Fall 2010 Open Line

Now that you have settled into your classes, I want to take this opportunity to formally welcome back all our returning students and faculty and to offer my warm greetings and congratulations to our freshmen, transfer students, and 35 new full-time faculty members.

Though it's not over yet, 2010 has already proved to be a banner year for Hunter. Last month, U.S. News announced that Hunter rose a full six points (45 to 39) in the magazine's annual rankings of northern regional universities – and that among public universities in the category, we rank #8. The Princeton Review said it all earlier this year by naming Hunter #2 among the nation's "Best Value" public colleges for 2010.

At a time when more students and families than ever are discovering the "secret" of world-class public higher education, Hunter is increasingly setting the standard.  Our central role in the life of New York City is spreading wider and farther, as more nurses, educators, scientists, social workers, artists, health professionals, and so many others enter the workforce with Hunter diplomas in hand.

Just as exciting is Hunter's rapidly growing national influence. Hunter graduates can be found in the halls of Congress, in the White House – and now, in the Supreme Court of the United States, where, on August 7, Hunter elementary and high school alumna Elena Kagan was sworn in as the Court's 112th justice.

We would not be surprised if Justice Kagan is one day joined on the bench by one or more of the 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students who received their diplomas at Radio City Music Hall on June 3rd – such as Leandro Delgado, now in his first year at Harvard Law School.  Symbolic of the unique achievements of the Class of 2010 was the unprecedented four-way tie for valedictorian. The four honorees – who each earned perfect 4.0 GPAs – are all now adding graduate work to their stellar records: Christopher Amanna is back at Hunter for a Master's in teaching Latin, Catherine Nussbaum is a Distinguished University Fellow in Hispanic Linguistics at Ohio State, and Sasha Fahme and Sara Anwar attend medical school at Columbia and SUNY-Downstate, respectively.  Among the many other 2010 graduates now attending top graduate programs are the following PhD candidates in biology: Matthew Sapio (Albert Einstein Medical), Forest Ray (Columbia), and Danielle Feldman (MIT).

The list of 2010 graduates winning local and national awards and scholarships is a long one. Erika Osorio and Lucas Resende Salgado are recipients of one of CUNY's highest honors: the Jonas E. Salk Scholarship to study medicine. June graduates Maria Aretinnes and Lauren Vriens, along with urban planning graduate student Heidi Exline, were named 2010-11 Fulbright Scholars, one of the nation’s most prestigious academic honors.

The members of Hunter's incoming class are sure to achieve similar levels of success. Our growth in demand and reputation has elevated us to a new benchmark of selectivity; Hunter now accepts only one in four applicants.

The average SAT score of incoming freshmen rose by 21 points since last year. The Hunter College Class of 2014 together boasts a score 137 points above the most recently reported national average.

Two weeks ago, we officially welcomed our new students and celebrated this special moment in their lives at our "Proud to be Purple!" Convocation Ceremony and Block Party. Popular author and Class of '03 alum Ned Vizzini, whose book It's Kind of a Funny Story is being released in October as a major motion picture, was the inspiring keynote speaker.

The convocation also gave us a chance to remind our students about the many financial assistance opportunities Hunter provides. Especially during these difficult economic times, ensuring that a Hunter education is affordable for every student remains our top priority, and we are proud to report that we are now doing more than ever to achieve that goal. Students, we encourage you to inquire with the Office of Financial Aid about scholarships, paid internships, work-study jobs, and other aid packages.

Another special gathering took place last month in East Harlem, where we celebrated the "topping out" of the new Hunter College complex, on track to open next summer. In addition to our School of Social Work and the library of our Center for Puerto Rican Studies, the building will be the home of our brand new CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. Already a vital center for the teaching and research of urban public health issues and practices, the School continues to recruit some of the nation's leading scholars in the field.  Two of our newest faculty members are Dr. David Himmelstein and Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, who come to Hunter after nearly a quarter of a century on the staff of Harvard Medical School. To learn more about the School and its programs, please visit http://www.cuny.edu/site/sph.html.

