CCPA dean candidate: Laura BronsteinTweet
Laura Bronstein cited a longtime commitment to “the college and the community” as a reason for being ready to take the step from interim dean to permanent dean of the College of Community and Public Affairs.
“I like that we are new,” Bronstein said of CCPA during her public presentation at the University Downtown Center on Dec. 11. “I came to Binghamton University to be part of the human development faculty before there was a social work program. I loved being part of starting the social work program. Then we transitioned to CCPA, so I got to be part of starting a new college.
“I feel like Pat (Ingraham) laid a great groundwork for us as the founding dean of the college. Now it’s time to jump up to the next level.”
Bronstein, a professor of social work and director of the Institute for Intergenerational Studies who became interim dean in June following Ingraham’s retirement, was the last of four CCPA dean candidates to make a presentation. She spoke in front of an audience of more than 50 people on “College of Community and Public Affairs: The Road to Premier.”
Bronstein, who started at Binghamton University in 1999 after serving as assistant dean and assistant professor of social work at Barry University in Florida, first provided an overview of the components needed to make CCPA a premier college within a premier public university. They included: leading in community engagement, groundbreaking scholarship, and innovating in transdisciplinary research and education.
The college should also be run with the values of equity, social justice and advocacy, Bronstein said.
“We need to be a role model of those values inside CCPA in order for us to be a role model for others,” she added.
Making commitments to community engagement, social justice and diversity, and academic and scholarly excellence can produce increased research, a stronger graduate education and an enhanced relationship with the community, Bronstein stressed.
In the area of community engagement leading to increased research, for example, Bronstein believes that CCPA can be part of the planned Southern Tier High-Tech Incubator in downtown Binghamton.
“I feel strongly that we have a role as social entrepreneurs in incubating ideas and models and bringing them to bear in the community,” she said.
Another possibility is building on community relations to garner external funds.
“As we make relationships and build relationships in the community, there is potential for fund-raising,” she said. “There are also opportunities to do collaborations on grant funding.”
Expanding CCPA’s role in economic development can help build a stronger community while giving students and alumni the chance to practice what they learned in and out of the classroom.
“If we are engaging in best practices in the communities we work in and we are also establishing programs,” she said, “then we can create opportunities for students to graduate and become alumni who want to work here because we have innovative (projects) happening.”
In the area of social justice and diversity, Bronstein said short-term urgency must be combined with a long-term strategy. She referred to a quote from a University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice plan that said: “If you want a Druid priesthood … you cannot do it by offering prizes for Druid-of-the-Year. If you want Druids, you must grow forests.”
“How do we grow forests for diversity here?” Bronstein asked. “How do we build communities that attract people from diverse backgrounds while also supporting and retaining people from diverse backgrounds?”
Committing to social justice and diversity can help build community relationships. It’s important to ask community members what they need, she said.
“The more projects we do in the community that enhance the diversity of the community, the more we will build a place in which people of color will want to come and live,” she said.
An emphasis on academic and scholarly excellence can strengthen research by “getting the word out” about CCPA projects and continuing to enhance mentoring within the college, Bronstein said.
“I like that the mentoring system we have developed is not just senior faculty mentoring junior faculty,” she said. “Any of us who want to learn in an area can find a mentor who has expertise in that area.”
Bronstein added that CCPA should set a goal of having its faculty members recognized with chancellor’s awards for research.
Graduate education can be enhanced by academic excellence as CCPA works to gain national recognition for its research across the disciplines, Bronstein said.
“This is an area in which we are unique and excel through our doctoral program, as well as the TAEs (Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence),” she said. “As we get our national reputation out there, people will see the interdisciplinary programs and we will be able to draw more students,” she said.
Bronstein said she believes that the ability to support and nurture each of CCPA’s faculty members and students is an “ongoing challenge.”
“Once we bring people here – whether it’s faculty, staff or students – we have a commitment to their success,” she said. “How do we actualize that?”
Bronstein added, though, that she views opportunities where others may observe challenges.
“I was asked in an earlier meeting today about that,” she said. “I see opportunities. Some of them may not work, but it’s my nature to think that way.”