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Showing posts from 2015

Season's Greetings

Holiday time is always special to me. I love the decorations and the festivities that accompany each event. I have always celebrated Christmas and, as a boy, enjoyed the wonder and expectation of opening and giving presents as well as the special rituals and times shared with family and friends. As I grew up, rituals and time with family and friends meant the most to me.

The rituals and special times with friends and family seem to be a feature of most religions, and I enjoy learning about those special occasions. Recently, I returned from California where my wife and I visited our daughter, Toni, and her family including her husband, Jon, and their three children: Annie (7 years), Sammy and Izzy (twins ages three and a half), and Jon’s parents, Ellen and Larry. They celebrate Chanukah, and we shared the celebration with them—and loved every minute of it. The warm and inspiring Chanukah party at their temple, where each family brought a treasured menorah to display and l…

Thank you, Dr. Clinkscale; Welcome, Mendel Taub!

Tonight Rockland Community College says thank you to Dr. Arlene W. Clinkscale, who leaves the Board after more than 11 years of exceptional service to the College. Dr. Clinkscale has a legacy as an outstanding educator and has a perfect attendance record - she has not missed a single Board meeting.

Dr. Clinkscale began serving on the Board in April 2004, including a tenure as chair from 2005-2010 and again from 2012-2014. During that time, she provided robust leadership and tapped her extensive experience with budgets, staffing and student relations developed over a lifetime of service as an educator, administrator and community leader.

Dr. Clinkscale was the first African-American woman in New York State to lead a school district, serving as superintendent of the Nyack Central School District from 1981 to 1987. She held senior administrative positions in the East Ramapo and Nyack Central School districts before assuming the district superintendent’s position in Nyack. S…

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage: We Have a Story to Tell the Nations

As I sat in church on Sunday, the words to a childhood hymn came to my mind: “We have a story to tell to the nations, a story of truth and light.” The reflection reminded me of last week’s Hispanic Heritage Awards ceremonies, where we heard two powerful stories that highlighted why RCC pays tribute to students of Hispanic descent in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades who have a grade point average of 90+. RCC honored over 400 of these special students over two nights, and the Cultural Arts Theater was filled with students and their very supportive families. Many of these students will have a story to tell in the future, a story similar to that of our speakers, Lucy Redzeposki, the Director of Economic Growth and Tourism for Rockland County, and Michael Greco, United States Marshall for the Southern District of New York.

Stories are important to me. They convey messages and inspire others the way nothing else can do. Phillip Wilson, the preacher I heard on Sunday at St. Michae…

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

The U.S. Congress has declared the period of September 15 through October 18 Hispanic Heritage Month. As a child growing up in Texas, I had limited world experiences. My family did very little traveling, and I grew up in a very homogeneous community. I was, however, aware that in Dallas in the 1950s there were three groups: the white majority, African-Americans who did service work in our communities, and somewhere in far north Dallas a growing group of Hispanics, primarily immigrants from Mexico. I was really unaware of cultures that were different from my “WASP” neighborhood.

When I was eleven, however, I had a wonderful experience. Our neighbors, who were like surrogate grandparents, invited me to go to Donna, Texas, over 500 miles from my home but only a few miles from the Mexican border. The brother of my Uncle Schmitty, as I called him, had a citrus farm in the Rio Grande Valley. I was thrilled with this opportunity. I was more thrilled when on Saturday during o…

Providing a Service to our Seniors

Nearly 1,000 senior citizens from throughout Rockland County converged on the Fieldhouse on August 26 for the second annual Rockland Senior Fair, hosted by RCC along with Senator David Carlucci and Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe. According to U.S. Census Data, more than 45,000 seniors reside in Rockland County, or nearly 15% of the county's total residential population.

The four-hour event introduced seniors to nearly 80 vendors and organizations offering services in such areas as healthcare, finances and cultural enrichment.

A Speaker Series held at the fair drew crowds of seniors looking to become more informed about critical issues such as consumer protection for the elderly and new research into Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

During the fair, Cablevision taped its “Meet the Leaders” show, featuring interviews with Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and Senator Carlucci.

The Senior Fair represents one of many opportunities RCC offers local seniors. L…

The Dr. Sonya Shapiro Memorial Scholarship Program

It’s been more than a year since the Board of Trustees lost one of its most loyal members, Sonya Shapiro, EdD, distinguished educator and community activist. Dr. Shapiro, who died in May 2014 at the age of 87, served on the Board from August 2001 until her passing, holding leadership positions as Secretary and Vice Chair during her nearly 14-year tenure.

Dr. Shapiro’s lifetime commitment to education and her long-term support of Rockland Community College and its students continue through an extraordinary gift of $100,000 from her estate to create the “Dr. Sonya Shapiro Memorial Scholarship Program.” Each year, the scholarship program, administered by the Rockland Community College Foundation, will provide five scholarships for “returning adult students (21 years or older)” who have the motivation and determination to pursue careers, enabling them to fulfill their aspirations and goals for a better life. Students may be enrolled either full-time or part-time at RCC.

