Fall Convocation, September 14, 2017

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to our new faculty colleagues (already introduced by Provost Meleties), as well as new administrators and support staff, who have joined us.

We look forward to your contributions to the academic enterprise as you join in teaching, scholarship, and service on behalf of our students. I want to acknowledge the chairs of the academic departments as well as the outgoing faculty caucus leader Dr. Farley Mawyer and welcome Dr. William Ashton who will serve this year as the faculty caucus leader.

Welcome Students

Students, I am delighted to see you all! I extend a special welcome to our first-year students, the Class of 2021. I encourage you all to keep apprised of what's going on around campus not only by checking your York emails regularly; but via the Cardinal App--intended to keep you engaged with the college and each other and give you a platform to access information on college service programs and activities. According to the Office of Student Development are off to an impressive 664 have already signed up as users of the app.

The Power of Connecting

Alumni of York from the 60's through today provide rich testimony of the power of connecting so I urge you to connect.

  • Connect like Ariel Rosario (Class of 2017) who connected with his Prof. Francisco Villegas. Then Ariel connected with a younger student whom he mentored--Clinton Ehidom of the Class of 2018--and they both received summer study internships at Yale University Medical School;
  • Connect like Chemistry major, Olayinka Oladipupo of the class of 2016 connected not just with chemistry and biology professors such as Professor Ruel Desamero, Professor Louis Levinger, Prof. Adam Profit and many others in those departments, but with administrators and professors in other fields as well. He would go on to receive a Dr. Jonas E. Salk Scholarship and is now a student at University of Rochester Medical School.
  • Connect like Grace Rajendra, a math major and valedictorian of the Class of 2017 connected with Prof. Nath, Professor Mawyer, Prof. Gonzalez, Prof. Radoslaw and many others in Mathematics and elsewhere in the college such as Prof. Nazrul in Geology.
  • Connect like Matthew Lebris (Class of 2017) connected with practically everyone in the Business department and the Entrepreneurship Club, led him to win a CUNY inventors prize for inventing a mobile application to "revolutionize the way social media marketing gets done," as he explained it. His can-do spirit and knack for connecting also got him a coveted internship with Shark Tank's Daymond John's company, Shark Solutions. So many great stories so little time!

Connect with Me

I too am available to you to connect with you during my sessions: Chat with the President. Make an appointment to speak with me on any subject related to the college (contact and available time slot details were sent out via email and are also on our homepage).

In fact, the theme of connection has been adopted by James B. Milliken, to launch the next phase of the development of CUNY. He bills CUNY as a "Connected University: connected to each other; to our students; to our larger New York community, especially the business and corporate; connected through technology - in offering students more opportunities to conduct some of their academic work online; and, of course, connected globally through offering students experiences to study abroad.

So I urge you to make the connections inside and outside the classroom with your professors, your mentors, advisors, counselors and each other. And how many of you have finished the Freshman Reader, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander? That is another way to connect with your fellow-first year students as you read and discuss the book. Now is the time to begin to create the stories you will tell in 2021 and beyond.

Recent Faculty Retirees

I want to thank in absentia, those colleagues who retired over the past year: Professors Adams, Agin, Valdez, Boris. Their collective contributions impacted the lives of thousands of students, their colleagues and the college at large.

Remembering Dedicated Colleagues

Sadly, there is pain mixed in with the joy and excitement of a new academic year. Last year we lost two beloved members of our faculty. Professor Timothy Amrhein, chair of the Performing and Fine Arts Department a gifted theatre arts professor who directed many well-received productions in this very venue, passed away; Professor Winsome Smikle, a York alumna, and professor of Psychology, also died. Along with her contribution as a teacher, she was committed to the beautification of the college. Professor Smikle and a small group of colleagues and students planted and nurtured the flowers and other ornamental plants throughout the campus, and I am thankful to those who are keeping her legacy alive. Let us take time to honor their memories with a moment of silence...thank you!

