DiPaolo Scholarship Funds Study in Dublin

CSI student Kaitlin Barr, a senior majoring in International Business, has headed to the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) to study there this spring. Barr, the first CSI student to participate in the exchange program with DIT, is the recipient of a Lorraine and Gordon DiPaolo Scholarship, which is providing her with $3,000 for study in Europe.

“As an international business major, I feel that studying overseas is integral to the completion of my degree,” says Barr. “Studying abroad is an eye-opening adventure. There are books, teachers, and lectures that can tell you about foreign places, but there is no substitute for living and learning in another country.”

Barr, who also had the opportunity to study in Paris in the summer of 2007, adds, “I was excited to hear that CSI had started an exchange program with Dublin Institute of Technology, as Irish literature, music, and schools are held in high regard, and the people are friendly, gregarious, and hard-working. As a business student it would be wonderful to share perspectives on the relationship of Ireland with the rest of the world. Their economic growth has placed Ireland in the forefront within the business world. I am eager to learn new ways of thinking, living, learning, and be able to appreciate how culture determines the world’s many values and behaviors.”

The College of Staten Island continues to expand its relationship with Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), the largest institution of higher learning in Ireland. The CSI/DIT partnership began in 2004 when CSI Professor of Business Alan Zimmerman visited DIT on a Fulbright scholarship. “We’ve had many DIT visitors here since then. And I’ve been back there several times for various reasons,” Zimmerman reports. Just last October, Zimmerman went to DIT to serve as an external reviewer for their international business master’s program, “which involves going there and going over all their exams and dissertations required for their degree—reading those and rendering an opinion on the program. I found it to be world-class quality.”

DIT faculty, such as Eoghan O’Grady, head of the Management Undergraduate degree, the largest business program at DIT, and Mary Faulkner, the director of DIT’s Master’s program in International Business, have recently visited CSI. DIT also sent its first exchange students, Andrea Wilson and Matthew Cook, who just returned to Ireland after participating in CSI’s Exchange Ambassador’s Program last fall.

Zimmerman underscores the importance of student exchanges by noting, “to be exposed to other students from another country, this is a tremendous thing—especially not just for a day or two but for months on end. I know my students became very friendly with Matt and Andrea and they learned a lot because even though they speak English like we do, their culture is entirely different from ours, as I learned when I was on my Fulbright. They’re getting a real insight into how other people live and I think that’s such a critical part of your education.”

Barr seems to agree with Zimmerman’s assessment. “Anyone who has the opportunity to travel abroad has the opportunity to broaden their intellectual horizons and gain an understanding of political, economic, and international issues. Besides personal growth, this experience has many other positive outcomes. Some that I think are particularly important are seeing where the United States as a country stands in the eyes of foreigners, making new friends you would have never met, and most importantly, it will set me apart from other job seekers in a very competitive job market. Employers seek graduates who have studied abroad, and I know this experience will enhance my career in the future.”

The newest addition to the strengthening relationship between CSI and DIT will be trip for graduate business students that Prof. Zimmerman is arranging for May. “We will take a select group to Dublin for lectures, company visits and research,” says Zimmerman, “it’s a unique experience for our graduate students to apply what they have learned in our MS program to a foreign setting.”

DiPaolo Scholarship Funds Study in Dublin

Small Business Development Center to Host Tax Seminar

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the College of Staten Island and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will host a seminar entitled, “Tax Strategies for Small Business” on Wednesday, January 21 in the Center for the Arts Lecture Hall. Registration begins at 8:30am and the seminar gets underway at 9:00am.

This free seminar is designed to inform start-up and established freelancers, self-employed entrepreneurs, and independent contractors about their tax requirements and recordkeeping responsibilities. Attendees will learn about Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship), deductible business expenses, self-employment tax and other tax topics.

Noting that there have been a number a dramatic changes to tax laws affecting small business over the past year, Dean Balsamini, Director of the SBDC, says, “an important aspect of today’s business environment …is really to find areas to cut costs. If you can’t enhance your sales, then the alternative is to find ways to cut costs and this seminar will assist in doing that. So, participants will have an opportunity to get factual information through the IRS and we also plan on having guest speakers there who will be available to provide some insight into the other cost-cutting measures.”

Guest speakers will include Gita Hecht, IRS Senior Stakeholder Liaison and Suzanne A. Ascher, Esq. and CPA.

