An Interview with Scott E. Evenbeck, President of the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College
National and local data show that jobs are going to require at least two years of college. If students have only a high school degree they won’t be able to pursue careers that enable them to support themselves and their families. For the future of students and for New York City, it is imperative that many more students complete at least an associate degree.
How does the Guttman Community College meet this need?
We have a well thought out model. All students start with a Summer Bridge program. Students then move into learning communities, each of which is a set of coordinated classes taught by an instructional team. The first course students take is called City Seminar, in which students address an issue of major importance that they are already familiar with. In the Fall semester they study sustainability, and in the Spring semester they study immigration.
Rather than studying reading, writing, and quantitative reasoning in independent classes, these skills are integrated with other topics. If the students are learning how to analyze and interpret data it is linked with sustainability. Students participate in field projects in New York City and study issues that are integral to the topic. For example, while they studied sustainability, they learned about the relationship between carbon dioxide content and temperature. Later, when they studied biology, they went to Bryant Park and measured the carbon dioxide content and temperature. This gave them a real hands-on grasp of how critical it is to collect quantitative data and how to interpret it.
The faculty members teach in instructional teams, and they are able to present material in ways that help students see how things connect.
How does the Guttman Student Success and Engagement Fund help students?
It makes all the difference. We have primarily low-income, first generation students at the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College. The Fund provides emergency money for the students, and our students certainly face emergencies. While students are performing field work in New York City the Fund allows us to provide them with Metrocards. We also want to have a modified study abroad program (such as a trip to Montreal for a long weekend). The Fund will provide money for those study programs.
The Guttman Student Success and Engagement Fund allows us to make the educational experience so much more meaningful for students.
How will the Guttman Transfer Scholarships help students at the CUNY community colleges?
This is very important. CUNY is outstanding in the way it serves the students of New York City. To provide these scholarships, which encourage the top performing community college students to remain at CUNY and complete a baccalaureate education, is a stroke of genius. This will encourage students to complete their degrees and give them support that will demonstrably increase the graduation rate. The scholarship also ties together the community colleges and the senior colleges.