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York president changes school with $4M plan

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"It's beginning to feel already like we're having some success," said Marcia Keizs, who noted that some of the accomplishments had been in the works before she arrived. "One thing I can say is that I'm getting a lot of support."Keizs was appointed on Valentine's Day to replace Robert Hampton, who left after 18 months on the job amid reports that he had failed to connect with the community.Among Keizs' first steps was developing a three-year, $4 million plan for York recently approved by her superiors at the City University of New York. The school and CUNY will split the cost, with the funds being used to strengthen academics, increase student enrollment and retention, improve services and strengthen ties with the community.One complaint heard from area leaders in the past was that York had not fully used resources within the community. To that end, an advisory panel has been formed between the university and the federal Food and Drug Administration lab on campus, and the FDA will now fund five summer internships at its facility for York students. Keizs has also promised to work with a nearby office of the Federal Aviation Administration, as the university has an aviation institute.Under Keizs, the university has also been awarded $25,000 in scholarship money from the SCS Astoria Energy Foundation, to be divided equally among 10 students. A recent graduate, Rashida Cheatham, a 28-year-old mother of two from Jamaica, won the Barbara M. Clark Scholarship in Dental Education to attend New York University's School of Dentistry.Finally, Keizs has kept the momentum going on a new, small public school that will open near its campus in the fall of 2006. The school, the York Early College Academy, will accept sixth- to 12th-graders and have 75 students in each class, with a focus on preparing students for college. It was partially funded through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is separate from a high school already run by York.Keizs said there was plenty of work left to be done to improve the university.But, she said, "what continues to be clear to me is we have a very solid academic base from which to build."Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext, 154.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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