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College Presidents Discuss Future Challenges At KeyBank Speaker Series

Belinda S. Miles, President of Westchester Community College (L) listens, as Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College, makes a point.
Belinda S. Miles, President of Westchester Community College (L) listens, as Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College, makes a point. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Pace University President Stephen J. Friedman makes a point.
Pace University President Stephen J. Friedman makes a point. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Business Council of Westchester members pose with college presidents Michael Smith (L) Stephen J. Friedman (3rd from L), Belinda S. Miles (4th from R) and Jon Strauss (R)
Business Council of Westchester members pose with college presidents Michael Smith (L) Stephen J. Friedman (3rd from L), Belinda S. Miles (4th from R) and Jon Strauss (R) Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
A full house turned out for Thursday morning's KeyBank Speaker Series.
A full house turned out for Thursday morning's KeyBank Speaker Series. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Marsha Gordon of the BCW speaks to the crowd at Thursday's KeyBank Speakers Series.
Marsha Gordon of the BCW speaks to the crowd at Thursday's KeyBank Speakers Series. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
A full house turned out for Thursday morning's KeyBank Speaker Series.
A full house turned out for Thursday morning's KeyBank Speaker Series. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
A full house turned out for Thursday morning's KeyBank Speaker Series.
A full house turned out for Thursday morning's KeyBank Speaker Series. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. - Four of Westchester's foremost authorities on higher education convened Thursday morning at Abigail Kirsch at Tappan Mansion as part of the Business Council of Westchester's KeyBank Speaker Series.

The panelists were: Stephen J. Friedman, president of Pace University, Belinda S. Miles, Ph.D. and president of Westchester Community College, Michael J. Smith, president of Berkeley College, and Jon Strauss, Ph.D., and president of Manhattanville College.

The presidents' discussion focused on the challenges and opportunities facing institutions of higher learning, including creating curriculums to properly train the workforce of the future.

On future strategies and education over the Internet, Friedman said: "Our undergraduate student body has become more traditional. And our adult population, we relate to them in a different way. ... There's a growing department for adult education. I see a huge opportunity - the opportunity to educate people through their whole lives, and to deliver it in a way that's convenient and affordable."

Dr. Miles observed that, "The changes compel us to be different. There are more students, with more devices, we have to be aware of trends. Westchester Community College is a commuter institution, constantly innovating.... that's what we're doing."

Strauss spoke about college affordability.

"Manhattanville is undergoing dramatic change," he said. "We try to make it possible for every student who wants to come, to come. We're committed to access, and we find ways to do it. Loan default rates are down, and we're pleased with what we're doing."

Smith spoke of big changes on the horizon.

"The opportunities and challenges in front of us are so extreme," said Smith. "The changes will be so extraordinary. ... How people learn. Employers will battle for talent, and the workforce turnover is more than we've seen.. The skills of the students coming out of schools will allow them to succeed."

The discussion was moderated by Geoff Thompson, managing partner of Thompson & Bender.

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