From the President: September 16, 2011Posted by Bank Street on September 21, 2011
Dear Members of the College Community,
I hope you have had a good summer and on behalf of Cabinet I welcome you to Bank Street and the 2011/12 academic year. We have had a very busy summer with Graduate School classes and Summer Camp and with our usual number of maintenance projects which the Facilities Staff manages to complete during the course of August.
This fall we welcome Virginia Roach, the new dean of the Graduate School. With Virginia’s appointment, the three senior educational positions at the College are filled. This puts us in a very strong position as we work to strengthen the College academically, one of three priorities in the Strategic Plan.
Please take note of two other important College developments. The first is our new website. Launched in August after more than a year of work, the site is intended to provide information for our many audiences. It is well designed, easily navigated, and informative; over time the website will become even more effective as we all become familiar with its many functions and features. Bear in mind that the site connects to the Strategic Plan and the College priority of increasingly visibility and impact. I must thank Arshad Ahmed and his web team for their hard work.
I believe members of the Community will find the Bank Street Kitchen to be an important new resource. During the month of August, Chef Chad and staff have made all of us more aware of the simple pleasure of healthy food; I also observe that seeing many colleagues eating lunch in the Kitchen helps build connections within the College. Over time, Chef Chad and staff will be working on connecting the food with the curriculum in the School for Children. This is all part of our goal to adopt the Calhoun School approach to food as developed by Chef Bobo, Chad’s mentor.
A final note; Dean Fern Kahn has returned from sabbatical for her final year at the College. She will be Special Advisor to the President for Community Affairs, working closely with me as we respond to the Strategic Plan and think through our future activities.
Now I will turn to other news.
This academic year, the Graduate School will continue the process of seeking accreditation by the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). There are many steps in the process. Last winter, the Graduate School began by notifying NCATE of our intent to seek accreditation. This was followed by the submission of “preconditions” noting our current accreditation, program status, and other institutional data. While the rest of us taught, presented at conferences, provided professional development, or just enjoyed the summer sun, Interim Dean Virginia Casper was coordinating the next step of the NCATE process – our Conceptual Framework.
With the assistance of many of the Graduate School Faculty, and Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Nancy Gropper, the Conceptual Framework was sent to NCATE September 1st. I thank all who worked on this document. Once it has been reviewed by NCATE and comments received, we will make revisions and ensure the final conceptual framework is broadly available to all who are interested.
The next step in the NCATE process is the submission of the “SPA” reports, reports that are reviewed by the Specialized Professional Associations. Our goal is to have all of our programs nationally recognized through the SPA review process. The SPA work will be a key part of all program, departmental, and divisional meetings throughout the fall semester in preparation of submitting the reports in February, 2012. While the SPA reports are due next February, data collection is ongoing and will be a permanent feature of the Graduate School’s work as part of the NCATE process.
Restructuring of Continuing Education
Last year, Bank Street engaged in a restructuring of its educational divisions that resulted in the discontinuation of the Division of Continuing Education. Continuing Professional Studies, as well as our work in Emotionally Responsive Practice, the Child Development Associate Certificate, and our work providing professional development in out of school settings now resides inside the Graduate School. The Graduate School has established a “Professional Development Office” (PDO), which will be the home of all professional development work conducted under the auspices of Bank Street.
We have established a new operation, Innovative, Policy, and Research (IPR), that is housed in the Office of the Dean of the College. Bank Street’s two National Head Start projects (National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness, and the Head Start International Research Conference) reside in IPR. In addition IPR is host to Liberty/Leads, Bank Street’s two direct service Head Start Centers, and the VISTA project. As the year progresses we anticipate IPR will, in coordination and collaboration with the Program Divisions, engage in additional activities supporting innovation, research, and policy.
Since arriving at Bank Street three years ago, the Deans and I have worked to assemble small groups of outside colleagues to conduct peer reviews of selected educational parts of the institution. In the division of Children's Programs, both the School for Children and the Family Center underwent peer reviews during the last academic year. The perspective and counsel gained from external colleagues has proven to be extremely valuable as the College works toward achieving its goals. This year we have taken the additional step of forming a small group of trustees who will follow-up on the Family Center review and examine further some of the questions raised by that visiting team. As stewards of the College, trustees obviously play an important role in setting priorities and direction. In the past year, two similar trustee committees were convened; one reviewed Continuing Education and the other is still working on a review of the Bookstore. In the end, these small committees report back to the Board of Trustees.
The Trustee/Family Center committee will be chaired by Sue Kaplan, former chair of our Board; she will be joined by Dean Alexis Wright. The committee will focus on the organizational complexities of the Family Center, especially related to sustainability and economics, all areas which were cited by the visiting peer review committee last spring as areas of importance.
Once again the facilities staff during the month of August worked 7 days a week and put in long days to get the building ready for the opening of school. Please stop to see the new look in the Library; it’s a refreshing change that was long overdue. Unfortunately our Local Law 11 work on the building exterior has not been completed due to an expanded scope of work and rainy weather; this project should be completed by mid-October.
Two Personnel Items
Following on the heels of Cathy Coleman’s retirement and after a search with numerous strong candidates, Anna Gross has joined the College as our new Assistant Vice President of Finance and Administration. Anna brings to Bank Street extensive experience in both higher education and other not-for-profit organizations. Another retirement will be taking place within the Finance and Administration Division as Beth Puffer, the Bookstore director, will be retiring during the first quarter of 2012. Beth took a small, highly specialized bookstore that was located in the lobby of the 112th Street building to a Broadway location; and in doing so she built one of the best children's bookstores in the tri-state area.
Work on the College's facilities master plan continues as we begin to review with the Board of Trustees our options regarding our buildings and our leases. HLW, the architectural firm many of you met as they conducted focus groups last spring, is completing its study and will present their findings and recommendations to the Board of Trustees at their October 20th meeting.
Bank Street College Wellness Initiative
I am pleased to announce, through the leadership of Staff Council, that Bank Street is renewing its commitment to wellness and health. Recently, Staff Council announced that it would be hosting a Yoga series for the Fall. This effort has been overwhelmingly supported by the College community with the classes being filled up in a 24 hour period. Staff Council will be hosting a series of events throughout the year so please keep an eye out for this.
As the new website continues to evolve, the Cabinet will be developing clear guidelines and use policies. I hope to finish this process in early November. Though the website is a key marketing and communications tool which makes strong use of photography and video, especially as regards members of our teaching staff, no College employee is required to permit use of their photo. Please contact Arshad Ahmed with any questions.
The summer months have been very busy; I wish you a good start of the semester.