Spring 2005 Open Line
As the spring semester progresses, I want to keep you current on exciting happenings and noteworthy accomplishments at Hunter.
Capital Campaign Planning
For the first time in Hunter’s 135-year history, we are poised to embark on a five-year, $50 million capital campaign for Hunter College. The campaign will support the following essential priorities of the college: upholding the highest academic standards, increasing financial support for students, attracting and retaining outstanding faculty members, creating new and innovative academic programs, and building and maintaining state-of-the-art facilities for Hunter College.
We have spent the past few months in the planning stages of the campaign and are making tremendous progress. Hunter has retained Community Counselling Service Co., Inc. (CCS), a consulting firm with extensive experience with universities and institutions of higher education, to advise us in this process. They have conducted a Feasibility and Planning Study with over thirty alums and friends of the college to gauge the level of support for such a major endeavor. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Not only is there strong support for a campaign amongst the alumni and other major constituents, there is also a core group of enthusiastic supporters willing to take critical leadership roles in the campaign. We are continuing to recruit such leaders as their support will be vital to the success of the campaign.
As part of this process, we also are continuing to reach out to our entire alumni base, many of whom have not been involved with Hunter in recent years, to re-introduce them to the amazing resources and networks that Hunter has to offer. In the coming months and years, we hope they will visit our campus more frequently, meet our current students and faculty, and, most importantly, join us in creating a lasting legacy for Hunter College.
We will continue to seek the community’s input as we move forward with the campaign.
New Board Directors
A strong Foundation Board is critical to the success of our fundraising efforts. Therefore, we are happy to announce the addition of two directors to the Hunter College Foundation Board of Trustees: Suzanne Santry, former co-chair of the Brookdale Board of Overseers and currently a member of the Breast Cancer Research Advisory Committee, and Tracey G. Riese, a Hunter College High School alumna and the founder of T.G. Reise & Associates, a branding and communications consulting firm. While both will serve the foundation at large, Suzanne’s outreach will promote support for the Schools of the Health Professions, and Tracey will champion the Campus Schools.
Major Gifts Highlights
Our fundraising is off to an impressive start. A ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 8 marked the naming of the Dr. Murray and Anna C. Rockowitz Writing Center, made possible by a $500,000 gift from Hunter alum Anna C. Rockowitz (’39). Established in memory of Mrs. Rockowitz’s late husband, Dr. Murray Rockowitz, and housed within Hunter’s Reading/Writing Center, the facility helps to build and refine students’ writing skills through one-on-one tutorial services, workshops, and computer-assisted instruction. Along with Mrs. Rockowitz and her two sons, we were joined by officials from the Mayor’s Office and CUNY to open the college’s newest resource aimed at supporting student success.
Among other significant contributions is a $300,000 gift from The Frederick Loewe Foundation, headed by Hunter Alum Floria Lasky (’41), that will allow us to turn the Frederick Loewe Theatre into a state-of-the-art facility. We also received a $100,000 gift from Roger and Susan Hertog (’65) to establish the Hertog Fellowship Program, which will provide students in our MFA in Creative Writing Program with courses and opportunities to develop their research skills. The Grove Foundation has committed $100,000 for scholarships in the School of Health Sciences that will support students in the Medical Lab Sciences and in Community Health Education. A $50,000 gift from Harriet Gruber (’42) will support the work of the Theatre Department to create much needed rehearsal space for student productions.
Jack Newfield Program
In honor of Hunter alum and noted journalist Jack Newfield (’60), we are pleased to launch the fundraising drive for the Jack Newfield Program in the Film & Media Department, which will help establish a visiting professorship and support other activities in Jack’s memory. We received the first $25,000 to begin this campaign and a major kick-off event is planned for May.
Mother’s Day Scholarship Program
So many people have Hunter mothers, wives, grandmothers, aunts and sisters that we sometimes think 99% of all New Yorkers’ mothers went to Hunter. To celebrate Hunter mothers and their contributions to both family and community, the college has created a Mother's Day Scholarship Program for current and future students. Over $300,000 has already been raised for the program. Gifts of $2,500 and above will be acknowledged in a special New York Times advertisement on Mother’s Day-Sunday, May 8th, 2005. Help us reach those whose relatives went to Hunter. Please send the names to Katy McNabb at the Hunter College Foundation, Inc. at (212) 650-3349 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We have raised and are continuing to raise public and private funds to renovate some of our most cherished spaces.
Thomas Hunter Hall
Thomas Hunter Hall is a more inviting hub for student life on campus thanks to a cooperative effort by the administration and the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). We have joined forces to provide approximately $140,000 in upgrades to this New York City landmark that carries the name of the college’s founder. Improvements to student club and resource center spaces include new furniture and flooring, fresh paint, window treatments, shelving, and lighting repairs. We thank Assemblyman Jonathan Bing, along with one of our devoted alums, for generously contributing the funds needed to refurbish the Student Lounge. This first phase of renovations has created a more usable, warmer, and friendlier environment for meetings and other student activities. We are also working on a major drive to raise money to renovate the beautiful exterior of the building. We will continue to ensure that this distinctive building is a comfortable and attractive center for student life.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held in the fall to mark the start of the renovation of the Frederick Loewe Plaza. The renovation is being funded by public and private funds from the generous support of Councilwoman Moskowitz and the Loewe Foundation. Major construction work has been scheduled for the summer to minimize the intrusion on campus life and activities. When completed, the Loewe Plaza will feature handicap-accessible ramps, benches, plantings and will serve as an area for the entire Hunter community.
