Spring 2006 Open Line

Welcome back to campus. I hope everyone enjoyed a well-deserved spring break and is fully energized for the last leg of the semester. This spring has been full of many exciting events, both on and off campus, and as we approach the end of the semester, the pace is not letting up.

I am pleased to announce that John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate and former senator from North Carolina, will be the keynote speaker and special guest for our Presidential Public Leadership Program. Senator Edwards will be on campus May 10-11 for what promises to be two days of insightful political commentary and interesting discussions on poverty and other social issues. We hope you will find the time to attend the Senator's public address at noon on May 11 in The Kaye Playhouse and that professors will encourage students to come as well.

I. Academic News 

*New Faces on Campus

We are pleased to have Wayne Barrett at Hunter this spring as the first recipient of the Jack Newfield Visiting Professorship in Journalism. Barrett, who was Newfield's longtime partner in investigative journalism, is teaching “Local Political and Investigative Reporting.” Students are learning first-hand about investigative reporting by creating their own version of “The Ten Worst Landlords,” the feature Newfield made famous at the Village Voice. The Voice will publish the final class project. In addition to covering New York for nearly 30 years at the Voice, Barrett is the author of books on Ed Koch, Donald Trump and Rudolph Giuliani. The Jack Newfield Visiting Professorship was established to honor the Hunter alumnus (BA '60) who died in December, 2004. We already have raised more than $150,000 to support this tribute to our distinguished graduate.

Another prominent new faculty member is Aaron Belkin, who comes to Hunter from the University of California at Santa Barbara. A prolific writer, Belkin has authored three books and numerous articles exploring the debates on the gay ban in the U. S. military. Belkin is currently teaching a Sexuality and Public Policy course.

G. Case Willoughby III, the new Director of Advising Services, is working with freshmen and transfer students on advising issues. Case was previously the Director of Academic Achievement at Hostos Community College.

*Travel Grants & Research Fellowships

The new Presidential Travel Award Program has met with great success. The program began as a pilot plan in the '04-'05 academic year with a start-up of $70,000. Funding reached more than $150,000 in the latest round - the most money by far allocated to faculty travel in Hunter history. We received almost 200 applications from eligible faculty members. Congratulations to all of you who received travel awards. We look forward to expanding this important program in the near future.

It also gives me great pleasure to announce that 12 faculty, including three chairs, have been awarded half year/full pay Presidential Fellowship Leaves this year. This is the largest number of half year/full pay Fellowship Leaves in our history. There is nothing more meaningful to scholars than to have the time and support they need to do their work. We are committed to making as many of these awards as possible to qualified scholars and urge all eligible faculty members to consider applying in the future. Many thanks to the Fellowship Leave Subcommittee of the FP&B, ably headed by Marilyn Auerbach of the School of Health Sciences, for vetting this year's applications and for its excellent suggestions for improving the application process. We are delighted to congratulate the following winners of this year's awards and wish them the best of luck in their work:

Chairs: Professor Giuseppe Di Scipio, Romance Languages; Professor Marjorie Honig, Economics; and Professor Paul Mueller, Music.

Faculty: Professor Howard Chernick, Economics; Professor Cheryl Harding, Psychology; Professor Dixie Goss, Chemistry; Professor Laura Keating, Philosophy; Professor Anthony Panzera, Art; Professor Veronica Gregg, Africana & Puerto Rican Studies; Professor Ines Miyares, Geography; Professor Ronnie Ancona, Classical and Oriental Studies, and Christina Taharally, Curriculum & Teaching.

*Roosevelt House Faculty Seminars 

The Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Faculty Seminars on Urban Public Policy were launched in early February, offering colleagues the opportunity to share works in progress. Each week, a faculty member presents a paper and leads a discussion on a wide range of policy issues. Those chosen to participate in this inaugural series are: Joseph P. Viteritti, Urban Affairs & Planning, who is chairing the seminars; Mimi Abramovitz, Social Work; Barbara Berney, Urban Public Health; Anthony P. Browne, Africana & Puerto Rican/Latino Studies; Howard Chernick, Economics; Marianne C. Fahs, Urban Public Health and Brookdale Center on Aging; Nancy Foner, Sociology; Timothy J. Goodspeed, Economics; Jill Simone Gross, Urban Affairs & Planning; Andrew Lund, Film & Media Studies; Jeffrey T. Parsons, Psychology; Purvi Sevak, Economics, and Pamela Stone, Sociology. Supported by private funds, these seminars are expected to become part of the public policy program at Roosevelt House when this landmark building re-opens in 2007 as Hunter’s new policy center.

