by Joseph Liggio & Samantha Walla, Asst. News Editor & Asst. Production Editor
On Wednesday, Nov. 14, Manhattan College will hold a Public Service Fellowships Panel in Kelly Commons 5B from 12:30 to 2:00. The panel will feature NYC Small Business Services Commissioner, Gregg Bishop, as well as representatives from the NYC Urban Fellows Program, Coro Fellowship, and the Neighborhood 360 Fellows.
The panel, which is open to students of all majors, will give students an opportunity to learn about alternative job opportunities post-graduation. It will be lead by Brother Daniel Gardner, assistant director of graduate & fellowship advisement, along with new hire Rob Walsh, senior advisor for strategic partnerships.
“I hope that people look at this program and say ‘this is a different alternative than what I thought about, that my degree and background can be utilized in a very big way,’” said Walsh.
Rob Walsh was appointed to his position earlier this year, and aims to strengthen the college’s relationship with New York organizations including non-profits, government agencies, corporations and start-up companies.
“Rob Walsh brings a strong track record of bringing together government, academics, business, and local communities,” said President Brennan O’Donnell in a statement from Manhattan College. “He is an innovative thinker with a gift for transforming good ideas into reality. We look to him to build upon Manhattan’s already strong relationships as well as to form new alliances and partnerships.”
Gregg Bishop, the headliner of the panel, is just one example of the connections Walsh has fostered during his time serving New York City.
“Gregg Bishop is someone that I have a great deal of admiration for…” said Walsh. “Over the years he and I have taught together at Baruch, we’ve gone overseas together, we have gone to conferences on efforts to clear the air of cities and we have a good strong friendship.”
Bishop now serves as NYC Small Business Services Commissioner, following Walsh who served as Commissioner for 12 years.
Walsh emphasizes the connections that Manhattan College students can use from opportunities like these to elevate themselves after graduation while entering the field of public service.
“Over 1,000 people have participated. There has not been one Manhattan College participant. I’d like to have that changed,” said Walsh. “We enforce, across the board, service here and giving back and lifting others, and what we need to do now is strengthen some of those relationships even more so.”
Walsh hopes to utilize the “learning laboratory” of New York City to its fullest extent, especially in the areas of how a city and community work.
“I went over to Brother Dan Gardner and said that I would like to tag-team with him on this fellowship forum … What I hope to do is open the eyes, not just of the folks who are political science majors, but English majors, communications majors, business majors, engineering majors, to look at it and say ‘Why not take a shot at one of these opportunities, let me put myself out there, let me see if I can compete on that.’”
Walsh’s involvement in the forum is not only due to his position, but his personal connection to the Urban Fellows program. According to the program’s website, the opportunity is designed to “introduce America’s finest college students and graduates to local government and public service.”
“I was an Urban Fellow. I applied for it in 1981, and I was one of those guys who looked at the list and saw Harvard and Columbia and Yale and I had that gut feeling that ‘maybe I’m not gonna get in,’” said Walsh. “I think that my own experience has been that it opened my eyes and elevated me to a level that I would not have otherwise had. I think there’s something special about the word ‘fellowship.’ Being in a group for a year and being exposed to so much during that leadership year … meeting with leaders in government, in business, in community, being positioned and taking jobs in a higher level than you would after graduation. I think that’s special.”
Prior to arriving at Manhattan, Walsh ran the executive MBA program for public administration while teaching at Baruch College’s School of Public and International Affairs. He also served as executive director of development at Help USA, an organization that provides affordable housing for those in need. Before that, he served as the commissioner of New York City’s Department of Small Business Services for 12 years, appointed in 2002 by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“I met [President O’Donnell] when he was the dean of Fordham,” said Walsh. “We kept in touch and we reconnected about this time last year. We started talking about possibilities here at Manhattan College and when he mentioned creating a position that would be a senior advisor that would report to him, on creating partnerships, it seemed to be a natural fit. What I know and what I know well is the five boroughs, the organizations, the institutions that make up this city, the various communities, and I just thought that this was something that could really end up connecting the dots in a much bigger way here at Manhattan.”
When he’s not on campus, Walsh also teaches a graduate course at Columbia University and hosts a segment, often discussing the topic of small businesses, on AM radio station 1010 WINS.
Interestingly, Walsh’s recent entry was not his first at the college.
“I’ve had a long time admiration for this school, my older brother is a graduate, and I probably should mention that I spent a year here, from 1977 to 1978.”
Walsh ended transferring to Fordham University to pursue a more community development-oriented track but believes that his original experiences at Manhattan stuck with him, and that some of the original qualities of the school still persist today.
“I like connecting with the students, it’s small enough where you get to know people, that you can end up introducing, I believe, initiatives that you can end up running with … it’s an easy place to develop relationships across the board.”
The upcoming fellowship panel will give students the opportunity to do just that, so long as they have the motivation to do so.
“You look down the [applicant] list and you see a number of Ivy league schools and you see some big schools and they say ‘I don’t know if I can compete on that level.’ We gotta get over that. We can compete with anybody. Four years at Manhattan and the experiences that people have through volunteer work, through coursework, we can compete with anybody.”