Summer is right around the corner and with it comes grand commencement ceremonies on the great lawn, a much needed break for students, and a new president for Brooklyn College.
Karen L. Gould, the first woman to hold the position, will officially be stepping down and making way for current Dean of CUNY School of Law, Michelle J. Anderson, effective August 1, 2016. A new president will not only affect the student body, faculty and staff on campus but also the community that surrounds the college.
According to CUNY Newswire, “The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university.” Brooklyn College is one of 12 senior colleges and has often been referred to as “the poor man’s Harvard” because students can receive a high quality education without paying the crippling costs of Ivy League tuitions. Serving as the president of such an institution is a powerful and very demanding position.
“The president’s position at Brooklyn College is extremely important because her job entails structuring a faculty, not having a divided faculty, but creating a great working environment with staff. Also making sure that certain programs are implemented in each department. Programs that are needed for students to sustain, to build, to get inner growth that lasts a lifetime,” said Geoffrey A. Davis, District Leader for the 43rd Assembly District. Davis’ district currently encompasses Crown Heights, Prospect – Lefferts Gardens, and East Flatbush in Brooklyn. As a community leader Davis believes it is crucial for the new president to build a relationship with different aspects of the community including law enforcement and elected officials.
“Address the ongoing violence that’s taking place around the community and around the college, don’t just close the doors for the staff and students, but let it be a community college; a college that embraces the community as a whole,” Davis said.
After leading the CUNY School of Law since 2006 and being the driving force behind the Pipeline to Justice program as well as many other initiatives that positively affect students, many are confident that Anderson will be able to hold her own as president.
“I think she has a lot of experience with the CUNY system, so she’ll take that with her to Brooklyn College,” said Naz Ahmad, a staff attorney working in the clinic at CUNY School of Law.
As Dean of CUNY School of Law Anderson was “very accessible to students” according to one first year CUNY Law student who goes by J.S. He also mentioned the Dean’s coffee talk events where Anderson would make herself available and create an open forum for students.
Although the Dean has made herself available at certain times to those that sought her out, many students at CUNY School of Law don’t know much about her. “She hasn’t been very visible on campus,” J.S said. Another first year who wanted to remain anonymous, said she met Anderson once during orientation and thought, “she’s definitely a great person,” but hasn’t seen her since.
One third-year CUNY Law student who did not want to be named, said that the school changed a lot when Anderson became the Dean. In order to enforce students passing the bar, “she became more strict and it became less of a progressive kind of hippy school.” This enforcement is seen in the graduation rates at the CUNY Law school which increased to 84 percent and an average of 77 percent of students passing the bar under Anderson’s leadership.
Once president, Anderson will have her work cut out for her. Students, faculty, staff, and community leaders are eager to see what contributions she will make to Brooklyn College.
According to the Honorable Eric Adams, Borough President of Brooklyn, Anderson is “a renowned scholar whose work has been invaluable to the evolution of our laws, Michelle Anderson has demonstrated a capacity for leadership as Dean of the CUNY School of Law that will contribute to the continued success of Brooklyn College and its students.” He went on to say, “On behalf of the people of Brooklyn and as a CUNY alumnus, I welcome you to our community. I know we will have many opportunities to work with each other to fulfill the extraordinary promise of Brooklyn College.”