Fall 2013 Open Line

On behalf of the entire Hunter College administration, welcome to the 2013-14 school year at Hunter College.

We were happy to see so many of you join us earlier this month for the official reopening of the third floor of Hunter's main library - soon to be known as the Leon and Toby Cooperman Library, thanks to the Coopermans' extraordinary $25 million gift to Hunter, the largest in Hunter's history. Fifteen million dollars of the gift will go directly toward the library renovation, and the remaining $10 million will fund student scholarships. The Wall Street Journal published a lovely article about the Coopermans, who met as undergraduates in Hunter's Class of 1964: http://online.wsj.com/article/AP82b29635f61e4ede876c5fd60c7b1fcb.html?KEYWORDS=hunter.

This gift is further proof of the Coopermans' dedication to transforming student lives. When we proposed our idea several years ago for an undergraduate pre-business program, Leon not only provided the funding, but also mentored students in the program. He and Toby are wonderful representatives of the Hunter motto that graces the entrance to the Cooperman Library: Mihi Cura Futuri, "The Care of the Future is Mine."

The third floor reopening is a major step toward the achievement of our principal goal: a library reimagined for the 21st century. It has been rewarding to see our vision become a reality and to witness students already enjoying the reopened floor - now a beautiful, spacious, high-tech meeting and study area. So many friends and supporters in addition to the Coopermans have contributed generously to the renovation, reflecting their passionate commitment to the Hunter mission. In many cases, contributions have been a meaningful way to acknowledge the vital role Hunter has played in the lives of the donors and their loved ones. For example, the third floor's Kagan Study Center, given by Paul Kagan '58, commemorates the great tradition of Kagans at Hunter College. Like Paul, his late brother Sheldon '56 and sister Bea '69 graduated from Hunter. Bernard Spitzer and his sons chose to donate the Anne Spitzer Reading Room, also on the third floor, in honor of their wife and mother, who just retired after a decade as a literature instructor in Hunter's School of Continuing Education. Philanthropist Eugene Lang donated the already-popular study center and lounge named for his sister Barbara '57. And the floor's centerpiece - the Gilder-Tirschwell Information Commons, a state-of-the-art welcome and information area - was donated by Richard Gilder in honor of his sister Peggy Tirschwell, Hunter's assistant provost.

We are grateful to the members of the Library Task Force, including co-chairs Barbara Berney and Christa Acampora, for creating a visionary strategic plan.  Rick Chandler and Andy Silver have expertly led Hunter's facilities team and spent countless hours ensuring the project's success. The devotion of our talented architect, Calvert Wright, knows no bounds, and Hunter's own Anne Asher has gone beyond the call of duty to guarantee the realization of his vision. And of course, our great thanks to Hunter Foundation Chair Lisa Witten and the Hunter Board for their tremendous efforts to ensure the success of the renovation, which is being done almost entirely through private donations.

We hope to begin the next phase of renovation -- the sixth and seventh floors - by the end of the semester. The seventh floor will become the Silverstein Student Success Center, made possible by the $5 million gift from Larry Silverstein and his children in honor of their wife and mother, Klara ('54, MA '56), member and former chair of the Hunter College Foundation. The center will transform Hunter's student support system by consolidating and enlarging our learning and tutoring centers, creating a home for our pre-professional programs for the very first time, and providing a new lecture hall. A wonderful library for the School of Education and a new home for Hunter's Macaulay Honors College will be among the features of the sixth floor.

The overall landscape of Hunter is also expanding.  A $10 million donation will allow us to acquire 149 East 67th Street as an addition to the main campus. This 26,000-square-foot building is currently home to the Kennedy Child Study Center, a nonprofit agency that assists young children with learning and developmental difficulties. We are pleased that the Kennedy Center is relocating a block from our East Harlem complex, which will allow us to expand our work with the school. We will announce additional details on the gift and intended use of the new property in the months ahead.

Hunter's campus is also expanding downtown. Students and faculty in our studio art programs have just moved into their phenomenal new home at 205 Hudson Street in Tribeca, which includes state-of-the-art classrooms and exhibition spaces, 150 studios for MFA students, and a 5,000-square-foot art gallery on the ground floor.

