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This Month From Cliff- October 27, 2011

The President’s Report

October 27, 2011

Cliff L. Wood


The United States Congress has declared the period of September 15 through October 18 Hispanic Heritage Month.  This commemoration is important to me because of the beauty of Hispanic culture and the countless contributions made by people of Hispanic heritage to America and the world.

As a child growing up in Texas, I had limited world experiences.  My family did very little traveling and I grew up in a very homogeneous community.  I was, however, aware that in Dallas in the 50's there were three groups - the white majority, African Americans who did service work in our communities, and somewhere in far north Dallas a growing group of Hispanics, primarily immigrants from Mexico. I was thoroughly unaware of the latter two cultures that were so different from my 'WASP" neighborhood.

When I was eleven, however, I had a wonderful experience.  Our neighbors, the Smiths, who were surrogate grandparents, invited me to travel with them to Donna, Texas, over five hundred miles from my home but only a few miles from the Mexican border.  Uncle Schmitty, as I called him, had a brother who owned a citrus farm there in the Rio Grande Valley.  Thrilled with this opportunity to travel, I was even more elated when, on a Saturday during our visit, they took me across the border to Reynosa, Mexico. I was intrigued there by a very different and enticing culture, its sounds, smells and sights, which were unfamiliar to me. It did remind me, however, of the movies I enjoyed on Saturdays featuring Zorro or The Cisco Kid and his compadre Poncho.  On Sunday, the Smith’s took me to South Padre Island on the beautiful blue Gulf of Mexico stretching its water to the great Atlantic Ocean.  We had beautiful white sand beaches to ourselves, very different from today where the beaches are filled with “mucho turistos.”  One of the few “international foods” which I had as a child was an occasional family outing to El Chico’s Mexican Restaurant.  I became a lover of what is now called Tex-Mex, very different from the cuisine I had as an adult in Mexico City.

As I grew into adulthood and expanded my knowledge of the world of art and music, I became familiar with contributions of Hispanics in the arts. In recent years I have loved the music of pop artist Ricky Martin, "Livin' La Vida Loca." I also admire and frequently listen to the inspiring artists like cellist and composer, Pablo Casals. Further, in traveling to renowned art museums in Europe, I have learned that there are many wonderful Spanish artists including my personal favorites, Picasso and Miro.

I became familiar with the great literature written in Spanish a number of years ago when reading a sabbatical report for a faculty member who taught Spanish and loved literature of speakers of the Spanish language.  His sabbatical report inspired me to try to learn about the ten Nobel laureates in literature whose works were first published in Spanish.  In reading about the Nobel laureates, I found a phrase from the presentation speech at the Swedish Academy when the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature was given. Professor Kjellespmark said the following in his presentation, "When the Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded for the second time in succession to a writer from the Spanish-speaking world, it is a reminder of the exceptional literary vitality and richness of this sphere in our age."   These works are certainly worthy of inclusion in the Academy.




Year of Award

Octavio Paz


Literature, 1990

Camilo José Cela


Literature, 1989

José Echegaray


Literature, 1989

Gabriel Garcia Márquez


Literature, 1982

Vicente Aleixandre


Literature, 1977

Pablo Neruda


Literature, 1971

Miguel Angel Asturias


Literature, 1967

Juan Ramón Jiménez


Literature, 1956

Gabriela Mistral


Literature, 1945

Jacinto Benavente y Martinez


Literature, 1922


It is most appropriate that RCC celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month each year.  I thank the Hispanic Heritage Committees for helping us appreciate and celebrate the contributions of the very diverse group of people whose first language is Spanish.

