CSI MSWs Have Lowest Debt and Highest Earnings in NYC

CSI MSW students, l to r, Rosetta Harris, Nicole Mollinel, Shannon Foreshee, and Roberto Melendez

If you are looking to earn an MSW in New York City, your best bet is the College of Staten Island. Our MSW graduates have the lowest debt and the highest earnings of any MSW graduates in the City – including the graduates of programs that are very highly ranked nationally.

Dean Savage, a professor at Queens College, CUNY analyzed data on the newly released program-specific data from the College Scorecard at the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), examining data on 11 nationally accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) programs in the New York City metropolitan area, including two SUNY campuses, NYU, Long Island University, and Columbia University.

Savage found that of the 11 institutions in the NYC area that have accredited MSW programs, College of Staten Island students graduate with the lowest debt (in federal loans taken out during enrollment in the MSW program) and the highest earnings (one year after graduation, based on pooled earnings estimates for graduates of 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, from IRS Treasury files [W2 and 1040 forms]). This is among graduates of both public and private schools, including NYU and an Ivy League school (Columbia).

An analysis of Savage’s numbers finds that the highest average debt was for graduates of Columbia ($76,985), and LIU and NYU, (both at $75,960), compared to the average debt for CSI graduates at $29,305, the lowest of all 11 programs.

In the earnings column, the lowest earnings were for graduates of Yeshiva ($44,300), SUNY/Stony Brook ($45,800), and Touro ($46,200), while CSI graduates reported average earnings of $52,200, the highest of all 11, higher than Columbia ($50,700) and NYU ($48,200).

The College of Staten Island MSW program admitted its first class in 2014. It takes a minimum of three years after the first group of students is admitted to achieve initial national accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and CSI’s program has been accredited since 2017.

The MSW program has a single specialization in disability studies, which CSWE says is unique in the country. It focuses on people with physical, sensory, developmental, intellectual, and psychiatric disabilities, as well as those who have substance use disorders or impairments associated with military service, aging, and chronic health problems. Faculty members are nationally and internationally known and produce critical research in disability studies and other areas including returning citizens, stress in police officers, and the national social work curriculum.

The program is purposely small, allowing faculty and students to form close academic bonds and work together on research with national and global implications. Admission is competitive. Scholarships are often available. Go to https://www.csi.cuny.edu/ and search for MSW Admissions.

For more information, contact Christine Flynn Saulnier, Professor and Chair, Department of Social Work at christine.flynnsaulnier@csi.cuny.edu, 718.982.2020.

By Christine Flynn Saulnier, MSW, PhD and Terry Mares

Students Display Their Talents at Second Annual Graduate Research Conference

Rosita Harris presenting her research.

Graduate students at the College of Staten Island (CSI) had the opportunity to share their research with a larger audience at the Second Annual Graduate Conference on Research and Scholarship. The Conference also spotlighted the one-on-one mentoring relationships between CSI faculty and students, which is a critical component of an education at the College.

This year’s program consisted of four oral presentations (moderated by Professor Wei Zhang) and 54 poster presentations by more than 67 CSI students.

One participant, Rosita Harris in the Social Work Department, who is studying with Nafees Alam, appreciated the chance to share her research. “It’s a great opportunity. You don’t get to do this every day.” Another poster presenter, Omri Schick, a current high school teacher who is studying Education with an emphasis in Biology under Professor Irina Lyublinskaya, emphasized the importance of research and collaboration at the Conference. “It’s very important for me to participate in research for my professional development as a teacher. Research allows us to see different methods, different approaches, and we can learn from each other.”

Omri Shick presenting his research.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gary Reichard, PhD, discussed why the event is beneficial to CSI’s graduate students, and the College. “In its second year, the Graduate Research and Scholarship Conference afforded our graduate students the chance to share the results of their research and collaborations with our faculty with a broader audience, from both on and off campus. Their work, showcased in both posters and live presentation, provided outstanding evidence of the quality and breadth of CSI’s master’s and doctoral-level programs. Like the College’s longer-established Undergraduate Research Conference, the Graduate Conference has already become one of our signature programs.”

