Thriving, Not Just Surviving in a Time of Crisis: Expanding Our New Learning Environment

Over the last year, CUNY colleges have developed new and innovative practices to ensure student success during the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty, staff, and students at CUNY are reflecting on lessons learned as they look forward to future undergraduate education initiatives at their college.

In order to highlight this important work, the Office of Undergraduate Studies is joining forces with leaders across CUNY to host the 2021 CUE Virtual Conference. “Thriving, Not Just Surviving in a Time of Crisis: Expanding Our New Learning Environment” will be held virtually on four Fridays: April 9th, April 23rd, May 7th, and May 21st. This year’s conference seeks to feature the transformative work being done at CUNY.

The four sessions are highlighted below.

Please note that you must register for each session separately.

Hold on Tight to Your Dream:
Experiential Learning Opportunities (ELOs) Online
Friday, April 9 | 1:00 pm-3:00 pm

Many of CUNY’s courses take advantage of the city’s vibrant cultural life, buzzing businesses, community organizations, diverse ecosystems, and more to enhance student learning. With the majority of our students and faculty home, and many venues and offices shuttered, experiential learning might seem out of reach. In this session, three campuses will explain adjustments they made to their experiential learning programs for the pandemic. The session will feature breakouts focused on what methods will be useful at other campuses, how to implement ELOs in different circumstances, and why experiential learning remains a crucial–and attainable–part of the CUNY experience.

Queens College
Eva Fernandez, Associate Provost for Innovation and Student Success
Allan Edmond, Assistant Director, HSI-STEM Program
Zavi Gunn, Director of the Center for Career Engagement and Internships
Taruna Sadhoo, CUNY Service Corps and Big Buddy Campus Director
Donna Smith, Interim Director, Learning Commons

  • The Learning Commons and the HSI STEM Mentoring Program will discuss how peer mentoring/tutoring services expanded as it transitioned online. Allan Edmond, Assistant Director, describes the development of an unexpected ELO as the College engaged their peer leaders to teach faculty the necessary skills to move and maintain their courses online.
  • The Career Center offers an academic career preparation course, titled World of World, which augments efforts in advancing students’ career success, by providing self-reflection, building confidence and accessing community of practice which incorporates career and networking opportunities.
  • The Service Corps and Big Buddy team will showcase how the college has worked to establish a virtually connected community, serving students and local communities in NYC while developing critical skills and self-awareness around critical civic engagement, global citizenship and the world of work.

School of Professional Studies
Angela Francis, Assistant Dean of General Education and First Year Experience
Hannah Miller, Assistant Director of General Education

  • Angela Francis and Hannah Miller will discuss how CUNY SPS is integrating career readiness competencies identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) into their general education courses. They’ll illustrate how the NACE Project is designed to help students learn, reflect on, and showcase key career skills identified by employers as particularly desirable.

Macaulay Honors College
Lisa Brundage, Director of Academic Affairs, Macaulay Honors College at CUNY
Kelly O’Donnell, Director of Science Forward, Macaulay Honors College

  • Kelly O’Donnell and Lisa Brundage will explain how Macaulay moved the “common events” that traditionally are used to build community and bring students from Macaulay’s eight campuses together. They will explain 2020’s remote BioBlitz and STEAM Festival, as well as projects that are in process this spring.

Promising Practices:
Online Pedagogies for the Post-Pandemic Era
Friday, April 23 | 10:00 am-11:30 am

This presentation focuses on promising practices, opportunities, and possibilities for teaching and learning that have emerged from our online “pivot” over the past year. Using information from campus CTL directors and experiences on our own respective campuses, presenters will discuss innovations we’d like to invest in or amplify and practices that we will continue or deepen.

The format of the presentation will be a brief showcase of a practice from campus presenters, followed by breakout sessions to discuss the question: Which pandemic era innovations in teaching and learning are worth keeping when we return to (new) normal operations?

Jennifer Sparrow, CUNY School of Professional Studies
Ruru Rusmin, CUNY School of Professional Studies
Allyson Bregman, Guttman Community College
Eva Fernandez, Queens College
Allison Lehr Samuels, Baruch College
Karen Lundstrem, New York City College of Technology

Never Going Back:
Post-Pandemic Best Digital Tutoring Practices
Friday, May 7 | 11:00 am-1:00 pm

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic sent campuses scrambling to provide students and faculty with a supportive digital learning environment to promote student success. Through faculty and staff collaboration, exploration, and adaptation, best practices emerged from campuses that strengthened student learning and pointed to future innovations. The session has three themes that will be addressed:

  • Transitioning to Digital Support of Student Learning – with guest speakers Diana Hamilton and Rachel Rys (Baruch College); Gregory Farrell, Leticia Dinkins, Nandrani Algu, Gia Blackwell, Howard Harris, and Igwe Williams (Borough of Manhattan Community College)
  • Creating Digital Communities – with guest speakers Dr. Neal Phillip and Chevonne Cunningham (Bronx Community College)
  • Post Pandemic: Best Digital Practices Moving Forward – with guest speakers Marco Navarro (Queens College); Michael Rymer and Sasha Graybosch (School of Labor and Urban Studies); and Chrisanthi Anastopoulou and Leonardo Pignataro (College of Staten Island)

Gladys Palma de Schrynemakers, School of Labor and Urban Studies
Sahidha Odige, Bronx Community College
Janice Zummo, Borough of Manhattan Community College
Silvia Reyes, Hostos Community College

Credit for Prior Learning at CUNY:
Validating Knowledge to Expand Access and Support Academic Success
Friday, May 21 | 10:00 am-12:00 pm

In June 2020, CUNY’s Board of Trustees approved the university’s Policy for the Use of Credit for Prior Learning. The intention of the policy – to widen paths of entry and degree completion for working adults, including the 800,000 in New York City with some college and no degree, many of whom have acquired college-level learning in non-traditional settings – holds new meaning in the era of COVID, where many more CUNY students face challenges that jeopardize their academic momentum and many more New Yorkers are out of work and potentially interested in restarting their education.

This session will elaborate on CUNY’s policy, provide updates on the work of the university-wide implementation committee, and highlight specific examples of CPL in practice at CUNY campuses. Nan Travers, a national expert on credentialing learning, will provide broader context about Credit for Prior Learning as an academic process driven by institutional standards, that is demonstrated to improve student outcomes and help address issues of equity and access in higher education.

Moderator: Lubie G. Alatriste, Professor of English & Applied Linguistics, City Tech
Nan Travers, SUNY Empire State College
Joanne Russell, Kingsborough Community College
Richard Finger, Lehman College