Hostos Bids Farewell to a Legend in Nydia Edgecombe

Surrounded by her entire extended Hostos family, Nydia Edgecombe was given a sendoff to remember on October 21. Edgecombe, the longtime Director of Alumni Relations, officially retired on September 29 after 40 years of service to Hostos.

The evening began in the Hostos Gallery, where friends, colleagues, her daughter and grandchildren, as well as her husband Wallace, celebrated the life and times of one of the College’s most longest-tenured administrators and supporters.

“Wally,” who served as the event co-chair and who is the former Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture Director and founder, gave a speech both funny and moving, touching on all the names by which his wife is known. The couple met at Hostos decades ago, and the entire event had a wonderful family feel.

“Why names?” her husband asked. “Because names are biographical. They say something about a particular aspect of one’s life, your roles and relationships in a given time in your story. … The name entered in the registry of births in Orocovis, Puerto Rico where she was born read: Nydia Margarita Rodríguez Cintrón Burgos. If you want to continue with the Iberian logic of this naming she would be Nydia Margarita Rodríguez Cintrón Burgos…de Edgecombe.”

From there, he explained as a “toe-headed jibarita,” she was called Plumilla, after the silk tuft atop the sugar cane stalk. Later in childhood, her sisters called her Bojote, a Puerto Ricanism for chubby, he said to roomful of laughter and love.

“As a Puerto Rican mother, que más? Mami.
As a Puerto Rican auntie, Titi Nydia, por supuesto.
To her grandchildren – and her dog – she’s Mama.
To my late sister Catalina and my Mom, Doña Ester, she was Nini.
Many of her colleagues and friends call her Nid.
Her Dominican fan club call her Licenciada.
Others call her Jefa.

And to so many of her loving alumni, she is just Mrs. Edgecombe,” he said.

Serving as co-chair, Edgecombe’s longtime friend and Hostos Professor Emeritus Gerald Meyer also praised her stellar career and contributions to Hostos. President David Gómez personally congratulated and thanked her for her friendship and decades of service.

Vice President for the Division of Institutional Advancement Ana Martínez also thanked her former colleague and introduced the Brighter Futures Sun Fund, launched in Edgecombe’s spirit of giving back, for donors who give at $5,000 to $100,000 toward Hostos students.

“It has been our good fortune and blessing to have enjoyed Nydia’s grace and presence for the last 40 years,” Martínez said. “She has given wholeheartedly to Hostos, and her influence has impacted so many. She co-founded The Circle of 100 Scholarship and Emergency Fund, started the Alumni Relations Office and launched the Alumni Speakers Bureau, all the while raising significant funds for the students of Hostos Community College. We are truly the lucky ones.”

Others who were instrumental in making the evening extra special were event committee members, Lourdes Torres, Lisanka Soto, Mercedes Moscat, and Elba Cabrera. After a trio serenaded Nydia with Bajo un Palmar (under the Palm Tree), one of her favorite songs, the event committee showered her with gifts from a beautiful bouquet of flowers, to jewelry, a tiara and a hand-made quilt from Pat Mabry, Hostos’ Assistant Director of Admissions.

Later, the tribute concert to Pete “El Conde” Rodríguez was a near sellout. And, for those guests who attended the after party, the dance floor was packed.

Organized by the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture and produced by Richie Bonilla, the concert featured Cita Rodríguez and was a musical trip down memory lane. Bonilla used to book Pete Rodríguez, Cita’s father, and knew Cita as a young girl. With recommendations from him, Cita chose three singers – two of whom were closely associated with her father – Azuquita and Tito Allen – as well as Frankie Vazquez who often appears with Cita for the Mambo Legends. Her brother, Pete Rodríguez, who holds a doctorate degree in music and now lives in Texas, served as the musical director for the evening and also played trumpet and served as a choro singer.

Under a massive Puerto Rican flag that hung from the rafters, Cita sang La Borinquena, a capella, in honor of Puerto Rico. The evening closed with all the singers on stage for El Conde’s Pueblo Latino, a fitting close to a magnificent concert.

“Words can’t describe what Hostos has meant to me over the last 40 years. It has truly been my life. I met my loving husband here and so many special people that I now call family,” Edgecombe said. “I am so glad I could share this night with you, as well as my brother, sisters, daughter, nieces, and even my grandchildren! We will be all be family forever, and I love you all.”

The evening also raised more than $43,000 toward the Circle of 100 in support of Hostos students. The funds raised included an anonymous gift of $25,000 in Nydia’s honor.

To see photos from the celebration please click here.
To donate and continue Nydia’s legacy of giving back, please click here.