*Faculty News 

We are delighted to announce that Eva Bellin has been named a 2006 Carnegie Scholar. Professor Bellin was one of 20 scholars chosen by the Carnegie Corporation to study issues relating to Islam and the modern world. She will receive nearly $100,000 to study Islam-centered themes over the next two years. Congratulations to Professor Bellin.

We are also happy to announce that Michael Gitlin has been named a 2006 Guggenheim Fellow. One of the most prestigious fellowships in the arts and sciences, the Guggenheim will support Professor Gitlin’s work on his current project, which he describes as “a kind of ethnographic film about Young Earth Creationists, dealing with philosophy-of-science issues.” Professor Gitlin is one of 187 artists, scholars, and scientists selected by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for this year's awards from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants. Congratulations to Professor Gitlin.

Congratulations are also in order to Emily Braun on winning a 2005 National Jewish Book Award. Braun co-authored Jewish Women and Their Salons: The Power of Conversation with Hunter College High School alumna Emily Bilski. The illustrated book, published by Yale University Press, took the prize in the Visual Art Category. It is based on an exhibition co-curated by Braun and Bilski that premiered at the Jewish Museum in New York last spring and traveled from there to the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College.

To read more about the accomplishments of Hunter’s distinguished faculty, go to http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/news/facultynews.shtml

II. Supporting Students

*Pre-Law Mentoring Program

The Hunter College Pre-Law Mentoring Program kicked off on March 2 with a reception attended by many Hunter alumni, pre-law students and friends in the legal profession. The chair of the newly created Pre-Law Advisory Board, Julie Ross ('83), praised the overwhelming response to the program, part of an effort to provide support to undergraduates interested in becoming lawyers. Guests were treated to an address on “The Limits of Presidential Power in the War on Terrorism” by attorney Philip Lacovara, former counsel to the Watergate Special Prosecutor and former U.S. Deputy Solicitor General. Special thanks go out to Pre-Law Advisor Barbara Landress for her dedicated efforts and to Professors Walter Volkomer and Lynne Greenberg for their support.

*Student Internships

We have just received a $300,000 gift from Hunter alumna Helen Galland Loewus. The money will provide students with stipends to cover their expenses when they take one of the unpaid internships that many companies sponsor during the summer. This generous gift will help students gain the real-world experience they need to pursue their careers. Full-time students who have accepted unpaid internships for this summer and need financial support should email VP of Students Affairs Eija Ayravainen at: Eija.Ayravainen@Hunter.cuny.edu.

*Degree Works 

We are preparing a new Web-based advising tool to assist students, faculty and staff with degree information for graduation.  The system will show students how the courses they have taken have been applied toward their graduation requirements.  It will also show students what courses they need to complete their requirements. More information about this user-friendly advising tool will be posted around campus in the coming months.

*The OneCard 

The Hunter OneCard has arrived on campus. Comparable to a debit card, the OneCard makes it easy for students, faculty, staff and alumni to purchase items on campus. Initially, the OneCard will be used for students' printing needs as the college phases out the Copico card. In the near future, the OneCard will allow the cardholder to make purchases at the college bookstore, cafeteria, and other places on campus. For more information, go to www.hunter.cuny.edu/onecard.

*New Website 

After much feedback from the Hunter community, we have launched the redesigned Hunter College Web site. The new site has clearer and more consistent navigation. It includes new sections for prospective and current students and for faculty, staff, and the community. It also lists all departments and majors and degree tracks. We hope you find it useful, and have provided a link on the homepage for your feedback.

