October 12, 2009
Stated Meeting of the Faculty Address by President Karen L. Gould
Dr. Karen Gould delivered her first Stated Meeting Address to the faculty this October. The speech outlined her vision for the college, outlining several initiatives to position the college as a strong educational leader and resource for our constituents, for Brooklyn, and the city.
Our Time to Be Bold: A Vision for Brooklyn College
During the past two months, it has been a great pleasure to meet with many of you, with students, faculty, and staff, to learn about your contributions and hopes for Brooklyn College. I have also had the opportunity to speak with a number of community leaders, alumni, Brooklyn College Foundation Board members, city and state officials, and with the CUNY leadership. Throughout these encounters, it has been gratifying to hear about the high regard in which Brooklyn College is held and to learn more about the pivotal role our institution has played—and continues to play—in the life of the city and, especially, in our borough. There is clearly a great deal of city, community, and alumni pride in what Brooklyn College has accomplished thus far. Building on our strong foundation of academic excellence and our historic commitment to diverse, immigrant, and first generation students, we have the energy, creativity, and the capacity to move in directions that may have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago.
Today I want to share with you some of what I have observed in my short time here. One of my goals in these early days has been to learn quickly and as much as possible from everyone I have encountered and everything I have seen, so that we can build upon our past achievements to create an even more vibrant future.
We all agree that Brooklyn College has a rich story to tell—and yet, we do not tell it well enough. We must communicate better and in different ways, with old and new technologies, in order to articulate clearly and consistently who we are and what we are accomplishing--to our students and potential students, to our faculty and staff, to our alumni, to CUNY, to our extended community, to our elected officials, and to all of our external audiences. Moving forward, we cannot afford to be a well-kept secret. In order to attract the highly qualified students and talented faculty we seek, and in order to attract new funding streams for our most promising academic initiatives, research projects, and external partnerships, we must broadcast our compelling stories every day and effectively use all kinds of media to do so.
The cornerstone of our narrative is that Brooklyn College changes lives. As a result, our successful alumni are often our greatest fans. Their support will continue, if we stay true to our mission, which is deeply rooted in service to the public good. Today, with the emergence of the knowledge-based global economy and its unprecedented demand for college graduates, one of our guiding principles must be to recruit and retain students who can succeed here. At the same time, we need to be vigilant in our efforts to provide highly effective advising, mentoring, and service support that reflect best practices and foster student success. In this effort, we must give renewed attention to our undergraduate retention and graduation rates. In the past several years, our college performance in this area has been less than satisfactory. We can and must do better, which is why I will be launching a Task Force of faculty, staff, students, and administrators to consider the barriers to student success at Brooklyn College, to examine the effectiveness of our current retention efforts, and to review national best practices that could be employed to address some of those barriers and increase student progress to degree completion.
We must also continue to recruit a highly talented faculty and vigorously support our faculty members in their teaching, research, and leadership roles. This ongoing faculty renewal and institutional rejuvenation will be critical to our academic progress. Equally critical will be the attention we must give to faculty development opportunities for junior, mid-career, and senior faculty.
Our long history of college innovations, faculty accomplishments, and student achievements underscores the fact that Brooklyn College stands for academic excellence. We take pride in this great tradition, and we must continue to build upon this foundation. We need to promote academic excellence across all of our disciplines and at the intersections of the disciplines as well, to ensure that our curricular offerings are keeping pace with current discoveries and that our degree programs are responsive to the new and most innovative directions of this century. In a similar vein, we need to foster an engaged learning community for our students—both inside and outside the classroom, the research laboratory, and the performance hall, so that active learning occurs within and beyond the confines of our campus—through internships and field study, opportunities for place-based and service learning in our community, civic engagement, and through inspiring leadership training initiatives. The recent launching of the Brooklyn College partnership with the White House Project, which seeks to educate and mentor diverse women students about government services and career pathways, is a compelling example of the kinds of innovative educational partnerships that can further broaden our students’ real world learning experience and help them chart an engaged and rewarding future.
As we continue to stretch our leadership capacity as an institution and as individual faculty members, staff, students, and administrators, we must seek out additional ways to be engaged in our borough, city, and state in order to extend our academic impact and prepare educated leadership for an increasingly complex, interdependent world.
Expanding our reach also requires that we consider new ways to promote international education and global engagement for our students. With that goal in mind, we will need to enhance our study abroad opportunities and better support faculty and students who wish to participate in international study and exchange. Because so many of our students are financially challenged, we will also need to raise more external funds for international education scholarships.
