Former Willowbrook State School Resident Donates Memoir to CSI Library’s Willowbrook Archive

Henry Geller (seated, center) with members of the CSI and HeartShare communities, and members of the Willowbrook Mile Project

The Willowbrook Archives at the College of Staten Island’s Library received a welcome and enlightening addition yesterday when former Willowbrook State School resident Henry Geller donated his self-published book, Henry Geller: A Memoir to the collection. The book examines his time at the notorious warehouse for the developmentally disabled, and his fascinating life after he left.

Geller was born in 1946 and was placed in Willowbrook in 1950, remaining there until 1967. After residing in group homes for many years, in 2010, he eventually moved to the Subbiondo I Residence of HeartShare, a nonprofit organization, which is dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in Bayside, Queens. Geller eventually worked part-time job at a Bronx newsstand and then took on a full-time job, serving as a messenger and clerk for the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission until he retired in 1999.

In attendance at the event were Geller, and members of the CSI and HeartShare communities, as well as members of the WIllowbrook Mile Committee, which is developing an educational and fitness walking trail through the three distinct campuses that were created from the original 383 pastoral acres that were once the Willowbrook State School.

CSI Executive Director of Institutional Advancement and External Affairs Cheryl Adolph accepted the book on behalf of the College, and introduced CSI Vice President for Economic Development, Continuing Studies, and Government Relations Ken Iwama, who noted the welcome change of attitude toward the significance of Willowbrook on behalf of the College under current President William J. Fritz, “Instead of ignoring it, now we embrace it, and we all embrace it together.”

Evelyn Alvarez, Associate Executive Director, Developmental Disabilities Services at HeartShare, discussed her 35-year history with Geller and the positive ways that others at HeartShare viewed him, as well as his exceptional expertise in navigating the city as a messenger.

Geller, who preferred to take the subway to make his deliveries, added that he is most proud of the fact that he never used a subway map to get around.

The CSI Library’s Willowbrook Archive collects material documenting the history of the Willowbrook site prior to and during its use as a state school; the experiences of the school residents and staff, and the activities of parents and caregivers who brought about the closing of the school; and secondary source materials that analyze the legal significance of the Willowbrook Consent Judgment and its role in the history of self-advocacy and the group home movement.

CSI continues its dedication to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities through its participation in AHRCNYC’s Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program, which provides the first, fully inclusive college experiences for non-matriculated students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at CSI, and Creative Exchange, which serves adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a non-degree program with ongoing educational offerings through the College. In addition, CSI hosts the annual Willowbrook Memorial Lecture, and is a partner, along with the Institute for Basic Research, the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities and Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Council (SIDDC) in the Willowbrook Mile Project.

CSI’s Workforce Development Program is designed to boost Staten Island business

Vlad Nunez, CSI Workforce Development A+ instructor (Photo: Staten Island Business Trends)

STATEN ISLAND BUSINESS TRENDS – With a mission of “empowering the borough’s economic engine,” the College of Staten Island’s Office of Workforce Development and Innovation is a critical component of the College’s Office of Economic Development and plays an important role in the continuing education of New York City residents. Read more at Staten Island Business Trends.

Visiting Doctors from China Tour Richmond University Medical Center

Visiting Chinese physicians and members of the CSI Faculty toured Richmond University Medical Center.

Nine members of the U.S. Health Care Physician’s Observation Program had the opportunity to tour Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) yesterday.

The Program brings nine physicians from the First Affiliated Hospital of USTC (Anhui Provincial Hospital), China to the College of Staten Island from May 3 to July 30 so that they may explore all aspects of the U.S. health care system. While at CSI, participants will be provided with clinical observational opportunities, meet with various community agencies, visit health care providers, and participate in various educational, social, and cultural activities in the New York City area. The Program is conducted by the Center for Global Engagement with the support of the School of Health Sciences at the College of Staten Island.

The tour of RUMC included a meet and greet with RUMC President and CEO Dr. Daniel J. Messina; a  tour of the RUMC Emergency Department with Dr. Kopolovich of the Department of Emergency Medicine; and a tour of the hospital with Alex Lutz, RUMC Director of Public Relations and Marketing.

