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OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

Jennifer J. Raab, President
(212) 772-4242
president@hunter.cuny.edu

 

Fall 2009 Open Line

Welcome back to what promises to be another wonderful semester at Hunter College.

Despite the local and national economy, Hunter has flourished in the past year, and many are taking note. Just weeks ago, U.S. News announced that Hunter rose a full seven points (52 to 45) in the magazine's annual rankings – while maintaining our spot at the top of the list of master's-granting universities with the least student debt. We are one of only seven colleges nationwide to score an "A" from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in a study measuring the breadth of undergraduate core requirements. And last fall, The Princeton Review said it all by ranking Hunter #8 in the nation among "Best Value" public colleges.

Hunter students, faculty, and alumni are achieving remarkable levels of success and recognition, from science labs to bestseller lists, from the halls of Brookdale to the halls of the White House. The last year was also defined by the development and progress of major initiatives, from building projects to new fields of graduate study. We continue to be the most in-demand CUNY college, and this fall, more than 12,000 applicants made us their first choice.

Individually and collectively, the schools of Hunter College are being recognized for their extraordinary success. From standardized test scores to levels of diversity to the quality and progress of academic initiatives, Hunter significantly surpasses standards and expectations. CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein recently responded to an official College-wide progress report with the following statements:

"I am delighted by the quality and diversity of the faculty that you have hired and how well regarded they are in higher education circles….I am pleased to see increases in the SAT and CAA scores of incoming students…NCLEX pass rates are increasing, and teacher certification pass rates, physical therapy pass rates, and other indicators of student success are also improving…Please share my delight and gratitude with your faculty and administrative team. There are great things ahead for Hunter."

Along with Chancellor Goldstein, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the entire faculty, administration, and staff for their roles in making Hunter College stronger than ever. And most of all, I want to thank our students for continually proving that no standard we set is too high. It is my pleasure to bring you up-to-date on some of the exciting news and events that will be sure to keep Hunter in the spotlight in the coming year.

 

Class of 2009

Though 2010 will mark the milestone 200th Hunter commencement, the graduates of #199 proved that they were not to be overlooked. On May 28th, 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students received their diplomas at Radio City Music Hall, where among the special guests were U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who delivered the commencement address and surprise attendee Tony Plana, one of the stars of Ugly Betty.

But the biggest stars were the graduates themselves. Symbolic of the unique achievements of the Class of 2009 was the unprecedented three-way tie for valedictorian. The three honorees were chemistry and environmental studies major Jorge Baquero (whose cousins, siblings Sylvia and Javier Sanchez, also happened to be the graduation speakers of the 2009 School of Social Work class), biology major and former professional dancer Corinne Vidulich, and former undergraduate student government president Alex Kohen, an Honors College student and triple major now in his first year at NYU Law School. Alex is not the only 2009 graduate now attending a top professional or PhD program. Marie Ndiaye is at Harvard Law School, Robby Setton is studying at NYU Medical School, Alisa Umanskaya and Cindy Puente are pursuing PhDs in biology at Columbia and Memorial Sloan Kettering, respectively, and Mia Tarley has begun working toward a PhD in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, just to name a few.

The list of 2009 graduates winning local and national awards and scholarships is a long one. For example, Mikhail Bekarev and Michael Ignat are recipients of one of CUNY's highest honors: the Jonas E. Salk Scholarship to study medicine. Few national academic honors are more prestigious than the Fulbright Scholarship, and no fewer than three recent Hunter alums were named 2009-10 Fulbright Scholars: 2009 grads Tonia Tiewul and Matthew Willis and Thomael Joannidis (BA '04, MS '06).

And other members of Hunter’s newest alumni class are starting off their careers right at the top – like Jenny Alcaide, who can be found in the White House's Office of Management and Administration, after beating out thousands from around the country who also applied to the White House Internship Program. (Jenny is not alone in turning the White House a shade of Hunter purple. Since becoming president, Barack Obama has appointed four Hunter alums to key government posts: Adolfo Carrion (MUP '90), director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs; Jared Bernstein (MSW '86), chief economic policy advisor; Lorelei Boylan (BA '98), administrator of the Wage and Hour Division in the U.S. Department of Labor; and John Sepulveda (BA '77), assistant secretary for human resources and administration at the Department of Veterans Affairs.)

 

New Students

As we say goodbye to these and other outstanding students, we are welcoming many others who will certainly make their marks at Hunter and afterwards. Hunter is more selective than ever; despite still accepting only one in three applicants, freshman applications rose by over 14%, and transfer applications by nearly 21%.

The average SAT score of incoming freshmen rose by a remarkable 31 points since last year – by far, the largest leap in years. The Hunter College Class of 2013 together boasts a score 118 points above the national average.