Creating ambitious new academic programs, intercollegiate partnerships, and cross-disciplinary areas of focus must be a central part of our efforts to extend our reach. To that end, we have begun planning for a number of specialties within the film department leading to highly desirable graduate film degrees for a diverse student population not currently well served by other programs in the New York area. We are working very hard to attract the necessary financial support and professional counsel to ensure the realization of this exciting initiative. In a different area of endeavor, I am very pleased to note that our faculty contributions to the new CUNY Graduate School of Public Health will be path-breaking, timely, and transformative for graduate public health education in New York City.
Organizationally speaking, there is work to be done as well. Following national best practices, we will create a more robust school of education and receive full NCATE accreditation. This is an especially important college goal, given our long-established commitment to provide the very best teachers to New York City and to Brooklyn—teachers and school administrators who will prepare and advise the entering freshmen of tomorrow at Brooklyn College and across CUNY.
In line with national models for business education, we also need to create a school of business that can provide strong programmatic support for an increasingly large number of students. School status will also help prepare the way for eventual business accreditation, and it will attract donor support for our college to enhance academic support for our business and economics degree programs.
As we continue to consider ways to organize for greater institutional effectiveness, we will need to initiate a series of conversations with faculty across the arts and sciences disciplines to discuss the usefulness of one or more additional schools that will better serve student, faculty, and administrative needs and help us more effectively manage the critical work of the institution. The Provost and I will work closely with Faculty Council and CAP as well as with other appropriate faculty groups to ensure that the conversations are broad-based and inclusive. It is essential, in my view, that we strive for a reinvigorated and mature college and school structure that can be more responsive to our current needs and future goals.
To support CUNY’s “Decade of Science” initiative and respond to President Obama’s call for improved teaching and student success in the sciences and mathematics, we need to further strengthen our science departments with strategic hires and enhanced faculty research support that will advance our academic profile in the sciences and lead to a number of full-fledged doctoral programs as well.
Central to our goal of enhancing support for faculty and student research, we must increase our capacity for externally-funded faculty and student research in the STEM fields especially, but also in education, public health, and across the liberal arts. We applaud our recent grant success of $2.4 million in stimulus dollars for biomedical research and robotic development, and we must continue to seek out diverse funding opportunities.
The recent Carnegie report on undergraduate recruitment and retention at Brooklyn College helped underscore the need to find new ways to build community on campus in order to attract, and more importantly, retain students. As we are witnessing with the innovative West Quad Recreation and Student Services Center, the addition of new campus facilities communicates, in a very powerful way, who we are as an institution and where we are headed. This beautiful new Center symbolizes our commitment to promote student wellness, our pride in student athletic activities and related academic programs, and our recognition that the centralizing of key student services in this facility will better meet student needs.
Our partnership with a local developer to provide a nearby student residence hall, which should open in January, presents another opportunity to increase student connectedness with our campus. We will seek additional opportunities for residential partnerships in the future.
We must, of course, continue to improve our physical plant. This month and in the months ahead, as we begin to roll out our facilities master planning process, we will collectively examine our current and future space needs. We will confer with departments, centers, and other divisional units, engage faculty, staff, and students in focus groups for in-depth discussions, create a necessary blueprint for future growth and development in conversation with the Chancellor’s Office, and finalize the college Master Plan by the end of the academic year.
Very soon, we will initiate a new era for the performing arts at Brooklyn College by breaking ground on the Leonard and Claire Tow Performing Arts Center. Planning for swing space is already underway. Later this fall, you will find me in Albany, lobbying hard for the Center’s final touches.
Throughout the year, we will be working with the architects of Mitchell Giurgola, LLP, to continue planning for the new Roosevelt Science Complex, a project that signals a new era of university and college commitment to superior science education and research at Brooklyn College. We want to ensure that our planning efforts will result in a first-class, 21st century teaching and research facility for our science departments and our students.
We are already on the path to bring to fruition much of what I have outlined, and I want to acknowledge President Kimmich’s great work in preparing the way for many of these transformational endeavors.
Finally, in order to achieve all that we want to accomplish, we must attract sufficient resources to match the level of our ambitions. For this reason, we will need to share our enthusiasm, our accomplishments, and our stretch goals for the future with alumni, friends, donors, elected officials, and with funding agencies and foundations.
This is our time to be bold and to lead with a clear sense of purpose. Together, we will create the momentum necessary to achieve our most ambitious projects. Together, we will chart innovative directions that will enhance our educational impact, expand our research capacity, and inspire our supporters. I am truly honored to be working with all of you at this remarkable time in the development of Brooklyn College.
Thank you for attending today and for all that you do everyday as teachers, scholars, artists, and faculty leaders to advance the mission of our institution.