The Hispanic Heritage Achievement Awards Committee members are;

Professor Josephine Tarsia, Chairperson; Nilda Aragones, Mara-Lee Bierman, Isabel Cadenas, Cathleen Cruz, Laura Fox, Laurie Pina, Doreen Zarcone



The Hispanic Heritage Month Committee members are;

Cathlene Cruz, Co-Chair; Laurie Pina, Co-Chair; Nilda Aragones, Bethzabeth Berrios, Mara Lee Bierman, Eugenio Espinosa, Laura Fox, Vanessa Lago-Barros, Karen McGovern, Jessica Ricciardi, Maria Rivera, Zulma Santiago, Josephine Tarsia, Doreen Zarcone, Segundo Guallpa (Student), Wilmer Rodriguez (Student).

The 2011 Hispanic Heritage Achievement Awards were held on October 17 in the Cultural Arts Theater at Rockland Community College. Congratulations to the Student Achievement Award honorees;


Joel Almodovar, Artistic Talent

Alex Ojeda, Academic Achievement

Wilmer Rodriguez, Leadership Activities

Ana Rojas, Leadership Activities

Ruth Jimenez, Personal Accomplishments

Dorca Hernandez, Personal Accomplishments

Hispanic Heritage Achievement Awards

Hispanic Heritage Achievement Awards

Letter from Senator Gillibrand


RBA Green Council Awards plaque

On October 20, the 2nd Annual RBA Green Council Awards Ceremony was held at the Paramount Country Club in New City, NY.  Rockland Community College was one of the honorees, awarded for outstanding and invaluable service to the community.


The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS's) Light the Night Walk was held on October 16 in Nyack.  A team of 16 students, staff, and alumni raised a total of $1,000.00 for the cause by their participation in the event.


The Office of Student Involvement congratulates the Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President, Lisa Newmark and the entire SGA for a very successful fall semester Blood Drive.
Good Samaritan Hospital's blood bank increased by 86 pints with those donated with 34 deferrals.  A special thanks to Samantha Goldberg, the student worker who helped coordinate the entire blood drive and went above and beyond with her attention to the details.


On November 2, from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, the Hunger Summit 2 will be held at the Spring Valley Annex of Rockland Community College.  The registration fee is $15 and will include materials, continental breakfast and lunch.  The Hunger Summit 2 will cover many topics and in addition, NY State Senator David Carlucci, Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland County Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell and NY State Assembly Members Ellen Jaffee and Kenneth Zebrowski will be there to address the issue of hunger in Rockland County.


On October 29 the CEJJES Institute in collaboration with Rockland Community College, East Ramapo Central School District, the NAACP – Spring Valley Chapter, and the Nyack School District will host the 5th Annual Supplementary Educational Summit.  The summit is free to all attendees and will be held on campus in the Technology Center, Ellipse Auditorium from 8:30 am until 3:30 pm. A continental breakfast and light lunch will be provided to all attendees with adult and interactive student workshops being run throughout the day.

The American Heart Association created Go Red For Women, an initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health and raise awareness of heart disease as a number one killer of women.  On November 4, this year’s Go Red For Women event is being held at the Falkirk Estate and Country Club in Central Valley.   Each year members of the RCC community attend to support the cause.  Over the last several years, Rockland Community College, its students, faculty and staff have been one of the top fundraisers for the American Heart Association as participants in the annual heart walk each May. Melissa L. Roy, Director, Organizational and Staff Development, is the Representative for the Tri County Regional Board of the American Heart Association.

Go Red For Women supporters

Last year’s Go Red For Women supporters from RCC, (from left to right): Jeanne Howell, Associate Director, Human Resources; Lisa Shachter, Associate Professor, Nursing; Wendy Greenspan, Instructor, Nursing; Melissa L. Roy, Director, Organizational and Staff Development; and Dr. Elaine Padilla, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Anthropology.


Kimberly Weston, Assistant Professor/Librarian, was appointed by the Village Board of Trustees of Spring Valley as a Spring Valley Housing Authority Board Commissioner.

