Bedford Hills College Program (BHCP)
Through the Bedford Hills College Program, Marymount Manhattan College offers College-preparatory courses and courses leading to Associate of Arts degrees in Social Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a New York State maximum-security prison for women.
HISTORY OF COLLEGE PROGRAM
In June 1995 the college program conducted by Mercy College at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility was terminated after 15 years of successful operation. That year, over 350 higher education programs ceased offering higher education in New York State prisons after public funding for them had been discontinued in 1994.
When the college program closed, women experienced a loss of hope about their own futures and the futures of their children. In March of 1996, a group of seven inmates met with the Superintendent Elaine Lord and long-time Bedford volunteer, Theadora Jackson, to explore the possibility of creating a new college program that would be entirely supported by private funds.
Within a year, a college program was created that would involve a consortium of colleges, with each member contributing faculty and/or resources for courses at BHCF. The consortium became a reality under the leadership of Dr. Regina Perrugi, president of Marymount Manhattan College, who enlisted several other college presidents as members. Barnard College, Bank Street College of Education, Manhattanville College, Mercy College, Pace University, and Sarah Lawrence College joined with MMC as members of the Consortium, and in the spring of 1997, college courses were again offered at Bedford Hills.
While Marymount Manhattan College (MMC) had always been the degree granting institution, in September 2004 the Bedford Hills College Program became an extension campus of Marymount Manhattan College, and Marymount now considers itself to have not two, but one student body, with some students living at Bedford Hills, and some not. The students at Bedford take the same courses offered in Manhattan, including the core courses for the sociology major, and a wide variety of electives in art, history, literature, business, economics, psychology, and the sciences.
From an initial enrollment of 39 students and three classes, the program has expanded to currently involve over 175 students per semester in the Pre-College and College Program, in addition to a solid contingency of students who have already earned their Bachelor's degrees and serve as mentors and tutors. Annually, over 200 women register for college courses.
As of 2011, the Bedford Hills College Program has graduated 142 students; 44 Bachelor's degrees and 98 Associate's degrees have been conferred.
The Bedford Hills College Program (BHCP) offers college-preparatory courses in writing and mathematics, as well as courses leading to Associate of Arts degrees in the Social Sciences, and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology. As with all Marymount students, Bedford students are required to take general education courses across the curriculum along with required courses for the major. Approximately 14 – 16 courses of all levels are offered each semester. Women take two, sometimes three, courses per semester. The College provides the students with textbooks, which are loaned to students for the semester, and school supplies. The College Learning Center has a networked computer lab, a library, and an area for students to meet with professors and tutors.
All applicants to the College Program must have either a high school diploma or a GED, and all applicants must take placement examinations in mathematics, reading, and essay writing. Depending upon their scores on these tests, applicants are placed in either credit or non-credit preparatory courses. Most of the students have never been to college before, though in recent years, the number of applicants with previously earned college credit has grown.
The College offers a rich slate of academic and extracurricular activities to enhance the students' college experience: guest speakers, including authors, poets, and filmmakers; skills enhancement workshops; Read Arounds (students read highlights from their semester's work); poetry workshops and poetry slams. Major events and achievements include:
- Crossing Borders Academic Conferences: since 2006, four Crossing Borders conferences have been held at the facility. At these conferences, professors and students from outside and inside present their work on a wide variety of subjects. About 200 people from outside (Marymount and the consortium colleges) and inside attend the day-long conference. For Bedford students, the importance of this event cannot be overstated. Through this conference, they come to understand that they are important and respected members of a larger community of learners and scholars.
- Inside/Out Art Exhibits: to date, the College has held three art exhibits at the facility. These exhibits showcase artwork of Bedford, MMC, and consortium college students. Outside guests attend the exhibit opening, and meet the artists to discuss their work.
- The Insider newsletter: to date, the College has published six issues. The newsletter is designed to provide information of interest to entire population of the facility, not just to the college students. Current and past students of the College Program comprise the editorial board, write the articles, and design the layout of the newsletter.
Visits to the facility must be arranged in advance through both Marymount Manhattan College and the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.
Director of BHCP
914.241.3100. Ext 4514