Hostos Welcomes Harriet A. Washington


Harriet A. Washington, author of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, visited Hostos on October 3 to discuss her work that has brought awareness to the medical injustices suffered by African Americans and other minority groups.

Held in front of a large audience of faculty, staff and students in the Art Gallery, the event was sponsored by the President’s Office and coordinated by Assistant Professor and Presidential Fellow & ELEVATE Fellow Elys Vasquez-Iscan. The eye-opening lecture and Q & A session explored the racist origins of medical practices on slaves and other minority groups, while offering a sober reminder that there are still problems that need to be addressed.

Vasquez-Iscan had been working for a long time to have Washington on campus and was thrilled students, in particular, were able to hear from such a distinguished expert on the history of African American health issues and the intersection of medicine, ethics and culture. Vasquez-Iscan, who includes Washington books in her classes, believes Washington has not only published some of the most important research on the subject, but that she is also helping to create positive social movements by raising awareness. One example she cited was the protests surrounding the statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims, which sits at the 5th Avenue and 103rd Street entrance to Central Park. Dr. Sims spent years performing experimental vaginal surgeries on enslaved women, which has resulted in calls for the removal of the statue.

Washington talked in length about similar practices, their origins and how they tell us a lot about racism, both yesterday and in present-day society.

Washington wrote Medical Apartheid while she was a Research Fellow in Ethics at Harvard Medical School. It was chosen as one of Publishers’ Weekly Best Books of 2006. The book also won the National Book Critics Circle Nonfiction Award, a PEN award, 2007 Gustavus Myers Award, and Nonfiction Award of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It has been praised in periodicals from the Washington Post and Newsweek to Psychiatric Services, the Economist, Social History of Medicine and the Times of London, and it has been excerpted in the New York Academy of Sciences’ Update.


Fear City Author Visits

What would Hostos’ 50th Anniversary be without a look back into the history of the Bronx and New York City? On October 25, acclaimed author and Professor Kim Phillips-Fein spoke about her book, Fear City: New York's Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics, which includes a chapter about Hostos, “The College in the Tire Factory.”

Assistant Professor of History Kristopher Burrell joined the author for the lecture, which was organized by Hostos Archivist William Casari.

Fear City is a riveting account of the 1975 fiscal crisis that brought New York City to the brink. The book draws on never-before-used archival sources, as well as interviews with key players in the crisis. #Hostos50


The Bronx: “The One True Borough”

On October 25, a mix of students and faculty gathered for the event “Our South Bronx: Voices, Identities, Changes.” Professor Thomas Beachdel created and hosted the event, which examined how the South Bronx is changing and why.

Professor Beachdel was joined by photographer Lisa Kahane, who has documented the South Bronx for decades; Sergio Bessa, Director of Curatorial and Education Programs at the Bronx Museum; Charles Rice-González, Hostos Distinguished Lecturer and co-founder of the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance; and Professor Sandy Figueroa.

Hostos President David Gómez also welcome those in attendance and spoke of the dramatic changes the South Bronx has undergone. President Gómez noted that, even though demographics in the South Bronx have altered over the years, the aspirations of the borough’s residents remain the same:  a better life. Provost Christine Mangino also thanked the guest speakers and the 50th Anniversary Committee for making the event possible.

Professor Beachdel offered a quick introduction to the concept of gentrification. He said while the Bronx is ripe for re-development, he also asked who wins and who loses when new housing is built and rents go up? Professor Beachdel urged the audience that knowledge and participation are the keys to preserving a sense of community.

Lisa Kahane has been photographing the South Bronx since 1979. A slide show of her photos captured a borough in transition. Her running commentary was a passionate tribute to the Bronx.

Sergio Bessa talked about the Bronx Museum and the role it has played in the community since 1971. Like Hostos, the Museum was founded by a group of dedicated activists during a time of economic crisis and social unrest. “Art and culture can work together to create the future,” Bessa said.

Charles Rice-González continued the theme of art in the Bronx. Artists draw developers, he stated, but developers are driven by a different set of values. Artists contribute to the community; developers are less altruistic. Echoing Professor Beachdel, Rice-González urged everyone to learn about the issues and to speak up. He referred to the title of the event as he brought his comments to a conclusion:  “Make sure ‘our’ includes you.”

Professor Sandy Figueroa took the audience on a spirited trip through “Hostos, Then and Now.” When she first came to Hostos in 1979, she said the campus was a much different place, and the student body was mostly older, mostly Puerto Rican, and mostly female. Today’s students, she said, are mostly younger and come to Hostos from high school. Calling herself a “proud Bronxie,” she spoke of the College’s early challenges and how it has become a powerful engine for social, economic, and cultural mobility.