Besides the nine visiting physicians, Dr. Messina, Dr. Kopolovich, and Mr. Lutz, other participants included Dean of the CSI School of Health Sciences Marcus Tye; Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Biology Dr. Chang Hui Shen; Dr. Muhammad Zia from the Department of Biology; and Winnie Brophy of the Center for Global Engagement.

The visiting physicians and their specialties are:


Dr. Yunqin Liu, Deputy Chief Physician, Radiotherapy

Dr. Jie Tang, Deputy Chief Physician, Geriatric Cardiology

Dr. Mao Zheng, Deputy Chief Physician, Endocrinology

Dr. Shao Hui Cheng, Deputy Chief Physician, Intensive Care Medicine

Dr. Zhili Pan, Deputy Chief Physician, Radiology: Medical Imaging (leader)

Dr. Haibo Wu, Deputy Chief Physician, Pathology

Dr. Lei Wen, Deputy Chief Physician, Ophthalmology

Dr. Fei Yin, Attending Physician, Otorhinolaryngology

Tong Tong, Head Pharmacist, Clinical Pharmacology


They are currently residing on Staten Island in the West Brighton neighborhood during the Program.

Record-setting $7.5M Chazanoff Donation to Name School of Business

The College of Staten Island has received a $7.5M cash gift from Class of ’65 alumni Lucille and Jay Chazanoff to benefit the School of Business.

The College of Staten Island has received a $7.5M cash gift from Class of ’65 alumni Lucille and Jay Chazanoff to benefit the School of Business. The gift is the largest individual donation ever made to a nonprofit within the Borough of Staten Island. With the potential to dramatically transform the work of the School, the Fund will be used to support the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School of Business, including accreditation pursuant to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – an international organization that is the preeminent accrediting body for business schools in the United States. There are 845 business institutions in 56 countries and territories that have earned AACSB accreditation.

The income generated by the Fund will support a wide range of objectives, including retaining faculty, many of whom have garnered national recognition as Fulbright Scholars, National Science Foundation grant recipients, and National Academy of Science expert panel members. CSI Business faculty hold positions on journal editorial boards, occupy leadership roles in professional organizations, and consult to federal, state, and local governmental agencies.

The College will also use this endowment to undertake a well-defined series of strategic program improvements that will significantly strengthen both CSI and the Lucille and Jay Chazanoff School’s national standing and improve student success.

College President William J. Fritz commented that “the Fund will greatly augment the effectiveness, impact, and reach of our School of Business, providing levels of instruction and excellence that were once only imagined. In addition, it exemplifies the power of personal legacy through private philanthropy, which strengthens our College and, ultimately, our community by giving us an Opportunity to Ascend consistent with our Strategic Plan. Lucille and Jay are part of the fabric of this Island, and we are deeply grateful for their support of the School of Business and the College of Staten Island.

Founding Dean of the School of Business, Susan L. Holak, remarked that “we are exceedingly grateful for this generous, transformational gift that will provide expanded opportunities for experiential learning and student success; support faculty hiring, retention, and scholarship; and raise our level of community engagement. The Chazanoff CUNY Fund demonstrates confidence in our School’s mission and programs, while affording us the flexibility and capacity to innovate at a faster pace. Lucille and Jay Chazanoff are exemplary alumni, exceptional members of our community, and generous philanthropists. We are immensely proud that our School will bear their name.”

The donors, Lucille and Jay Chazanoff, stated that “it is an honor to have the opportunity to support the School of Business, and the College of Staten Island. We met at Staten Island Community College and the education we received there gave us the foundation to launch successful careers and lives. We are proud to pay it forward to future students with the hope of giving them greatly enhanced career opportunities so that they may follow in our footsteps.”

Lucille and Jay Chazanoff met while attending classes at Staten Island Community College, a predecessor of CSI. They are longtime benefactors of the College of Staten Island and the community at large. Previously, they established the $100,000 Jay and Lucille Chazanoff ’65 Endowed Scholarship Fund that provides support for full-time Business majors. Their philanthropy within the community includes the establishment in 2004 of the family-run Carmine and Robert DeSantis Charitable Foundation, named after Lucille’s late brothers. The Foundation, whose motto is “one child at a time,” assists children with special needs on Staten Island, providing more than $1M in support to date. In addition, the Chazanoffs are the lead benefactors of the JCC of Staten Island-sponsored Lucille and Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp, a free camp for children affected by cancer and their siblings.

