Winter 2011 Open Line

Now that the spring semester is in full swing, it is my pleasure to update you on some current highlights and developments at the College – starting with a bit of wonderful news.

For the third year in a row, The Princeton Review named Hunter College one of the top 10 “Best Value” public colleges in the nation. Hunter is again the only CUNY college to make the list. You can see the Today Show segment about the 2011 list by clicking below.

This national recognition adds to what has already begun as a particularly exciting year at Hunter. On January 20, 1,500 graduates gathered with family and friends in the Hunter auditorium to celebrate Hunter’s 202nd Commencement.  Emphasizing the value of public service, Commencement speaker Harold Ford, Jr., former U.S.congressman, urged the graduates to pursue lives dedicated to “the four L’s: listen, learn, lead, and leave a gift behind.”  Among the many students singled out for their accomplishments were co-valedictorians Rebecca Brown and Alex Sheremet; Mariette Kalinowski, who served two tours of duty as a marine in Iraq while earning her diploma; Firelei Baez, an MFA graduate whose art will be featured in the Seventh Biennale in Florence later this year; and Aung Pyie, a biology major who escaped government persecution in Burma, secured humanitarian asylum with the help of his professors, and became a renowned young scientist.

Since Aung is returning to Hunter to earn a PhD in cell biology, he will get to take advantage of one of the most exciting new developments on campus: the majorrenovation of Hunter’s main library.  Plans for the renovation closely follow the recommendations of a special presidential task force charged with envisioning a 21st-century library for the College. The extensivereport of the 40-plus-member task force looked at physical space, technology, services, programs, collections, satellite spaces, and other issues, all ofwhich will be enhanced by the renovation. The addition of multiple study centers and other meeting points will provide students with attractive areas to gather, work, and socialize –particularly valuable benefits at a commuter school like Hunter. The renovation, which will be funded through several generous private gifts to the College, will begin by the end of the semester.

The library will not be the only major change to Hunter’s campus next fall. Construction of the new Hunter College Complex in East Harlem is on schedule for the building’s opening this summer. The LEED Silver certified building will house the School of Social Work, the library of Hunter’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies, and the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College – which is experiencing some milestones of its own. The accreditation site team completed a comprehensive visit to the school this fall, and in January, the School graduated its first doctoral student, Alice Welch. By meeting these requirements, the School of Public Health is one critical step closer to reaching full accreditation status.

Also moving into the new building is the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity at Hunter College. We are pleased to announce the appointment of Hunter alumna Jean Callahan (MSW ’87) as the Center’s director. An accomplished attorney, Ms. Callahan joined the Hunter community last spring as co-director of the Brookdale Center as well as director of Brookdale’s Sadin Institute for Law & Public Policy, a title she will retain in her new role. Dr. Mimi Fahs, who until January served as co-director of Brookdale, is now devoting her full-time efforts to her role as professor of health policy in the new CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College.

Another Hunter building recently reached its own milestone: In November, we celebrated theofficial ribbon-cutting of Roosevelt House. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed the crowd, calling Roosevelt House “one of the most important houses of the modern era” before picking up the ceremonial scissors. He also passed on a priceless gift to add to the archives of Roosevelt House: a CD of recordings of Eleanor Roosevelt at U.N. proceedings on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document she helped create on Hunter’s campus.

Other prominent figures who have spoken at Roosevelt House in the last several months include television journalist Jane Pauley, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edmund Morris, former governors Mario Cuomo and Christine Todd Whitman, business and mediapioneer Paul Kagan (’58), and many others. And as you have may have seen on the news, Diane Sawyer came to Roosevelt House on January 31st to introduce Microsoft CEO and humanitarian Bill Gates, who announced his ambitious plans to eradicate polio worldwide. You can see the video of his talk and read about upcoming Roosevelt House events by visiting the Roosevelt House website at

The Center for LGBT Social Science and Public Policy at Roosevelt House has also begun holding regular public programs on LGBT topics, such as adoption policy and disparities in health care. In addition, a working group of faculty, administrators, and students continue to meet to discuss a variety of issues affecting the LGBTQ community at Hunter College. In light of recent tragic events on campuses around the nation, the group has been consideringways to affirm Hunter’s longstanding commitment to the LGBTQ community, coordinate information and resources within Hunter and with community organizations, raise the visibility of campus services, resources, and personnel, and develop LGBT-related events and programs.

Roosevelt House and the LGBT Center have become major resources for faculty research, but our support of faculty-led initiatives does not end there. We are proud to announce that in the past few months alone, Hunter has received three major academicgrants for faculty projects across campus: a $975,000 State Department grant that establishes Hunter’s Chinese program as a Flagship Center in the Chinese language and supports the training of teachers of Mandarin in grades K-12; a $900,000 from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation for iTeach, a collaboration between Hunter’s School of Nursing and Weill Cornell Medical College; and a five-year grant for $4.25 million from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to lead a Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC). Congratulations to principal investigators Professors Der-Lin Chou of the Department of Classics and Oriental Studies, former Dean Kristine Gebbie and the faculty of the School of Nursing, and John O’Neill of the Department of Education Foundations and Counseling, as well as their collaborators, for bringing these direction-setting awards to Hunter College.

Finally, we invite everyone to sign in to Hunter’s newly-launched Facebook page.  This is the first of a number of additional communications resources the College will soon make available to students, faculty, staff, and the entire community, including an online calendar with a comprehensive listing of campus events.  In the meantime, please visit our events website for a current listing:

Wishing you all the best for the rest of the semester,

Jennifer J. Raab

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