Next year, a number of Hunter scientists will move to a floor purchased by Hunter in Weill Cornell Medical College's new Science Research Center. The move is a continuation of our ongoing research collaboration with Weill Cornell via our participation in the Clinical and Translational Science Center, an Upper East Side medical and research consortium, and will enhance our growth in the fields of science and health research.

Nothing crystallizes that growth more than our collaboration with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) to build a major health and science research complex on 74th Street and FDR Drive. It will strengthen Hunter's already-strong partnership with MSK and enable greater interaction among researchers and practitioners in different science and health-related fields.

After a successful public hearing, the Community Board voted to approve the plans, and reviews by the Manhattan Borough President and City Planning Commission are now complete. Pending final approval from the City Council in October, construction will begin in 2014. We are grateful to the many students and faculty members who have represented Hunter and testified on behalf of the project at public hearings, the Council, and other community forums.

Hunter's School of Nursing and physical therapy programs are working closely with MSK and building planners to plan outstanding, state-of-the-art facilities in the new complex, where they will move once construction is complete. In the meantime, the School of Nursing's influence as one of New York City's most vital centers of health training, research, and practice continues to grow. We are excited to announce a $750,000 grant from the William Randolph Hearst Foundations to endow the Hearst Chair in Gerontology, the second Hearst chair at the School. The endowment will significantly enhance our already outstanding work in elder care by expanding and diversifying our adult-gerontology faculty, curricula, and collaborations with hospitals and medical schools.

The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College continues to strengthen its ties with the East Harlem community through collaborations with vital social service agencies. Applications have once again gone up, and will no doubt increase even more as Dean Jacqueline Mondros moves ahead with plans to develop a BSW program at the School. We are also pleased to welcome to the East Harlem complex the new Dean of the Hunter College School of Urban Public Health, Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes, who will also serve as dean of the CUNY School of Public Health. Dr. El-Mohandes is a pediatrician and award-winning researcher of infant mortality in minority populations. The recipient of MSc and MD degrees from Cairo University and an MPH in epidemiology/biostatistics from George Washington University, he comes to Hunter from the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he served as dean.

Together, Deans Mondros and El-Mohandes will ensure that both schools continue to improve the lives of the underserved East Harlem community. As always, they are joined in this endeavor by Hunter's School of Education and its dean, David Steiner. School of Education students and faculty are already engaged in programs at a number of neighborhood schools, such as the "I Have a Dream" project at P.S. 7, right across the street from the Hunter complex. The School is also taking a leadership role in developing strategies to meet New York State's new teacher training standards. One new requirement is a video performance assessment - inspired by a student teacher videotaping program created at Hunter under the leadership of Dean Steiner.

Dean Steiner's experience as the state's former education commissioner was also invaluable to our launch over the summer of the CUNY Institute of Education Policy at Roosevelt House, which has already become one of the city's leading centers of non-partisan debate and discussion concerning issues in K-20 education. You can read more about the Institute and its programs at http://roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu/ciep.

Roosevelt House has yet another remarkable line-up of guest speakers this semester. Among them are legendary singer Judy Collins, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer A. Scott Berg, renowned art critic Deborah Solomon, and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the president of Liberia. We are also looking forward to the next two installments in our Tina Santi-Flaherty Winston Churchill Literary Series. Churchill's great-grandson Randolph will speak at Hunter in October, followed in December by Churchill biographer Paul Reid.  For a complete list of these and other upcoming Roosevelt House public events, please visit http://www.roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu/programs.

We are pleased to welcome three new faculty members to Roosevelt House this semester. Dr. Richard Jackson, who joins us after five years as chair of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA's School of Public Health, has been named the fourth Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Public Health. Go to http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/communications/pressroom/news/dr.-richard-jackson-to-be-fourth-joan-h.-tisch-distinguished-fellow-in-public-health to read more about Dr. Jackson and the Joan H. Tisch Legacy Project. Our undergraduate certificate programs at Roosevelt House also have new leaders at the helm. Dr. Shyama Venkateswar, who has over 15 years of experience in research, policy, and advocacy focusing on social justice issues, both in the U.S. and globally, is now serving as Director of the Public Policy Program.  And Lawrence Moss, a prominent figure in the human rights movement for 35 years and a former representative of Human Rights Watch at the United Nations, is the new Rita E. Hauser Director of the Human Rights Program.

