By: Tony Best
Brooklyn Elected officials are hoping to meet soon with top officials of the City University of New York to find out results of the thorough assessment of the performance of Medgar Evers College, its president and students.
The session between the lawmakers and the CUNY Chancellor’s office and the Board of Trustee would be the second meeting between in recent months and U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who represents a large section of central Brooklyn in the House of Representatives in Washington, said that they were anxious to find out what has happened at Medgar Evers College in recent years, especially after an indication that student classroom performance had fallen.
“I believe the (educational) institution is going through a period of adjustments under its new leadership that we are paying very close attention to,” said the Congresswoman in an interview broadcast by WWRL-Radio. “There has been a real tug-of-war in terms of the way that new policies have been put in place at the institution and that the institution itself is really struggling to make sure that it meets the academic needs of the population that’s being educated there.
“The elected officials have been meeting with the Board of Directors of CUNY to resolve these issues. They were pretty protracted when the new President came in and began to make changes,” said Clarke. “We are trying to get transparency around those changes, the necessity of the changes and whether in fact they were in the best interest of the students and the faculty.”
The Washington lawmaker whose predecessors, the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and U.S. Representative Major Owens, were strong supporters of the move to establish the college in the first place described the talks with CUNY as “an ongoing conversation” centered around “what the last couple of years have been like” at a school whose student body consists mainly of Caribbean immigrants or the children of West Indians.
The CUNY board, she added, would soon be meeting again with the elected representatives to provide them with findings of the assessment
“It should be very shortly because we met at the beginning of the summer. I know that the assessment tools are being examined and hopefully we would be able to reconvene very shortly,” said Clarke who brokered the meeting that was attended by members of the State Assembly and the Senate in Albany and elected officials of the City Council, many of whom felt they had been slighted by the office of the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees when they requested a meeting to discuss the issues surrounding Medgar Evers.
Jay Hershenson, CUNY’s Vice Chancellor for University Relations said after the first meeting that the talks were “healthy” and vibrant. He disclosed that like all CUNY colleges, Medgar Evers’s performance was being reviewed and the record of its President, Dr. William Pollard, who had succeeded the popular Dr. Edison Jackson, was under evaluation to determine if his contract would be renewed.
“Our discussions about the college were aimed at enhancing the school and improving the performance of students,” said Hershenson. “When the evaluation is completed that’s when we would be able to judge the school’s progress. The review is a very important part of the overall review and it is being used with Dr. Pollard to review CUNY’s goal and Dr. Pollard’s.”
Now, Congresswoman Clarke, State Senator Kevin Parker and others are anxious to find out CUNY’s finding because as Clarke said it was “clear the college hasn’t met the benchmarks in almost every category of the CUNY evaluation process.”
For his part, State Senator Parker described the school as “important to all of us” and decried the poor state of “communication” between the college and the community, saying that in the past there was “an ease of communication.” That was when Dr. Jackson was the school’s top administrator.