Step by Step (2007)

[inaudible] oh
Okay. I’ll talk a little more about these degree requirements. Okay so let’s start
off uh what program are you interested in. Okay we’re gonna start by dividing
you guys into groups. Somebody here look at your cut your strips and somebody
here has the same colors. Say what the answers of these two numbers. Five, six…
I learned coming to CWE that you have to commit yourself to learn.
Professors they understand your plight they know that you have a family and
they know that you’re serious. School isn’t just about the grades; it’s about learning
things that come it into like this is your life your future what do you want
to do. I once i got to CWE it’s like the classes of smaller the teachers you’re
interested. So they didn’t let me be disinterested and they pushed me and so
far they I’m doing really well. We’re at the 25th anniversary year we’re
moving into a totally new facility and probably even more important than that
we have really laid the groundwork for a new way to do our curriculum. One of the
differences between CWE in the early days and now is that it was a startup
program, there were very few staff people it had always been the goal to create an
alternative place for adults to return to college. Just the creation of CWE is
was a pretty a major accomplishment. The city went to the federal government
to get federal loan guarantees and the result was emblazoned across the daily
news headline. Four or five union leaders went to got together and with their
pension money gave a large multi billion dollar loan to the city of New York,
remember the city almost went bankrupt. The Teamsters would see to it that the
budget line because it was a line item would be transferred to City College
specifically for this program. The head of the teams had said go get me a
college. Go make our members smart. We opened in September of 1981. Our location
was the union hall the headquarters of Teamsters Local 237. And the idea was
that the people who work all day can then go to college at night and can be
intellectually stimulated. And so the intention was always to set something up
that was more hospitable to the working person. Before I became a student in CWE
I was working for the Transit Authority [MTA]. My first initial job in the Transit Authority [MTA] was
as a cleaner. At some point when I was a driving a train, I heard some students
talking about a book the book happened to be the great gatsby they were talking
about, and they were talking about so passionately and interesting, I said this
is something you know, it just kind of give me the impetus to I want to go
back to school because, uh driving train you know, I wasn’t going anywhere. We began as a trial program and I saw
our job was that to men feed…there was a lot of antagonists to the program.
One board member said workers are tired they’re not going to build a doorless
worth. Another board member says wait a second everybody goes to CUNY goes two
days a week with 15 weeks for three credits, now all of a sudden they go one
night a week or once a day for four credits what are we doing to our rules
and regulation. And in the debate one of the people who subsequently cast a
negative vote got up and read the bread read the proposal where we talked about
how we were going to take over this small Teamsters program and incorporate
it into what we were doing and he waved it in the air and he said them does this
mean the truck drivers will be reading Plato in the back of their trucks. There
was a sense in which which many of the people up at the the at the college
campus would kind of wrap themselves in their academic virtue. The Board of
Higher Ed. who had to decide on this had serious questions about where would this lead. Without John Murphy the center probably would have died;
because he stood behind it and and he stood behind it firmly. He loved what the
center represented. Tall, swag, arrogant, funny, he was just a wonderful man. No celebration of the Center should go without a collective hats off to this man. The evaluators thought that this was a
really valuable thing for the college look what had happened the college now
had… we changed a public institution. The center was really embraced by the
college, you know on the whole it really really was particularly once they voted
the thing in… It’s a kind of thing that should be extrapolated throughout the
country, there should be these places… Having CWE become finally a full
division in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences gives it a much greater
sense of status within the whole college program. An organization does not survive
if it doesn’t change, you can’t do the exact same thing in the same way decade
after decade and have it thrive. There being so many possibilities of what else
we can do both to continue the tradition but also to enrich it in some new ways. I mean these anniversary of CWE is [inaudible] anniversary so I can’t think what is
more important in terms me coming back at this time to teach, and of course I
have a story to tell not just teach. I got a story. I can say I was the CWE
student and now I’m a professor! I think CWE is a start to a bigger and wider
world of possibilities. For people who have busy lives during the day and which still looking to progress academical in their careers CWE
is a great place to be. It’s more like you’re being an executive for your own
self . The professor’s the staff academic advisors they know that there’s other
things in life besides just getting up and going to school. You know you have to
go to work, you have to take your children, you have to be there for your
husband, you have to you know do your papers, you have to do presentations. Professor Romero… you know oh but it’s okay it’s all a part of learning and that’s that’s
what we’re all here for. I’m going to change the world if you invest on me. And that’s what you gotta commit… and that’s what CWE does… [music] [music] [music] [music]

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