Balsamini adds that considering the rough economic times that small businesses are facing, this seminar will provide these enterprises with tools that might help them to survive. “The tax laws sometimes get overly complicated,” he notes, “but when there are new initiatives that are available or those that maybe businesses haven’t availed themelves of in the past, [our guest speakers] will help. The seminar will provide business owners an opportunity to still be able to do something to affect what happened last year.”

For more information on the seminar, call Eileen Sullivan at 718.982.2560.

CSI Tech Experts Present at CUNY Conference

Faculty and staff from the College of Staten Island (CSI) shared their technological expertise at the Seventh Annual CUNY IT (information technology) Conference sponsored by The City University of New York (CUNY) and the Center for Digital Education and held at John Jay College in Manhattan.

Under the theme, “Instructional/Information Technology in CUNY: The Catalyst for Transformational Change,” the free conference provided an overview of the University’s key IT initiatives, and gave participants a chance to explore how technology is affecting the areas of instruction, research, and administration. It also provides attendees with an opportunity to meet with sponsors and hear from IT leadership. Presenters from CSI hosted six sessions.

Four of the CSI-related sessions examined the enhancement of teaching through the employment of technology:

Dr. Bill Bauer et al., in “Teaching and Learning with Rich Media: Podcasting and iTunes U” presented a look at this ongoing University-wide effort to build a collaborative academic community for enriching teaching and learning with rich media.

Bill Bernhardt participated in the panel discussion, “Listening to Students: A Conversation about Online Teaching and Learning,” which considered how student feedback reveals issues that are particularly important when students are taking their entire program online.

Building on the success of utilizing voice recognition technology in the classroom for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, CSI’s Office of Disability Services and the Multi-Media Regional Center has refined its ability to use the technology remotely, offering the greatest level of independence yet. Margaret Venditti, Nicole Dore, Christopher Cruz Cullari, and Maryellen Smolka reviewed these achievements in “Transforming the Lives of Students with Disabilities Using Voice Recognition Technology and Collaborative Training.”

Also, Mark Lewental and Dr. Susan Imberman presented “Engaging Faculty through Class Capture and Tablet Computing.” The combination of these two tools allows faculty to record their lectures and students to review the material at any time. Faculty and staff shared examples and discussed the administrative and practical aspects of mounting courses using tablets and class capture.

Two other presentations focused on technology and research with a focus on expanding knowledge and addressing quality of life issues, particularly here on Staten Island:

Dr. Michael Kress, Paul Muzio, and Dr. Tobias Schaefer et al. spotlighted “The CUNY High-Performance Computing Center,” which is housed at CSI, discussing, in particular, how modeling and simulation using high-performance computing is a key methodology in research disciplines ranging from the behavioral sciences to physics to the media arts.

In addition, exploring the use of information analysis techniques that one can use to evaluate urban systems, Dr. Jonathan Peters, Dr. Michael Kress, Dr. Alan Benimoff, and Nora Santiago, hosted “Information Technology and Urban Planning.” The presenters paid particular attention to bus rapid transit, toll collection systems, transit market sizing, population analysis, and social equity measures.

Beside the CSI participants, presenters from other CUNY campuses addressed a myriad of issues regarding pedagogy; technology and the environment, culture, and college finances; and campus security.

Faculty/staff from CSI shared their technological expertise at the 7th Annual CUNY IT Conference.

Legislative Luncheon Underscores CSI's Many Contributions

College of Staten Island President Dr. Tomás D. Morales hosted the annual CSI Legislative Luncheon on campus to update elected officials and urge them to provide continued financial support to CSI in the face of severe city and state budget cuts resulting from the current economic downturn.

Addressing the attendees, including Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, City Councilman James Oddo, State Assemblyman Matthew Titone, and representatives of Governor David Paterson and other local officials, Dr. Morales noted that he is “the envy of the CUNY Presidents,” because of the “undivided attention” that CSI receives from the area’s public officials.

Jay Hershenson, CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, who was joined by CUNY Budget Director Matthew Sapienza, outlined the College’s significant contributions to Staten Island and the State of New York.

“I’ve had the chance to see CSI grow,” Hershenson said, “and I believe in my heart that the reason why CSI is where it is today among public higher education institutions is because of the fact that the support for CSI has been unified. I don’t think that there’s a legislative delegation anywhere where, year-in and year-out, there has been [such] a unified approach to helping this College.”

Hershenson also praised the near 100 percent pass rate on the state teacher certification examination as but one example of the exemplary level of pedagogy at the College.