We are also thrilled that the first students in our new undergraduate programs in public policy are now weeks into their classes at Roosevelt House, and that classes in the human rights program will begin in the spring. The beautiful restoration of the House is complete, and special guest speakers like President Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama have already met there with students and other members of the Hunter community. The House's status as a major cultural and historical landmark is being acknowledged far and wide, from the pages of The New York Times (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/a-home-barely-fit-for-two-mrs-roosevelts/) to the National Endowment for the Humanities – which just awarded Hunter a $40,000 grant in support of a Roosevelt House project to interpret the legacy of the Roosevelts in the context of their New York City home and to examine the relevance of their achievements to current social and political issues.

Roosevelt House has also launched a number of collaborative programs and projects – such as the Hunter College Center for LGBT Social Science and Public Policy – that bring together faculty from the School of Public Health, the School of Social Work, and many other departments and schools. Thanks to the generosity of Rita Hauser ('54), Ruth Newman ('54) and Harold Newman, there will be two additions to the Roosevelt House faculty to help lead programs in human rights and public policy. Alongside visiting fellows Dr. Jonathan Fanton and Dr. John McDonough will be the inaugural Rita E. Hauser Fellow in Human Rights and the Ruth and Harold Newman Public Policy and Civic Engagement Fellow. We are delighted to have these two new fellows join us and we will be making an announcement about them shortly.

We are excited to report that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be the guest of honor at the official Roosevelt House ribbon-cutting ceremony in November. Please visit www.roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu for the latest information on this and other Roosevelt House events, including a panel on the midterm elections moderated by NBC's chief legal analyst, Dan Abrams.

Just a couple blocks east of Roosevelt House is another beautiful structure now part of Hunter College. We are so proud to announce that we are receiving a gift valued at approximately $10 million from the board of the prominent Italian language school Parliamo Italiano: its brownstone at 132 East 65th St, to be called Casa Lally, as well as the school itself. Already, Italian language and culture classes in Hunter's Continuing Education program are being held at the building, and we are working with the Department of Romance Languages to plan social, educational, and cultural programs for students and the entire Hunter community. We look forward to updating you as projects develop.

But you won't have to leave our main 68th Street campus to witness significant architectural enhancement.  Sweeping changes are coming to the Hunter College Libraries, beginning with a major planned renovation of the main floor of the Wexler Library.  The renovation will revolutionize the library, enabling us to provide up-to-date services that meet the demands of 21st-century teaching and learning.

Hunter's new Chief Librarian, Daniel Cherubin, will serve as an important adviser throughout the renovation.  Mr. Cherubin is a seasoned library and information manager and consultant with almost two decades of experience in both corporate and non-profit settings, including seven years as senior librarian at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. It has been our pleasure to welcome him to Hunter.

Because the use of new technology is expanding not only in the library but across the entire campus, we are proud to report that Jim Lengel, Visiting Professor at the School of Education, will also serve in the Office of the Provost as Specialist in Educational Technology.  In this capacity, he will expand his role as faculty technology consultant, supporting innovative applications of teaching and learning technology college-wide and playing a substantially increased role in strategic planning.  Building on his successful experience at the School of Education, Professor Lengel will work with the Hunter College Senate to develop guidelines for technology competency.

Finally, I want to remind the entire Hunter community to take advantage of the many cultural events created or sponsored by students, faculty, and alumni of Hunter's celebrated MFA programs, starting with the outstanding exhibit Americanana currently on display at the Leubsdorf Gallery in the West lobby. We want to also congratulate Gary Shteyngart (MFA '02) on the excellent reviews for his new book Super Sad True Love Story and on being named by the New Yorker as one of the nation's 20 best fiction writers under 40. And don't forget to look in the papers on October 12th to see if Hunter Distinguished Professor Peter Carey wins his third Man Booker Prize.

To see this semester's great line-up of events, please visit the following websites: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/creativewriting/calendar.shtml and http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/communications/events.

We wish everyone a happy and successful semester.

Jennifer J. Raab

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