Provost’s Message – Fall 2014

Transitions

I choose to begin my end of semester message to the campus by pausing to remember some members of the academic community who were taken from us prematurely. Their passing leaves voids that we are ill-equipped to fill, but as is true of life in general, we must go forward. By reviewing the contributions and character of academic leaders we can try to learn how to bridge the chasm left by their departures.

Distinguished Professor Alexander Chigogidze came to CSI in September of 2011. During the three-plus years he served as Dean of Science and Technology, he left an indelible impression on our College. A man of grace, intellect, integrity, humor, and passion, he ably led his Division to higher and higher accomplishments. His time as Dean was marked by two of his faculty receiving NSF CAREER awards, by the development of campus-based Doctoral programs in Nursing and Physical Therapy, by the promotion of Professor Jay Rosen to Distinguished CUNY Professor of Mathematics, and by the recent reaccreditation of our Bachelor of Engineering Sciences Program by ABET. He was a voice of reason and many campus stakeholders sought his advice and wisdom. Alex stood at the pinnacle of his field. He was a world-renowned topologist who earned his doctorate from Moscow State University, the premier institution of higher learning in Mathematics in the former Soviet Union. He emigrated first to Canada and then to the United States where he was a Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Department Head at UNC Greensboro. He published more than 100 articles in the best mathematics journals and was Editor in Chief of the Journal of Topology. On a personal note, Alex was a close friend and confidant. His passing is a blow to our community. We pray that he is at peace and I know that his presence at CSI, though painfully short, has left us as a better institution. Discussions are underway to discern the most appropriate way to remember Alex’s time at our College.

Professor Kathryn Talarico passed away at the end of the summer after a long and valiant battle with cancer. Kathy came to CSI in 1991. She received her Doctorate in Medieval French Scholarship with distinction, receiving the James Healy Award for the Outstanding  PhD in the Graduate School of Arts and Science, New York University. She quickly became a force in her department, leading it for nearly 20 years and building a rigorous French curriculum. She was known for her commitment to high standards, to excellence in all academic pursuits, and for her devotion to a liberal education. In addition to the seminal contributions Kathy made to the Department of World Languages and Literatures where she was instrumental in recruiting, hiring, and mentoring a cadre of outstanding young faculty members, she was a campus leader and a member of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee. Known for her determination and perseverance Kathy was instrumental in developing a strong general education curriculum at CSI and had major reservations about Pathways. Despite these reservations, I found her willing to dialogue and to work with the administration to develop the best CSI Pathways framework possible within the CUNY Pathways guidelines. Unfortunately, Kathy’s illness prevented her from participating in campus discussions from Fall 2012 forward. At a recent campus remembrance, numerous colleagues eloquently recounted Kathy’s contributions to CSI and it was clear to all that we were left a richer and higher-level institution through Kathy’s tenure among us.

I believe that the loss experienced by the campus is captured in the following poem

“Suddenly It’s Evening” by Salvatore Quasimodo

“Everyone us alone at the heart of the earth,

pierced by a ray of sunshine;

And suddenly it’s evening.”

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I am very pleased to announce that I have recommended Professor Susan Holak as the Dean of the School of Business. I am grateful to Dr. Tom Tellefsen and the members of the search committee for their hard work in identifying strong candidates to build our School toward local and national prominence. At the end of October, I announced to the campus community that Professor Alfred Levine would serve as Acting Dean while Dean Chigogidze was on medical leave. Dr. Levine has agreed to continue to serve CSI as Interim Dean of the Division of Science and Technology until a search is launched and completed to fill this position. We are fortunate to have a person of Alfred’s experience, talent, and vision to lead us forward in response to the loss of Dean Chigogidze Further information will be forthcoming.

