York Alum Appointed President of a SUNY Community College

Dr. Belinda Miles, a member of the York College Class of 1983, has been appointed president of Westchester Community College and will begin her tenure in January 2015.


The State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustee voted to approve the college's recommendation to appoint Dr. Miles, a career educator, who is currently provost and executive vice president for Access, Learning, and Success at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cleveland, Ohio, where she also served as president of that system's Eastern Campus from 2006 to 2011.

Miles, who majored in Political Science at York, would go on to earn an M.A. in Educational Psychology and an Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration, both from Teachers College, Columbia University. As president of Westchester Community College she will be following in the footsteps of Dr. Richard Hankin, who served a protracted presidential tenure at the 68 year-old institution.

"This is an outstanding leadership and service opportunity and I thank the Board for their confidence in me," said Miles. "I am succeeding someone who served 42 years [as president]. This is an opportunity to showcase what students are already doing there and build on that. The community is getting increasingly diverse, which enhances the campus culturally. Together, we will develop relevant programming that creates pathways to success for all students."

The president-elect added that she is looking forward to meeting with the WCC faculty and is excited that community colleges are now being called upon to increase the number of college graduates in the nation.

"I will need to get to know the Westchester (CC) team and would like to engage faculty, in particular, in various initiatives that facilitate student learning and success," said Miles. "Expanded community engagement will be part of our work as well -- including partnerships with the K-12 sector and other community agencies on behalf of college readiness. We will look at academic programs and maintain high rigor, making sure students not only get in, but get through."

Miles was always a leader.

Attending York during its nomadic era, the young scholar's part time job was that of campus English tutor. She also served as film critic on the college's student newspaper, "Pandora's Box." But her ultimate leadership proving ground at York turned out to be her two terms as Student Government president. "I had an amazing undergraduate experience at York" said Miles. "It was a tremendous opportunity to be exposed to 'the world of ideas' as the first in my family to go to college. I learned a lot from Professor [Shirley] Ostholm, Professor [Richard] Boris and others; and as Student Government president, I stood before the CUNY Board of Trustees telling them, 'We need a campus!'"

Dr. Miles, who started life in Long Island City, moved to Hollis, Queens at 12 when her family achieved the American dream by buying their own home. She has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, including at CUNY's LaGuardia Community College where she was project director for Queens School-to-Work Opportunities.

Dr. Miles was chosen for WCC's presidency after a national search. "I am so grateful there were such opportunities at York," said Miles. "It stayed with me and really shaped who I am."


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