Beyond the poster and oral presentations, the Conference also featured a Plenary Session with music provided by William Bauer, PhD, of the performing and Creative Arts Department; comments from Mel Pipe, PhD, Associate Provost for Graduate Studies, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness, and CSI President William J. Fritz, PhD; and a keynote address, “My Life with Peptides: Shmoos, Food, and Drugs,” by Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Fred Naider, PhD.

MSW Student Chandra Keller ’17: Big Plans for Positive Change

Chandra Keller '17 (left) and her "bestie" on a cruise in 2016.

Chandra Keller ’17 has ambitious plans and a very workable strategy: The College of Staten Island (CSI) student wants to change the world, one life at a time. Keller will graduate this spring with a Master’s of Social Work as an advanced-standing student. 

“This degree that specializes in Disability Studies is the only one of its kind in the country, and I know that it will open so many doors for those of us who are fortunate enough to possess it. It will allow us to change the face of social work as we know it,” said Keller, who plans to explore the possibility of a PhD program as well as opening a clinic for people with disabilities that will be located near underserved communities.

“I desire to empower people to know that they can do and be better. I want to be that person that they can come to with their problems and together we can find solutions,” commented the Bronx native, who is a vice president with Local 420 for DC 37, a Local 420 Delegate, and a Behavioral Health Aide at Bellevue Hospital. She is also interning at New York Foundling, a foster care agency, while she finishes her degree. 

An active member in her church, The Love Fellowship Tabernacle, The Kingdom Church, located in Brooklyn under the leadership of Senior Pastor Bishop Hezekiah Walker, Keller sings in two choirs and is a member of the Steward committee, visiting sick and bereaved individuals in the community. Keller is also a member of the Women of Excellence and a street ministry team, The Crusaders for Christ. 

Keller (middle) at a picnic in 2016.

As vice president, Keller assists the 1,400 members of the union to resolve issues, and as a DC 37 Delegate for Local 420, she travels the country advocating for hospital workers. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Lehman College in 2013.   

The dedicated student attributes much of her academic success to the faculty and staff at CSI. 

“I believe that we learn something from everyone who comes into our lives, and there are many people at CSI who have helped and encouraged me along the way. Some of them never knew it,” commented Keller, who, in particular, was greatly motivated by Vandana Chaudhry, PhD, who showed her “the true meaning of perseverance.” 

“Chandra is a determined and hard working person that never gives up. I am happy and proud for her accomplishments, and wish her all the best in her endeavors. She will make a fine contribution to disability and social justice causes,” said Dr. Chaudhry.

She is also grateful for the tutelage of Professor Constance Stafford for “having patience with our class and really making us think and put to use the things that you were being taught” and to her peer Ilyssa Silfen for “returning every phone call, always being there for me, and for going out of her way to always find any information that I requested.” 

“Chandra Keller encapsulates the essence of social work professionalism.  Ms. Keller’s professional identity ensued from her commitment to social justice and her educational undertaking to facilitate changes in the lives of children, families, birthmothers and foster parents through her internship at the Bronx Foundling agency.  After 12 years of employment as a Behavioral Health Aid at Bellevue Hospital forensic psychiatric unit, and now equipped with the core set of values underpinning social work, I welcome with confidence  Ms. Keller to the profession of social work,”  said Professor Stafford, Manager of Professional Student Services and Assistant Director of Field Education in the Department of Social Work.

Keller’s advice to college students is to, “stay focused, never give up, keep a positive attitude, ignore the distractions that keep us from moving forward, don’t be afraid to ask for help, keep pressing forward, live fearlessly, and shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars.”

CSI Offers Nationally Accredited MSW and BSSW Programs

MSW graduates preparing for their hooding ceremony.

The Master’s of Social Work (MSW) program at the College of Staten Island (CSI) has recently been fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Accreditation (CSWE), the national accreditor for undergraduate and graduate social work programs. The College now has two nationally accredited social work programs, a clinical MSW and a generalist BSSW.