Dr. Suzanne Cleary-Langley, Professor, English, has an essay included in the book, “This I Believe: Life Lessons,” a collection of essays from the National Public Radio program of the same name.  She also has a poem in the current issue of Poetry International, and two poems in Nimrod International Journal, which awarded her Second Prize in its Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize Competition. Cleary-Langley will receive her award at the annual Nimrod Literary Awards Conference, where she will read her poetry, speak on a panel, and teach a poetry workshop (Oct. 21 & 22, Tulsa, Oklahoma).

James Sherrier, Professor Emeritus, Psychology, is having his book, "In the Name of Honor - Killing or Kindness," published by Olympia Publishers in London, England. Due to be in print by the end of November, it is about the human concept of honor and beliefs and both the good and terrible things it has caused in so many times and places in all throughout civilization, as people and nations sought to "preserve their honor."

On October 20, the Rockland Economic Development Corporation selected five people from the Rockland Community College community for recognition and inclusion in this year’s Forty under 40 program. Recognition is reserved for young leaders with professional, academic, or entrepreneurial accomplishment who enrich life and demonstrate a positive impact on Rockland County by giving back through community involvement. The five leaders as pictured are: Christopher Plummer, Performing Arts; Dr. Melanie Rie, Instructor, Biology;  Giovanni Scaringi, Adjunct Instructor, Business; Christie Cruse, Director of Title III / First Year Experience and Dr. James Siegel, Dean, Student Development.

Forty under 40

The poem, "Sunday Dinner," by Dan Masterson, Professor of English, is included in Garrison Keillor's newest version of the Viking anthology: GOOD POEMS.  His controversial poem on the priest abuse scandal ("Agnus Dei") is online at Congeries/Connotation Press, and, with connotation credit, is published on AOL's published his 9/11 poem, "Final Approach." Enskyment, the online poetry anthology Masterson founded and edits, now has readers in more than 100 countries and territories, including Ireland, India, Libya, England, France, Nigeria, Japan, Greece and Iran.

Neville Williams, Adjunct Faculty, PDA, was honored by Johns Hopkins University for his role in the establishment of the Laura Q. Wilkes Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. The endowment, funded by a minimum of $100,000, will benefit the Peabody Institute "in perpetuity for scholarship support for inner city or needy students."

Wendy Greenspan, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNE, Instructor, Nursing, passed the very challenging National Nurse Educator Exam and is now a Certified Nurse Educator.

Mara-Lee Bierman, Professor/Chairperson, Foreign Languages, was selected to present at the SUNY-wide webinar, “The Exemplary Department Chair: What I know now (and wish I knew then!)” on November 1. Along with other nominated “Exemplary” Chairs, Bierman will offer her best practices in dealing with her transition from colleague to chair and recognizing the distinctions between management and leadership. This webinar will kick-off the creation of a Department Chair Community of Practice.

Shamika Mitchell, Instructor, English, presented a session, "Destination Success! Tips for Applying to College and Surviving Your Freshman Year" at the annual Alumni Career Day at her alma mater, Brooklyn Technical High School (Oct. 15, Brooklyn).

The work of Collette V. Fournier, Adjunct Faculty, Art, and Educational Support Specialist for Campus Communications, will be published along with 40 other photographers specializing in portraiture, in the book, “Through the Lens 2010,” published by the Museum of Modern Photography (2011).


On Sept 22, the first Distinguished Faculty Lecture of the Fall 2011 semester was held.  In this presentation, three members of the Rockland Community College Faculty Memoir Group read from their recently published memoirs.  They included; Pamela Floyd, Professor of English, who read “Children in Pink and Blue,”  Dr. Liya Li, Professor of English, shared “Paper Money,” Joan White, Assistant to the late Sam Draper, presented “Just a Girl from Camberwell” and Reamy Jansen, Professor of English and author of “Available Light, A Memoir” moderated.