Hostos student Jeffrey Galeas read a paper he’d written on gentrification, describing it as an exceptionally mixed blessing.

A question-and-answer period brought the afternoon to an end. #Hostos50


Latinos in New York Highlights How Diversity Unlocks Keys to Power

On October 18 it was standing room only as members of the Hostos community gathered to listen to listen to a thought provoking discussion on Latinos in New York: Communities in Transition, which is often characterized by analysts as one of the most comprehensive readers available on the experience of New York’s diverse population.

The panel was moderated by Howard Jordan, Chair of the Behavioral & Social Sciences Department, and included a keynote address by Angelo Falcon President and Founder of the National Institute for Latino Policy (NILP).

President David Gómez welcomed the guests who assembled for the timely and illuminating lecture. The other panelists included responders who were asked to read the book in advance and respond to diverse chapters. They included Nelson Nuñez-Rodríguez, from Hostos’ Natural Sciences Department; Ana Ozuna, Faculty Fellow for Diversity for Provost, Humanities; and Eddie Cuesta, National Executive Director of Dominicanos USA.

Latinos in New York is in its second edition and covers many of the significant changes that have occurred in the Latino community since the first edition was published in 1996. Professor Jordan spoke about how the Latino population has grown over the last 20 years – from 1.7 million to 2.4 million today – but how its under-representation in government and the media. Jordan said as new immigrants have arrived, the Latino communities have become increasingly diverse. The city is home not only to Puerto Rican and Mexican residents, but also to Ecuadorians, Hondurans, and Dominicans. New York City is a bellwether for the rest of the world, and what happens here can affect Latino populations at home and abroad. Calling Hostos “an experiment in democracy,” Jordan spoke of how the College is also a microcosm of the city it serves.

Falcón presented an overview of the book and spoke about the creation of the new edition, a process which took six years to reach fruition. He then invited the panelists to share their responses to the work.

Nuñez-Rodríguez discussed how the Latino population is not a single, monolithic entity but a collection of unique communities, each with its own history and culture. Citing his own far-flung travels—he was born in Cuba, lived for a time in Argentina, and then made his way to NYC—he shared a deeply-held belief: “Don’t let anyone else decide what is success and happiness for you.”

Ozuna—second-generation daughter of Dominican parents— said she was fascinated to discover the social and political context of her family’s journey to America in the early 1970s. She also spoke of the groundbreaking role of the Puerto Rican community in the quest for social, economic, and educational benefits.

Eddie Questa discussed the Dominican community in the realm of business and finance and of his ongoing efforts to increase voter registration and political participation of our young people. “This is your time,” he told the audience. “It’s up to you as future leaders. Look at the power we have.”

A lively Q&A followed the discussion the activity was presented by the BSS Department, the Law & Social Justice Club, the Affirmative Action Committee of the Faculty Senate and the Caribbean and Latino Studies Unit. 

“Hostos Dreams” Roundtable Examines the Immigrant Experience

Since its birth in 1968, Hostos has been helping fulfill the dreams of the many diverse populations that call New York City, and the Bronx in particular, home.

Hostos Professor Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla believes one of Hostos’ greatest accomplishments is the impact it has had on immigrant communities from all over the world. Building on that bond, Professor Lara-Bonilla assembled a panel of students, educators, and community members who have left an indelible mark on the character, profile, and culture of Hostos.

The roundtable was comprised of Elba Cabrera, “La Madrina de las Artes,” member of the Board of Directors, Hostos Foundation; Tomás López, attorney and researcher, Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School; Wallace Edgecombe, former Director and founder of the Hostos Center for Arts & Culture; Ana GarcÍa Reyes, Associate Dean for Community Relations; Dr. Marybelle Ferreira De Oleo, Principal at Bronx P.S./I.S. 54‎. NYC DOE; Fatiha Makloufi, former Executive Director of College Transition Programs; and Jason Libfield, Coordinator of the Student Leadership Academy.

Each panel member shared a unique perspective on what it means to be an immigrant in 2017, as well as the history of the immigration movement in and around New York City.

The highlight of the day was the members of the “Hostos Dream Team,” a collection of students from other countries who are taking advantage of all the opportunities Hostos has to offer. Students Dismary Hernández, Nana Decamp, and Haide Manila told their emotional and moving personal stories of struggles, perseverance and educational redemption. The purpose of this club is to educate the student body on immigration issues and represent and protect the needs and aspirations of undocumented students, while challenging them to pursue a higher education regardless of their immigration status.

"I am delighted that we could bring to the forefront the important role that immigrant students, faculty, administrators have played in the daily life of the college since its foundation,” Lara-Bonilla said of the event. “Thanks to the generosity of the participants, we were able to honor the work of the founding educators and community leaders, as well as explore the college’s evolution to remain an inclusive institution supportive for immigrant communities over the past 50 years."