“We are pleased that the rigor and excellence of our MSW program has just been recognized by the national accreditor of social work programs. MSW students can be confident that the College of Staten Island program meets all New York State and national expectations, and will prepare them well for an exciting and very meaningful career in a rapidly growing profession,” noted Christine Flynn Saulnier, MSW, PhD, Chair and Professor in the Department of Social Work.

The MSW program was introduced at the College in 2014 and initial accreditation by the CSWE is a three-year process. Nearly 1,000 pages are submitted annually with site visits each fall by CSWE representatives. The process at CSI culminated with the final visit in fall 2016, followed by a meeting of the CSWE Commission on Accreditation in February 2017.

The MSW has a single concentration in Disability Studies, which, according to the CSWE, is unique in the nation.

Students in a policy course discuss their case analyses.

“As we define disability broadly to include physical, developmental, sensory, and psychiatric impairments, as well as disabilities related to aging, chronic health issues, alcohol and drug problems, and military service, the clinical MSW prepares students for direct practice with individuals, families, groups, and communities. Graduates are eligible for the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) exam immediately upon graduation and the LCSW upon completion of NY State-required post-MSW practice,” said Dr. Saulnier, adding that the program plans to offer a macro track as well, beginning in fall 2017.

The macro track will prepare students for the LMSW exam immediately upon graduation and will provide graduates with the knowledge and skills to manage agencies, work in community development, and engage in policy making and other indirect practice. MSW graduates of either track are prepared to work with any population, but will have special expertise in a broad range of disabilities.

Students immediately begin to apply the theories and methods that they are studying in their carefully constructed and closely monitored internship placements. MSW students are placed in internships all over New York City and in New Jersey. Approximately one-third of interns are offered employment at one of the two places where they intern over the course of the academic year.

CSI and LaGuardia Physical Therapy Students Gather for Annual Event

Students from CSI and LCC take time out to pose for a group shot.

For the past five years, the faculty from the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at the College of Staten Island (CSI) and the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program at LaGuardia Community College (LCC) have collaborated to provide students with an inter-professional experience. The Level 1 DPT students from CSI and the Level 1 and 2 PTA students from LCC met for this wonderful educational event.

Background information was provided to the students, regarding similarities and differences between the Physical Therapy (PT) and PTA professions, DPT and PTA curricula, as well as how to work together in a clinical setting.  The students also engaged in an exercise requiring collaboration between the students to come up with a treatment plan for a hypothetical patient scenario. Students also took part in a role-playing exercise that depicted how a real-life scenario might enfold between a PT and a PTA in a clinical setting. The event took place at CSI in Building 5N. The location alternates each year between CSI and LCC.

“As a first-year student in the College of Staten Island’s DPT program, I have been continuously taught the importance of communication between physical therapists and other healthcare professionals while working in the field. However, it is often difficult to demonstrate this discipline in a classroom setting that only consists of other PT students. The interdisciplinary seminar with the PTA students of LCC was an amazing opportunity to practice working together as a team and to begin incorporating necessary communication skills with each other. This collaborative workshop allowed us to develop a stronger awareness of the other’s profession, learn from one another, and simulate hypothetical scenarios that we will all likely experience in the future.  I left the seminar with a sharpened perspective of the PTA profession and ultimately feel more comfortable with my communication skills going forward in my physical therapy journey,” noted Sean Dwyer, Level 1 CSI DPT student.

“I used to think that a PTA was simply a liaison between doctor and patient, but it wasn’t until this experience that I realized we are more than that; PTAs are hard-working critical thinkers and DPTs value our opinions, skills, experiences, and judgement just as much as they value their education. I left that afternoon feeling even more proud of my professors, who not only love what they do, but taught it with such passion… This was a most privileged encounter that I will never forget and can only hope to one day pay it forward to the next generation of healthcare providers,” commented LCC Level II PTA student Amy Almeida.



