MALS Program Celebrates Silver Anniversary

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) Program at the College of Staten Island will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a reunion and conference on Saturday, November 15. The event will be held in the Center for the Arts (Building 1P), Room 120 from 2:00pm to 5:15pm.

The MALS Program provides college graduates the opportunity to engage in an intensive study of Western society, culture, and thought. The curriculum consists of interdisciplinary courses (seven required courses and two electives) in the social sciences and humanities that have been specifically created for the Program. Successful degree candidates must also submit a Master’s thesis.

CSI Professor of History David Traboulay, who is the coordinator of the MALS program, says that the Program, which stresses close advisement and a cohort approach to learning, “has helped students to grow in their jobs and become public citizens.”

Alumni of the program agree with Traboulay’s assessment. Philippe Marius, Director of the Office of Student Financial Aid at CSI, and a MALS Program alumnus, comments, “A Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, in the best tradition of a liberal-arts education, would indicate an educated member of a modern polity, which is not necessarily the same as an individual trained—even to the highest proficiency—in a modern occupation. My completion of the CSI MALS program indeed greatly enhanced my civic character by immensely augmenting my appreciation of the poetics as well as the mechanics of modern life, moving me closer—by however much—to the ideal constituent of a civil society.”

Another alumnus, Tony Gallego, Assistant Director of Media Services at CSI, adds, “Not only do you learn new and exciting things, you learn to question and think. It has also helped me to advance in my career. Because of the MALS program, I’m thinking of pursuing a second Master’s in Cinema and Media Studies next spring.”

Sharing his own experiences, alumnus Lou Bruschi shed light on how MALS affected his life, “I have always been an eager student, if not a good one; part of the difficulty for me was being pigeon-holed into a single discipline. MALS removed the constraints of looking at a topic from one perspective. I am a social studies teacher for grades three through five and nine through 11; to be able to support the curriculum through literature, philosophy, mythology, and the broader humanities has been an invaluable resource to me as a teacher. Currently,” Bruschi continues, “I am a student in the Educational Leadership program at Wagner College. In the courses I have taken at Wagner I have come to appreciate the deeper lessons imparted through the coursework in the MALS program. Understanding comes through metaphor. MALS provided a foundation of understanding through texts that have applications in so many disciplines…To become an effective steward of an institution, there are two factors that contribute more than any others, experience and knowledge. Without providing specific vocational or professional training the MALS program has given me a wealth of both.”

Noting that “the curriculum is essentially about the classic texts of Western Civilization in the Modern Period, the 19th and 20th centuries,” with one non-Western class and another regarding ancient Roman and Greek civilizations, Traboulay hopes that the anniversary event will give MALS alumni a chance to offer suggestions on how to change the curriculum for the better.

The event will feature remarks from Traboulay and founding coordinator Fred Binder, an alumni panel discussion, and a keynote address from Professor Alfred Levine, Interim Dean of Research and Graduate Programs at CSI, entitled, “Culture, Consciousness, and Nature: The Context on Global Warming.”

The MALS Program at CSI will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a reunion and conference.

CSI Students Represent USA on French TV

Three students in CSI Professor Kathryn Talarico’s French 313 Advanced Communications class had a unique experience on Election Night. They had the chance to participate in a studio audience in the Manhattan studios of French cable station TV5, an international channel that broadcasts to all Francophone countries around the world.

The station’s coverage, which was dubbed “The American Night,” featured live coverage from Paris; New York; Washington, DC; and Dakar, Senegal.

Prof. Talarico explains that this was “a live broadcast with guests, politicians, and journalists from around the world talking about the elections is the United States, which [the station and the French media] have been following exceedingly closely….”

Talarico, who is a subscriber to TV5, received an invitation from her cable provider, Time Warner Cable, to join the studio audience and to bring a few guests. Talarico explains, “One of the activities that the French 313 students have been doing is to follow the elections on the Internet, looking at the French media. How is the French media covering the American elections?” In an effort to add a new dimension to this research, she drew lots to see which of her students would enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The students got the chance to meet their favorite TV5 host, Philippe Dessaint, and had pictures taken with him. They are working on creating a Webpage describing their experience.