Professor of English and author, Reamy Jansen was one of five finalists for The Finishing Line Press’ “June Open Chapbook Competition.”  Jansen’s book is, Two Ways of Not Hearing, Poems on Mortality. “Chapbooks,” slim volumes between 25 and 30 pages have a long, distinguished history in American Letters, and Finishing Line has grown to be one of the genre’s premier publishers.  The book should be out in the first half of 2012.  FLP published Jansen’s first chapbook in 2003, My Drive, A Natural History. Also, on November 7, Professor Jansen will be reading his prose series about deaths on the medians of Palisades Interstate Parkway and the Garden State Parkway at the College’s Black Box Theater.  The title of the work is “Verges,” and it was originally published in Gargoyle, Richard Peabody’s journal of experimental prose.  The series received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize.


Debra Bouabidi, Director of Financial Assistance, received the 2011 Region V Service Award from the New York State Financial Aid Administrator’s Association (NYSFAAA).  The awards were presented at this year’s conference in Verona.  The Regional Award’s purpose is to recognize individuals selected by the regions who have provided a significant contribution for the Association at the regional level.


The Office of President congratulates the winners of the recent Student Government Association elections, as follows;
President: Chris Barker
Sophomore Senators:  Frank Galoso, Khanh Hong Nguyen, Yuki Nakayama, Kelsey Diaz-Kuhn, Ronad Lawyer and Alex Ojeda.
Freshman Senators:  Tamoy Fuller, Alejandria Saravia, Alexander Kiene,  Andry Silverio, Angelina Shymon, Amanda Marshall, Navid Safaie and Segundo-Angel Guallpa.


President’s Mail Bag


Thank you notes from the New York State Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo:

Governor Cuomo letterhead

Dear President Wood,

I want to thank you for your great hospitality and kind words during my visit to the “New York Remembers” exhibition at SUNY Rockland Community College.  The generosity and professionalism of you and your staff were extraordinary, and I will remain grateful for your invaluable contributions.

As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the Technology Center’s exhibition gives local residents a place to remember those lost and to honor the heroes who so courageously led our response.  I thank you for your support in making this memorial a reality and for your commitment to furthering the spirit of unity that brought us together as one New York  in the wake of that tragedy.

With warmest regards and best wishes,

Dear Dr. Wood:

I want to thank you for being part of the New York Open for Business Statewide Conference, another important step in our efforts to build a stronger, more competitive New York.

Your participation helped underscore the unique partnerships and innovative ideas that will drive our new approach to economic development.  Working together, we can and will realize the promise of the Mid-Hudson region, rebuild our economy, and make the Empire State a global leader once again.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment and involvement.  Your hard work thus far has helped lay a foundation for future progress, and I look forward to continuing our important work in the months ahead.

Warmest regards,


From Joyce Brown, Past President, American Association of University Women (AAUW):

Good morning,

Thank you for selecting Dr. Deer as your replacement welcome speaker on Saturday at the American Association of University Women Conference.  She was fantastic!  Her story so paralleled the mission of AAUW.  Her message helped to propel the students into full participation in the events.  You continue to bat a thousand.

From Ginny Connell, Events Manager, Autism Speaks:

Dear Dr. Wood,

Thank you so much for coming and speaking at our walk this past Saturday.  Once again it was so nice to see the support of the college.  It’s truly appreciated.


From Jane Brown, Executive Director, Child Care Resources of Rockland, Inc.:


Thank you so much for the wonderful hospitality on October 5 for our Step Up for Kids Day.  It went very well, though we did not have candidates turn out.  Their loss!!

From a student:

Dear Dr. Wood,

I wanted to thank you for helping me last year with purchasing materials for my classes. After receiving my class materials, I was able to make up my work in a timely manner. Because of your help, I was able to get a great grade. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with me in person so that you could help accommodate my needs. If you weren’t for Jeanette Geller, I would even thought of it being possible to pass my class. When she contacted you asking for support, Jeanette knew that she could count on you to help your students in need. Thank you again for everything that you have done for me.


From a nursing student’s recent assignment:

The Bill of Rights and responsibilities for students of Nursing that states “Under no circumstances should a student be barred from admission to a particular institution on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, marital status, life style, disability, or economic status” is closely met at RCC’s nursing program.

