The appointment of Dr. Carole Berotte Joseph as the President of the Massachusetts Bay (MassBay) Community College in 2005 delighted Haitians. Dr. Berotte Joseph was the first Haitian-born U.S. college president and the first woman president of Massachusetts Bay Community College. Her accomplishments include developing new education programmes, helping Haitian school students and promoting the history and culture of Haiti.
Born in Port-au-Prince, Dr. Berotte Joseph grew up in Brooklyn, USA. Her family emigrated to the U.S. in 1957 when she was only eight years old. There were only a few Haitians in the U.S. at that time, but she was raised in a multicultur alenvir onment, and she learned to speak four languages fluently – English, Creole, Spanish and French.
The eldest daughter of a teacher and a nurse, Dr. Berotte Joseph always knew that she wanted to teach. According to the article ‘Inspiring Haitienne Carole Berotte Joseph PhD’ published in Haitienne Magazine on January 23, 2012, the inspirational academic remembered that: ‘On snow days and bad weather days, I would line up the kids and I would lead in playing school’.
The ambitious young woman obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and education from the City University of New York (CUNY). She taught at a day care facility while she studied for her degree. She then became a bilingual elementary school teacher, and she also taught Spanish and French at junior high schools. How ever, Dr. Berotte Joseph started to become interested in an academic career when she realised that she could influence more students by teaching the teachers instead.
The young woman decided to do more degrees. She gained her Master’s degree in curriculum, teaching and bilingual education at Fordham University. Her PhD in bilingual education and sociolinguistics was completed at New York University in 1992.
After finishing her university education, Dr. Berotte Joseph began her prestigious academic career. She was appointed an adjunct lecturer in The Bilingual Education Programme at the City College of CUNY , and she quickly became a lecturer and full-time staff member. Dr. Berotte Joseph developed bilingual education programmes for Haitian immigrant students enrolled in New York City public schools.
From 1996 -1998 Dr. Berotte Joseph was the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the Hostos Community College of CUNY . Here, she coordinated and oversaw all academic departments and the library. She also developed new curricula and Freshman programme initiatives.
She then took up the post as the Dean of Academic Affairs of the Dutchess Community College. She developed new degrees and certificate programmes in this role. She also expanded the collaborative programmes with Dutchess County High Schools, developed new academic programmes, and played a crucial role in furthering the incorporation of technology into classrooms.
When Dr. Berotte Joseph became President of Massachusetts Bay Community College (MassBay), she was determined to make it into one of the best community colleges in Massachusetts. Her role here was controversial because she removed three deans and three associate deans in a reorganisation plan. The college had accreditation issues that needed solving quickly, so she decided that reorganising the personnel was the best way to do this. Although her decisions were contentious, she told Maria Eugenia Miranda in ‘A Master Teacher Leads the Bronx Community College ’ on November 29, 2011, that: ‘I had to get the right people to make it work’.
The academic head also achieved many other ambitions at MassBay. She reactivated the Foundation Board of Directors, established several guidelines for the college fund and created the Massachusetts Bay Alumni Council. She also established opportunities for students and academic staff to study abroad.
Dr. Berotte Joseph is now the President of Bronx Community College in New York. She took up this appointment in 2011. When she was appointed, Dr. Berotte Joseph stated that she regarded the appointment as a ‘special homecoming’ and a great honour because she completed her degree at CUNY . Her extensive experience in running community colleges will help her to make improvements to the college and to assist its thousands of students.
As well as being an experienced college president, Joseph is also a member of several boards. These include the Board of The American Association of Community of Community Colleges and the Board of New England College Council. She is also a past president of the Haitian Studies Association which promotes research and scholarship on Haitian history and culture.
Joseph is extremely interested in assisting educational institutions in her birthplace of Haiti, and she played a key role in helping to develop the country’s higher educational institutions. She was one of the founders of the Consortium for Rebuilding and Improving Higher Education in Haiti, an international group of colleges and universities that provides infrastructure and training for colleges in Haiti. The huge earthquake of 2010 destroyed the campuses of several of Port-au-Prince’s 32 colleges, and Joseph supports the efforts in the rebuilding of higher education in Haiti, especially teacher education.
Dr. Berotte Joseph has certainly had a distinguished career. She is likely to obtain even more prestigious positions in the future.