Shaimaa Mobarak, a French 313 student who attended the broadcast says that the experience “was very interesting. Not only was it a monumental day in American history but it also affects people around the world. My understanding…[of] the French people has changed drastically after speaking to some of the people who were in the audience. They were so receptive to the change in this country and were very eager to see how this election would change our country and subsequently theirs.”

Commenting on the meaning of this experience for her students, Talarico notes that “this is very important. I think we’ve had it driven home for a long time now, and especially with the recent economic collapse, how important it is to understand global situations and the interconnectedness of everything–the importance of studying foreign languages is one part of this. I was pleased to see how excited the students were,” Talarico adds, “and how they paid close attention to what was going on. And since this was a French event, we were treated to a lovely buffet with wine! The students stayed in Manhattan after the broadcast and enjoyed the rest of the Election Night festivities in Times Square.”

Three CSI students had the chance to participate in a studio audience of French cable station.

CSI President Honored with Latino Trendsetter Award at the United Nations

College of Staten Island President Tomás D. Morales was honored at the Seventh Annual Latino Trendsetter Awards and Scholarship Gala at the United Nations on November 10.

The Latino Trendsetter Award was created by Defining Trends Media Group, to celebrate the growth, leadership and diversity of the Latino community in the United States, and to award scholarships to Hispanic students who will be tomorrow’s leaders. Its vision is to inspire a new generation of influencers and lifestyle conscious trendsetters, by understanding diversity, discovering emerging leaders, defining trends and celebrating Latino culture.

The award recognizes “leaders, trendsetters that represent the highest of standards, people on the move, making things happen and defining the elements of the US Latino experience. They also serve as important role models for our youth; they are visible and active in their community and have made a positive impact on the Latino culture. Finally, a Latino trendsetter transcends boundaries and defines trends that influence both the Hispanic and non-Hispanic culture. They are innovative, courageous, motivated, have vision and they care,” according to the Defining Trends Media Group Website.

President Morales was honored at the 7th Annual Latino Trendsetter Awards and Scholarship Gala.

CSI Welcomes 60 University Presidents from Vietnam

The College of Staten Island, a senior college of The City University of New York, hosted 60 University Presidents from Vietnam as they traveled the Northeast auditing higher education best practices in the United States. In addition to CSI, their one-week tour also included the Institute of International Education and Harvard University.

The delegation’s goal was to investigate best practices in leadership and management, ways to link research to community, international outreach and recruitment, economic realities and their impact on institutional development, faculty roles in management decisions, resource allocations, state involvement, and institutional outcomes and assessment models.

Their tour of the CSI campus was highlighted by a close review of the CUNY High-Performance Computational Facility. Of particular interest were projects that benefited the community, such as tackling the region’s tough transportation issues. After a presentation on development and outreach from CSI Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement Robert Huber, and another regarding academic priorities and best practices by Provost William Fritz, lunch was served and a free exchange of ideas and dialogue ensued.

During his remarks at the luncheon, Dr. Minh, from the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, spoke very warmly about the visit to Staten Island. “Now one-fifth of the universities in Vietnam know and can recommend the College of Staten Island. And, they want to welcome you, your students and faculty to Vietnam in the future.”

“This is the largest group of Vietnamese university officials ever to visit the College,” said Ann Helm, executive director of the CSI Center for International Service, who also added that the College has been working with Vietnamese partners since 1997. “We expect this visit will enable us to collaborate in many different areas with our Vietnamese counterparts.”

The College of Staten Island hosted 60 University Presidents from Vietnam.

CSI Foundation Board Welcomes Two New Members

The College of Staten Island (CSI) Foundation board of directors has elected Joseph M. Ricciutti and Brian Laline to three-year terms.

Joseph Ricciutti currently serves as the President of the Staten Island Yankees, the Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. Ricciutti is a lifelong Staten Islander, from Grasmere. He is a graduate of Staten Island Technical High School and the College of Staten Island where he earned a BS in Business Management (’94). He continued his academic studies at Columbia University where he earned a Master’s degree in Management and Producing. He has extensive experience in venue management, having served as the Facilities Director for the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Director of Concerts and Events for the Richmond County Bank Ballpark/Staten Island Yankees, Director of Alfred Lerner Hall/University Event Management for the prestigious Columbia University, and in his current capacity as the President of the Staten Island Yankees. Ricciutti currently resides in Westerleigh with his wife Janine and their four-year-old daughter.

