Medgar Evers College (38923)

An op-ed published under the headline “The spirit of Medgar Evers is under attack” and the byline of William R. Smith presented a disingenuous and inaccurate portrayal of Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York beset by administrators eroding the college’s storied mission and the ideals of its namesake.

We call what’s happening at Medgar Evers by another name: progress. In fact, under the dynamic administration of President William L. Pollard, the college is rising up and thriving.The changes underway are raising academic quality, broadening student support services and developing meaningful programs that strengthen the college’s honored relationship with the institutions and communities of Central Brooklyn.

The college is putting students first, and they are noticing. Spring enrollment at Medgar Evers this year is up by nearly 5 percent compared with last spring, and has leapt by 20 percent over the past five years. The college is also attracting more first-time freshmen and transfer students.

We have realigned developmental courses to ensure stronger academic outcomes. We are restructuring our Center for Writing and our Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence to increase their effectiveness. We have launched the Medgar Way, an initiative to foster seven core values in our college community: courtesy, professionalism, reliability, respect, accountability, commitment and excellence.

We are planning for a bright future, engaging key stakeholders–students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members– in the development of our five-year plan.

The mission of Medgar Evers College has not changed under Pollard’s administration. Indeed, the administration has made the support and empowerment of all students its primary focus.

It has done so through initiatives such as the E-Mentoring program, which guides probationary students; the Early Alert System, which alerts students, along with faculty and relevant staff, when students are in danger of failing courses; and Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation grants, which are offered to students at risk of dropping out due to financial emergencies. We have also hired needed faculty and staff to shore up deficiencies in instruction and remediation and taken other actions aimed at improving student retention and graduation rates.

Medgar Evers College is nurturing achievement. Students are winning prestigious awards and are doing valuable community work; one recently published a novel. Our faculty are engaged in cutting edge scientific research, supported by NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

We have created new facilities and renovated existing ones and have received impressive funding, such as the recent $1.6 million grant to support our Educational Talent Search program and the $450,000 grant for our Early College High School program.

Pollard’s administration has been dedicated to transparency and dialogue, as well as conducting college affairs according to existing university and college governance guidelines and protocols.

Our commitment to the community is as strong as ever, through such initiatives as the Community Justice Program, a collaboration between the college and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office; our partnership with the testing, outreach and prevention initiative Watchful Eye, to raise awareness of the impact of HIV and AIDS on African-American communities; and other initiatives.

Only naysayers or fools try to juxtapose responsiveness to the community with the academic success of the college’s 7,000 degree seeking students. Permit me to borrow the cadence of Santayana, Mr. Smith: Those who try to revise the past for their own purposes are condemned to live in the shadow of falsehoods.

We at Medgar Evers College are focused on the future. With laser-like accuracy, we are about positioning our students to compete in a global society. We are about honing their skills and talents with the help of faculty and mentors. We are about preparing our students for success. That is the most important gift to the community we as administrators can provide.

As we strengthen our programs, raise our profile and attract even more students, we will not take our eyes off the prize: delivering quality educational opportunities for all of our students. The late Medgar Wiley Evers, whose legacy we honor, would certainly approve.

Dr. Moses Newsome, vice president, Division of External Relations, Medgar Evers College, the City University of New York