It is with great sorrow that we announce to the College Community the passing of retired Professor Albert Blank. At the age of 95, Al Blank died peacefully at home in Pelham, NY on Wednesday, June 17.
A research professor in the Computer Science Department since 1993, he was instrumental in developing the Assistive Technology Computer Laboratory for Visually Impaired People. An applied mathematician, he did seminal work in optics, developing a theorem for binocular space perception. As Professor of Mathematics, he inspired students at NYU and Carnegie Mellon, headed a multi-year national study group that developed calculus courses for high school students, wrote a three-volume textbook on calculus, and in retirement, developed a computer-assisted tactile course for teaching calculus to the blind. He loved English Country dancing, served on the Board of the national society, and supported the growth of several local groups. He will be deeply missed by his wife, Nancy DeVore; daughters Sharon, Tamara, Deborah, and Irina (Caldwell); and his four grandchildren.
A memorial event will be held in his honor at a later date.
Last week, I sent a message highlighting the poetry readings of Zaenob A. Bashir and Mayah Burke, students in the Drama Program of the Department of Performing and Creative Arts. In the message, I should have mentioned that these two talented students received important and caring mentoring from PCA faculty members Sean Edgecomb, Maurya Wickstrom, George Sanchez, and Kevin Judge. A solidarity statement, written by the aforementioned faculty, accompanied the two poems. The entire presentation can be viewed online.
The reprehensible killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Ardery are just some of the latest in centuries of violent crimes against people of color in our country. As a white male of privilege, I know I can go to the grocery store without fearing for my life because of the color of my skin, but thousands of men, women, and children in our city cannot. The most important mission of an institution like the College of Staten Island is to be an agent of change and a catalyst for equity and inclusion, but it should also serve as a venue for exploration of difficult topics and creation of original research, scholarship, and creative activity. In the spirit of those goals, I would like to share a link to two powerful performances by young black poets in the Drama program that express their feelings about the events of the last few weeks. We are living in challenging times, but young voices like these give us reason to be hopeful for the future.
I hope this message finds you well and safe. In a normal year, we would be celebrating your graduation with a Commencement ceremony, and would have celebrated those achieving Honors in a ceremony earlier in the week. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered life for all of us, and I am sorry that we are not having the opportunity to celebrate your achievements in person this week. However, as President Fritz indicated in his video message, we look forward to celebrating your achievements when we are able to schedule the Commencement festivities. In the meantime, know that all of us in Academic Affairs are very proud of your achievements, and wish you the best as you prepare for your next adventures.
Wednesday, May 6 was National Nurse’s Day and Tuesday, May 12 is International Nurse’s Day. During this week when we recognize the dedication, sacrifice, and skills of nurses worldwide, I wanted to take a moment to offer profound thanks to those from the nursing community, including the faculty, staff, and students in our Department of Nursing, for all they do in service to others, particularly during this global pandemic. These dedicated servant-leaders are putting their own lives at risk in service to others, often at the expense of their own health. We are fortunate to have a strong Nursing program at CSI that has trained so many of the nursing professionals on the Island, and continues to train the nurses of the future.
The changes in the academic calendar created by the Recalibration period and the shortened spring break had implications for religious observations for a number of you. I would like to remind those of you whose religious observation extends into the week of Apr. 13 that, as always, you have the right to request a religious exemption from academic and work responsibilities. CUNY’s guidance for religious exemptions can be found online.
The College of Staten Island (CSI) returns to its origins on the North Shore as Stuyvesant Place once again becomes home to the College.
The CSI St. George Ribbon Cutting Ceremony officially announced CSI St. George, the College’s new location, which will begin offering courses to matriculated students in the upcoming Fall 2017 term.
Local politicians, CSI officials, City University of New York (CUNY) representatives, and community members gathered at the historical event as the College seats itself in its original St. George home at 120 Stuyvesant Place. As the College expands its presence on the North Shore with an already well established CSI Tech Incubator, there is confidence that the strategic location will attract prospective students to the new location.
In a monumental and historical step in going back to its beginnings, CSI St. George solidifies the College’s strong presence in the resurgence of Staten Island’s North Shore.
“This day represents a significant milestone in the history of the College of Staten Island. I can’t believe this day has finally come – the day when the College of Staten Island returns to St. George and not only returns, but returns to the exact same space that was once part of Richmond College,” commented CSI President William J. Fritz.
Memorably, CSI’s predecessor institutions, Richmond College and Staten Island Community College (SICC), resided in adjacent addresses on Stuyvesant Place. The CSI Tech Incubator is, in fact, housed in the former space of the SICC Library.
“A few years ago I started to realize that no matter how great our Willowbrook campus is we really lost something when CUNY and CSI left St. George — and that something is access,” Dr. Fritz stated, noting that students who utilize public transportation may find CSI St. George more convenient than the Willowbrook campus. “Providing access to these North Shore residents and giving them the means (a College degree) to achieve the American Dream was and is my vision for this project.”