We welcome this fall 136 outstanding students into the Honors College. Only 21% of applicants were accepted. Fourteen members of the new Honors College class graduated from Stuyvesant High School, 13 from Bronx Science, and six from Hunter College High.

We invite all our new students to meet their classmates and to celebrate this special moment in their lives by attending Hunter College’s first annual Matriculation celebration in the Assembly Hall on September 16th, at 1:10pm. It will be both festive and informative, and we hope it gives you the opportunity to release the stress of the first weeks of classes.

 

Financial Assistance Opportunities

Though we always make student financial assistance a top priority, we are proud to say that, due to the current economic climate, we are doing more than ever this year to ease students' financial burdens. To enable us to help as many students as possible, we have hired additional financial aid counselors. In addition, a significant portion of the $7M contribution from the CUNY Compact to Hunter's operating budget will go toward funding an innovative student financial initiative.  This initiative will include partial tuition waivers, increased on-campus and studies-related student employment opportunities, additional methods to reduce students’ textbook costs, and an even more affordable tuition payment plan.

We encourage anyone in need to inquire about scholarships, work-study jobs, paid internships, or other aid packages that may be available to them by contacting one or both of the following:

Office of Financial Aid (http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/finaid/): Room 241, North Building, 212-772-4820, faohc@hunter.cuny.edu

Office of Student Services (http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/studentservices/scholarships): Room 1119, East Building, 212-772-4882, AdvisingServices@hunter.cuny.edu

On August 26th, NBC's Today Show reported on Hunter’s $5 million anonymous gift, $4 million of which will go directly toward student scholarships. To watch the Today Show report on Hunter's "mystery donor," click here: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/32564890#32564890

 

Faculty Awards

Hunter's faculty continue to reap nationwide recognition for their unparalleled achievements. Here are a few recent examples:

Benjamin Hett (History) and Jonathan Shannon (Anthropology) won prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships, given to "those who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts."  A former trial lawyer, Hett has researched criminal law in modern Germany, the history of pop culture, and the history of Berlin. Shannon is an ethnographer who has been working in Syria on ethnomusicology, performance, and popular culture.

The American Council of Learned Societies named Nancy Siraisi (History) a Distinguished Professor Emeritus, the 2010 Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecturer, an honor celebrating lifelong dedication to the advancement of humanities.  An eminent scholar of medicine with emphasis on the Renaissance, she also won the "genius award" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2008.

Colum McCann (MFA Creative Writing) has received universal acclaim for his newest best-selling novel, Let the Great World Spin, including glowing reviews from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other major papers. Esquire called it “the first great 9/11 novel,” and in June, Amazon.com named it the best book of the month.

Michael Thomas (English) won the $140,000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the world's most lucrative literary prize, for his debut novel, Man Gone Down. The IMPAC judges called the book a "masterful debut" and described Thomas, who is also a Hunter alumnus, as a "writer of enthralling voice and startling insight." Thomas' novel was selected from 145 books nominated by libraries around the world.

Two of Hunter's newest faculty members, both professors of philosophy, are also winners of prestigious book awards: Linda M. Alcoff is the co-recipient of the 2009 Frantz Fanon Prize from the Caribbean Philosophical Association for her book Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self, and Carol Gould won the David Easton Award, given by the Political Theory Section of the American Political Science Association, for her book, Globalizing Democracy and Human Rights.

 

News from the Schools

School of Education

Dr. David Steiner, who has served for four years as the dean of the School of Education at Hunter College, was recently named the next New York State Education Commissioner. He will assume the position on October 1st. During Dr. Steiner's tenure at Hunter, the School of Education has become a nationally recognized center of innovation in the field of teacher preparation. He has led the re-design of the School's two largest programs, early childhood and childhood education, and a number of projects he has spearheaded have become models in the field. In addition, under Dr. Steiner’s leadership, student test scores have gone up dramatically; a full 100% of Hunter students passed the most recent statewide general assessment tests.

The search for a new dean for the School of Education is underway. On August 17th, we held a “town hall” meeting with the School of Education to discuss the search process and an interim leadership plan. I am pleased to announce that Dr. Sherryl Graves will assume the role of acting dean until a permanent replacement is found. Though we are sorry to see Dr. Steiner go, we are excited by what his selection will mean for the state’s education system. Please join me in wishing him the best of luck in his new position.

Schools of Public Health and Social Work

This is a very exciting moment for the School of Social Work and for the new CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, both of which will move to a brand new state-of-the-art building in East Harlem in just two years. The Silberman School of Social Work building on Third Avenue between 118th and 119th Streets will be the product of the largest-ever gift to CUNY -- $30M from the Community Trust, matched by state funds. Site demolition has begun, and detailed plans are in place for a timely construction and a smooth transition. We invite all Social Work and Public Health faculty to participate in the interior design process.