Let me also take this opportunity to once again congratulate our new Student Government president, Yssed "David" Tobo and his colleagues. I look forward to working with you and all our Student Government leaders.

The State of the College

First the Academic Achievements:

I am happy to report that we will roll out two additional programs on the master's level: The Master of Social Work (MSW); and Clinical Trials Management will be ready to enroll students for fall 2018. And what exactly is Clinical Trials? Provost Meleties each time I ask that it is a program to enhance the professional careers in various aspects of clinical research qualifying individuals to hold jobs in industry as clinical investigators, researchers, administrators, consultants, data managers, quality assurance managers, regulatory affairs managers, and educators in clinical trial management. Thanks to the Faculty in Social Work and Chemistry.

Next on the academic achievement front, York College's Physical Education and Gerontology departments received a seven-year baseline accreditation for Movement Science program; and scores of curriculum changes in a variety of disciplines departments were effectively and systematically reviewed by the Curriculum Committee, approved by the Senate and presented to the CUNY Board of Trustees for implementation.

Scholarship, Research and Creative Endeavors

Accompanying our academic achievements were a number of accomplishments in Faculty Scholarship, Research, and Creative endeavors of which we are proud.

  • Thirty (30) faculty received PSC/CUNY grants to support research and travel;
  • Dr. Elizabeth Alter received two separate grants, $86,530 from National Science Foundation (NSF) and $35,632 from Hudson River Foundation;
  • Dr. Timothy Paglione received more than $58,000 from the Simons Foundation;
  • Dr. Yolanda Small received more than $166,000 from National Institutes of Health;
  • Prof. Michelle Gregory whose book [ ] was recently published
  • Prof. Andrea Silva received $5000 from CUNY for a book project.
  • Dr. Dana Fusco will be a visiting professor at the University of Tampere in Finland this academic year.

We congratulate these and others who have continued to pursue their research and scholarship interests.


Enrollment of first-time students grew by 15% over FY '16. Enrollment by Transfer students also grew by 9% and our graduate enrollment grew by 34% (thanks in part to the Physician Assistant program and Pharmaceutical Sciences) - that's the good news.

Continuing students and total enrollment however declined by 5.6% and 5%, respectively. Linked to this was a decline in revenue, resulting from an unexpected decline in our collection rate in the current fiscal year. This latter decline in collections was in part due to the university decided to discontinue accepting credit cards for tuition payments.

This left the college with a deficit of $1.2M. Expenditures were on target but revenue fell by 6%. Students were retiring their debt as the fall semester approached but the college is forced to use its last reserve to close the budget gap. This upcoming year's budget will be extraordinarily tight. Bear with us.


Facilities across the campus continue to be improved but at a pace slower than the campus community would like. Some of the recent enhancements include the addition of new smart classrooms, equipping of labs with adaptive learning technologies for students with disabilities, the addition of gender-neutral restrooms, an increase in the number of study areas and student lounges, and an upgrade in IT wireless capacity. Major capital projects moving forward include replacement of vertical transportation systems across the campus, roof replacement and interior renovation of the Milton G. Bassin Theater, renovation of the outdoor track and field, and design of ADA compliant restrooms and entrances. However, all of these activities including a project addressing the water main will cause major disruption in our customary routine. We will keep you informed and ask for your cooperation.

And now what are our goals for this Upcoming year.

  1. Maintain leadership stability by securing a Dean for the Health Sciences
  2. Expand resource base through leveraging our real estate assets and fundraising efforts
  3. Maintain tight fiscal restraints and increase and monitor collections in order to reduce potential deficit.
  4. Make progress in obtaining capital dollars for new, AVCC
  5. Continue to support faculty research and scholarship efforts, and staff professional development
  6. Improve retention and graduation outcomes for students utilizing PBI Federal Funding
  7. improve student satisfaction with college services; (customer service)
  8. Intentionally review York college's strategic plan and link if with the strategic framework "Connected CUNY"
  9. Achieve significant benchmarks toward the accreditation of the Business School
  10. Complete Middle States study with successful outcomes

Focus on the Middle States

Let me now focus on Middle States. From now through March 2018, the date of our Middle States site visit, everyone at York will be focused on this all-important event in the life of the college.

