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Goals and Gold

My goal when I came to RCC in May of 2004 was to create a student-centered environment that put students and their learning and success at the center of the institution. I knew that for that to happen, there had to be transformation and change. And, since teaching and learning are the primary mission of the College, I knew that first we had to look at how we teach and how our students learn. Early in my tenure, I established the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), and now, after more than ten years, CETL has thrived, and each year it has provided an array of programs to help and encourage our faculty.

In addition to CETL, over the last several years, the State University of New York (SUNY) has charged its community colleges with looking at how they teach, especially in the areas of English and math, and to re-think remediation. RCC has emerged as a leader in both of these areas, and SUNY cites RCC as a model for its new math program called QUANTWAY and our developmental English program. Most recently, we were asked to host a conference for other community colleges to discuss our work with Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL). Several of our faculty members are actively engaged in pairing with colleges and universities around the world and co-teaching via the latest technologies.

These and other initiatives and strengthening of our existing programs caused Rockland Community College to be named last year as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation (out of more than 1200) by the prestigious Aspen Institute. And the College, having had accreditation issues with Middle States in 2004, just received glowing reviews and has earned its accreditation for the next ten years. Another project two other presidents and I initiated in 2005 that has enhanced the academic program is the Hudson Valley Educational Consortium, which includes six community colleges in the Mid-Hudson Valley.

My background in sociology led me to understand the importance of the environment and the impact of one's surroundings in influencing learning and perspective. The appearance of the campus and facilities has changed greatly from Spring 2004 to Spring 2017. New facilities include the Technology Center - the county's first LEEDS certified building, the Theresa Morahan Simmons Center for Children and Families, and a renovated Student Union. By Fall 2017, there will be two renovated science labs and new restrooms and locker rooms in the Fieldhouse. Construction will begin this summer on a 320-bed Residence Hall, which includes a living/learning center with a state-of-the-art Fitness Center for all members of the College community.

Today, June 29, 2017, we celebrate the opening of the Herbert Kurz Peace Garden, preview the major renovations of the Holocaust Museum and Center for Tolerance, and dedicate space for the John and Joan Maloney Globe Theater, an outdoor performance space.

The aesthetics of the campus are further enhanced by more than a dozen sculptures that came to the College through the Model to Monuments Outdoor Sculpture Program developed by world-class sculptor, Greg Wyatt, Sculptor-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC. Greg, in collaboration with the Art Students League, received a substantial grant to work with aspiring sculptors to create models to enhance NYC parks. After being displayed in parks in NYC for two years, the sculptures now have a permanent home at RCC. The College also installed, through the Art in Public Places program, a neon sculpture, TRILOGY, created by the extraordinary Stephen Antonakos.

To further implement our mission of serving students, RCC branched out into the community with the opening of the newly renovated Haverstraw Center in 2006, which now serves over 800 residents of the North Rockland area. In addition to offering classes, the Center operates a 3D Printing SMARTT Lab and a Business Services Mall, which support over 90 small businesses and their development. It also houses one of the three offices of the Rockland County Career Center, which is now administered by RCC in collaboration with BOCES. In 2016, the College opened a 2700 square foot automotive technology training and certification center, the Herb Kurz Automotive Technology Training Center in Orangeburg. In September 2017, RCC will open the RCC Innovation Center at Pearl River, which will house a second 3D Printing SMARTT Lab, a Business Services Mall, and a Business Incubator to support the development of small businesses. In addition, RCC has 164,000 feet of Start-Up New York space at the center, and opened its first Start-Up New York business, York Analytical, in Nyack in April 2017. In Spring 2018, RCC expects to open a new Hospitality and Culinary Arts Center, also in Nyack.

Further enhancing RCC's support to students, RCC opened its Connection Center, which supports students with "life happens issues" that often limit students' ability to be successful. In its first semester, the center served over 500 students.

Herb and Leonard Kurz
Herb and Leonard Kurz: Philanthropists Extraordinaire The issue that most often affects students' ability to be successful is finance. In 2005, after I was introduced to an exceptional individual, Herbert Kurz, together we created a special program called the President's Student Support Fund to make financial resources available to students whose needs were greater than those that could be helped by traditional financial aid programs and students who were not eligible for traditional financial aid programs. Herb Kurz agreed to provide the first $100,000 if I could match that amount, which I was able to do. Now, 12 years later, the Kurz Family Foundation has provided over $1 million for student support. I have continued to raise funds from other sources, and the President's Student Support Fund will continue under the leadership of Dr. Michael Baston. The fund now has a balance of over $400,000.

Dr. Wood with studends


As I depart from Rockland and RCC, I am confident that I am leaving it as a much better place than I found it and that student success has been enhanced. I know that under the leadership of Dr. Baston, the College will continue to provide a student-centered environment that will allow new generations of Rocklanders to achieve their goals and improve their lives.


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