Community colleges are a staple of American higher education; there are over 900 community colleges in the US and nearly half of all students attend a community college. This panel conversation features community college educators, Andrea Fabrizio, Greg Marks, and Mark Urista who share their experiences on community college campuses. They speak to common misconceptions about community colleges, their experiences with viewpoint diversity and constructive disagreement in their classrooms, the pedagogical methods and strategies that have been most successful, and campus trends they’ve seen over the years. The event was moderated by Dr. Helen Benjamin, former Chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District.
This event originally aired live on 05/04/2021 and a video recording is available here.
About the speakers:
Andrea Fabrizio is an associate professor and Chair of the English Department at Eugenio María de Hostos Community College/CUNY. She is also the Co-Coordinator of the Hostos Writing-Acoss-the-Curriculum (WAC) Initiative. She has a BA in English from Fordham University and a PhD in English and a Certificate in Women’s Studies from The Graduate Center of The City University of New York. She and Prof. Gregory Marks are the Co-PIs of Core Books at CUNY, a 36-month Teagle Foundation sponsored project that originated at Hostos Community College and is now extended to three other CUNY campuses: The Borough of Manhattan Community College, LaGuardia Community College, and New York City College of Technology. This grant is part of Teagle’s Pathways to the Liberal Arts initiative and its goal is to embed core texts and the issues they raise from the Columbia Core Curriculum into selected required courses at CUNY. This faculty professional development initiative aims to engage students in key humanistic questions while strengthening their reading and writing skills and bolstering student performance related to course learning objectives.
Gregory Marks is a professor in the Department of English at Eugenio María de Hostos Community College in the Bronx; he has been teaching, researching and working with colleagues there since 2006. Ten years ago, he and a Hostos colleague, Dr. Andrea Fabrizio, began collaborating with the generous faculty in Columbia College at Columbia University, trying to expand access to their renowned Core curriculum. They have been funded in their work most recently by a major grant from the Teagle Foundation. The goal of the project, Core Books, is not to valorize ancient texts for their own sake, but to bring the deserving students of CUNY into a broad conversation about notions of justice, beauty and truth as found in such diverse texts as Plato’s “Republic” and Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon.” A Rhode Island native, Marks received his PhD in English from LSU; he’s lived and studied in New Hampshire, Rome, Texas, Liechtenstein, and Louisiana. He lives in Queens with his wife, a professor at the Collins College of Professional Studies at St. John’s University, and his high-school-senior daughter.
Mark Urista is a full-time faculty member at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon where he teaches Communication courses and advises the college’s Civil Discourse Program (recipient of HxA’s 2019 Open Inquiry Award for Outstanding Student Group). Mark’s educational values, sense of purpose, and career trajectory began to develop when he attended his local community college. He earned an AA in Speech Communication from El Camino College, a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from UC Berkeley (where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa), and an MA in Communication from University of the Pacific. Mark regularly delivers presentations on free expression, viewpoint diversity, and civil discourse on his campus and at conferences. He is also the faculty advisor for Braver Angels’ College Debates & Discourse Program and currently serves as moderator for Hx Community Colleges.
About the moderator:
Helen Benjamin began her career as a classroom teacher in Dallas, Texas, and retired in 2016 as chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District, where she also served as president of two of the colleges and vice chancellor for educational services for the District. Dr. Benjamin brings a broad range of expertise to her role as a consultant. She has extensive experience as a facilitator and is skilled in bringing groups to consensus, developing college and districtwide systems, and creating solutions that meet the needs of students. Her areas of expertise include strategic planning, leadership development at all levels, college governance, accreditation, and equity, diversity, and inclusion. In 2019, Dr. Benjamin received the American Association of Community Colleges Leadership Award and served for nine months as interim superintendent-president of Santa Barbara City College. Dr. Benjamin holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Bishop College and master’s and doctoral degrees in education and English, respectively, from Texas Woman’s University.