Whither Bank Street? Notes From The All-CollegePosted by Nick Gray on December 13, 2011
On Wednesday, December 7, faculty and staff filled Bank Street’s auditorium for this winter’s installment of the quarterly All-College Meeting. The meeting, presented by Staff Council, offered a moment to express appreciation for the work of colleagues, and also to look ahead and think constructively about the challenges and opportunities the College may encounter in the coming years.
Recognizing Distinguished Service
After brief announcements regarding Information Technology (website developments and Gmail migration) and Communications (college news production), President Elizabeth Dickey presented the first annual Outstanding Service Award. Co-hosted by Human Resources and Staff Council, the award is a new initiative designed to recognize the hard work and service of one non-teaching member of the college community.
This year, Bank Street recognized the spirited dedication of Cheryl Simon, Institutional Advancement’s Communications Coordinator. Praising Simon's work, Senior Graphic Designer John Bellacosa said:
I’ve worked with Cheryl for nearly seven years, and the great thing about her is that everyone knows her and wants to work with her. She started in an administrative position and wanted a different kind of challenge, so she started learning elements of design and photography, and took on managing work with printers and other vendors. She has a great rapport with our clients—the people who use our services throughout the college. She continues to rise to the occasion, and she’s universally beloved around here.
Simon is humble about the award. When asked how she feels about the honor, she smiled and said:
It’s scary. Do you want to know why? I’m not one to be out in the spotlight. Face behind the camera, yes, but not in front of the camera. But it really is a privilege to be recognized, and I appreciate it greatly.
Maintenance & Growth
The second half of the All-College Meeting focused on the future of Bank Street’s facilities. The core of Bank Street’s operations (including the Graduate School and School for Children) have been housed at 610 West 112th Street since the early 1970s. To ensure that Bank Street’s facilities continue to provide optimal environment for teaching and learning, the College has engaged an architectural firm, HLW, to gather data and to present options for future developments.
At the meeting, President Dickey introduced a panel discussion featuring HLW architect John Gering, Trustee Peggy Stevens, and Chief Operating Officer Frank Nuara. President Dickey reported that Phase One of the Facilities Master Plan involved a thorough analysis of the 112th Street “main building,” and Nuara noted that the project was awarded to HLW, a New York City architectural firm, after a competitive bidding process.
Gering then took the lead and described the “discovery” and data gathering process that kicked off the firm’s analysis last spring. One of the first steps was to conduct focus groups with more than 100 members of the College community to better understand how people were using existing spaces and what might better support their work in the future. The firm also undertook a complete engineering and code-related review of the main building, as well as a survey of College Trustees and Cabinet.
Gering reported that HLW’s findings show that there will be some work to do to improve facilities, both in terms of quality of life as well as from a quantitative perspective, considering the number of people who need to work in the existing space. But he noted that within those challenges there may be hidden opportunities, and he presented five possible solutions of varying costs, complexity, and impact.
During a lively question-and-answer session, Bank Streeters encouraged the College to continue to focus efforts on supporting the learning environment when considering changes to facilities, and discussed the impact of Bank Street’s move in the early 1970s. Barbara Dubitsky, a Math Leadership instructor who worked at Bank Street during that period, recalled that it was an adjustment to settle into a new space, but that the sense of community and purpose at Bank Street was strong and that the impact of the change seemed minimal.
President Dickey noted that the Board of Trustees will hold an off-site two-day retreat in May, and the Facilities Master Plan will be a key topic of discussion. “In the coming months there will be several occasions for community conversations on this subject,” she said, and reminded the audience that “the resolution of a facilities plan will take time and more than a little patience.”