Noting that “investment [in the College] ripples far beyond our campus,” Dr. Morales underscored CSI’s accomplishments in a PowerPoint presentation that detailed the record levels of enrollment that the College is experiencing, the significant economic impact that the College has on Staten Island, its massive contribution to the community, and the retention levels of CSI graduates who use the skills that they learned at CSI to benefit the Island, New York City, and the state.

In addition, Dr. Morales outlined some of the crucial capital projects that the College hopes to complete, such as electrical distribution updates campus-wide with particular attention to powering CSI’s new High-Performance Computational Center, as well as city capital project priorities that include significant upgrades to the College’s computer network and Library.

Demonstrating CSI’s commitment to its students and community, Dr. Morales also listed CSI’s member item project priorities, such as the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative, SEEK’s Strategies for Success Program, the Virtual Classroom Study Abroad Project, and two of initiatives to serve the community and Island residents with developmental disabilities.

Putting the results of CSI’s vast achievements in more tangible terms, Dr. Morales concluded his presentation by treating attendees to three success stories featuring recent CSI graduates who have gone on the Pepperdine University, the University of Michigan Medical School, and the Teach for America program.

College of Staten Island President Morales hosted the annual CSI Legislative Luncheon on campus.

CSI to Honor Scholarship Recipients

The College of Staten Island will invite approximately 90 students who are recipients of scholarships and their guests to a Scholarship Awards Ceremony and Reception on Tuesday, February 3 in the Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre at 6:00pm.

Caryl Watkins, Director of CSI’s Career and Scholarship Center says that “students enjoy the event because they get to meet other scholarship recipients, are recognized for their achievements, and can have their guests share in their success.”

The program will feature remarks from College President Tomás Morales and Acting Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Daniels. Watkins will then call the honorees to the stage to receive a pin from Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost William Fritz to be followed by a photo op with President Morales.

The scholarship program at the College of Staten Island recognizes academic excellence and College or community service. In addition to scholarships offered directly by the College, the CSI Foundation, and departments and associations of the College, memorial scholarships have been endowed through the generosity of many individuals and organizations who value higher education. Scholarships support, in varying ways, the education of the men and women of our community.

Scholarship recipients were invited to an Awards Ceremony and Reception.

Three CSI Students Participate in Inaugural Class of CUNY Leadership Academy

Three College of Staten Island (CSI) students are among the 28 participating in the CUNY Leadership Academy, the flagship leadership program of The City University of New York. Representing CSI are Peter DeCresenzo, History/Secondary Education; Nervana Gaballa, Communications; and Jose Saltos, Biochemistry.

Peter DeCrescenzo is a New York native who has lived on Staten Island for the past 11 years. With a 3.6 GPA, he has just successfully completed the 2007-2008 CSI Emerging Leaders Program where he attended ten workshops designed to teach students various leadership development skills and techniques. In addition, he completed a leadership project that brought nonprofit organizations to CSI to meet with students who were interested in volunteer opportunities on campus and in their respective communities.

Peter has been a member of the CSI Student Government for the past three semesters and is currently the CSI Student Government President. He is involved in numerous campus activities, including serving as a New Student Orientation Leader, a CSI Ambassador, and as a Student Aide in the Center for International Service. Peter is currently in the CUNY Pipeline Honors Program for the 2008-2009 academic year.

Nervana Gaballa is a New York native who currently resides in Brooklyn. She has just completed the 2007-2008 CSI Emerging Leaders Program. In addition, she completed a leadership project that brought awareness to CSI students about the dangers of smoking and poor nutrition. Nervana has been a freshman mentor through the DMX program at the College for the past year, was Vice President of the Pre-Medical Society during the last academic year, and is currently serving as the organization’s President for the 2008-2009 academic year.

Nervana is a member of The Verrazano School at CSI, Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor’s Society, and the SEEK for Excellence Club. She is a Research Assistant for in the CSI Chemistry Department, a Senator with CSI’s Student Government, and a contributor to the CSI Banner newspaper. After successfully completing her internship with Reach out and Read of Greater NY (a children’s literacy organization), she was recently hired as a program assistant.

Jose Saltos is a native of Ecuador. With a GPA of 3.3, he is a tutor of math and science in the C-STEP program, a member of the Black Male Initiative Program here at CSI, and also a Research Assistant in the Chemistry Department. Jose has just completed the 2007-2008 CSI Emerging Leaders Program. In addition, he completed a leadership project that brought together content experts in his field to speak with students at CSI, and he has just concluded an internship with the NIH/Howard University Amgen Scholars Program in Washington, DC. Jose is planning to complete his PhD in Chemistry and to become a university professor and researcher.

