Fall 2006 Open Line

Every Thanksgiving Day marks a milestone in American life – and in our academic calendar. Hard as it may be to believe, the fall term is nearing its end and finals are close upon us. I hope it has been a rewarding and exciting term for everyone so far.

It has certainly been an exciting time for Hunter College. We have received glowing, well-earned praise from national institutions and publications. We have welcomed 26 new members to the faculty this fall. We have had major guests visit our campus. We have played host to stimulating cultural events. And we have made significant progress on the renewal and expansion of campus facilities


Well-earned Recognition

On November 9, Hunter Distinguished Professor of Art Roy DeCarava was awarded the prestigious 2006 National Medal of Arts by President Bush at the White House.

During a presentation ceremony in the Oval Office with the President and First Lady, DeCarava, a member of the Hunter faculty since 1975, was hailed for a lifetime of inspiring contributions to the arts.  “In the midst of the Civil Rights movement, his revealing work seized the attention of our nation while displaying the dignity and determination of his subjects,” DeCarava’s citation read.

Please join me in congratulating Roy on this great honor!

In other exciting news, the latest edition of Barron’s “Best Buys in College Education” puts Hunter College on its nationally prestigious list – the only CUNY school to receive such recognition. In recommending Hunter as one of a select group of colleges where the education dollar goes further, Barron’s praised it as a dynamic “working class college, with an energy that makes the campus sizzle.”

Hunter College is also highlighted in the October 20 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education for the success of its students in winning highly sought-after Fulbright awards.

Hunter – with four Fulbright scholars for the 2006-07 academic year – appears on the “Top Producing” schools list of Master’s Institutions having the highest number of U.S. Fulbright students this year, according to The Chronicle.

Student Success

We were proud to recognize the 2,000 men and women who received their diplomas during the June commencement ceremony, and the list of those going on to top-ranked graduate and professional schools is long and impressive. Two headed to the University of Pennsylvania Law School, one to Duke Law School and one to Boston University Law School; one received a full scholarship to Yale’s chemistry PhD program, and another student was accepted into Yale’s School of Public Health; our co-valedictorian received a full four-year scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical School, and two students were accepted into Cornell’s Medical School, one of whom is a Salk Scholar – and those are only some of the highlights. Two months after sending off these newly minted Hunter graduates, on August 30, the first day of classes, we greeted some 1,700 freshmen, 96 of whom have begun as CUNY Honors College students at Hunter.

New Faces at Hunter

Hunter has recruited two nationally recognized scholar-administrators to serve as deans of the School of Social Work and the School of Arts and Sciences. I am delighted that they have joined the administration, and I am confident they will quickly become well established and highly regarded members of the Hunter family.

Dr. Shirley Clay Scott is our new Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. She was most recently Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, a post she held for seven years, and before that she was Dean of the Graduate College at Western Michigan University. Dr. Scott is an award-winning teacher who has taught a wide variety of literature and writing courses, including introductory Greek and Latin. She has written on an impressive range of topics, from the literature of the British Romantics to contemporary fiction and poetry. She is currently preparing a collection of essays, Philosophy in the Academic Workplace: Essays of an Educator, exploring the relevance and responsibility of liberal arts and sciences in today’s public universities.

Dr. Jacqueline B. Mondros, the new Dean of the School of Social Work, comes to us from the University of Southern California where she was, for the past four years, Professor and Vice Dean of USC’s School of Social Work. This is actually a return to New York for her, since she had earlier served for 11 years on the faculty of Columbia University and as an Assistant Dean. Besides her experience as a teacher and administrator, Dr. Mondros is a highly regarded author. She has written extensively on community social services, community development and community organization, and her co-authored text, Organizing for Power and Empowerment, has been widely used in social work classrooms.  In recent years she has focused on social work pedagogy and is currently working on issues of transformational leadership within social work.