They are among 31 new full-time faculty members joining the Hunter family this semester. They include specialists in geographic information science, Islamic intellectual history and Middle Eastern politics, international political economics, social welfare policy, and neurobiological and molecular approaches to traumatic memories. New faculty in our professional schools include experts in high-performing urban public high schools, the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), environmental health and infectious disease, gene expressions for cancer, and social entrepreneurship and innovation in community-based programs. We are excited to welcome them all.

We are pleased as well to introduce Dr. Howard Singerman, the new Phyllis and Joseph Caroff Chair in Fine Arts. Dr. Singerman, a leading scholar of contemporary art, joins us from the University of Virginia, where he also served as chair of the art department.

Dr. Singerman arrives at a particularly special moment for art at Hunter. An exhibit of works of famed artist William Anastasi, which will include several site-specific pieces, will open on October 3 at Hunter's Leubsdorf Gallery. As always, Hunter MFA students and professors will play an active role in curating and coordinating the show. An accompanying symposium, co-sponsored with the Museum of Modern Art, will be held on October 18 at our new MFA building at 205 Hudson St.

Scottish artist Lucy McKenzie will be featured this fall at Hunter's Artist's Institute on the Lower East Side (http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/art/galleries/the-artists-institute). Affiliated events at the Artist's Institute will include a panel discussion on the effects of mass-market fashion production, co-sponsored with the Human Rights Program at Roosevelt House.

This promises to also be another stellar semester for our MFA program in Creative Writing. This fall's participants in our Distinguished Writers Series include Colm Toibin, Eve Ensler, Augusten Burroughs, Joyce Carol Oates, Victoria Redel - and Hunter's own Colum McCann, who will read from his new novel on October 23. (To RSVP for Professor McCann's reading, please contact spevents@hunter.cuny.edu or 212-772-4007.) Here's the complete line-up: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/creativewriting/calendar.shtml.

Hunter's rapid growth and ongoing success in the arts is evident in the Mellon Foundation's $500,000 grant for the continuation of our Arts Across the Curriculum pilot initiative. We are grateful to Professor Rebecca Connor for her outstanding leadership of this unique program and encourage everyone, regardless of your course of study or areas of expertise, to visit http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/artsacrossthecurriculum to learn how to participate.

But nothing is more exciting than the prospect of what lies ahead for the nearly 4,000 freshmen and transfer students entering Hunter this fall. This truly outstanding class includes - just to name a few - a singer from the Metropolitan Opera choir, the winner of a State Department grant to study in Russia, and young scientists who have already conducted research at Cold Spring Harbor and Rockefeller University.

We are pleased to welcome every new and transfer student to Hunter, and invite all of you to attend Wednesday's 1pm convocation ceremony in the auditorium, with a street fair to follow. We hope that returning students and faculty come out as well to show support and introduce yourselves to the newest members of the Hunter family.

Finally, I want to thank everyone involved in the successful implementation of CUNYfirst, our new integrated information management system. Its implementation has required an enormous amount of training and work and the participation and cooperation of the entire Hunter community. While challenges remain, we are enormously proud of how hard our team has worked and how well we have performed in making these transitions so that we can better serve our students, faculty, and staff. For help with CUNYfirst issues, we ask that faculty and staff contact Acting Chief Information Officer Mitch Ahlbaum (mahlbaum@hunter.cuny.edu) or Acting Associate Provost Brian Duffy (bd140@hunter.cuny.edu), and that students contact Brian Maasjo, Director of Advising, at brian.maasjo@hunter.cuny.edu or 212-772-4881.

We hope all of you will be engaged in the Hunter community this year. Please check your Hunter emails, your MyHunter page, Hunter's many Twitter feeds (including @Hunter_College and @HunterPresident), Hunter's Facebook and Flickr pages, our interactive online events calendar (hunter.cuny.edu/calendar), the campus video screens, and the entire Hunter College website to keep informed of College news and the wide array of events happening on campus. And don't hesitate to contact me (president@hunter.cuny.edu) with any questions you may have. We wish you all the best for a productive year.

Jennifer J. Raab

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