The interim president of Hostos Community College since August 2014 was recently selected as the college’s seventh president.
David Gomez, the new Hostos president, has over four decades of service and experience in the City University of New York system and its community colleges.
A firm believer in the community college movement, Gomez said that he would lead the institution as changes and development in the southern part of the borough create challenges and also opportunities for its residents.
“The challenge for this institution moving forward is to embrace the changes taking place in the Bronx in a positive way,” said Gomez, adding that in viewing the changes in the south Bronx, he will empower people to ‘move up’ instead of moving out.
From its humble beginnings in a closed tire factory building in 1968 to a sprawling campus along the Grand Concourse at East 149th Street today, Gomez, who holds a Doctor of Education Degree, believes that what is perhaps unique to Hostos Community College compared with otherschools around the country is its close synergistic relationship to the community.
Indeed, Gomez said that he feels that the bonds forged when the community fought Hostos’ potential closure during New York City’s 1970s fiscal crisis created a sense of community ‘ownership’ of the institution of higher learning that he does not believe exists in the same way at any of more than 100 community colleges he has visited around the country.
“There is a synergy between the community and the college that I don’t think exists anywhere else,” the college president said. “This is an institution that’s not merely ‘in’ the community, but ‘of’ the community.”
The new president said that Hostos should continue to focus on its Allied Health Career Pipeline Program, as well the media and technology fields.
A partnership with Lehman College to facilitate Hostos graduates pursuing bachelor degrees is also a focus, he said.
Gomez said he continues to be inspired by the students he sees at Hostos, many of whom have to deal with students’ issues that become intensified in the college’s Melrose location: homelessness, raising two or three children while attending college, and juggling several jobs.
“It is an extraordinary struggle for them, and I am extremely proud and in awe of what they do,” he said of the students at the college, adding that many face extraordinary challenges.
The president added that he is not given to speaking in hyperbole, noting that the challenges many of the students face are real.
Gomez is committed to making sure that the college experience of Hostos students is no different from that of college students anywhere else in the country.
He said he will work to ensure that Hostos students will receive the same quality and academic rigor that CUNY students should and do receive.
This is Gomez’s second stint at CUNY Hostos, having worked at the college from 1974 to 1986, but said that until his appointment as interim president in August 2014, he had not set foot back on the campus in decades. He had been an adminstratior in a variety of capacities at other CUNY institutions around the city before rising to his current position.