Dr. Sha…

Beginnings in the Circle of Life

“I believe in new beginnings…all these things and happy endings too.”  These words to a song by Neil Diamond remind me of the state of my life, both personally and professionally.

On a recent trip to Texas, I visited my son, Caleb, and his 10-month-old son, Tristan. Seeing my son with his son certainly made me contemplate the circle of life. Through the generations, many things are similar—and it was touching watching my son with his son as I remembered caring for him when he was young. I recall the postcard I purchased in Paris before he was born, which reads, “Avoir un fils….c’est bien; en faire…. Un homme!  C’est mieux.“ I don’t speak French but I am told a loose translation is, “To have a son is good, but to make a man is better.” That’s the interpretation I have appreciated for nearly forty years—as Caleb will turn 40 years old on June 28.

And, for me, it was a wonderful beginning to see my son, this wonderful man, with his first child -- and this new little being, bo…


The Village of Nyack in Rockland County is now a site selected by the Toni Morrison Society for a “Bench by the Road.” The bench, placed in Nyack’s Memorial Park and dedicated on May 18, 2015, is named in honor of Cynthia Hesdra, a former slave who amassed a fortune and was known for her entrepreneurship and participation in the Underground Railroad. Many people from diverse backgrounds and different parts of Rockland and beyond were connected at the inspirational ceremonies held in the Nyack Center and Memorial Park. Other connections were apparent as Dr. Lori Martin, a scholar and author who was born in Nyack, returned to Nyack and told of the life of Ms. Hesdra. Bill Batson, artist, writer and Nyack resident who had moved away and recently returned to Rockland, chaired the Nyack Commemoration Committee that proposed Nyack as a bench site and planned the dedication ceremonies. Further connections were apparent as various organizations in the county came together to comp…

Seasons of Love

Spring is the season when flowers bloom, hearts turn tender, and love is in the air. This was never truer than was demonstrated Sunday afternoon by the RCC Performing Arts Department in their portrayal of RENT to a full-capacity theater. The memorable theme song for the show is “Seasons of Love,” and the cast and crew showed an unmatched joyfulness and enthusiasm in taking part in the performance. The music, both vocal and instrumental, was wonderful, and the acting was compelling. The creative set, rousing choreography, and spot-on technical assistance all made for an engaging and seamless production.

More significant than the production itself, however, was that Sunday matinee’s proceeds are being donated to the Eric Johnson House in Morristown, NJ, a model residence for persons with AIDS/HIV. The House recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and has assisted thousands of individuals and families during that time. Donating the proceeds of a spring performance to a non…

RCC Students Selected for All-New York Academic Team

Two RCC students were recognized by Phi Theta Kappa at a ceremony at the New York State Museum in Albany on March 9. They were among 75 SUNY and CUNY community college students recognized for outstanding achievements by PTK, the honor society for two-year colleges.
Below, both students are pictured at the ceremony with Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (r.) and Dr. Nancy Zimpher, SUNY Chancellor.

MARIE ARTHUR ’15, Third Academic Team, has a 3.88 GPA and plans to graduate in May with an AS, Math and Science. Marie maintains her academic excellence while working full-time as a dental assistant. She hopes to enter the dental hygiene program at Orange County Community College and to pursue a career as a dental hygienist.

SAMANTHA WERTHEIM ’15, First Academic Team, has maintained a 3.68 GPA and is slated to graduate in May with an AA, Liberal Arts: Humanities and Social Science.

Samantha, a student in RCC’s Mentor/Talented Student Honors Program, serves as student representative to the C…

State of the State / State of Our Children

One of my favorite activities each year is when I am invited by one of Rockland County’s public schools for the annual “Rockland County Read-In.” On Friday, February 13, I had the opportunity to read to a first grade class at Summit Park Elementary School in East Ramapo. The school is clean, bright and cheerful, and when I entered at 8:30 AM, there was clearly a high level of energy and enthusiasm for the day’s activities. I was immediately met by the school’s librarian who led me to a display of books, where I selected one appropriate for first graders. A poised and well-mannered third grader then escorted me to Cynthia Norman’s classroom. What I found there were 28 lively first graders, all having breakfast provided by the school district. I also learned that for 12 of the 28 children, English was not their first language. It was clear, after a few minutes, that Ms. Norman is a skilled and seasoned teacher who moves about the classroom, actively engaging all the stude…

The Selfless* Selfie

(*Adjective: Having or showing great concern for other people and little or no concern for yourself)
RCC’s Album of Random Acts of Kindness
Over the last several weeks, a number of students have made their way to my office to ask for assistance with tuition, books or letters of recommendation. I continue to be impressed with these students’ interest and commitment to earning an associate’s degree. I am pleased when they tell me about their classroom experiences, and the great respect and appreciation they have for so many excellent professors at RCC. I am also impressed with their involvement outside of the classroom and their concern for the world in which they live.

One of our goals at Rockland Community College is to provide students with experiences both in and out of the classroom, and, as antiquated as it may sound, I still firmly believe that one of the goals of higher education is to help students live in a democracy and become good citizens.

Being a good citizen inc…