Spring 2010 Open Line

I want to take this opportunity to wish you a relaxing spring break and to update you on some exciting Hunter College news.

Just last week, former U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke to students, faculty, and special guests at Roosevelt House, where he discussed healthcare, the Supreme Court, and other major topics. President Clinton was on hand to help introduce his former speechwriter, Jeff Shesol, author of a new book on FDR.

This was just one of many recent and upcoming events at Roosevelt House. Though its restoration is still in its final phase, and though we are still planning its official opening, we could not wait to give the world a sneak peek.  Earlier this month, Joe Viteritti, chair of Urban Affairs and Planning, led a discussion on education policy with author and WNYC reporter Beth Fertig. And we hope to see many of you on April 13, when Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz will discuss his new bestseller on the current global financial crisis.

Our first Hunter faculty academic conference at Roosevelt House, an all-day series of panels on 21st-century public policy, was a great success. And at a formal ceremony on February 23, we bestowed honorary Hunter doctorates on Felix Rohatyn, a prominent banker and former U.S. ambassador to France, and Elizabeth Rohatyn, the founder of Teaching Matters, an organization that brings technology education to NYC public schools. Among those on hand to celebrate were former NYC Mayor David Dinkins, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, and special guest speaker Barbara Walters.

Roosevelt House serves as the center of the new Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. We are pleased to welcome human rights expert Dr. Jonathan Fanton and health care activist Dr. John McDonough, our inaugural Joan Tisch Distinguished Fellow in Public Health, as the Institute's first two visiting fellows, each of whom will soon take up residence in one of the House’s two upstairs apartments. Dr. Fanton comes to Hunter from the MacArthur Foundation, where he served as president for 10 years, and Dr. McDonough joins us from Washington, D.C., where he was a senior adviser to the late Senator Ted Kennedy and to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Both are available to meet with faculty and students, in both one-on-one and classroom settings. Please do not hesitate to reach out to them directly at jfanton@hunter.cuny.edu and jmcdonou@hunter.cuny.edu.

Students, we encourage you to learn more about our new minor and certificate programs in public policy, Hunter's newest academic track and the first to be offered through Roosevelt House, by attending open house informational sessions on April 8 and May 3.  You can find more information at: http://www.roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=29. Also, we hope that many of you consider applying for our program in human rights, currently in development.

It is not only Roosevelt House that has turned the public eye toward Hunter College. You have likely already heard that Hunter was voted the #2 "Best Value" public college in the nation by The Princeton Review. This is an extraordinary accomplishment, and one in which every one of us can take enormous pride.  Excellence of both students and faculty is an essential factor in the ranking process – so it is no surprise that we placed so high on the list.

As you know, Hunter College has embarked on a strategic planning process that will help us plan for an even brighter future. As a first step, we urge the whole community to join us at a special Senate meeting on April 7th at 3:30pm in Room 714 West, where we will discuss strategic planning for the college. To assist us in our efforts, we have retained a consulting firm, Anthony Knerr & Associates, which has supported similar efforts at Queens College, Baruch, and SUNY.

We are also making progress on several dean searches. We have begun identifying a number of outstanding candidates for the positions of dean of the School of Education and chief librarian, and we hope to announce a final list by the end of the semester. We thank Dr. Sherryl Browne Graves for her leadership as acting dean of the School of Education as we seek to replace David Steiner, who recently became New York State Education Commissioner. We also want to recognize Clay Williams for his outstanding service as acting chief librarian.

Changes large and small are taking place on every Hunter campus. Those of you at Brookdale will have noticed the newly paved walkway and the new bike racks. Those at 68th Street will see continued improvements made to the West Building lobby, including a new Visitors' Center, as well as the long-awaited renovations of Thomas Hunter Hall. We will continue to update you as projects progress.

As always, we want to remind our students that making your education accessible and affordable is our top priority, especially in these difficult economic times.  Scholarships and other resources continue to be available for students with a wide variety of needs and circumstances. We urge you to talk to Student Services about assistance opportunities even if you do not think you qualify.

Finally, please be sure to regularly check the Hunter website and the screens around campus for news on exciting upcoming events – such as our evening of poetry on April 21 with Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney, on whom we will bestow an honorary degree. Hunter's Peter Carey will read from his own work as well on May 12. Click here to make your reservations for these events: https://ww3.hunter.cuny.edu/special-events/view.php?id=17.

Thank you all for your dedication to Hunter.  We wish you a wonderful spring break.

Jennifer J. Raab

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