Tag Archives: Dr. Gail O. Mellow

BP honored at LaGuardia Community College Asian Heritage Celebration

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of LaGuardia Community College

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz received an award Wednesday for her dedication and support of a Long Island City college.

Katz was awarded the “Dare to Do More Award” during LaGuardia Community College’s Asian Heritage Celebration.

The college’s president, Dr. Gail O. Mellow, bestowed the honor on Katz for her support of the college and for being a longtime advocate for higher education.

“We are delighted this year to share the event with our special honoree, Borough President Melinda Katz who is a great leader and tireless advocate for Community Colleges,” Mellow said.

Wednesday’s festivities – which included performers from China, Bangladesh and Japan – concluded LaGuardia’s month-long celebration honoring the wide range and richness of Asian cultures.


Food from different parts of the world and from local neighborhood restaurants were also served.

“Our annual Asian Heritage Celebration is a festive event that brings the campus together through food, cultural performances and student entertainment,” Mellow said. “We are proud to celebrate our diversity and share the many different cultures of our students.”

Entertainers for the Asian Heritage Celebration included Singer Maksud Ara and dancer Tahmina Islam, modern dance troupe HIPHOP STREET, and American-Chinese circus clown and Ukrainian-Russian belly dancer duo Rob Lok and Jane.

There was also a showcase featuring performances by LaGuardia students from the Bangladesh Student Association, the Chinese Club, the Philippine Club and the Japanese Club.


Op-ed: Obama’s free community college proposal: Why it’s good for our city

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


President Obama’s proposal for two years of free community college for all Americans leaves behind the 20th-century concept that a high school degree is sufficient to have a middle class life. A huge leap toward reviving the notion of an American dream, America’s College Promise is a proposal to spend $60 billion over 10 years to make two years of community college the new standard in public education. While we’ve focused on inequity in K-12, as a nation we have ignored the reality that without a college degree, a viable economic future is nearly impossible. Without education beyond high school, wages are low and the ability to stay in the workforce is compromised.

At LaGuardia Community College, where I have the pleasure of serving as president, we seek to build and strengthen the middle class in our city. We do this for over 50,000 students and their families, fully recognizing that college is what’s needed in today’s world.

America’s College Promise is also historic in that it redefines the role of the federal government in higher education and recognizes that unless federal money is on the table, and used to entice state support, tuition will continue to rise, making it even harder to go to college at a time when employers increasingly require a degree. While community colleges currently educate half of the undergraduates in the U.S., they receive limited public support and are far outspent by private colleges.

LaGuardia is a good example of the necessity of community colleges. When the City University of New York’s new community college was founded in 1971, it grew out of the civil rights movement and was created to serve one of the city’s poorest areas in New York’s fastest growing borough of Queens. Not only would it open the doors of higher education to all New Yorkers, it would study urban problems and innovate educational practices, namely connecting students with work at local businesses. At the time, LaGuardia was free, but today, students continue to enroll at LaGuardia because of their desire to get a college education and transform their lives and the lives of their families.

Unfortunately, the challenges that community college students face reach far beyond paying their tuition. Many of our students are parents; most of them have part-time and full-time jobs.

We have students who travel over an hour to study at LaGuardia, and we’ve lost students simply because of their inability to pay for public transportation. We continue to fight the commonly held misperceptions about what community college students are capable of and what they can become, but we struggle to scale up the programs we innovate to help them. If we’re going to encourage even more students to come to community colleges, we’re going to need more money for the already insufficiently funded support, advising and interventions that we know work for at-risk students.

Time and again we see research proving that investing in public higher education is an investment in our workforce and economy, and yet public funding continues to decrease nationwide. Community colleges are a uniquely American invention — one that creates equality and drives our economy — and we should nurture it as such. As a nation, we are learning that we can only compete in a global knowledge economy with a diverse student population and workforce. It’s time to alter our policies to fit this reality. President Obama’s proposal for free community college is just the beginning of a critical conversation on a system that has too long been ignored.

Dr. Gail O. Mellow is president of LaGuardia Community College (of the City University of New York) and co-author of “Minding the Dream: The Process and Practice of the American Community College.”



Traffic study released on site of fatal LIC accident

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

More than a year ago, 16-year-old Tenzin Drudak was fatally struck while on his way to school on Thomson Avenue. Now, LaGuardia Community College has released a traffic study on the highly congested roadway, to help prevent another life from being lost.

The comprehensive analysis was led by traffic engineering firm Philip Habib & Associates and recommends three changes be made to the corridor to improve safety for students and faculty.

The first change calls for the widening of sidewalks along Thomson Avenue by getting rid of one of the eastbound lanes, creating a buffer between vehicles and pedestrians.

The other suggestions are creating sidewalk bulb-outs, or curb extensions, and modifying current signal timing at select intersections.

The recommendations were decided after measuring hourly traffic volume and assessing signal timing, lane markings and curbside parking regulations. The firm also reviewed accident data from the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT).

Last July, the DOT redesigned Thomson and Skillman avenues by closing the slip ramp and making it illegal for vehicles to make left turns from Thomson onto Skillman Avenue. New signs and plastic markers to limit left turns from Thomson Avenue to 30th Street have also been installed.

There is also a brand new 550-square-foot pedestrian space at the intersection of 30th Street and Thomson Avenue, where Drudak was struck by a minivan. It is bordered by stone blocks, plastic markings and six planters.

Thomas Avenue brings in a large amount of pedestrian traffic with over 50,000 students and 2,500 faculty and staff from LaGuardia Community College, located on Thomson Avenue, and more than 2,000 students from five nearby high schools, according to Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College.

“For years, LaGuardia has been concerned about the pedestrian and vehicular safety of its students, faculty and staff,” Mellow said. “LaGuardia urges the city to rapidly make the necessary improvements for both pedestrian and vehicular safety by making modifications on Thomson Avenue, between Skillman Avenue and Van Dam Street.”