Brian Laline is the editor of the Staten Island Advance, where he began as a reporter in 1972. Also a Staten Island native, Laline graduated from New Dorp High School, and received a Bachelor’s degree in English from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and his Master’s degree in Education from Wagner College. He currently serves on a number of boards of community organizations, such as the Board of Trustees of Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, the Board of Managers of the YMCA, and the Board of Directors of the St. George Theatre’s Richmond Dance Ensemble. Laline has received various awards, including the Distinguished Service to Youth award from the SI Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Distiguished Service award from the SI Chapter of the Red Cross. Laline currenly lives in Ocean Breeze with his wife Carol and their three children: Christopher, Peter, and Kelly Anne.

Robert Cutrona, CSI Foundation Board President says, “I’ve known Brian Laline for a number of years. He is an individual who is very concerned about Staten Island and its future. I think that Brian, through his access to the Staten Island Advance, is always promoting a better image and direction for Staten Island, and I think that he’ll serve the board in a very good fashion.” In regard to Joseph Ricciutti, Cutrona points to his success in reinvigorating attendance numbers at Staten Island Yankee games over the past two years, and adds, “One of my pet ways of promoting the College of Staten Island has been to try to have people understand what a good educational facility it is, by highlighting people who have attended there and who have achieved a level of success. Joe falls right into that area…I enjoy seeing him come to the Board and I think that he’ll be a real asset.”

As the fundraising arm for CSI, the Foundation supports many educational initiatives at CSI. For more information about the CSI Foundation, call 718.982.2365 or visit them online at www.csi.cuny.edu/foundation.

The reelected officers for the CSI Foundation include Joseph Franzese, president; Christine Cea, vice president; Richard Prinzi, treasurer; John Alexander, Norma D’Arrigo, Matthew Greenfield, and John Mazza, with terms ending in 2011.

Volunteer for Visioning: Join an Island-wide Brainstorming Session to Address Crucial Concerns

Due to the fact that it is in the fastest growing county in New York State, Staten Island faces a number of significant problems, such as an infrastructure system that is not keeping up with an expanding population; nightmarish transportation problems, including the longest average commute in the nation; and an increased strain on services for residents.

In an effort to address these issues and improve the quality of life for all Staten Islanders, Vision for Staten Island is seeking volunteers.

Vision for Staten Island is a community initiative to bring together citizens and public and private leaders from throughout the borough to create an inclusive and comprehensive vision for the future.

The vision will identify shared goals for all aspects of the Island’s life, and specific steps to implement each goal. Vision for Staten Island represents an opportunity to develop a vision and a plan where none exists. It will address and put into perspective all of the critical issues facing the Borough, creating a plan that will have the support of community leaders and the public.

Using an inclusive, transparent process, the vision will gather the support of hundreds of institutions and organizations throughout the Island, including business groups, environmental organizations, government, and civic groups. This network of organizations, gathered in support of the vision, will promote partnerships between public, private, and civic sectors, propelling the community toward successful implementation of its vision.

At present, Vision for Staten Island needs volunteers who will serve as meeting facilitators. Facilitators will lead Idea Gathering Meetings to collect ideas on how to make Staten Island the best that it can be in the coming years. In essence, they will lead Staten Island’s biggest brainstorming ever.

If you are interested in effecting positive change in the Borough, comfortable working in front of small groups of people, able to remain neutral during the facilitation process, and available to attend a two-hour training session on November 20 or 21, contact Vision for Staten Island at 718.568.3561, or visit www.sivision.org for more information.

Staten Island is currently at a crossroads.

Switzerland Celebrates "Lunney Day" in Honor of CSI Nursing Professor

Dr. Margaret Lunney, Professor in the Nursing Department of the College of Staten Island, presented a synthesis of her research program on October 17, 2008 in Basel, Switzerland.