Even as we wait for the building’s completion, the School of Public Health’s accreditation process remains firmly on track. We have already received approval for three doctoral-level programs at Hunter, with one more under development.

The number of applicants to the Doctor of Public Health programs has grown from 20 in 2007 to 63 in 2009. One-third of this year’s applicants are from elite institutions such as Yale, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Michigan. The faculty and students of the Schools of Social Work and Public Health will share more than real estate, as they collaborate on training and research and work together to serve the communities and organizations of East Harlem.

School of Arts and Sciences

Due to a family emergency, Dr. Shirley Clay Scott, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, has requested a leave of absence of undetermined length. Dr. Robert Greenberg, the associate dean for Undergraduate Education and Academic Excellence in the School of Arts and Sciences, has agreed to serve as acting dean while Dean Scott is away. I know that Dr. Greenberg, a respected scholar and experienced academic administrator, will ably lead the School in this interim. Provost Rabinowitz and I are working closely with him to ensure that he has the resources and personnel required for a smooth transition.

Of course, we will keep you informed as events transpire and Dean Scott's plans develop. In the meantime, we ask that you welcome Dr. Greenberg in his new role.

School of Nursing

Since Dr. Kristine Gebbie became the acting Joan Hansen Grabe Dean of the once-again freestanding School of Nursing, we have taken important strides toward our crucial goal of easing the serious shortage of nurses in New York City and the nation.

One step is a program we have just launched to place students who have been attracted into nursing from other professions on an accelerated track, allowing them to earn their degrees in just 14 months instead of the traditional 22. New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn, who recently announced a major funding initiative to support this and other CUNY nursing programs, has publicly lauded the initiative and Hunter’s role in fighting the nursing shortage. You can read an op-ed she wrote for the New York Post by clicking here: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/an_rx_for_nyc_nursing_shortage_xltuwdAiXZhu6TJpgvgwWJ .

Other exciting additions to the School of Nursing are the Center for Health, Media, and Policy and its director, Dr. Diana Mason, Rudin Professor of Nursing. Dr. Mason was the long-time editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing, the premier journal in the field.

 

Middle States

After many months of preparation and assessment, Hunter’s Middle States re-accreditation process is nearly complete. We are proud to have met each of the 14 standards, and we look forward to hearing from the commission after it votes to re-affirm accreditation at its November meeting. To continue the self-evaluation process and our efforts toward ongoing improvement, the Hunter Senate has established a strategic planning sub-committee. We intend to build on the incredible community involvement that went into the Middle States self-report, and we invite all members of the Hunter family to participate in devising and carrying out new strategies for growth and improvement.

Special thanks to Provost Vita Rabinowitz and Middle States chairs Sandra Clarkson and Philip Alcabes for their tireless commitment throughout the process.

You can read the complete report by visiting the Middle States link on the Hunter website’s homepage.

 

Roosevelt House

The historic restoration of Roosevelt House is nearly complete, and we look forward to seeing all of you at the grand re-opening this fall. The contractors are now doing the finish work, which includes plastering and the reinstallation of the stairs, hand rails, and wood flooring. All the refurbished windows have been installed and all decorative woodwork is being refinished. The contractors are also installing the wood acoustical panels on the ceiling and walls of the new auditorium.

In the meantime, the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College continues to host important public events. We launched the 2009-2010 Roosevelt House event series on Thursday, September 10, with a panel discussion about the legacy of Adlai Stevenson; our esteemed guests included former senator Adlai Stevenson III and other close associates of the late U.N. ambassador and presidential candidate.

Please join us for these upcoming events:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Roosevelt House Public Policy Forum
"Building a New Health Care Program for America: An Update from the Field"
Hunter College Cafeteria, 3rd Floor, West Building, 6 p.m.
Along with the League of Women Voters-NYC, we will present the second in a two-part series of public discussions on the current status of health care reform.  Confirmed speakers include: Kristine Gebbie, Hunter College Dean of Nursing; Jay Gellert, President and CEO of HealthNet; George Halverson, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals; and Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President of Social Impact at AARP. The program will be moderated by Dennis Rivera, Chair of SEIU Healthcare.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009
"Movies with Messages" Film Series, co-sponsored by The Creative Coalition
A special screening of 14 Women, a documentary directed by Mary Lambert about the historic 109th Congress and the 14 women senators who helped shape it.
Lang Recital Hall
Reception at 6 p.m.; screening at 6:30 p.m.

We will also be continuing our highly successful collaboration with the Aspen Institute. Details of forthcoming events will be announced soon. To RSVP for these and other events, please visit the Roosevelt House website, www.roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu or send an email to rhrsvp@hunter.cuny.edu. For additional information, please contact the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at 212-650-3174.