The President also outlined plans to offer master’s and certificate level graduate courses at CSI St. George to provide access to commuters working in Manhattan. CSI’s newly planned doctorate, an Ed.D. in Community Leadership, will be housed at CSI St. George as well.
Within walking distance from the North Shore’s Transportation hub, CSI St. George’s completely renovated 16,000 square foot facility will offer 10 large Smart classrooms; a state of the art computer lab; a spacious student lounge with open computers; a dedicated on-site Student Services Center; diverse course offerings & scheduling opportunities that satisfy degree requirements for new and first year undergraduate students and, for select programs in Education, graduate students; day, evening, and weekend schedules; and flexibility to also enroll in courses on the main Willowbrook campus, which is easily accessible via the CSI Ferry Shuttle, and to take advantage of all the sports, clubs, and academic and personal support services that the College has to offer.
“This is an exciting day for the College. It’s the culmination of many years of planning, advocacy and finally construction. And now we have this unique opportunity to further serve Staten Islanders… We’re thrilled to have the inaugural class this fall. These students will receive the same world class education as our Willowbrook students,” said Jennifer Borrero, Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services.
CSI St. George aims to attract individuals from this area, given the College’s new proximity to neighboring North Shore areas. Lending greater opportunity in a vibrant and growing neighborhood, CSI St George provides students with the option of a two- to four-day schedule at convenient times with quick access to college resources and dedicated staff.
“Housed in our on-site Student Services Center, the staff hired for these newly-created positions will offer one-on-one support in all areas of Enrollment Management and Information Technology, including Admissions, Financial Aid, Advisement, Registration, Bursar, IT Help Desk, and more, as well as administrative and technical support for faculty teaching at CSI St. George. These individuals will work closely with their counterparts on the main Willowbrook campus to coordinate and ensure effective and efficient delivery of services to all members of the College community,” noted CSI St. George Director Mario D’Alessandro.
Dr. Fritz also thanked elected officials, CUNY representatives, and members of the CSI community. “This was an example of incredible teamsmanship. Thank you everyone. Thank you for your teamwork, thank you for your support of CUNY, Staten Island, and CSI St. George,” he said.
More than 100 attendees gathered at the College of Staten Island (CSI) to honor scholarship donors and recipients at the Annual Scholarship Donor Student Reception in the Campus Center’s Green Dolphin Lounge.
The reception served as an informal opportunity for donors to meet CSI scholarship recipients.
“Tonight’s event gives scholarship donors a chance to meet the extraordinary students who are being greatly assisted by your generosity, and the scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to meet and extend their gratitude to those who are helping to fulfill their dreams,” noted CSI President William J. Fritz, PhD, who also highlighted some of CSI’s impressive assets such as Pulitzer prize-winning poet Tyemba Jess, four Guggenheim Scholars, and 15 Fulbright Scholars.
Francine D’Amato Hatipoglu, donor of the Joanne D’Amato, RN and Frank D’Amato Memorial Scholarship, commented that, “This event is an opportunity to celebrate a mutual appreciation… My family and I appreciate the opportunity to think about the wonderful programs CSI has to offer. Mostly, I appreciate the chance to share my parent’s legacy and my wonderful memories of them with the CSI community.”
Also in attendance were donors Judy Afferton (Sgt. Franklin Afferton III Scholarship and Marie M. Afferton, RN Scholarship), Ann Merlino (Dr. Mario J. Merlino Scholarship/John and Filomena Merlino Scholarship), Irving K. Robbins, PhD (Irving K. Robbins Scholarship), and Sally Williams (Clara and Arleigh B. Williamson Scholarship), as well as Samir Farag, President of the CSI Foundation Board of Directors, Board members, and members of the Friend of CSI.
Several students in attendance had the opportunity to describe the impact of these awards on their lives.
For example, Alima Toure was born and raised in Burkina Faso and immigrated to the United States in 2010 to continue her education. One of four children and in an extended family of more than 30 children, she is the first woman ever in her entire family to graduate from college and pursue a master’s degree. Toure is pursuing a Master of Science in Business Management as a supplemental foundation to her career plan to become a Certified Public Accountant.
Maisa Moumen and her husband immigrated to the United States from Syria in 2008. Not long after arriving here, Moumen’s husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Moumen attended two weeks of nursing training at New York University Hospital to learn medical and patient care skills to be able to care for her husband, who passed away after battling the condition for three years. Motivated to pursue higher education in order to build her skills to support her two young children, Moumen enrolled at CSI and is working toward a Bachelor of Science in Accounting.
“The stories of our students are truly inspiring; they demonstrate such great resilience in the face of difficult challenges to pursue their education and achieve success through their career paths. They feel an enormous sense of gratitude, accomplishment, and recognition from the opportunities provided by our generous donors,” noted Michele Callahan, Fellow and Scholarship Advisor.