Animal Research Facility
We are also working on plans for the renovation of the Animal Research Facility. A consultant was retained to perform a needs assessment and meet with an internal committee of faculty users, and an architect is in the process of being hired. We have requested $1 million in state capital funds for the project, which will also be supported by $620,000 in funding from an NIH grant. The first stage of renovation will involve reconstructing the troublesome HVAC system.
Organic Chemistry Laboratory
We’re moving forward with the renovation of the organic chemistry lab on the 14th floor of Hunter’s North Building. An architectural firm has been retained to perform a needs assessment and a working group of faculty and staff convened by the Dean of Arts and Sciences has been providing input regarding the needs of the new facility. The project is being funded by the substantial contributions of Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and Councilmember Eva Moskowitz, who together are providing $1 million toward the project.
Improving support for faculty research and scholarship is a top concern, and we are pleased to introduce a “pilot” presidential grant program that provides funds for faculty participation in conferences, professional meetings, and research-related travel. The deans have already allocated over $50,000. We hope to show the positive impact of this type of support on faculty scholarship and to institutionalize this pilot by integrating this program into the college’s capital campaign plans.
In an effort to ensure that faculty and staff are aware of the campus resources available to them, we have started a faculty and staff e-bulletin. It will be sent out once a month and will include information about upcoming events, workshops, research and grant opportunities, and other faculty and staff news. This is similar to the student e-bulletin Student Services has sent out for the past year, which has received positive feedback. If you have a news item for the e-bulletin, please e-mail email@example.com by the 25th of each month.
Focus On Students
Retention is an important and ongoing priority of the administration and we are beginning to see results. Our guiding principle has been that all aspects of the Hunter experience influence whether a first-time freshman or transfer student will stay at the college to earn a Hunter degree. Getting into needed and desired courses, having those courses taught by outstanding faculty, having access to scholarship funds, getting advisement that facilitates individual development and sound academic choices, taking care of administrative business smoothly, and spending time in an environment that is supportive, stimulating and attractive--all of these elements play a part in student satisfaction and success. We will issue a statement to the Hunter College community on our retention efforts in the next few weeks.
As part of our retention efforts we are implementing a new electronic resource that will help students make sound academic choices. DegreeWorks is an automated system that students can use to track their progress through the GER, major, and other graduation requirements. In addition to providing a quick picture of where a student stands in pursuit of a degree, DegreeWorks will allow students to pose “what if” scenarios to help make decisions about a major and career direction. We anticipate more productive advising sessions, more purposeful course selection, and improved graduation rates once DegreeWorks is in place.
The initial phase is currently underway and involves working with an outside contractor to “translate” the undergraduate and graduate catalogs into information that is programmable. This Herculean task is being tackled by an equally stalwart task force of dedicated representatives from the college’s key academic and administrative areas. The Registrar’s Office is leading the way. After rounds of review and training of Hunter staff to update the system, DegreeWorks will be tested with groups of students, advisors and faculty before it goes “live.”
Alumni Mentoring Program
Broadening horizons and opportunities for students--always at the top of our agenda--is happening in a new and exciting way through our Alumni Mentoring Program. Begun as a pilot during the Spring 2004 semester and expanded this past fall, the program connects alums with our remarkable students to the benefit of all involved. Here’s a sample of what’s happening: A PR executive took her student mentee to an industry conference; a student shadowed his mentor and production staff in the offices of a commercial television production company; another mentor/student pair attended a jazz performance at Hunter together, the first campus cultural event for the student. In addition to these experiences, conversations over lunch, e-mails and telephone calls are designed to help students explore and clarify academic and professional paths, and work through the concerns and rough spots of college. In the process, students build special relationships with Hunter graduates and friends of the college who have achieved success in a wide range of fields.
The rewards for the mentors are equally large. The satisfaction of helping one of our bright and determined students fulfill her/his goals is priceless, and along the way, alums reconnect with Hunter in a new and meaningful way. The program is growing and we are looking for more alums to come on board. Alumni who are interested in learning more about the Mentoring Program should contact Betsy Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students who are interested in having a mentor should contact Eunice Lewis-Broome at email@example.com.
South Africa Exchange Program
Hunter is proud to have participated in a unique exchange program with the University of Cape Town (UCT) during January 2005--the first exchange program of a CUNY college with a South African university. Led by program director and Hunter professor Larry Shore, this was different from the typical “island exchange program” where visiting students and faculty are isolated from the local students and faculty. Instead, the program was a partnership with combined classes and joint faculty from both universities. Twenty Hunter creative writing and film students and Hunter professors Tami Gold (Film & Media) and Jenefer Shute (English) went to South Africa to join UCT students and faculty in the program. The connections our students made and the experiences they shared inspired their creativity in writing and documentary film. The Hunter community was able to learn more about the program and see some of the students’ films and writing projects at a Presidential Roundtable and a student documentary showcase in April.