Lucille, also a graduate of Pace University, worked as a CPA in the international accounting firm Arthur Young & Co. for four years, before joining the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), eventually rising to the position of Vice President and Controller. After a seven-year career with NBC, Lucille returned to her Staten Island-based family business, Royal Press, serving as COO until her retirement in 2012. Upon returning to Staten Island, Lucille began to take on leadership roles with various nonprofit organizations, including the Visiting Nurses Association and Meals on Wheels, which culminated in her being acknowledged as a Staten Island Advance Woman of Achievement in 1994. Lucille served on the CSI Foundation Board of Directors for 12 years, including as the Founding President of the Board of Directors (1992-1994) and remains active on the Boards of the Northfield Bank Foundation and Richmond University Medical Center Foundation, where she serves as Treasurer.

Jay also earned his Bachelor’s degree from Pace University and an MBA from Long Island University. He began his career as a CPA at the international accounting firm Ernst & Ernst, prior to joining a young publicly traded financial services company in 1973, where he rose to become a senior executive over a 20-year term as the company grew into Fortune 500 status. After managing the company’s corporate restructuring as the COO and President in the early 1990s, he began his second career as an entrepreneur by co-founding a technology-based claims management company to provide services to the corporate reorganization industry.  The company grew to become the nation’s largest claims administrator and Jay oversaw the company’s successful sale to a publicly traded company in 2003. In 1997, Jay also became a partner in Pembroke Companies, Inc., a commercial and residential real estate investment, development, and management enterprise. Over the years, Pembroke Companies, Inc., has been actively engaged in the real estate industry and currently, among its various projects, serves as an operating partner with The Blackstone Group, managing a large, multifamily real estate portfolio. Jay has served the Staten Island community extensively, notably as a representative and Board member of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital of Staten Island, as part of the team that brought cardiac surgery to the Borough, also serving for two years as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of The Heart Institute. He is currently the Vice President of the Jewish Community Center on Staten Island, where from 2004-2006, Lucille and Jay co-chaired a $40M capital campaign. Jay has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the College of Staten Island Foundation since 2013, and is slated to join the UJA-Federation of New York Board of Directors this July.


CSI Welcomes Inaugural Adopt a Bench Donors at Dedication Ceremony

A total of ten benches and four Solar Power-Doks were unveiled at a dedication event on CSI's Willowbrook campus, last Tuesday.

This past Tuesday, the College of Staten Island hosted a heartwarming Adopt a Bench dedication event to celebrate the generosity and devotion of its inaugural Adopt a Bench campaign donors.The festivities included the unveiling of four Solar Power-Doks and ten new benches with personalized plaques in memory of loved ones, or showcasing favorite quotations. The event was held on behalf of the College of Staten Island Foundation, which is leading the campaign, as well as College President Dr. William J. Fritz.

At the event, Dr. Fritz acknowledged that the Adopt a Bench campaign is a powerful way for community leaders to demonstrate their support for the beautification of the College’s 204-acre campus and CSI’s greatest needs. He also announced that benches are available for sponsorship along The Willowbrook Mile, which honors the history and legacy of the former Willowbrook State School. In addition, Jay Chazanoff, ‘65, Chair of the Adopt a Bench committee, underscored his commitment to the campaign and the College of Staten Island. Stressing the urgent need for campus resources, Mr. Chazanoff called upon other people who are connected to the College to step up and provide their support.

A total of ten benches were unveiled at Tuesday’s dedication. It is hoped that these benches will serve as a catalyst for further engagement with community members, businesses, and organizations in an effort to expand the campaign’s mission. Also unveiled outside the Campus Center were four Solar Power-Doks, state-of-the-art solar-powered charging stations and WiFi hotspots that complement the CSI campus, providing a place for students and other members of the campus community to recharge electronic devices while they meet, study, or relax.

For more information on the Adopt a Bench Campaign, contact Jennifer Lynch in the Division of Institutional Advancement at 718.982.2293.