Berkeley College President and Provost Share Insights on Higher Education in Post-COVID New York during City & State Education Summit

Wednesday, August 18, 2021
Contact: Chanel Donaldson
Senior Associate, Media Relations



Photo Caption: Berkeley College President Michael J. Smith (left) and Provost Marsha A. Pollard, PhD (right), share remarks at the City & State Education Summit, a forum to discuss the future of education in New York in the wake of COVID-19, on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. Smith and Pollard offered insights on the status of higher education as colleges and universities prepare for the start of the third school year since the onset of the pandemic.

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Berkeley College President Michael J. Smith and Provost Marsha A. Pollard, PhD, offered insights on the future of higher education at the City & State Education Summit on Tuesday, August 17, 2021. As New York prepares to enter the third school year since the onset of the pandemic, the virtual forum gathered state and city leaders to discuss educational equity and the “new normal” in K-12 and higher education, including what to expect in the fall.

The summit had approximately 600 live attendees and featured keynote speakers Lester W. Young, Jr., EdD, Chancellor, New York State Board of Regents, and Meisha Porter, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education.

“Education is the portal to equality,” said Smith, who provided opening remarks for the panel discussions, which focused on public schools, post-secondary education and erasing disparities. “We are all vested in helping the challenges facing education. We believe in the potential of every student.”

Equity and the “New Normal” in Education
Panelists highlighted the ways COVID-19 has shifted the landscape of education from both a teaching and learning, and policy perspective. A running theme throughout the event was finding strategies to overcome historical inequities exacerbated by the pandemic.

“It’s a very unprecedented time for higher education. Our communities of color, our underprivileged communities, have been more significantly impacted. One thing that came out of this pandemic is that we became astutely aware of the disparity in resources that exist in our student population,” said Pollard, who was on the panel titled “Higher Education Plans for New York.” The panel included New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Chair, Committee on Higher Education, and William Murphy, PhD, Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education, New York State Education Department, and was moderated by Gregg Bishop, Executive Director, Social Justice Fund.

“We have a lot of historical underpinnings for why there are degree attainment gaps,” said Murphy. “What we are hoping is that these historic investments in programs that address the most underrepresented – students of color, economically and educationally disadvantaged students – are not just going to be temporary stimulus-related responses.”

During the course of the pandemic, colleges and universities across the country have had to contend with significant enrollment declines and the compounded effect of the economic downturn on students from marginalized communities. The federal CARES Act included a higher education emergency relief fund to help alleviate the new challenges faced by post-secondary institutions. However, colleges and universities have also had to develop creative ways to adjust.

Pollard emphasized Berkeley College’s investment in students, faculty and staff to ensure academic continuity over the last 17 months. The College has sponsored professional development for professors to adapt to a fully online instruction modality; has instituted staggered and flexible course offerings on-site and online; ensured remote availability of the full range of Berkeley College’s academic and student services; and launched additional supports, like a food pantry on the Midtown Manhattan campus to address the rise in food insecurity among college students.

“Higher education has really been put to the test to examine how we teach, how we support our students and how we work,” said Pollard. “We are going to hopefully keep some of these new practices that have really served us well over the last 17 months.”

“I’m not really sure what the new normal is going to be,” added Stavisky. “But we know we have to be able to adapt. I think that’s the key.”

Berkeley College celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2021. The theme commemorating this milestone is “Empowering Lives for 90 Years!” Visit the 90th Anniversary webpage for more information.

About Berkeley College
Berkeley College, founded in 1931, is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College also offers continuing education programs to enhance career credentials.

Berkeley College has campuses in Midtown Manhattan, NY, and in Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge, and Woodland Park, NJ, with more than 4,900 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for eight consecutive years. The website address is

The mission of Berkeley College is to empower students to achieve lifelong success in dynamic careers.


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