Hunter College High School Students Excel
Students from Hunter High continue to demonstrate that they are the best and brightest young minds in the city. David Bauer, a senior, earned top honors in the Intel Science Talent Search, winning the first place prize and a $100,000 scholarship for developing a sensor that detects exposure to toxic agents. Bauer, who competed against 39 other finalists from around the country, is New York City’s first winner in eight years. His project was inspired by September 11 and he hopes that it will one day provide the city with an immediate way of detecting a bioterrorist attack. Kirill Skok, a junior, was one of two New York City students to receive a perfect score of 2400 on the new SAT exam that was administered for the first time in March.
Hunter Part of Gates Foundation Early College Initiative
We are proud to be on the leading edge of the nationwide Early College movement, an initiative promoted and substantially supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Manhattan Hunter Science High School (M(HS)2), a collaboration between the college and the NYC Department of Education, is hitting its stride in its second year of operation. Under the leadership of a dynamic and forward-looking new principal, Susan Kreisman, the school is immersing students in a science-focused curriculum that will prepare them to meet the rigorous demands of college-level courses and the challenges of science-related careers. Located in Martin Luther King, Jr. High School on West 66th Street, M(HS) 2 welcomes applicants from all boroughs who are performing at or just below grade level and have expressed an interest in science.
Representatives from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and Jobs for the Future, both Early College support organizations, praised our progress at a recent professional development day, where the high school/college collaboration was in full swing. Professors Frank Gardella, Steve Greenbaum, Vita Rabinowitz, Tamara Buckley, Karen Philips, Adriane Alae, and Peggy Chen attended sessions with high school teachers. They, along with Hunter professors Shirley Raps, Gary Quigley and Marilyn Rothschild, are involved in designing learning sequences that infuse the scientific method in all subject areas and articulate with Hunter’s science courses. By the 11th grade, students will receive the support and knowledge base needed to succeed in courses at Hunter, and will have the opportunity to graduate with 30 college credits.
The partnership has already progressed beyond faculty consultation. This semester, six M(HS)2 students are taking courses on Hunter’s campus; three are studying anthropology with Professor Michael Steiper; and three are enrolled in Professor Ezra Shahn’s course in genetics. In addition, Professor Maria Ojeida travels to the high school site to teach a Spanish 105 class for 33 M(HS)2 students. Also, along with helping the high school faculty with history curriculum, Professor Jack Salzman is involving several high school students in his photographic/oral history project in New York City neighborhoods. These opportunities will expand in future semesters.
We are especially excited about the prospect of well-prepared M(HS)2 graduates flowing into our MARC and MBRS programs and other courses of study in the sciences. And we have good reason for excitement: The New York City Science Expo has just accepted proposals from 16 M(HS)2 students for 300 slots, and asked for revisions from 9 others, clear evidence that we are grooming premier scientists and medical professionals for the city and beyond.
Luminaries on Campus
We hope that students and faculty are enriching their educational experience this semester by attending events that bring notable figures from the worlds of government, academia, business, and the arts to Hunter. We were pleased to have Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, on campus for two days in March as part of the Presidential Public Leadership Program, an annual forum funded by our generous alum Mel Tukman (’61). Governor Whitman participated in several seminars and open forums that gave our students and the larger community the opportunity to interact directly with her and learn about her experience in government.
We are sponsoring a series on Democracy and U.S. Foreign Policy with the Foreign Policy Association and the National Endowment for Democracy. Former Congressman Dick Gephardt gave the inaugural lecture in March, and this evening in the Kaye Playhouse, Azar Nafisi, the author of “Reading Lolita in Tehran” will continue the series with a talk about “Women, Culture, Human Rights: The Case of Iran.” The event is free and we hope you will attend.
An outstanding line-up of prize-winning authors are visiting our campus throughout the semester as part of the Spring 2005 Distinguished Writer Series. We hope you will join us on Thursday, April 21 for a reading by Jhumpa Lahiri (Pulitzer Prize). In May, Jean Valentine (National Book Award for Poetry) will read from her work. An evening of special note is a tribute to Nobel Prize-winning poet Czeslaw Milosz on Friday, April 22, presented in collaboration with the PEN American Center and the Poetry Society of America.
The New York Times continues its TimesTalks series here at Hunter on May 9 when Maureen Dowd will interview Joseph Lelyveld, former Times executive editor, about his new book, “Omaha Blues: Memory Loop.” A limited number of free tickets are available.
To find out more about these and other exciting happenings on campus this semester, visit the Hunter College events Web site at www.hunter.cuny.edu/events.
We hope that all of you--students, faculty, staff, and alumni--take advantage of everything Hunter has to offer, and participate as full partners in creating a rich academic environment.
Best wishes for a successful semester and good luck on your exams,
Jennifer J. Raab