Diversity on Campus
Westchester Community College has an outstanding record of fostering an atmosphere of cultural diversity and has recently been honored with a Northeast Regional Equity Award from the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) making the college eligible for the prestigious Charles Kennedy Equity Award. The purpose of this website is to provide an overview of the many initiatives at the college that have been implemented to meet the needs of our diverse service area.
For more than five decades, Westchester Community College has been proactive in the establishment of a healthy base for the exploration of various cultures. How have we done this? Primarily through classes which boast outstanding diversity in both the makeup of the student body and in class material, and through cultural events which celebrate our differences. In all areas, the college continues to be committed to providing the resources for a culture which supports the participation and celebration of underrepresented minorities. The college’s overall mission, which focuses on accessibility and the support of education and lifelong learning, is one of inclusion.
Student Body Diversity
At Westchester Community College, diversity is not simply a concept, it is a reality. The college’s student body represents a spectrum of cultures and ethnicities. Diversity among the student body has grown significantly and the college has the highest percentage of minority students, the highest percentage of Hispanic students and the second highest percentage of Black students in the State University of New York system. The college has experienced a 19.0% increase in credit headcount in the last ten years and its minority student population has increased by 60.4 %. In fall 2008, 47.3% of the students claimed a minority status compared to only 35.1% in fall 1998. While all minority groups have grown, the largest growth has occurred among Hispanic and Black students.
|Race/Ethnicity||Fall 2010||Fall 2011||Percent Change|
|American Indian/Alaskan Native||83||0.6%||71||0.5%||-14.5%|
|Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander||13||0.1%||24||0.2%||84.6%|
We stand behind a commitment to diversity. In accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and other Federal and New York State guidelines and regulations, Westchester Community College adheres to the policy that no person on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or handicap is excluded from, or is subject to discrimination in, any program or activity. Westchester Community College is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and does not discriminate against any person because of race, color, religion, gender, age, marital status, national origin, handicap, or sexual orientation except as such may constitute bona fide occupational or assignment qualifications. Westchester Community College is fully accredited and a member of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Its college curricula are registered and approved by the New York State Education Department, and the college is affiliated with the State University of New York (SUNY). Westchester Community College is sponsored locally by the County of Westchester
Affirmative Action Advisory Committee (AACC)
The purpose of the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee (AACC) is to promote equal opportunity, ensure the college is aware of federal and state legislation and to see that the college’s mission to seek and provide diversity throughout its levels of workforce is realized. A Board of Trustees member serves as an active participant and the committee chair reports directly to the college president. The committee publishes and distributes the Affirmative Action Policy and Guidebook for the college to help communicate policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment, discrimination and search committees. The committee also focuses on monitoring outcomes rather than intent and annually reviews benchmarks related to workforce analysis and student enrollment. The chair, who also serves as the college’s Equity Officer, meets with each search and screen committee to present and review college policies and to provide screening and interview guidelines to ensure applicant pools remain diverse. Mandatory harassment training is provided to highlight what is and what is not acceptable at the college’s work environment.
At Westchester Community College, we continually seek to expand on the diversity of our faculty and staff. Women and minorities are greatly encouraged to apply for all positions at the college. The college occasionally holds Diversity Job Fairs for Adjunct Faculty which demonstrates the college’s commitment to diversify the faculty and to reflect the diversity of our student body. Its purpose is to invite diverse applicants on campus to learn about current summer and fall job openings.
The Gateway Center
One of the college’s most notable investments in diversity is its Gateway Center which opened in 2010. The Gateway Center is at the heart of our commitment to address the educational needs of Westchester County’s increasingly diverse population, where one in four residents was born outside the United States. The $40.5 million structure provides targeted programs for motivated immigrant and international students, who study side-by-side with U.S. born students, gaining the education they need for meaningful careers while building intercultural understanding. This new building houses the college’s business programs, Professional Development Center, modern language programs, International Student Services, English Language Institute, Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education and the Volunteer Center in 70,000 square feet of space. With all these resources in one location, the college increased collaboration with new initiatives such as the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Citizenship Center.
In addition to our spacious 218-acre campus in Valhalla, the college offers courses in the community where you live. Our Mount Vernon, Yonkers, and Ossining extensions bring the classes directly to your community. We have other sites, too. For instance, you can take courses in the arts in White Plains and Peekskill. See our full list of locations.
The College Start Academy
The College Start Academy is an intensive, three-week summer academic enrichment program offered to incoming students whose placement scores indicate the need for developmental coursework in Math and/or English. The program provides lectures in writing, reading, mathematics, college study skills, individualized computer instruction and a college orientation series. The Academy began as a pilot at the Mount Vernon Extension Center but will expand to the main campus due to its overwhelming success and student interest. Student outcomes are significantly improved with higher success rates in subsequent developmental courses
The Entrepreneurship Summer Academy (ESA)
The Entrepreneurship Summer Academy is another exceptional program held at the Mount Vernon Extension Center. Its primary goal is to expose underserved youth to entrepreneurial and community college environments through a meaningful six-week summer learning experience focused on the basic principles of business planning and management. The program consists of an award winning curriculum, exposure to a college environment, field trips, guest speakers and a concluding business plan competition.
