MENU

MMC Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Bedford Hills College Program

June 15, 2017
  • MELANIE EINZIG
  • Prof. Erin Greenwell introduces her short film.
    Prof. Erin Greenwell introduces her short film.
    MELANIE EINZIG
  • Alumni Panel
    Alumni Panel
    MELANIE EINZIG
  • Alumni Panel
    Alumni Panel
    MELANIE EINZIG
  • Regina Peruggi offers remarks on the history of the program.
    Regina Peruggi offers remarks on the history of the program.
    MELANIE EINZIG
  • MELANIE EINZIG
  • President Kerry Walk, BHCP Director Aileen Baumgartner, and Regina Peruggi
    President Kerry Walk, BHCP Director Aileen Baumgartner, and Regina Peruggi
    MELANIE EINZIG

On Friday, May 5th, MMC celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Bedford Hills College Program (BHCP).  The event’s theme – KNOWLEDGE IS POWER – focused attention on the vital role that education has played in the lives of the women incarcerated at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility who have earned their associate’s and bachelor’s degrees through MMC’s College Program.   

In her remarks, former President Regina Peruggi reminded the audience of the circumstances that led to MMC becoming the degree-granting institution for the Bedford Hills College Program.  She talked about how the women of Bedford Hills reached out to her at a time when federal support for prison education was eliminated.  At that time, President Peruggi galvanized support from other local college presidents to sustain the program through a unique consortial agreement that in addition to MMC, included Barnard College, Bank Street College of Education, Manhattanville College, Mercy College, Pace University, and Sarah Lawrence College.  While MMC had always been the degree granting institution, in 2004 President Judson Shaver decided to make the Bedford Hills College Program an extension campus of MMC and launched a fundraising effort to create an endowment for the program.

A highlight of the day’s event was a BHCP Alumni Panel, moderated by Cheryl Wilkins, Senior Director of Education and Programs at Columbia University’s Center for Justice.  Panelists included Iris Bowen, Program Coordinator for the Coming Home Program at the Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Institute for Advanced Medicine, Stacy Royster, Accounting and Grants Management Assistant at The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Colby Thompson, Spiritual Thought Leader/Author/Speaker/Artist/ Activist, and Sharon White-Harrigan, Program Director of Hopper Home under the auspices of the Women’s Prison Association (WPA), consultant to the Women and Justice Project (WJP), and advisory board member for The Women’s Building (NOVO Foundation).  During this session, the women shared their experiences as students in the College Program and talked about how their education has played a vital role in preparing them for their lives on the outside.

The day culminated with the premier of a short film by MMC Professor of Communication & Media Arts, Erin Greenwell.  The film includes testimonials from BHCP staff and faculty as well as thoughtful and moving commentary from several current BHCP students and alumni.

As MMC took this day to celebrate the history of the Bedford Hills College Program, it also used the opportunity to look to the future.  With the dedication of BHCP faculty, staff, and volunteers, the continued support of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), and ongoing financial support from donors, the future of the Bedford Hills College Program looks bright.

Save and Share