Robert King Kee, Coordinator of Student Leadership Development in the Office of Student Life, says, “All three students are active in various areas of student leadership on campus, clubs and organizations, volunteer service, and civic engagement. We are very proud of the leadership they are providing to the entire CSI community.”

The CUNY Leadership Program provides a unique opportunity for students who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership on their campuses and in their communities. This innovative year-long program is bringing together best practices in leadership development from across CUNY and beyond. The current CLP Fellows experience state-of-the-art leadership education that includes emphasis on service, community building, global perspectives, and innovation.

The CUNY Leadership Academy reports having received nearly 150 nominations and choosing 60 students from among that group for the interview stage, which led to the final selection of the inaugural cohort of 28.

The CUNY Leadership Academy and its participants work at a number of levels to develop leadership programs and curricula across the University.

Three CSI students are among the 28 participating in the CUNY Leadership Academy.

New Research Leaves Many Wondering Whether or Not the Clean Water Act Is Working

New York State Senator Andrew Lanza visited the College of Staten Island (CSI) for a briefing on the research of two CSI faculty members whom the Senator has funded.

Dr. Jeff Bussolini of the CSI Sociology department shared his observations with Senator Lanza and CSI President Dr. Tomás D. Morales regarding sociological research on the Staten Island Ferry and how Ferry riders perceive this 103-year-old Staten Island icon, and Dr. William Wallace of the Biology department reviewed his research on three local marshes, noting that much of the metal contamination found had occurred within the past four to eight years.

It is in three years of research that Bussolini, associate professor, and Ananya Mukherjea, assistant professor, have uncovered many social phenomena that Ferry riders experience on the 27-minute-long ride across New York Harbor. Working with their Sociology 270 class, the researchers often teach their class at the Ferry terminal to allow their students to conduct fieldwork and observe the social trends created by this mode of transportation. Thanks to the funding provided by Senator Lanza, Bussolini and Mukherjea were able to work with grad students, as well as undergraduate students, to conduct surveys and interviews of Ferry riders. By using audio and video interviews, Bussolini and Mukherjea have been able to record the “Ferry experience” of regular Ferry riders, as well as tourists.

According to Mukherjea, “the Ferry feels like a plaza,” allowing for a more social setting when compared to other forms of transportation. Its wide-open space feels less like another leg of the commute to work, and more like 27 minutes to “read a newspaper, put on make-up, or enjoy the view,” Bussolini states. Being a former frequent Ferry-rider, Senator Lanza shared many of the same sentiments by stating that many riders often look forward to this part of their commute because it allows them to relax for a short while. Professors Bussolini and Mukherjea also uncovered in their research that the ethnic distribution on the Ferry reflects the diversity of New York City.

Wallace, associate professor, briefed Senator Lanza and Dr. Morales on his evaluation of the Staten Island marshes for trends in sediment contamination.

As a native Staten Islander, growing up and playing around these wetlands, Senator Lanza found this research project to be significant for all Staten Island residents. Wallace focused his research on three local marshes: Meredith Marsh, Travis Avenue Marsh, and the Richmond Creek Marsh. He examined these three sites for three metals—cadmium, copper, and zinc—to determine their concentration levels within the soil that surrounds the marshes. Most of Wallace’s research shows that much of the metal contamination that was found in the marshes had occurred within the past four to eight years.

This leaves the question of what caused this sudden increase in contaminants. Wallace suggested many factors that may have played a role in this matter: the large industrial population that surrounds the Arthur Kill, the former Fresh Kills and Brookfield landfills, the dredging of the Arthur Kill, or perhaps the low flushing of the marshes caused by the tides from New York Harbor and Raritan Bay, which force the sediments/pollutants to remain in the Arthur Kill.

Wallace’s conclusions show that there was a modest recovery in the sediment of the cadmium pollutants, but his research does not show “any clear and long-term recovery from metal sources.”

This leaves many wondering whether or not the Clean Water Act is working.

Senator Lanza stated that he “feels that all of the Staten Island elected officials should take these matters into consideration” so they can adequately address if there is any correlation between this, and Staten Island’s high-cancer propensity.

NYS Senator Andrew Lanza visited CSI for a briefing on the research of two faculty members.