Administrative Changes

Even as new, highly qualified scholars and administrators are drawn to Hunter, others who have risen to prominence here have been lured away by what are often irresistible opportunities.

By now, many of you know that Leonard F. Zinnanti, who has done an outstanding job for the past four and a half years as Vice President for Finance and Administration, has joined the New York Philharmonic Society as Chief Financial and Administrative Officer. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we wish him every success.

Richard Pizer, who served Hunter for three years as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, has most recently been working at the CUNY Graduate Center on the staff of President William Kelly. Dr. Pizer has joined the New York Institute of Technology as its Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Vita Rabinowitz, who has done an outstanding job as Acting Provost during the past year, will continue to serve in that capacity while the Provost search committee, chaired by Professor Andrew Polsky, conducts a nationwide search for a new Provost.

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Marianne Fahs has accepted the position of Interim Executive Director of the Brookdale Center on Aging. Mimi, as she is known to her many friends and admirers, is not only a nationally acclaimed health economist, but a dynamic and effective leader. She is thoroughly familiar with Brookdale, having joined the faculty in 2004 as Director of Research. Dr. Dennis Kodner, who served as the Rose Dobrof Executive Director of Hunter’s Brookdale Center on Aging for the past three years, has stepped down to pursue other opportunities.

Building Community

Hunter’s first Summit on Diversity was held last May, and the results were impressive. A broad cross-section of our community – students, faculty, staff and administrators – took part. The 70 participants were broken down into discussion groups that were led by professional facilitators as they explored a variety of important, often sensitive, diversity-related issues.  The product of those discussions will be the basis for a wider and continuing conversation about diversity in our community, including a series of workshops and symposia. Among the potential topics: free speech vs. hate speech; how to communicate respectfully, and techniques for increasing diversity in the student, faculty and administrative ranks. 

I want to thank all the participants in the Diversity Summit for their thoughtful and important contributions, and I especially wish to thank Eija Ayravainen, our Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, and Mike Escott, Senior Associate Dean for Student Life, for their leadership of this important initiative.

Leading this far-reaching and important effort is Hunter’s new Acting Dean of Diversity and Compliance, John T. Rose, who replaces Laura M. Schachter. John is eminently qualified for this role, since he graduated from Hunter with honors, got his law degree from Harvard and built a successful career in the private sector as a specialist in Human Resources and Employment Relations, including senior positions at ABC, ESPN and the National Basketball Association. I know we will all miss Laura, who is setting up her own consulting business, but I am certain John will provide the leadership we need as we broaden our understanding of and sensitivity to diversity issues.

As a follow up event to the Diversity Summit, John hosted a Diversity luncheon for student leaders. The luncheon was well-attended and participants engaged in a lively discussion of a variety of issues concerning diversity and multi-culturalism on campus. Anyone interested in participating in this effort should contact John Rose.

CUNY Compact on Hunter

The City University of New York took a historic step forward last November when the Board of Regents approved Chancellor Matthew Goldstein’s visionary Compact for Public Higher Education. In brief, the Compact is a major commitment to expand CUNY’s academic programs, student services programs, and facilities through an innovative combination of cost savings, expanded private philanthropy from donors and foundations and a state/city commitment to fund the university’s essential operations.

As CUNY’s largest college, Hunter benefits from $4 million from the Compact. Last year a committee of faculty, administrators, students and staff worked hard to devise a blueprint to determine how to guide the allocation of this new state funding. Among the many improvements, we are hiring new faculty and support staff and investing in faculty development, including training with new technology and assistance with grant writing. Students will also benefit with increased spending on such programs as counseling and advising, and career services. These are only some of the highlights of the Compact for Public Higher Education and its effect on Hunter. As the program evolves in coming years, its importance will become increasingly apparent and widely appreciated.