CSI Offers Master of Engineering in Electrical Engineering: New Program Begins in Fall 2017

Drs. Vaishampayan and Feuer in the Photonics and Communications Lab.

Animator Hayao Miyazaki once said, “…Engineers turn dreams into reality.”

The College of Staten Island (CSI) is proud to be a part of that reality by introducing a Master of Engineering in Electrical Engineering (MEEE) Program at the College. The Program is currently accepting applicants for its debut in Fall 2017. CSI joins only one other City University of New York (CUNY) school, City College of New York (CCNY), which offers the degree.

“This Program will provide a foundation across all areas of electrical engineering,” noted Program Director Mark D. Feuer, PhD, who co-wrote the MEEE Program proposal with Vinay Vaishampayan, PhD.  “But we also want it to broaden existing CUNY offerings, so we included lab courses and curriculum supporting data infrastructure and analysis.”

The 30-credit program has two optional specializations: Photonic Systems and Networks or Information Processing and Transmission.

“We chose these two specializations to complement what is already available at CCNY and also to contribute to our data-driven economy,” said Dr. Feuer, who is also the Preceptor for Photonic Systems and Networks. “Our graduates are working in industries where the end product is not necessarily electrical engineering.”

“The traditional view of electrical engineering is that it is only about electrical machines and electric power. While those traditional applications are extremely important, a lesser-known side of electrical engineers is that they work with computers and algorithms and that many of the techniques that are popular in machine learning and `big-data’ analytics, have been known and used in the electrical engineering sub-field of signal processing for years,” added Dr. Vaishampayan, who is Preceptor for Information Processing and Transmission. “A rigorous training in electrical engineering is extremely relevant and valuable for work in data analytics, and graduates from the MEEE Program can work in a range of data-driven fields, including finance and advertising.”

The MEEE Program at CSI is currently accepting applications.

Feuer and Vaishampayan both previously worked at AT&T and taught at Columbia University. They began at CSI in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

“The industry experience informs us on what’s valuable outside. Hopefully, this Program will capture the best of both worlds: the academic side and the industry side,” said Dr. Vaishampayan.

Inspired by preliminary work by Syed Rizvi, PhD; Neophytos (Neo) Antoniades, PhD; and Alfred Levine, PhD, the official proposal was vetted by CSI faculty, reviewed by CUNY and external experts, and finally approved by the New York State Education Department.

“This was an amazingly smooth process, and we received tremendous support from President [William J.] Fritz and Provost [Gary] Reichard. They really helped to put a lot of energy into this,” noted Dr. Vaishampayan.

The MEEE can be a terminal degree, and also prepares students for the PhD in Electrical Engineering at CCNY. The Program will be accessible to full- and part-time students.

“The MEEE will offer tremendous opportunities for employment to our students in many high-tech industry sectors in the metro region as well as nationwide, and is a great supplement to our high-caliber, ABET-accredited undergraduate Engineering programs at the Department,” commented Dr. Antoniades, PhD, noting that there are currently about 600 students enrolled in programs at the Department of Engineering Science and Physics.

Dr. Feuer is confident that CSI students will be up for the challenges of the new graduate degree.

“Our Engineering students at CSI are committed, and we work them very hard. They have to master the mathematics and the technology, and they really throw themselves into the subject,” said Dr. Feuer, adding that the Engineering students are “truly ambitious” in their pursuit of hands-on, practical work after graduating.

To apply to the MEEE Program, visit the CSI Graduate Admissions Web site or contact Sasha Spence at sasha.spence@csi.cuny.edu.



Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Electrical Engineering, Receive Accreditation

CSI's Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering receive accreditation.

Continuing in the tradition of programmatic excellence, quality teaching, and high standards, two programs at the College of Staten Island (CSI) have received accreditation beginning this fall.

The Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program at CSI has received an accreditation from the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) through 2021. The program, which leads to licensure in mental health counseling, was cited by MPCAC site visitors for such highlights as being “exemplar of the mission of the school.” Research, advisement, faculty collaboration, strong connections with the community, and recent scholarship and grant opportunities were also noted.

The Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BS EE), which has been offered since Spring 2014 by the Department of Engineering Science and Physics is also now accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET). The accreditation action extends retroactively from October 2013 and therefore covers students who have already graduated.

The Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program celebrates its place as the first such program in CUNY to receive this accreditation.

“This is a big deal because we are in the company of schools like Columbia University’s Teachers College, NYU, and the University of Massachusetts,” noted Frances Melendez, PhD, Director of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, adding that this accreditation “will help in recruiting new students, as this gives us real validity in the quality of work and the quality of students entering the field of mental health counseling.”

MPCAC reported that “Dr. Frances Meléndez is an asset to the program, through her strong leadership, advocacy, vision, and commitment to students’ clinical training and professional development.”

Psychology Department Chair Katie Cumiskey, PhD said, “This accreditation is a testament to the commitment of Dr. Meléndez and the hard work of our dedicated core faculty, staff, and students. I’m inspired, though not surprised, that the MPCAC officials were so impressed with our prestigious program. Our program’s emphasis on social justice in mental health counselor training sets us apart in the State of New York and well prepares our students for the many challenges facing the Staten Island community and the world.”

Regarding the BS EE accreditation, Neo Antoniades, PhD, Chair of the Department of Engineering Science and Physics commented that, “Achieving initial ABET accreditation for the BS in Electrical Engineering so quickly after the launch of the program is a testament to the strength of our faculty, as well as the program and our students! This high program quality will ultimately lead to excellent and high-paying jobs for our student graduates.”

CSI is the second institution within The City University of New York (CUNY) and one of only a few in the greater NY/NJ metropolitan area offering an ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

“The five-year initial accreditation places the program among the elite in the field and validates the quality of the faculty, the laboratories, and the institution,” Antoniades lauded.



CSI’s DPT Program Celebrates 100% Success Rate

DPT Class of 2016

The College of Staten Island (CSI) is proud to announce that this year all 20 Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) graduates passed the Physical Therapy license exam on their first attempt. This marks the first time in the history of the program, which is just under three decades old, that graduates have celebrated a 100% success rate.

“This achievement clearly reflects a team effort of having an outstanding group of dedicated, intelligent, and resourceful students, and now licensed graduates; committed and hard-working highly qualified faculty and staff; and an administratively supportive environment with adequate resources for teaching and research,” noted Dr. Jeffrey Rothman, former Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy.

“As the outgoing Founding Chair, this accomplishment is personally very gratifying. I wish the program faculty and staff, students, and graduates much continued success,” said Dr. Rothman, who stepped down as chair in July.

The Department’s new Chair, Dr. Zaghloul Ahmed, commented, “I am thrilled to lead such an impressive department and I look forward to helping to bring our next class of students to the same lofty achievements as has been accomplished by the Class of 2016.”

School of Health Sciences Dean Dr. Maureen Becker added that, “This is an incredible feat, like taking home an Olympic gold medal! Traditionally, the Physical Therapy license exam results have always been outstanding … bronze and silver medal-worthy … this year, it all came together. I am truly proud of our students, alumni, and faculty, both full-time and adjunct, whose ongoing assessment and improvement implementation has led to this phenomenal outcome.”

The graduates mean scale score was more than 35 points above the mean national scale score (717 to 683) and the passing rate was seven percentage points above the national percentage. The exam was administered nationally on July 19 and the official results were reported by the Federation for State Board Physical Therapy Examiners.

The Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) program prepares students to become clinician-scientists who can competently apply research to clinical practice, perform all aspects of physical therapy practice, and perform clinical research. It will prepare graduates to examine, evaluate, diagnose, and intervene in the management of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities of the cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and integumentary systems.

The program meets the changing national standards as well as community needs for physical therapists working in a multitude of settings. The DPT program is in accordance with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) recommendation that physical therapists be doctorally credentialed. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Graduates will be eligible for the National Physical Therapy Examination.