Spring 2004 Open Line

As the semester progresses, I want to highlight some important new developments at Hunter.

Bringing In Resources

Our initiative to attract resources to the College to benefit academic programs and improve facilities is yielding noteworthy results. We are well on track to surpass last year’s Annual Fund total and several of our alums have made substantial gifts.  It is particularly exciting that one of our most generous alums, Evelyn Kranes Kossak (’42), has given over $500,000 to fund the Evelyn Kranes Kossak Endowed Professorship in Art.  This gift will enable us to further strengthen one of our most highly regarded departments and continue to attract top students.  We look forward to announcing the first recipient of the Kossak Chair this spring. 

Other new funds will enrich the college experience for students inside and outside the classroom. A gift of $30,000 from The Charles B. Wang Foundation will provide technology for our special education learning lab, helping to keep Hunter’s School of Education at the forefront of teacher education in New York City.  Thanks to a $10,000 gift from the Frederick Loewe Foundation led by Floria V. Lasky (’42), an introductory theatre class attended a performance of “Drowning Crow” at the Manhattan Theatre Club.  Members of the cast then joined the students back at Hunter for a discussion about the play.  These efforts will be enhanced by our new Acting Executive Director for Development and Alumni Affairs, Betsy Bowman, who joined us in February.  Ms. Bowman’s experience in corporate finance and development, most recently as the director of development for Dress for Success in Fairfield County, makes her well suited to spearhead our fundraising efforts.  She will be leading the Institutional Advancement team in reaching out to a wide range of funding sources, and we anticipate more good news in this area.

We are also beginning to plan for a major capital campaign.  As part of the process, we will be turning to the Hunter community for help in identifying needs and priorities. We will seek your input and thoughts in a variety of forums as we formulate strategy and work to craft a successful initiative.

Faculty & Administration News

I am pleased to report that our faculty ranks are stronger than ever.  Even in this time of budget constraints, we now have more faculty lines filled than at any time since the 1990-1991 academic year.  And our faculty continue to garner recognition for their research and scholarship from prestigious sources.  Three Fulbright awards are among the highlights of the list of outstanding achievements.  Professor Michael Rutenberg of the Theatre Department received support to spend the 2004-2005 academic year in Israel, lecturing as Writer/Artist at the University of Haifa.  Professor Jonathan Shannon of the Department of Anthropology was awarded a Fulbright Regional Grant for the Middle East, where he is currently undertaking ethnographic field research in Syria and Morocco related to historical memory and the construction of musical identities.  Professor Kathleen M. Nokes of the School of Nursing has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar grant to lecture and conduct research at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, for the 2004-2005 academic year. Two faculty members in the School of Social Work have been given distinguished honors.  Professor Mimi Abramovitz won the 2004 Award for Distinguished Recent Contributions in Social Work Education, given by the Council on Social Work Education, and Professor Terry Mizrahi is the recipient of the 2004 Association for Community Organization and Social Administration award for career achievement. You can read about these awards and others on the Web at http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/news/, where we are celebrating faculty honors and achievements.  So much of our faculty’s outstanding work is receiving recognition, as you will see in the announcements of fellowships, scholarly activities, and media appearances.  We encourage you to send information about notable faculty accomplishments to deborah.sack@hunter.cuny.edu.

We are also moving ahead to fill our administrative ranks.  I am delighted to welcome James Blackburn, who joined us at the beginning of the spring semester as the new Dean of the Hunter School of Social Work.  He comes to Hunter from the University of Wisconsin, where he served as the Dean of the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare.  Dean Blackburn not only brings a keen understanding of social work theory, practice and research, but he is also a proven leader with boundless energy.  He exemplifies Hunter’s historic commitment to serve our great city and is committed to deepening the connections at Hunter between the School of Social Work and New York City social- service institutions.  Please join me in welcoming Dean Blackburn to Hunter.

Also on the administrative leadership front, a search for the Dean of the School of Education is currently in progress.  The committee is headed by Professor Vita Rabinowitz, Chair of the Psychology Department. And we have just hired a new principal, Patricia Manchester, for the Hunter College Elementary School.  Ms. Manchester comes to Hunter from the Trinity School on the Upper West Side, where she was the assistant principal of the middle school.  She will begin her new role at Hunter Elementary in September.

Focus on Students

Improving Course Availability

A major priority is investing in student success with a focus on increasing retention and graduation rates.  We have steadily increased the adjunct budget to make more classes available and we are working to make sure students are able to progress smoothly through their course work and complete degrees in a timely manner.  Several steps are being taken to ensure that students get into courses they need to fulfill GER and major requirements.  First, during registration for Spring 2004, we created a Summer Session Priority Waiting List for students who were closed out of a class and indicated an interest in taking that class during the summer.  Students on the list whose designated course is being offered this summer were e-mailed with a priority registration date for Summer Session.  At the same time, we are taking an inventory of classroom space, analyzing space usage, examining the bell schedule, and reviewing classes that were unable to accommodate a heavy demand for seats.  We will use these steps to make adjustments in course offerings and scheduling to best serve students.

Advances in Advising

We are equally concerned with helping students make good decisions about courses and academic direction.  We are implementing the recommendations of the President’s Advisory Task Force on Student Services that was chaired by Professor Joan Tronto. Highlights in this area include an Advising Task Force established by the Provost’s Office with broad representation from academic, student services, and administrative areas.  Streamlined procedures for interoffice referrals have been implemented, and other steps to create a cohesive advising system will be forthcoming.