The above Bill of Right for Nursing students seemed the most relevant in my case. After reviewing most of the nursing programs offered in my vicinity I started visiting CUNY Schools first, because it would provide an easy and comfortable commute. Some schools were just simply refusing to evaluate my bachelor’s degree and were requesting additional duplicate transcript, issuance of which is forbidden by the European Union laws. In one school, the admission officer had a “friendly chat” with a coworker stating; ”Que hace este blancito aqui” (What is the white boy doing here?), ignoring the fact that I might have actually spoken Spanish. After exploring several SUNY Schools and not being helped, I decided to visit Rockland Community College which is the farthest of all from my home. The admission staff at the school was extremely professional and provided me with all the necessary information needed. I was advised on ways to get my credentials evaluated, and was escorted to the Nursing Department where the faculty member answered all my questions in a courteous, friendly manner. The organization of RCC and the ethnic diversity of alumni are truly impressive. I think this institution can make any “irregular” student feel welcome. RCC provides equal opportunities for any student who wishes to study here.


From the RCAN Steering Committee:

Dear Dr. Cliff,

On behalf of the Rockland Children’s Advocacy Network (RCAN), thank you so much for attending the Step Up for Kids Rockland County Candidates Forum held on October 5, 2011. Your interest in and support for issues affecting children and youth means a great deal to us.

Your dedicated commitment to ensuring the health and well being of all children is critical to the well being of our community. Through support for effective programs that address the needs of our children, you help us make a difference.

RCAN looks forward to working together in the years to come. Thank you again for your support. Together we are making a difference.


From Marigene Kettler, Executive Director, Rockland Music Conservatory:

Dear Dr. Cliff,

Because of Rockland Community College’s generosity, our dream of reaching more students with music scholarship and of being in a permanent home are even closer for the Rockland Conservatory Music.

Thank you so much, you are changing lives, one note at a time.

It was an honor for Jan Deats, Ed Simons and me to participate in the moving tribute to Samuel Draper. For us to add music to the celebration was a privilege and from everything we know about this great man, music underscored his wonderful life.

Our students need people like you to open a door for them and allow music and creativity to walk through, and that is just what RCC did with this most generous gift.

On behalf of those whose lives touched by this kindness, thank you. Wishing you a musical Autumn!


From a student;

Dear Dr. Wood,

I wanted to thank you for helping me last year with purchasing materials for my classes.  After receiving my class materials I was able to make up my work in a timely manner.  Because of your help I was able to get a great grade.  I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to meet with me in person so that you could help accommodate my needs.  If it wasn't for Jeanette Geller, I wouldn't even thought of it being possible to pass my class. When she contacted you asking for support, Jeanette knew that she could count on you to help your students in need. Thank you again for everything that you have done for me.


From Kimberly Neal-Tallandier, recipient of Key Bank’s Latino Scholarship:


I just wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you for attending the photo shoot this morning at Key Bank for the Latino Scholarship.  Your presence and support meant a great deal to me and are truly appreciated.

Enjoy the rest of your day!


From a student:

Dear President Wood,

I am a nursing student in Rockland Community College.  I am writing this letter to show my genuine appreciate about you helping me with my school tuition.  I appreciate your confidence in me and willingness to contribute to my future education.  You have helped me in more ways than you can imagine.  May God bless you and grant you your heart’s desires.  Thank you for your generosity and for investing in my future.  I look forward to the time that I can help others as you have helped me.  Thanks once again.



From Luis Torres, Esq., Law Office of Luis Torres:

Dear Dr. Wood,

My sincere thanks and compliments to you and the RCC faculty and staff that put together an excellent forum and luncheon event in Haverstraw.  The program and speakers were informative, the luncheon was superb and the awards ceremony was moving.  I hope to continue building relationships with the RCC family to better serve the community.