She was the keynote speaker at a national conference referred to as: The Lunney Day. The conference attracted 100 nurse leaders from all areas of Switzerland, and from The Netherlands and Sweden. The topic was “Evidence-based Nursing and Diagnostic Accuracy in Electronic Health Records.”

In this program, Professor Lunney reviewed the research evidence that supports the proposition: accuracy of diagnosing human responses is a complex and challenging endeavor that must be addressed by nurse leaders in order to achieve high-quality care.

She provided the findings from her research studies and proposed implications for nursing practice, especially with the upcoming electronic health record (an international agenda).

Professor Lunney is the elected Research Chair of NANDA International (I), the premier organization for development and promotion of nursing diagnoses. She will be presenting four papers at the upcoming NANDA-I biannual conference in Miami, Florida and she has completed the second edition of her book sponsored by NANDA-I: Critical Thinking to Achieve Positive Health Outcomes: Case Studies and Analyses.

The book is being published by Wiley-Blackwell, an international leader in science-based publishing. Plans are in place for book translations in at least five languages.

Making Lectures More Accessible for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students

Deaf and hard-of-hearing students within The City University of New York who don’t know American Sign Language (ASL) are gaining access to lectures, thanks to the CUNY Captioning Initiative, which began at the College of Staten Island.

According to Maryellen Smolka, a co-facilitator of the Initiative, CUNY is seeing more and more deaf and hard-of-hearing students who don’t know ASL because there is a trend in the medical community to promote cochlear implants, in an effort to encourage these people to integrate more fully into society. As a result, new ways of imparting lecture materials to them had to be created.

Smolka says that such a student enrolled at CSI in 2002. The College faced the costly option of using court reporters (then charging, on average, $135 per hour) to turn lectures into text. Realizing that this was a cost-prohibitive route, Smolka explored other options, and with financial backing from CSI Vice President for Technology Systems Michael Kress and support from the CSI Division of Student Affairs’ Office of Disability Services, she found a solution.

Initially, CSI employed a masked microphone, like those used for translation purposes in the United Nations, which prevents others in the room from hearing what is said. A CART (Communications Access Real-Time Translation) Provider listens to a lecture and speaks into the microphone, which, through voice-recognition software, produces text on the student’s laptop computer, while he or she is in the classroom.

The College eventually expanded the Initiative by training CART Providers from other CUNY campuses and offering the services of their own providers to other University schools, providing crucial lecture materials to students, and literally saving the University hundreds of thousands of dollars by avoiding costly court reporter fees. “These savings also allow all other students to have more and better resources throughout the University,” Smolka notes.

In addition, Smolka reports that there are now other ways to get lecture materials into students’ hands. In cases where students cannot attend a lecture, text that is transcribed by CART providers is emailed to students and, just recently, CART providers can connect to a lecture via the Internet, transcribe the material, and send it to a student anywhere in the world in real time.

Smolka explains the importance of the Initiative, “If a deaf or hard-of-hearing student misses one class or one word…that can adversely affect an entire semester. I know that that sounds dramatic, but it’s happened already, so it’s not as dramatic as it might sound…” She also stresses that the Initiative helps to level the playing field for all students, giving everyone equal access to class material.

Nicole Dory, the Initiative’s Information Support Assistant, is responsible for the technical end of things. Although she has to cope with the occasional Internet glitch, or even the rare weak microphone battery, she is proud to be a part of the Initiative. “It’s exciting to see how the students benefit from it because it makes them more independent.” She also notes that all of the participating students’ grade point averages have increased, thanks to the fact that they now have access to accurate lecture transcriptions.

All of this wouldn’t have happened, according to Smolka and Dory, without the help of Vice President Kress. “Our mentor and supporter is Dr. Kress,” Smolka says. “No matter what we ask for, he just jumps in and gives it to us. The trick is that we never ask for anything that we don’t need.”

In the future, Smolka and Dory hope to expand the number of students who can utilize the Initiative’s services by establishing a center on the CSI campus that will house CART Providers for CSI and other CUNY schools.

The CUNY Captioning Initiative is making lectures accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing students.