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Showing posts from 2016

A Special Holiday Gift from the Riversville Foundation

On Tuesday, December 6, RCC and BOCES administrators gathered for a luncheon with this year's student recipients of the Riversville Foundation scholarship awards. The Riversville Foundation was founded in 2006 by Barton Biggs, a former partner at Morgan Stanley and founder of Traxis Partners, a hedge-fund based in Greenwich, CT.  Biggs, who died in 2012, believed in the power of education, and particularly the importance of a college degree. While Riversville has primarily worked with four-year institutions, beginning in 2014, the Riversville Foundation began a collaboration with Rockland Community College. This year, full one-year scholarships were awarded to 21 RCC students, a commitment of more than $95,000.

Under the direction of the Riversville Foundation's Executive Director, Bruno Casolari, a former Director of Resource Development at RCC, the Foundation has awarded more than $135,000 in need-based scholarships to more than 25 Rockland Community College stud…

I Am A Teacher

Tuesday, November 29, was “Giving Tuesday” across America. I was happy to be able to make an online contribution to the Herbert Kurz President’s Student Support Fund. The new RCC donation page,, gave me the opportunity to make a donation in someone’s honor. I took a moment to reflect on who would be the appropriate honoree for my gift, and immediately I thought about our very diverse and very special students, a number of whom benefit from our President’s Student Support Fund. When students come to me for support, we view their transcripts and talk about their goals and their experience at RCC. They almost always mention a professor - a teacher who inspires and assists them. My donation was in honor of “RCC’s amazing faculty.”

This prompted me to think about another very special teacher, my wife Wylene. She taught for 35 years, half in public schools and half as a community college professor of English. I am pleased to share with you a poem she wrote in 200…

Rockland Community College Honors and Supports American Veterans

Nine student veterans who achieved academic distinction were inducted into SALUTE, the national honor society for United States veterans, at an October 6 ceremony at the Crowne Plaza in Suffern. The keynote speaker was decorated retired SGTMAJ M.T. Mack.
This year's inductees are:

Alpha Tier: GPA 3.75-4.00
Joseph Beckmann, USAF
Christopher Thacker, USMC
Kamie Young, USA

Bravo Tier – GPA 3.50-3.74
Kevin Lemus, USMC

Charlie Tier – GPA 3.25-3.49
Edgar Alvarez, USMC
Christian Alvarado, USMC
Jordan Bogart, USMC

Delta Tier: GPA 3.00-3.24
Felix Francois, USA
James Ray, USA
David Mikula, USA

One Person, One Vote

Voting is the unique privilege we are all given as citizens of the United States of America, which is still a great country. We certainly have our challenges, and those challenges must be addressed. It is our responsibility through our vote to support the candidate we think can best solve these problems and keep this great country great. Despite our problems, the “Good Old USA” is where I want to be.

I was distressed when I visited the website of the Pew Research Center to check on voting in America. Their headline read as follows: “US voter turnout trails most developed countries.” They further reported that only 53.6% of US citizens who were eligible voted in the 2012 Presidential election. Countries cited with the highest voter turnout include Belgium, 87%, Turkey, 84% and Sweden, 82%. Census records indicate that America’s voter registration rate is currently 62%, while Canada and the United Kingdom are 91%, Sweden, 96% and nearly 99% in Japan. America can and should…

After the Flood

Last weekend, Wylene and I traveled to Los Angeles to spend time with our three grandchildren, Annie (7), and twins Izzy and Sammy (4). We took them to their favorite museum, the Skirball Cultural Center, near their home in Westwood. The Skirball Center is an educational institution devoted to sustaining Jewish heritage and American democratic ideals. The Center, named after philanthropist-couple Jack H. Skirball and Audrey Skirball-Kenis, features a museum with regularly changing exhibitions, performances, comedy, and literary and cultural programs. The campus includes a museum, a performing arts center, conference halls, classrooms, libraries, courtyards, gardens, and a café. While there is an emphasis on Jewish culture, there are also many exhibits that are secular, of interest regardless of one's religious affiliation.

This is certainly true of the Noah's Ark exhibit, my grandchildren's favorite, inspired by the Biblical tale of Noah and the flood. This …

Summer Magic

Last week we took our eight-year-old granddaughter, Orly, to Broadway to see Aladdin and it was magical. It had all the bells and whistles of a Disney production including a great genie and an amazing flying carpet. Orly loved it and we loved it. We also spent four of Orly’s ten days with us on Fire Island, another magical time of fun, surf and sand. Orly immediately bonded with our seven-year-old surrogate granddaughter, Cece, and they were inseparable the whole time and played from dawn till dusk. Fire Island is a special place and the residents on Water Isle have created an amazing bond. Our friend, Ken, has spent the last four decades at his family compound on the narrow strip of sand between the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Ken calls it “Summer Magic.”