Learn more about the Hostos Dream Team on Facebook @HostosDreamTeam.


Hostos is Home to Huge Day of Hispanic Heritage Month Events


El día de la raza (Day of the Race) was celebrated at Hostos on October 12 through two incredible educational events that highlighted the College’s connection to the communities it serves.

Early in the day, the Hostos family was treated to a master lecture from recently retired Humanities Professor and Eugenio María de Hostos historian, Orlando Hernández. Speaking on, “Hostos the Man, Hostos the College, and Hostos and the Bronx," Hernández opened his talk arguing why people should “celebrate Hostos and not Christopher Columbus.”

Hernández was a staple of the Humanities Department after joining Hostos in 1977. Since that time, he has also become the resident expert on the man the College is named after. The popular educator talked about how Hostos’ work was in direct opposition to some of the fundamental elements of Western civilization—conquest, slavery, and racial and religious superiority. Speaking to the timely issue of the review of New York City’s statues and monuments, including the explorer’s statue in Columbus Circle, Hernández recommended the city consider monuments to other historical figures, including Eugenio María de Hostos.

“Symbols matter because they represent our values,” Hernández said. “Our heroes have to be true heroes.”

Displaying his encyclopedic knowledge of Eugenio María de Hostos, Hernández discussed his important contributions to human rights, education, and arts and culture.

Introduced by Hostos Provost Christine Mangino and Assistant Professor and colleague Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla, the event showcased his four decades of dedication to history. It also proved just how timely the lessons of the man the College was named after are today, given his dedication to human rights and equal liberty for all.

Later, the campus welcomed the Coalition of Latin American Consul Generals of New York (CLACNY), as well as several scholars and experts, on October 12 for a fascinating and timely discussion on global Latin issues. Scholars weighed in on several topics, including what it means to be American from the Latin American perspective. The problem of racism, unity, and celebrating cultural identity, were also key topics of discussion.

The Hon. Consul General of the Dominican Republic, Carlos Castillo, introduced the Ambassadors and Consul Generals in attendance as President of the CLACNY coalition. Consul Castillo spoke about the importance of the event and explained how the 17 Consul Generals and Ambassadors work in a united fashion representing their immigrant communities in New York. Hostos President David Gómez was also in attendance.

Panel members included: Professor Ana Ozuna of Hostos Community College of CUNY; Professor Odi Gonzales of NY University; Professor José Luis Reñique of Lehman College; José Higuera López of the CUNY Mexican Studies Institute and Jaime Buenahora of Faireigh Dickinson University. The panel was moderated by the Ambassador and Consul General of Mexico, Diego Gómez Pickering.

The forum was presented by Hostos Associated Dean from the Office of Community Relations Ana García Reyes and Vice Consul and Chief of Staff of the Dominican Republic Consul General's Office, Eduardo Hernandez, with the assistance of Noelia Martínez. It was presented by the Hostos 50th Anniversary Committee, the Office of Community Relations, the Division for Institutional Advancement, and CLACNY.

The CLACNY Coalition is composed of the following dignitaries, who hold the post of Ambassadors and Consul Generals of 16 countries in the U.S:

  1. Consul General of Argentina, Mateo Estreme
    2. Consul General of Bolivia, Alvaro Rodrigo Pinilla
    3. Consul General of Brasil, Ana Lucy Gentil Cabral Petersen
    4. Consul General of Chile, Francisco Del Campo Lagos
    5. Consul General of Colombia, Maria Isabel Nieto Jaramillo
    6. Consul General of Costa Rica, Rolando Madrigal
    7. Consul General of Dominican Republic, Carlos A. Castillo
    8. Consul General of Ecuador, Linda Machuca
    9. Consul General of El Salvador, Jose Vicente Chinchilla
    10. Consul General of Guatemala, Pablo Garcia Saenz
    11. Consul General of Honduras, Hector Manuel Monroy Chavarria
    12. Consul General of Mexico, Diego Gomez Pickering
    13. Consul General of Nicaragua, Deyanira Tellez
    14. Consul General of Panama, Luis Alejandro Posse
    15. Consul General of Paraguay, Juan Buffa
    16. Consul General of Per, Maria Teresa Merino de Hart
    17. Consul General of Uruguay, Pauline Davies
    18. Consul General of Venezuela, Calixto Ortega Sanchez

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities for nearly half a century. Since 1968, Hostos has been a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs.
Hostos offers 27 associate degree programs and two certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to The City University of New York’s (CUNY) four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of CUNY, the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 500,000 students at 24 colleges.