 

Library

Thanks to the nearly $3M raised through public and private funds, the library will undergo sweeping changes, beginning with a planned complete remodeling of the 3rd (and main) floor.  Improved and expanded technology will be a major priority of the renovation. We will present plans to the Hunter community in the next few months.

After 13 years of dedicated service to the Hunter community and strong leadership of the Hunter College Libraries, Dean Louise Sherby has decided to step down as Chief Librarian and return to the Library faculty. We are working closely with the Hunter College Senate to conduct a national search for a new Chief Librarian, and we intend to retain a search firm to assist in the process. Because we all have a stake in Hunter’s libraries, we hope that you will participate in the search in some way, from volunteering to be on the search committee to suggesting possible candidates.

In the interim, we are pleased that Clay Williams, Coordinator of Library Instruction, has agreed to serve as Acting Chief Librarian.

 

New and Healthier Food

We are happy to welcome to Hunter College a new food services vendor, AVI Food Systems, which will provide a range of healthier choices in the student cafeteria and faculty dining room.  AVI will also operate the dining services at the Brookdale campus, where daily-prepared packaged food and a “convenience store” will now be among its offerings.

The change signals Hunter's commitment to broader sustainability goals throughout CUNY.  In June 2007, CUNY's Chancellor Goldstein accepted Mayor Bloomberg's challenge to the city's colleges and universities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2017 and announced that CUNY is committed to incorporating sustainability into the fabric of the University. On April 24, 2008, Governor Paterson issued Executive Order Four, which requires CUNY to develop and implement a Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship Program designed to reduce the environmental impact of the activities and operations of the University.  AVI Fresh has acknowledged CUNY and Hunter's sustainability initiatives by committing to:

  • Work with Hunter on developing a rooftop garden to grow herbs and vegetables for its menus.
  • Introduce a tray-less food service program to limit waste.
  • Provide eco-friendly packaging made from corn-based polymers and recycled paper.
  • Use only non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products.
  • Provide drinking fountains with paper cups made from recycled materials.
  • Recycle used cooking oil for conversion into bio-diesel.
  • Partner with New York Presbyterian Hospital’s successful composting program.

We are also replacing all the vending machines on campus. In addition to standard products, snack and beverage machines will now offer alternatives that are lower in fat, salt, sugar, and calories.

We want to thank the members of Hunter's Food Services Committee for their successful efforts: Associate VP for Finance and Administration Conan Freud, Director of Operations Andrew Silver, Professor of Mathematics and Chair of the Hunter College Senate Sandra Clarkson, graduate student Jaclyn Marchionni, and undergraduate David Walsh.

 

Campus Renovation

We are pleased to announce that Lexington Avenue will soon have restored to it one of its shining treasures, thanks to the upcoming renovation of the exterior of Thomas Hunter Hall.  The complete overhaul will include window replacements that will retain historic detail while improving energy efficiency. Major work will commence before the end of the school year; every precaution will be taken to minimize the impact to the surrounding community during the period of construction.

The renovation of the organic chemistry lab on the 14th floor of the North Building was completed in May, in time for the space to be used for numerous summer session courses.  It now serves as two separate teaching areas, nearly doubling its student capacity.  The official ribbon-cutting will take place later this month.  And in February, we will begin design and construction of the new state-of-the-art 6th floor experimental psychology lab. We are planning to install a new and more accessible Visitor’s Center at the current location of the Starbucks station in the West Lobby. A new coffee station will be positioned elsewhere in the lobby.

 

CUNY Alert

To ensure that all members of our community have immediate access to vital information about emergency situations, Hunter is taking part in the CUNY Alert system. CUNY Alert delivers voice or text messages about campus emergencies and weather-related closings.

When you enroll, you select the best way to get messages: cell phone, home phone, IM, e-mail - or any combination of alerts you choose. You can sign up even if you are already a part of another emergency notification system. It's free, non-intrusive and the perfect way to keep on top of the events you need to know about. I encourage everyone at Hunter to take advantage of CUNY Alert by visiting http://www.cuny.edu/alert and subscribing to this system.

 

Distinguished Writers Series

The Office of the President and the MFA Program in Creative Writing are once again proud to sponsor a remarkable line-up of authors for our Fall 2009 Distinguished Writers Series.  All readings will be held in the Faculty Dining Room. For reservations, email spevents@hunter.cuny.edu, or call the Special Events Department at 212-772-4007.

Carolyn Forché
Thursday, October 1, 7:30pm

Mona Simpson and Patrick McGrath
Tuesday, October 27, 7:30pm

Alice Notley and Claudia Rankine
Thursday, November 12, 7:30pm

Jonathan Safran Foer
Monday, November 30, 6:30pm

Save the date for Spring 2010:
Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

 

We wish you all a happy and successful semester, both in and out of the classroom.

Jennifer J. Raab
President

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