CSI Researchers Battle Breast Cancer

The incidence of breast cancer is inordinately high on Staten Island, as the borough has one of the highest death rates from the disease in the state and the highest death rate in New York City.

In response, researchers at the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative (SIBCRI) at the College of Staten Island (CSI) are working diligently to discover what is causing this epidemic and to educate the community about this disease.

Recently, the SIBCRI received $80,000 in crucial funding through a bipartisan effort of members of the New York City Council, $50,000 from State Senator Andrew Lanza, and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro has given money toward essential research equipment.

Donna Gerstle, Professor of Environmental Science, and a co-principal CSI researcher in the SIBCRI (along with Alfred Levine, Interim Dean of Research and Graduate Programs; Jimmie Fata, Assistant Professor of Biology; and Michael Kress, Vice President for Technology Systems), says that the SIBCRI is tackling breast cancer on three fronts: “The first is an epidemiological study, which is a case-control study that looks at individuals on Staten Island from 1980 to 2006 and it will compare their lifestyles and risk factors to a control set of individuals. The second is to evaluate how environmental factors actually influence breast tissue development and we will be exposing mammary tissue to a set of known environmental carcinogens that exist in the Staten Island air. Finally, we are going to be doing for the community a prevention educational program that will work with health care providers, community-based organizations, elected officials, and schools.”

At present, Gerstle reports that she and Dr. Levine are examining obituary information from the Staten Island Advance. “We are in the process of going out and getting obituary information because we are able to get life histories with the Staten Island Advance through the obituaries and they’re reliable and we’ve used them as the way we get our information on individuals for years now.” So far, Gerstle and Levine have collected information from 1980 to 1990.

In addition, Dr. Fata has begun to examine breast cancer tissue samples in his lab, and for his part, Gerstle notes that “Dr. Kress is taking care of all of our computer needs, and he has developed a database to enter all the data in.”

CSI students are also a part of the SIBCRI, joining the large group of about 20 scientists, attorneys, sociologists, individuals involved in education, people from health departments, and three physicians who are all part of the effort.

Gerstle says that all of her graduate students have participated in important aspects of the research, including an examination of the number of children that a woman has had and risk of breast cancer (which appears to have an inverse correlation), development of a breast cancer questionnaire for the study, and investigations into where victims lived during puberty (as this is a crucial time for breast development).

Karen Saur, a CSI graduate student in Environmental Science researching residence at time of puberty, notes, “It is rather exciting and interesting to be part of this project. Since I am a woman living in Queens and going to school on Staten Island these risks I am looking into can potentially apply to me or other women I know, including family. When it comes to cancer, the more you know about risk factors, the better chance you have of reducing your risk.”

Beyond research, the SIBCRI has also begun a concerted effort to educate the community about breast cancer. Gerstle states that we’re going to be developing what we call ‘action kits’. These action kits will combine the best of the breast cancer materials that are out there… [and then] we’re going to have individuals going to elected officials and going into schools and community-based organizations and saying, ‘this is what you can do’.”

All of these efforts, according to Gerstle, would not be possible without the help of the area’s elected officials. “That Speaker [Christine] Quinn recognized from just a few minutes of speaking to me that this was important work is beyond words. It just shows what a maverick she really is and what a wonderful person—and Councilman [James] Oddo urged her on. The work could not be done without them; we would not be able to give the women of Staten Island and the entire community an answer as to what is going on.”

Although Gerstle points to three major projects that the SIBCRI is taking on, it is also heading up a fundraising drive to knit and sell scarves. In fact, SIBCRI volunteers sold about 125 scarves at CSI’s First Annual Fall Festival last October. Gerstle explains, “Everyone who’s knitted for us knows someone who has come in contact with this horrible disease or has at least had a scare, and every scarf tells a story in its stitches.”

How does Gerstle feel to be a part of the SIBCRI? “It’s amazing. It’s been my life’s work. I’m a native Staten Islander. I was born and grew up here. I raised my daughter here. If there’s a problem, I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to find out what it is. My feeling about cancer research is that we do have to take certain methods of prevention, but our goal is to find a cure—find out what is going on, and hopefully prevent it from ever happening again…Maybe if we can find an answer on Staten Island, then maybe that can give us some insight into all breast cancer.”

For more information on the Staten Island Breast Cancer Research Initiative, or to volunteer as a scarf knitter, call Dr. Gerstle at 718.982.3922.

Staten Island has one of the highest death rates from breast cancer in New York City.