Spring 2013 Open Line
As spring finally appears, and the 2012-13 school year enters its final weeks, it is my pleasure to update you on what has made the year so special, and some of the exciting things still to come.
The unfortunate news of the past year – Hurricane Sandy – also brought about our greatest source of pride: the generosity and dedication of Hunter supporters, who contributed over $100,000 to provide emergency grants and loans to students, faculty, and staff members who suffered loss. The donations also helped us rebuild our Brookdale campus, where our physical therapy facilities and medical lab science classes are up and running again alongside the previously restored nursing facilities, student dorms, and other Brookdale programs. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the restoring of Brookdale and to the support of those in need.
Despite the hurricane, the programs at Brookdale had great reason to celebrate this year. In a formal press conference last September, Mayor Bloomberg announced Hunter’s groundbreaking partnership with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) and our joint plans to build a spectacular health and science research complex on 74th Street and FDR Drive. The complex will be the new home of our School of Nursing and our physical therapy program, as well as science research labs, marking the successful conclusion of more than a decade of intensive efforts to build a new nursing school and to provide Hunter scientists with facilities commensurate with the quality and standards of their cutting-edge research. The project also promises to strengthen Hunter’s already-strong partnership with MSK by facilitating collaborative research and innovative initiatives, and to enable greater interaction among researchers and practitioners in different science and health-related fields. In his “State of the City” address on February 14, the mayor included the project as one of a handful of educational/scientific partnerships that position the city as a leader in health care and job creation. You can read the full address here: http://on.nyc.gov/XPvZjH .
We have completed the environmental survey and initial land use certification, and the public review process is underway. The first public hearing is scheduled for May 8, to be followed by a Community Board vote. Reviews by the Manhattan Borough President, City Planning Commission, and City Council will be completed by the end of June, August, and October, respectively. If the project is approved, construction is scheduled to begin in 2014, with estimated completion in 2018.
The provost’s office is working closely with the administration and faculty at Brookdale on relocation plans, and with Hunter scientists on planning our expansion in the coming months into the 4th floor of a new medical research building at Weill Cornell Medical College -- another major project that will also greatly enhance Hunter’s ability to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge science and healthcare research and training. In addition to opening up unprecedented opportunities for Hunter scientists to conduct state-of-the-art research, the new space will allow us to play an even more central role in the Clinical and Translational Science Center, an Upper East Side multi-institutional medical and research consortium led by Weill Cornell.
We will not have to wait long for two other major openings. Work on the new space for Hunter’s MFA and BFA programs in Studio Art at 205 Hudson Street in Tribeca is almost complete. Faculty and staff will move in over the summer and be ready to welcome students at the start of the fall semester. The state-of-the-art classrooms, exhibition spaces, studios, and – especially – the eventual opening of the 5,000 square-foot ground-floor gallery will further cement Hunter’s reputation as one of New York’s top training grounds for young artists, curators, and art historians.
And, perhaps most exciting of all, on June 18, we will cut the ribbon to officially re-open the 3rd (and main) floor of the Hunter library, a major milestone for our $45 million library renovation project. Among its new features are the high-tech Gilder Tirschwell Information Commons, beautiful reading rooms, and a diner-like study room. Planning is well underway for the 7th floor Student Success Center, made possible by the extraordinary $5 million gift from Klara and Larry Silverstein. It will include the Dolciani Math Learning Center, the Skirball Science Learning Center, the Rockowitz Writing Center, a lecture hall, and new space for our pre-professional advising programs.
Our pre-law program gained widespread attention earlier this semester when we hosted a discussion about the high-profile lawsuits against the NFL brought by former players with brain injuries. The discussion, a successful fundraiser for the pre-law program, was led by two distinguished Hunter alumni: the plaintiffs’ counsel Christopher Seeger (‘87) and defense attorney Sheila Birnbaum (‘62). It was moderated by renowned law professor and television personality Arthur R. Miller.
