As part of its The Way Forward initiative, Bringing Theory to Practice (BT2P) has awarded one of only 15 “Multi-Institutional Grants (MIGs) that bring the core values and best practices of undergraduate education to bear on the need for change” to the CUNY Curricular Excavation Project. This collaboration between CUNY’s Guttman Community College, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), and the School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU) “will employ Culturally Responsive Pedagogy during a summer faculty professional development institute for all three campuses as a way to improve the success of community college students as they move through transfer toward a baccalaureate degree.” Guttman’s Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs Dr. Nicola Blake and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Niesha Ziehmke are Co-Principal Investigators of the Project with Dr. Gladys Palma de Schrynemakers, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at SLU. “BT2P launched The Way Forward initiative in fall 2020 as a response to the current intersecting crises facing American society and higher education – systemic racism, the pandemic, and economic inequality.” As Guttman, BMCC, and SLU are all members of the forthcoming Urban Academy transfer partnership, addressing equity through the Project will have lasting and critical impact on the educational and career trajectories of students historically underserved and underrepresented within higher education.
As Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs at Guttman, Dr. Blake directs a broad range of academic matters within the College’s unique organizational structure: all Academic Programs and curricular processes; academic technology; workload and scheduling; faculty development and mentorship; and the digital Center for Practice, Technology, and Innovation. Dr. Blake also oversees the implementation of all faculty personnel processes, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, appointment, reappointment, tenure, promotion, as well as scholarly and research activities. Among other senior roles at Guttman, she has served the College as Faculty Advisor to the Provost; Special Advisor to the Provost for Faculty Development and Mentoring; Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Coordinator; and Chair of the Faculty Personnel, College Personnel, and Curriculum Committees, respectively.
Dr. Blake has received extensive leadership training and was awarded the prestigious, highly competitive American Council on Education (ACE) Fellowship for 2016-2017. She is an alumna of the Higher Education Leadership Programs for Women (HERS), the Harvard Institute for Higher Education, and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Future Presidents Institute. Her expertise in curriculum and program development, assessment, and strategic planning was internationally recognized by the US Fulbright Specialist Program (2015-2020). Dr. Blake earned her B.A. with honors in English and psychology from the City College of New York, CUNY, and her Ph.D. in medieval literature from Rutgers University. She is the author of multiple articles in her field and on the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Dr. Ziehmke’s career reflects her deep commitment to educational equity for our students and our city. She earned her Master of Education from the New School for Social Research and taught Spanish in a NYC public high school. Dr. Ziehmke then completed her Ph.D. in linguistics at the CUNY Graduate Center, with a focus on methods for English language instruction that are more sociolinguistically aware and supportive of many varieties of English. While working on her doctorate, she administered an Educational Psychology research program in Self-Regulated Learning (SRL), sponsored by the Center for Advanced Study in Education at the CUNY Graduate Center. Dr. Ziehmke went on to serve as Director for First College Year Programs at Brooklyn College, and, more recently, Executive Associate for Academic Affairs at LaGuardia Community College where she worked collaboratively to take on the challenge of improving student success and assessment across the institution.
Dr. Ziehmke’s key responsibilities as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Guttman are strategic planning, assessment, program oversight, career in the curriculum, career development and support, and grantwriting. In addition, she serves as the Co-Director of the Center on Ethnographies of Work, which champions career education grounded in the curriculum and focused on exploring the meaning of work in human lives and helping students develop a critical lens on the systems at play in the labor market and workplace. Dr. Ziehmke is also the Principal Investigator on an NSF Grant focused on researching the combined impact of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and transfer preparation on STEM success at Guttman.
In a prolific academic career, Dr. Palma de Schrynemakers has made it her mission to ensure that all New York City students receive fair and equal access to an education. She has secured over 18 million dollars in grants and awards for her institutions, including those for the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (C-STEP), Gear-Up NYC, and the Predominantly Black Institution Masters. Frequently and prominently, she has published research on practice of constructivist theory, urban education, teaching with technology, and assessment. For ten years, she has served on several Accreditation Teams for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and for the New York State Department of Education. Likewise, she serves on the national board for the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Brookhaven National Laboratory Inclusion and Diversity Initiative, both of which are committed to helping traditionally underserved student populations prepare for and succeed in higher education.
Dr. Schrynemakers began her career in higher education at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus (LIU/BC), where in partnership with community organizations she helped establish LIU/BC first extension programs for women in Bushwick, East New York, and Williamsburg. During her 22-year tenure, she rose to the position of Associate Provost, overseeing critical aspects of university business, including chairing Middle States Review, core curriculum revision, and STEP and C-STEP campus participation. As Assistant Vice President/Associate Provost of Medgar Evers College, she served on the Middle States decennial leadership team that helped ensure the campus was fully accredited with commendations on all 14 Standards. Additionally, she worked with faculty to develop the first CUNY-approved Honors program in affiliation with the National Honors Collegiate Council. In her four years at the College, she helped create MEC’s first ever B.F.A. (in Digital Technology), as well as two A.A. degrees (in Literature of African Diaspora and English Composition respectively), and the College’s first fully online degree program, a B.S. in Financial Economics.