Also, students will soon have an additional advising resource with the introduction of a new eAdvising Handbook, scheduled to go online this spring.  The electronic handbook will enable students to check their academic progress using the interactive GER and DR checklists; find answers to frequently asked advising questions; review policies and procedures; download information and forms; and link to other Hunter sites.  While eAdvising is not a replacement for one-on-one appointments with Student Services or major department advisors to discuss individual circumstances, it will provide a wealth of information that enables students to make decisions about their academic programs and move ahead purposefully with their course work.

Fellowship Winners

We are extremely proud of Van Tran and Suzanne Barnett, seniors at Hunter who recently received highly competitive fellowships which will provide them with financial support for graduate study.  Van has been awarded the 2004 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He was one of 30 fellows selected from an impressive applicant pool of over 1,000. Van has overcome many hardships in his journey from his native Vietnam to New York, including escaping by boat to Thailand and spending years in refugee camps.  A sociology major at Hunter, Van has just been accepted into Harvard’s doctoral program in sociology and social policy.

Suzanne is one of 44 students selected to receive 2004 Jacob K. Javits Fellowships, which recognize students with superior academic ability, achievement and exceptional promise.  Suzanne was also awarded the prestigious Beinecke Scholarship, providing additional support for graduate work.  Suzanne, a triple major in English, classical studies and the Thomas Hunter Honors Program, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in British literature.

Other students who were recently named as recipients of major awards are: Brendan Buschman-Kelly and Catherine Damavivis (Fulbright Grants for graduate study abroad), Roberta Winters (Beinecke Scholarship for graduate study in the arts, humanities and social sciences), and Alexis-Jon Keeton (Morris K. Udall Scholarship for activities related to the betterment of the environment).  In addition, Hunter led all participating colleges in the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship Program with the following four awardees: Brittany Gleixner, Ron Kagan, Katherine McCarthy, and Sarah Osewalt.

Please join me in congratulating all of our scholarship and fellowship recipients for their exceptional achievements.  We recommend that students keep checking the weekly E-Bulletin from Student Services for announcements of scholarship, fellowship and internship opportunities.

Campus Upgrades

Thanks to generous support from government officials and private donors, we had ribbon-cutting ceremonies at four new laboratories throughout the campuses this past fall.  We opened a new journalism teaching lab and bioanthropology lab here on the 68th street campus, and a new nursing lab and Center for Communications Disorders at Brookdale.  These facilities provide students with state-of-the-art technology allowing us to better train future journalists, researchers and health care professionals and provide our faculty with better research opportunities.

After hearing from students about the physical condition of some offices and lounges used by student organizations, last semester Vice President Leonard Zinnanti and I toured Thomas Hunter Hall with representatives of student government.  We agreed to work together and develop a plan to begin repairs.  We are scraping, plastering and repainting ceilings, fixing windows, patching holes and repairing locks. In addition, new lighting is being installed and many light fixtures are being repaired. We will continue to take the necessary steps to upgrade and maintain Thomas Hunter Hall.


For the first time, Hunter College was included in The Princeton Review’s list of the 351 most connected campuses. The Student Technology Fee continues to keep us on the electronic fast track with new and better services for Hunter students and faculty.  We’ve added more smart classrooms and areas for wireless access and enhanced services to eTranscripts and Webgrade.  The number of faculty using Blackboard, our online course management system, has increased by more than 50% since last spring to a total of 566.

The technology fee provides specific funding that faculty can take advantage of to create technology-driven teaching and learning applications that will benefit students.  The technology fee subcommittee that considers technology proposals has reviewed and agreed to fund seven new proposals that were submitted by a wide range of Hunter departments, including the Library, Russian Studies, Psychology, the Dolciani Mathematics lab, and Student Services.  We encourage faculty to apply for these grants.  For further information, go to:  http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/icit/edutech/techfee.shtml#objectives.

We also want to encourage faculty to go to the Web site we created that details all of the technology improvements and services available to them.  It is located at: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/icit/edutech/.

Bright Lights on Campus

Hunter is dazzling the Upper East Side with events ranging from premieres of new works by world-class musicians to talks by presidential candidates.  We’ve welcomed a wide array of notable scholars, writers, candidates, musicians and others to campus for performances, readings and panel discussions.  Last semester art critic Robert Hughes, Princeton professor Cornel West, opera singer Cecilia Bartoli and former presidential hopeful Wesley Clark were among those who visited the College.   

And there is more to come. This spring jazz composer and Gil Evans protégée Maria Schneider is making Hunter her home, performing four jazz concerts and teaching a master class to Hunter music students.  She will also open many of her rehearsals to students. Ms. Schneider will give her next performance Thursday evening, April 29, in the Kaye Playhouse.  If anyone would like free tickets, please stop by or call the Kaye box office at 212-772-4448.  The MFA Program in Creative Writing series will bring outstanding playwrights, poets and authors to Hunter this semester.  Wallace Shawn kicked off the series on March 9th at the Kaye with a rare public reading of his play The Designated Mourner, and the series concludes with a reading by Toni Morrison on May 20.  And we are very pleased that Andrew Young, former Mayor of Atlanta and United States Ambassador to the United Nations will be the guest for this year’s Presidential Public Leadership Program on April 26.  We encourage Hunter faculty and students to attend these exciting events.   Please check the Hunter College events Web site for more details at: http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/news/events.shtml.

We hope you take an active part in all aspects of life at Hunter – inside the classroom and out – and have a successful and fulfilling conclusion to the semester.

Jennifer J. Raab

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