By Samip Delhiwala
Additional reporting by Zainab Iqbal
Published: November 1st, 2017
In an email sent out to the Brooklyn College community on Thursday, Oct. 19, BC President Michelle Anderson announced that Provost William Tramontano will be stepping down from his position, effective at the end of June 2018.
Tramontano, who will complete ten years as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs after June, cited his long tenure and the new City University of New York (CUNY) Strategic Framework and BC’s developing Strategic Plan as reasons for stepping down from his position.
“Chief Academic Officers at American colleges and universities generally have a lifespan of about four years, so being able to maintain my position for a ten-year period has been a gift and a blessing,” Tramontano said in an emailed statement to BC. “But sometimes obvious transition points appear, and with the new CUNY Strategic Framework and [Brooklyn College’s] developing new Strategic Plan, this was the right time.”
Tramontano, who lives in Westchester, also referenced his extensive commute to the college.
“The burdens of commuting are starting to accumulate,” he said. “It takes me two, two-and-a-half hours to come here. Ten years on NYC highways is a lot.”
It is now up to Anderson to search for a replacement. Tramontano made his announcement early in order to give Anderson enough time to complete the hiring process.
Throughout his years at BC, Tramontano’s daily routine as provost has consisted of meeting with deans of CUNY schools, head of the BC library, and the associate provost, to name a few, in order to improve the school and the CUNY system.
His accomplishments include hiring 200 new faculty members, establishing BC’s five schools, and planning the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema and the Tow Performing Arts Center.
Tramontano takes particular pride in helping form the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay (SRIJB), which “produced integrated knowledge that increases biodiversity, well-being, and adaptive capacity in coastal communities and waters surrounding Jamaica Bay and New York City,” according to its website. He also helped form CUNY’s first research vessel, the CUNY I, which the institute hopes to make significant use out of.
Brett Branco, a BC professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and a member of the executive council of the SRIJB, called Tramontano the “unsung hero” behind forming the SRIJB.
“Provost Tramontano was instrumental in positioning Brooklyn College as a leader in the creation of the SRIJB,” Branco said. “He gave us the freedom to work with colleagues at other institutions to define the mission of the SRIJB while doing all the hard work behind the scenes to secure the administrative support within Brooklyn College and CUNY. The provost recognized all this potential and what it could do for interdisciplinary research and education at Brooklyn College.”
The 62-feet CUNY I research vessel is one of the main achievements that Tramontano considers to be part of his legacy.
“This boat is going to do all sorts of teaching and experiments at the harbors of NYC,” he said. “It’s brand new and just built, and will be docked at Kingsborough. This is one of the things I’m leaving behind.”
Despite all that he has accomplished here, Tramontano regrets the limited contact he had with BC students. But he commented on the BC community as a whole, saying, “I think the interpersonal relationships that I have developed with the many members of the staff in the registrar, in financial aid, and in student life show that it takes a real community to put this together.”
As of now, Tramontano is unsure of his future plans. Before his tenure at BC, he was a provost and dean of science at Lehman College, and spent 14 years as a chair of the biology department at Manhattan College. Because of his background as a science educator, he was exposed to many pre-medical students.
“I taught the future doctors and future nurses,” he said, “so I might do that, but I’m not sure yet. I’m sure that’ll work itself out.”
Despite his uncertainty, Tramontano plans to make the most out of the remainder of his tenure.
“I want to wish every member of the Brooklyn College family, nothing but peace, health, happiness and success in the future,” Tramontano said. “Brooklyn College will always hold a very special place in my heart. I look forward to greeting many of you in the upcoming months, especially at Commencement.”