Most of you here know that over 70 faculty, staff, administrators, have been gathering information to address the seven standards and 90 criteria and the federal compliance report in preparation for the Middle States accreditation review which will take place from March 11 - 14, 2018. The Steering Committee, with the help of Dr. Sundeep Bisla who has been editing, is pulling together the first draft of the Self-study.

The emerging recommendations include:

  • Develop new mission and strategic goals for York College Strategic Plan 2020 - 2028;
  • Align policies, processes, practices, and procedures institution-wide and with CUNY, and communicate these policies campus-wide, and assess the impact these have on the mission of the College
  • Strengthen General Education and Pathways to ensure that each course promotes skills for scientific and quantitative reasoning, technical competencies and assess the impact General Education has on building a strong foundation for majors.
  • Assess the effectiveness of programs supporting student experience especially as they relate and impact student progress, retention, and graduation.
  • Develop an oversight system for institutional-wide assessment of student learning, the communication system for sharing the student learning objectives, measures and results to the whole campus and link the results to future planning and resource allocations.
  • Establish assessment of non-academic units including the development of assessment plans (mission, goals, measurable objectives, results) and implication for future planning and budget allocation.

In the run-up to March 11-14 2018 we will focus our attention on the following:

  • Receiving feedback on the draft of the Self-study in late September and early October from the college community and CUNY.
  • Hosting on November 9, 2017, Dr. Melanie Perreault (Provost at Buffalo State), the Visiting Team Chair. She will meet with key members of the campus and the Steering Committee. Please put this date on your calendar in case she wishes to meet with you. We will have a full list of who she would like to see before she gets to campus.
  • Completing the Self-study and submitting it to MSCHE and the visiting team members by the end of January so they may prepare for their visit in March.
  • Hosting the visiting team on March 11-14, 2018. Keep these dates open in case any member of the visiting team wants to meet with you.
  • Receiving notification from MSCHE as to our accreditation status upon the conclusion of the June MSCHE Board meeting.

As the Self-study is still being compiled and edited, please be aware that the committees will come back to you for points of clarification. Please give them every consideration and a swift response.

And let me add a heartfelt thank you to the critical committees and their leaders at this time and I name them:

Membership of the Executive Committee (Steering Committee)

Name Department Standard Leader*
Gerard McNeil Biology (faculty) Co-Chair
Mary Osborne Institutional Effectiveness (admin.) Standard I and Co-Chair
Linda Barley Health and Physical Ed (faculty Standard II
Debra Swoboda Behavioral Sciences (faculty) Standard III
Vincent Banrey Student Development (administration) Standard IV
Donna Chirico Arts and Sciences (administration) Standard V
Cynthia Haller English (faculty) Standard V
Ismael Perez Finance (administration) Standard VI
Margaret Ballantyne For. Lang., ESL, Humanities (faculty) Standard VII
Richard Stuckhardt Institutional Research (administration) Verification of Compliance Committee
Marcia V. Keizs President Keizs Ex officio
Sundeep Bisla Editor  
Closing out the 50th Anniversary

Today as we officially conclude York's year-long 50th-anniversary celebration you will be treated to a slice of real cake at the reception following this ceremony.

I want to thank everyone who participated and contributed to its success. Special thanks to Professor Robert Parmet, who literally wrote the book on York College; "Town and Gown: The Fight for Social Justice, Urban Rebirth and Higher Education" and invite you to view to exhibit on York's Founding on display in the Library.

I wish for us all a successful March to accreditation renewal and a good academic year (2017-2018)!