One of the borough’s institutions of higher education has its first changing of the guard in over a decade.
Metropolitan College of New York, which opened a new 26,000-square-foot extension campus in the Hub in 2016, has installed a new president.
Since selecting Joanne Passaro to replace Vinton Thompson, the school has reaffirmed its commitment to the borough to serve non-traditional adult students who are attending college to improve occupational opportunities.
Passaro, who has a doctorate in Cultural Anthropology, said that she recalls being a non-traditional student herself.
She was the first to win a full scholarship to Duke University, the college from which she gradated from when she was 30-years-old.
Passaro said it was challenging being a low-income adult college student, though she was more privileged than many of the MCNY students.
One of Duke’s big draws was that it was a mile and a half from where she lived, explaining she was concerned that her Volkswagen wasn’t running well enough to attended a state college that was further away.
“I struggled from all of the same doubts about my ability to complete a college education and fears and confusion about how to go about it, like all adult students do,” said Passaro.
This kind of experience shaped her as she leads a student population that is 70 percent women and 80 percent black and Hispanic.
She believes that adult students have life experience which enriches their education.
She eventually earned a Ph.D at Duke, and held a number of positions in academia, including as a professor at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY and as a special assistant to the provost at Mercy College.
When a position was first advertised for the MCNY presidency, she was happily serving as the Provost at Carroll University in Wisconsin, and wasn’t interested in changing positions.
Her decision to apply only came after she saw how MCNY “served adults in a way that helped them improve their own lives and empower them to make the community and their workplaces stronger.”
“We believe that adult students thrive in the kinds of contexts that we provide that integrate their professional lives with their classroom experiences, and when they understand the purpose for their learning,” she said.
The school requires a ‘constructive action’ every semester, which requires a specific integration project involving the needs of the community or workplace for each student, said the president
The Bronx campus includes every kind of support for students and program that the lower Manhattan main campus offers.
“Our Bronx campus has become a hub,” said Passaro, adding that they are moving forward by strengthening ties and connections to borough institutions and leaders.
These include the Third Avenue Business Improvement District, South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., Directions For Our Youth and Assemblyman Michael Blake, Passaro explained.
MCNY is seeing human services flourishing in the borough, and this is one of the reasons why they are forging such strong partnerships with community organizations.
For more info about MCNY visit mcny.edu.