Student Support Services Program/TRIO
Westchester Community College is currently in its second four-year cycle of funding for the federally sponsored program. The Student Support Services/TRIO program at the college provides support services to students identified as having academic need (need of remediation), who are low income, first generation in college or disabled. The program provides students with one-on-one tutoring, personal counseling and mentoring, academic advisement, career and transfer assistance, and study skills workshops. Retention, graduation, transfer to four year institutions, and good academic standing are measured annually with results exceeding program goals in every area.
Workplace Culture Coaching
Business-curriculum students are provided a training program and personal work experience with a professional business leaders within the local community through the Workplace Culture Coaching program. The mission is to give each mentee the opportunity to develop professional behavior and envision realistic career goals. This program provides an opportunity to experience a business environment and acquire the knowledge and workplace behavior skills that will help them to be successful. Examples of topics include communication styles, confidence, business etiquette, professional meetings, business communication and work/life balance. Contact the Volunteer Center for additional information on this program.
Job Success through Academic Resources (JobSTAR)
In 1990, the college entered into a collaborative agreement with Westchester County Department of Social Services (DSS)to provide assessment, skill enhancement training programs, credit-bearing certificate programs, job placement and other vocational career training services to select Temporary Unemployment customers, TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) recipients and TANF services eligible customers. This collaboration, known as JobSTAR, continues to the present day and its goal is to foster self-sufficiency and financial independence for participants. Participants employed at minimal paying jobs are able to acquire the skills necessary to obtain better paying employment while unemployed participants learn basic skills for entry level jobs. Both groups strive for self-sufficiency, ultimate case closure and long-term ability to support their families. The program is provided in a case management format with ongoing contact with students’ caseworkers at DSS. The program provides tutoring support, a computer lab, Metro cards for participants using public transportation and child care for students in Saturday training programs. JobSTAR program staff maintains constant contact with local organizations regarding recruitment and often do presentations throughout the county.
Westchester Community College has a number of partnership programs with four-year colleges to support underrepresented students who want to continue their studies in fields such as science and math. Participants are provided additional academic support and mentoring within their discipline and participate in a summer internship conducting scientific research at the participating four-year college.
Each year the Westchester Community College Foundation provides more than $1 million in scholarships to its students with many of the scholarships targeted towards underrepresented groups.
The college’s dedication to supporting a diverse, multicultural environment is fostered by the administration and supported by various committees:
Each time the college forms a Search Committee for a new employee, a member of the Affirmative Action Committee sits on this committee, to ensure that there is a commitment to review qualified applicants with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
The college has a variety of active committees who work on extensive, annual month long celebrations of Hispanic culture, African-American culture, and Asian culture.
During the accreditation process, the college formed various committees which proposed policies to increase the applicant pool in order to encourage minority members to join the staff.
Students are invited to join any of more than 70 student clubs, many which are devoted to the exploration of various cultures and ethnicities.
In addition to the many events hosted by the college’s committees which present offerings during annual celebrations of African-American, Hispanic, and Asian culture, the college offers a full range of multicultural events through its Smart Arts Series. Visitors and performers have included Edwidge Danticat (fiction writer from Haiti), Nobel Prize winners Seamus Heaney (Irish poet) and Derek Walcott (West Indies poet), Chinese acrobatic troupes, Spanish guitarists, and Viennese musicians. The college also presents an international film series.
International & ESL Students
The college has the most resources in Westchester for both international students and those striving to improve their English skills. Our International Student Advisor will help you make the transition to college courses while the county’s largest English as a Second Language Program offers affordable classes all year long. Nine levels of English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction are offered at the college through its English Language Institute (ELI). Each level provides balanced instruction and active practice in all English language skills: listening, speaking, standard grammar, reading, and writing. New students take an examination to determine the level at which they begin study. An English-only environment for all activities promotes maximum learning. The courses serve the needs of the general learner and learners preparing for college study. Instructors are professionals in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). ELI serves thousands of students from more than a hundred different countries. They speak 49 different languages. ESL courses are offered year round at the main campus and at our extension centers around the county.
Conversation Partners Program
This program is supported by a dedicated group of 90 volunteers who contribute their time and skills to work individually with the college’s English Language Institute (ELI) students, making them feel welcome and providing them the opportunity to practice the language skills they need to succeed. The Partners meet once a week with their individual students and the students practice speaking English in a relaxed atmosphere at no additional cost to the students. Students in the program range from 18 to older adults and come from all over the world from places as far away as Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Over 1,000 students have participated to date, which has helped them adapt to a new environment and language while accomplishing their academic goals.
Something to Talk About
This program provides students of the English Language Institute the opportunity to practice their English in a small group setting to make them more comfortable speaking in a classroom or group environment. The sessions meet weekly and are run by volunteers who act as facilitators on topics such as the recent presidential election, health care and cultural items. All participants have a chance to speak in a non-judgmental environment that encourages participation and language development.
Although it is true that many of our full-time students are right out of high school or just a little older, the student body diversity extends across various age groups. Many credit classes include a variety – those in their early twenties, middle-aged students coming back to school, and mature adults who love learning and are auditing courses. Some exemplary high school students also take classes here, while a full range of non-credit classes for older adults is offered through our Mainstream Program and our Collegium Program.