Another acclaimed recent event was our Presidential Leadership Symposium on Dwight Eisenhower, sponsored by Roosevelt House. The brainchild of Hunter Professor of Political Science Andrew Polsky, an expert in presidential history, the event added to Roosevelt House’s growing legacy as a major center of historic discussion, debate, and re-evaluation. Among the guests were Eisenhower’s granddaughter Anne and his grandson David, who opened the symposium. You can see video from the conference here: www.roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu/events/ike-reconsidered-lessons-from-the-eisenhower-legacy-for-the-21st-century.
Roosevelt House was recognized in a PBS “Treasures of New York” documentary dedicated to the house, its history and renovation, and Hunter’s role in both its past and future incarnations. For information about other events planned at the House this semester, please visit www.roosevelthouse.hunter.cuny.edu/programs.
Hunter and its faculty have also continued to make local and national headlines. To name just a few recent examples: Last month, The Wall Street Journal published an article and online video detailing Professor of Biology Paul Feinstein and Hunter neurobiologist Charlotte D’Hulst’s development of genetically modified mice able to detect TNT and thereby help safely find and clear dangerous landmines: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323293704578330040834865974.html. Hiroshi Matsui, chair of Hunter’s chemistry department, led a team that developed a new molecular motor that requires no input of energy – a major breakthrough for green biotechnology: www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/2012/10/molecular-self-propulsion-mofs.
Distinguished Professor of Art History Emily Braun received worldwide attention when a collection she curated, Leonard Lauder’s trove of Cubist art worth more than $1 billion, was promised to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/04/09/arts/design/met-cubist.html.
Professor of Anthropology Christopher Gilbert helped discover a new species of monkey – the first such discovery in 28 years. And Hunter’s year-and-a-half-old Silberman School of Social Work building at East 119th Street and Third Avenue was cited by The New York Times as a major cause of the revitalization of East Harlem: www.nytimes.com/2013/03/20/realestate/commercial/developers-are-making-bets-on-a-rising-east-harlem.html?pagewanted=all.
Our early efforts to improve East Harlem’s social and health conditions recently inspired the New York City Council and Speaker Christine Quinn to contribute $200,000 toward the creation of our new Food Policy Center. The Center will help create effective policy, reduce food disparity, and make Hunter even more essential to the public health and welfare of our city.
Hunter is also expanding its reach as a leader in teacher training. The School of Education has launched two new programs in partnership with New Visions for Public Schools: a principal training program that welcomed its first students this semester, and a math-and-science teacher residency program, funded by the National Science Foundation, that will start in the fall. And we are proud that, in the latest round of New York State teacher certification exams, the School of Education outperformed all other public schools of education in New York City in the majority of subjects.
Our School of Nursing students also received superlative marks on their qualifying exams. Our 2012 NCLEX-RN pass rate was 95.9% -- a testament to the success of new programs designed to prepare our students and graduates for the exam.
Finally, we want to call your attention to two major initiatives already affecting the Hunter community. This fall, we will launch the CUNY Pathways Initiative at Hunter. Please visit www.hunter.cuny.edu/senate/repository/files/common-core/framework-hunter-college-common-core-3-14-12.pdf to read more about how Pathways will affect the undergraduate curriculum and student advising. We are grateful to the Provost’s Office, Professor Christa Acampora, and the Hunter College Senate for their leadership on this project, and to Vice-President for Student Affairs Eija Ayravainen and the Student Services staff for their commitment to its smooth and efficient implementation.
We are pleased that CUNYfirst, a new technology platform replacing SIMS, launched at Hunter on April 1. Thank you to Len Zinnanti, Mitch Ahlbaum, Manfred Kuechler, Marilyn Daley-Weston and the entire Hunter team of staff, faculty, and students who have worked diligently to make CUNYfirst a success. Please visit www.hunter.cuny.edu/cunyfirst for help, support, and the latest news on the CUNYfirst expansion.
Finally, we thank all of you for your dedication and passion to Hunter College in a year that began with a hurricane but has ended with nothing but blue skies ahead for Hunter.
My very best wishes for the remainder of the semester,
Jennifer J. Raab