, our enrollment cannot withstand an exodus of students.
I understand the hesitancy that many feel with regards to returning to campus. We are doing everything we can to ensure that we protect the health and safety of all members of our community. We hosted a webinar (Vax Facts vs Fiction) for all members of the college community that featured Dr. Ratzan of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health. It was an informative session. The webinar was recorded and will be posted.
The University and Kingsborough has signed on to be part of President Biden’s COVID-19 College Vaccination Challenge which will require us to engage everyone in the KCC regarding vaccine resources, champion vaccination efforts, and provide vaccine access. Once we return to campus in the fall, there will be testing in place and a plan as to how the Governor’s mandate for the required student vaccination will be implemented. We will continue to encourage students to get vaccinated and I encourage you all to get vaccinated as well. It is important to note, that mask wearing will still be required on campus for everyone.
With regards to the fiscal climate, New York City is still in the process of adopting a FY22 budget. CUNY will present a preliminary budget to the CUNY Board of Trustees Fiscal Affairs Committee at the June 7 meeting. The preliminary operating budget includes a $67.3 million reduction to community colleges which is an improvement over the initial reduction which was $77 million. The City also has $10 million in ASAP funding. The University is currently working with New York City in the hopes of restoring the full $67.3 million or to restore funding shortfall. The FY22 City budget is expected to be enacted later this week prior to June 30, as required by law. We should be receiving a preliminary FY22 Operating Allocation within the next few weeks. Additionally, CARES Act and CRRSAA (Stimulus 1 & 2) funds have been received and applied to KCC’s operating budget (institutional portion of funding). We are currently waiting for information from CUNY on the amount of ARPA- The American Relief Plan Act (Stimulus 3) funds we will receive and the parameters for spending. VP Rios will provide additional budget updates as well as updates on a number of capital projects in his next report to the campus.
Last year I prayed and hoped for the time where we could return to campus. I now look forward to the campus springing back to life. Our way of KCC life will never be the same. It will be different, but we must continue to work collaboratively to make it better and collectively to make it the best that we can for our students and each other as we continue to fulfill our institutional mission. I will continue to send updates throughout the summer. I hope you spend the summer doing something that brings you joy.
Hope will never be silent.