As a child, my summers were also magical. I grew up in Dallas on a quiet residential street with lots of kids the ages of my siblings and me. We had croquet and badminton tournaments, soft ball and lots…


Over the last several weeks, I have reflected upon the connections I have made over my lifetime.  Special moments remind me of how precious these are. This has never been truer for me than when several months ago I received an email from Ken and Lynn Marran, my New Jersey neighbors on Mount Paul Road, where we lived for 17 years, asking me to be the mentor for their 13-year-old son, Sam, as he was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. This was a special request of Sam’s, and it touched me greatly. Ken and Lynn moved to Mount Paul Road in Mendham, NJ, as young newlyweds, so I had the privilege of watching their family grow. That special family now includes not only Sam but also his sisters, 11-year-old Julianna and 7-year-old Cecelia (Cece).

I met Sam on day two of his life, and over the years, I have watched him become an extraordinary young man. He is very smart, curious, conversant and interested in many things. When I was 13, I had faith and commitment, but I had no clue a…


"If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
alone to thee are left,
Sell one & from the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul."
- Muslihuddin Sadi,
13th Century Persian Poet
This poem has always been a favorite of mine and has been quoted by writers and scholars in a variety of ways. I was fortunate to have wonderful high school English teachers, and two of them, Corrine Humphries and Flora Lowery, had students memorize and recite a poem every week. While I cannot always remember what I had for lunch on a given day, I can remember much of that poetry that remains in my heart and in my head. So, I recall the poem above. Words of this poem serve as an appropriate metaphor for an innovative facilities project.

As a result of a special fundraising initiative, RCC will be able to create a very special place on campus for students and for the community. The funds we raised will allow us to demolish the outdoor amphitheater and…

In Celebration of Scholarship

While I have always believed that community colleges are primarily teaching institutions and teaching is at the center of all we do, I also believe after almost fifty years in community college education that our best teachers are also actively involved in some kind of scholarship/professional activities. This engagement can be traditional research, creativity in the visual, performing or textual arts or active involvement in social, community or business activities. It is because of this belief that one of the first projects I initiated when I came to RCC was the establishment of The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL). I will forever be grateful to the extraordinary Libby Bay, former English Professor and Humanities Division Chair, who chaired the committee that developed the guidelines for CETL. The amazing work Professor Bay began continues today under the leadership of CETL Co-Directors, Professor Lynn Aaron and Dr. Elaine Padilla. These committed f…

In Celebration of Irish Heritage Month... My "Circle of Friends"

I grew up with the expression "everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day." And I, of course, always wore green. Over the years, I have learned that I actually am a wee bit Irish. My wife, who is African-American, had a maternal grandfather who was a red-haired, blue-eyed man named Hugh Kelly McKee. So, the Irish is one thread we share.

Three of my favorite authors are Irish. Two are poets and Nobel laureates for Literature: the amazing Seamus Heaney and the iconic William Butler Yeats. For students of great literature, I agree that my third favorite Irish writer is not in the same league as Heaney and Yeats, but I love the work of Maeve Binchy, who died in 2012.

Like many Americans, I became familiar with Maeve Binchy when her bestselling novel, Circle of Friends, became a popular movie. Another of her novels, Tara Road, was an Oprah selection. Maeve Binchy was a contemporary novelist, short story writer, and journalist. For many years, she was a columnist for t…

Top 150

We are thrilled and honored to have been selected by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges in recognition of RCC’s exceptional student outcomes in the areas of student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and access and success for minority and low-income students.

RCC is now eligible to compete for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million dollars in prize funds, as well as Siemens Technical Scholars Program student scholarships.
RCC merited to receive the honor based on the following measures:
Performance (retention, graduation rates including transfers, and degrees and certificates per 100 full-time equivalent students)Improvement (awarded for steady improvement in each performance metric over time)Equity (evidence of strong completion outcomes for minority and low-income students) Ten Aspen Prize finalists will be named in Fall 2016. The Aspen Institute wil…

Out of the Box Living Life Series at Rockland Community College

Today, we in Rockland County, and many folks around the world are “living out of the box.” What I mean by this is that our community is in a constant state of flux as we continue to become a more diverse community. Folks both migrate to and exit from Rockland County. Many come to Rockland from around the corner in New York City and from around the world from both the northern and southern hemisphere. Therefore, many of us are now living outside of the very homogenous box from where we were born and grew up.

In 1970, Marshall McLuhan told us that we were living in a global village and that the world was now like a one-centered nervous system. In 2005, Thomas Friedman again explained or changed the box in which we are living by telling us “the world is flat” and that all of our boxes are part of one global society.

Rockland Community College embraces diversity at the core of its educational mission (RCC Diversity Statement). To meet this need in our community, I am suggesti…