III. Fundraising Activities 

So many people have Hunter mothers (not to mention wives, grandmothers, aunts and sisters) that it sometimes seems as if 99% of all New Yorkers' mothers went to Hunter. To celebrate Hunter mothers and their contributions to family and community, the college last year created a Mother's Day Scholarship Program. More than $400,000 was raised last year, and we expect to match that this year. Gifts of $2,500 and above will once again be acknowledged in a special New York Times advertisement on Mother's Day (Sunday, May 14). Help us reach those whose relatives went to Hunter. Please send their names to Katy McNabb at the Hunter College Foundation Inc., (212) 650-3349 or katherine.mcnabb@hunter.cuny.edu

The Class of 2006 is raising money for a legacy gift to Hunter. This gift, the first of its kind at Hunter, is the perfect way to symbolize the class' connection to students of the past, present and future. It recognizes that every graduating class is part of the larger Hunter community and shares in an enduring commitment to the success of all students. The campaign is asking every 2006 graduate to make a gift of $6.

We have just received a $100,000 gift from one of our own, Professor Cecile Insdorf, to support the Romance Language Film Festival and activities in both the Romance Languages Department and the Chanin Foreign Language Center. A room in the Chanin Center will be renamed the Dr. Cecile Insdorf Foreign Language Screening Room, and a reception honoring Dr. Insdorf will be held there this spring. Dr. Insdorf has devoted more than 30 years to the Department of Romance Languages as a teacher of French literature and film, advisor, and creator of the Romance Languages Film Festival.

IV. Facilities Upgrade 

Earlier this year we asked the deans to assess their departments' equipment needs. We were able to honor most of the requests with the purchase of new furniture, copiers, fax machines, printers, and scanners. More than 100 new computers were bought, and ICIT has been diligently replacing the older models.

We hope you are enjoying the upgrades to the food service and third-floor dining area. Please also note the improvements in the cafeteria at the School of Social Work, which now includes a new self-service coffee kiosk.

We are continuing to upgrade the public spaces on campus. You may have noticed the physical improvements to the West Building as we systemically fix broken windows and replace worn-out carpets with better-looking flooring. We also resurfaced the floor in the B4 Gymnasium.

We have retained the services of Helpern Architects to design a $1.6 million renovation of the heating-ventilation-air-conditioning (HVAC) system for the Animal Facility at 68th Street. The architects are collaborating with the Animal Facility staff, faculty and personnel on the restoration, which is being partially funded with a National Institute of Health grant.

Finally, thanks to a generous $200,000 gift from Hunter alumna and Hunter College Foundation Trustee Helen Galland Loewus, we are pleased to report that the Browser's Lounge on the third floor of the 68th Street Library will receive a much-needed facelift. The improvements will not only create a more appealing gateway to the Library, but also provide greater flexibility for the space. We expect the lounge to open in time for finals in May. We also hope to have a new circulation desk installed by the end of the summer.

V. Events on Campus 

May 10 is certain to be an exciting day at Hunter. In addition to the arrival of Senator John Edwards for the Presidential Public Leadership Program, Hunter's own political scientist Andrew Polsky will deliver the TIAA-CREF lecture, which this year is titled “The American Presidency at War, 1787-2006: Unchecked Power and Political Risk.” Dr. Polsky, whose area of expertise is presidencies in time of war, was selected as this year's TIAA-CREF special guest lecturer. The lecture will begin at 1pm in the Faculty Dining Room.

Please join us on May 4 at 6 p.m. in the Faculty Dining Room for the “poetry blast,” featuring Hunter's renowned poet Tom Sleigh, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and others.

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to look back at some of the extraordinary achievements of the past semester. I am extremely proud of the Provost's and Dean of Students' successful efforts in administering some 1,500 make-up exams in three days at the beginning of this semester. Because of the transit strike, many December final exams were canceled, but with a lot of grit and determination, Hunter students, faculty and administration toughed it out and survived three days without buses and subways. I thank you all for your perseverance and support during such a trying period.

The January 2006 commencement ceremony was an especially inspiring event. Behind the 1,200 diplomas awarded that day were many heartwarming stories of great achievements, often against long odds. The most poignant was the courageous battle of David LaPierre. Despite the ravages of cancer, David insisted on finishing his last three credits from a hospital bed - and earned a grade of A+ in his final Hunter course. Tragically, he died 10 days before graduation. In his memory, we have established the David LaPierre Scholarship for students interested in pursuing careers in cancer research. Congratulations to Albana Thomaraj, the first recipient chosen for this very special award.

Best wishes to all for a happy, successful and productive rest of the spring semester,

Jennifer J. Raab

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