President’s Report September 2021
Dear College Community,
It feels good to be back on campus with many of you and with our students. The past month has primarily been devoted to ensuring compliance with COVID related mandates. We worked to ensure that the campus is conducive to the teaching, learning, and the health and safety of our community. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for doing your part in these efforts.
Preparation throughout the summer and through September included deep cleaning of all classrooms, restrooms and public spaces, and ensuring all our socially distant protocols are in place. Custodial sanitizing teams were scheduled to match all current classroom schedules. HVAC maintenance, including quarterly filter changes, are being conducted throughout mechanical spaces as well. VP Rios will provide an extensive update in his October report to the campus. In the interim, should you observe or experience any facility related issues, please email email@example.com. Calling Custodial Services or other offices, will result in a delay of the matter being addressed.
We have all worked tirelessly to ensure that students understand university mandates/college requirements with regard to vaccination and testing. We want to ensure that students come into compliance by adhering to vaccination deadlines, uploading information to CUNYfirst and downloading passes (initially Everbridge) now through Cleared4Work that will enable them to enter campus.
KCC implemented an aggressive communications plan, that includes direct text messaging to students, who our records show have not been vaccinated with emails from Sharon Warren Cook as the Chief Student Affairs Officer and Karen St. Hilaire, KCC LVA and I. We are sharing information with student facing staff via KCC AdvisorGram about important information that students need to know, and with social media and website updates as well. In addition, to further support compliance, we partnered with the NYCHHC to have a vax van on campus for a week (9/20 -9/26). From this effort, 245 members of the college community received vaccinations. We also instituted weekly in-services/individual sessions via Zoom to help students (and other members of the college community) upload their documents to CUNYfirst. We also held person uploading/pass downloading sessions for members of our custodial and Public Safety staff as well.
As both our LVA and COVID Liaison, Karen St. Hilaire continues to send out communications to the college community regarding incidences of positive COVID cases. Weekly reports on infections by campus can also be accessed at https://www.cuny.edu/coronavirus.
Overall, as you know, enrollment in the community college sector has declined. Latest data show an overall decrease of 11.3%. As per VP Rivera’s recent enrollment report, as of the end of September, while we exceeded our enrollment target for freshmen students and came close to meeting our target for continuing students, these targets were still well below Fall 2020 enrollment. Although we exceeded our enrollment of transfer students and College Now students over Fall 2020, we did not meet our targets for these cohorts. We fell below our target for readmit students and enrollment of these cohorts was much lower than Fall 2020. We can expect to see further decreases in enrollment and retention once students are dropped for non-compliance on October 8.
Last fall, 69% of our first-time full-time freshmen who entered in Fall 2019, were retained. Today, based on our current enrollment, only 61% of first-time full-time students who entered in Fall 2020 are currently enrolled in Fall 2021. Given this statistic, students who are currently enrolled in hybrid and in-person classes and who will not be fully vaccinated by October 21 (at this point, they need to have the Johnson & Johnson shot by October 7) will be dropped from their classes and the one-year retention rate of first-time full-time freshmen will experience an additional decrease.
For students who have at least one shot, but still will not meet the vaccination mandate by the deadline, we are encouraging them to speak to their advisors to ensure that they can register for these classes in the winter or spring. It is important to note on-campus offerings will be increased starting in the spring with 70% of classes offered in-person and 30% of classes offered hybrid and online.
These are difficult times for all of us and especially our students. We have to be consistent in our messaging regarding our college/university vaccine mandates. We have both first-time students who are new to KCC and continuing students for whom this semester is their first on campus. It is easy for them to feel disconnected and then become disconnected from their college experience and goals altogether. It is important that we all continue to step up as mentors as we encourage students not to lose sight of their goals.
Decreasing enrollment continues to impact the fiscal health of the college. Our FY22 Financial Plan was submitted to the University Budget Office and is under review. The plan includes over $23 million in stimulus funding (CARES, CRRSAA and ARPA). CUNY has forgiven over $4.2 million in outstanding balances for KCC students through stimulus funding through the CUNY Comeback Program. Of the 3,300 students who initially qualified for the program, 1,027 registered for the fall. When contacted, many students indicated that they may be ready to resume enrollment in the spring. In collaboration with Enrollment Management, Academic Affairs, and Student Affairs, there is a small committee reviewing applications submitted by students with outstanding balances for Spring 2020, Fall 2020, and Spring 2021 to forgive their debt. Students can apply for the CUNY Comeback Program via CUNYfirst until 10/31/21. Applications will be reviewed through the end of the fall semester.
Despite the dedicated attention to all things COVID-related, we continued to engage in activities that bring us together as a college community. We marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with a wreath laying ceremony. The Fall Convocation was held in a hybrid format with the majority of faculty and staff joining us remotely while others joined in person and socially distanced in U219/20. I was honored to have both Rabbi Zaltzman and Father Mike Tedone present as we held a small ceremony to remember the loved ones and colleagues we lost to COVID and usher in the new academic year. Convocation was followed by a Thank You Barbeque for our essential staff.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to strengthen our connections and reconnections as a campus community. To raise awareness of Breast Cancer and raise funds for the Women’s Center, on October 14, the Division of Institutional Advancement will host “Play for Pink”, an intramural softball game, with members of the college community. In October, as part of our celebration of Latin Heritage Month, we will be treated to the sounds of a live band on the patio of the Kingsborough Art Museum. The Office of Events Management in concert with the Division of Institutional Advancement will also be kicking off a new series Jam on the KAM where members of our community, who play an instrument, or are musical artists or soloists, can sign up to perform. Jam on the KAM will occur during Club Hours and will be open to faculty, staff and students.
As always, please feel free to email me should you have ideas, questions or concerns.
Best wishes for the remainder of the month,