What’s New On Campus

In the drive to increase the number of classrooms in the College, we are finding and building more classrooms. In fact, if you get your nutrients from the second floor snack bar, you will notice we have substituted two new classrooms, equipped with data projectors and screens, for the trans-fat rich vending area on the second floor of the West building. The rooms will accommodate 50 to 60 students and should be ready by the spring semester.  Never fear – your food supply has only moved around the corner!

We have updated the wireless network in the Brookdale dormitory. The newly improved network, a collaborative project between ICIT and Aruba Networks, allows students to connect to the Hunter network wirelessly at much faster speed from every corner of the dormitory. The upgrade comes in time to help students gain easier access to the extensive collection of online instructional materials they need for their end-of-term coursework and finals. The Brookdale wireless upgrade is the first stage in a major wireless push at Hunter. The next phase will involve a ten-fold increase of general network connectivity between the Brookdale dormitories, the Health Sciences campus and the main Hunter College campus. At the same time a new wireless network is being prepared for all nine floors of the main Hunter College library and for other areas where students use laptop computers. This initiative is being funded in part by the Student Technology Fees as part of a major initiative to improve student access to technology.

The network was completed well before the announced date, thanks to ICIT and the able direction of our new Acting CIO Franklin Steen, who joins us after 12 years as the head of Computer Services for Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Steen – who held a similar post at Yale before joining Harvard – has won a national reputation for his leadership and innovation in information technology. He is the ideal person to move Hunter forward in this exciting area.

We are continuing to address faculty and students’ technology needs. The Technology Committee meets regularly and makes decisions collaboratively about how best to use technology to improve student success. This past year, more than 100 new computers were purchased to replace older models being used by faculty and staff. We recently constructed a new state-of-the-art video conferencing center and a new 50-station computer lab in the Hunter College Reading/Writing Center.

Roosevelt House Update

We currently are recruiting for a director of the Eleanor Roosevelt Women and Public Policy Initiative and plan to make an announcement about the new director shortly. In anticipation of the re-opening of Roosevelt House, which is scheduled for the fall of 2007, we have introduced several exciting initiatives. The most prominent was the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Faculty Seminar, headed by Blanche Blank Professor Joseph Viteritti. Twelve faculty members from three of our four schools took part in a weekly seminar in which they presented a policy paper of publishable quality. The first seminar was a success in every way.  Papers from that seminar are already being submitted for publication, and the participants are planning future efforts together. Due to the positive response, we are offering another faculty seminar next spring and have selected 12 faculty members from an open call to participate.

Headline Guests

Our Distinguished Writers Series, led by renowned author Peter Carey, Director of the College’s outstanding MFA in Creative Writing, continues to bring some of the world’s most acclaimed authors to Hunter for readings and question-and-answer sessions. Early this month, we were delighted to welcome Booker Prize-winning novelist Ian McEwan, who read from his upcoming novel On Chesil Beach. In September, novelist Richard Price, who has been called the modern-day Dickens, was the honored guest.

On Oct. 24, Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and student journalist Casey Parks visited Hunter to discuss their recent journey through central Africa.  The discussion, titled “Africa, Genocide and the World,” was part of The New York Times “Times Talks” series. Parks, a graduate student in journalism at the University of Missouri, was selected by Kristof out of about 4,000 entrants to accompany him on the journey. Hunter’s own Pulitzer-prize winning journalism professor, Bernard Stein, and his journalism class dined with Parks following the talk.

Of all the many guests to visit Hunter this term, none has stirred quite the excitement caused by Isabella Rossellini during her appearance yesterday at the Cecile Insdorf Foreign Language Screening Room in the Chanin Center. The internationally renowned actress, model and author was here to introduce The Flowers of St. Francis, one of the many films directed by her late father, Roberto Rossellini. The event was held in conjunction with the retrospective of Roberto Rossellini films now underway at the Museum of Modern Art. It was an honor to have Cecile Insdorf return to introduce her.

With the promise and excitement of the new academic year, I look forward to a successful 2006-2007 and thank all of you for your contributions to Hunter College. 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.


Jennifer J. Raab

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