 

Milestones

The faculty of CSI continues to bring great credit to themselves and our institution. Faculty scholarship is increasing and large numbers of our colleagues are making presentations at national and international venues. Last year, the Travel Grant administered through the Faculty Center for Professional Development provided nearly $60,000 in travel awards, over and above those provided at the departmental level, to approximately 60 faculty members. This increased visibility is resulting in great accolades for CSI faculty and students. Barbara Montero, Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department, has received her second National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. Michael Mandiberg, Associate Professor in Media Culture, was named one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers, Foreign Policy magazine. Richard McKee, Cinema Studies alumnus, won Best Feature Film for 2014 at the London Film Awards. Dr. George Wang, Associate Professor of Finance, shared the stage and moderated panels featuring former President Bill Clinton; Myung Bak Lee, former President of South Korea; and Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former Prime Minister of France. Patricia Brooks was selected for the 2015-2016 class of distinguished CUNY Fellows in the ARC (Advanced Research Collaborative) program. Zaghloul Ahmed, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, has received nearly $650,000 in grants from New York State and the National Institutes of Health to support spinal cord injury research. Louis Petingi, Professor, and Xioawen Zhang, Associate Professor of Computer Science received a $350K National Science Foundation REU grant. Sharon Loverde, Assistant Professor of Chemistry received an approximately $125 K grant from the American Chemical Society and gave birth to a handsome little boy. Christina Tortora, Professor of English, received a grant from NIH supporting a postdoctoral fellow for her linguistics research. Finally, in late-breaking news, the Library of Congress just announced that our Poet Laureate, Associate Professor Patricia Smith, from the English Department, was awarded the 2014 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry for her book Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah. This is just a sampling of faculty accomplishments and we are proud of all of the faculty and the distinction they bring to our College.

Before the end of the semester, Geraldo Rivera announced a $250,000 contribution to the newly formed Department of Social Work to support a series of lectures in the area of Disability Studies over the next five years. This gift is the outcome of a renewed relationship between Mr. Rivera and the Willowbrook location and follows an invitation to him by our social work students. Kudos goes to our students for this manifestation of initiative. Earlier in the semester Con Ed agreed to the first major gift to our new School of Business, $150,000 for a trading simulation floor. Interim Dean Susan Holak played a critical role in this advancement activity. These two gifts set the stage for what we expect to be a record year in CSI Development results.

 

ASAP at CSI

Over the last six months, the College has benefited from a significant influx of City funds. These University-provided funds recognize the strong commitment that the College has to students who enter without the skills to immediately transition into baccalaureate programs. This year, we received approximately $100K to support 15 associate’s-level students in undergraduate research projects mentored by our faculty in both the sciences and STEM-related humanities and social sciences. Dean Levine is overseeing this exciting activity. In the spring of 2015, we will begin a collaboration with CUNY related to its ASAP initiative (Accelerated Study in Associate Programs). This initiative has received national acclaim in achieving high graduation rates for associate’s-degree students. We are working with CUNY to evolve this program to students who will receive the bachelor’s degree with an en-route attainment of the associate’s degree. The program will serve a cohort derived from our normal admits and will provide significant resources for advisement and supplemental instruction. When we reach a steady state, we project approximately 1,000 students as participants in CSI ASAP.

 

Vision

The challenges of being part of a community of scholars and of the higher education enterprise are invigorating. I find that as soon as one goal is accomplished there are multiple tasks and initiatives waiting in the docket. I wanted to share with the general community what I see as important goals for the spring 2015 semester. The By-Laws Committee is primed to share the results of their hard work with the campus. This Committee has worked with dedication to evolve the By-Laws to provide governance for the current structure of the campus and to address issues related to our growth in size and maturation as an institution. I look forward to a sober and objective review of their work and thank them for their arduous and thoughtful efforts. Several key curricular items are moving ahead. These include the movement of the MSW program toward accreditation, the development of a Master’s in Macromolecular Chemistry,  the development of a Master’s in Public Administration, the development of a transitional DPT program, and a new curriculum from the School of Business related to Information Systems and Informatics and Business Analytics.

In closing, I am very excited by the future potential of this institution and wish our faculty, staff, and students a very satisfying, successful, and peaceful 2015.