CSI Professor recognized for Historical Study of America

CSI Professor Jonathan D. SassiCollege of Staten Island (CSI) Professor Jonathan D. Sassi was recently awarded the Ralph D. Gray Prize for the best article published in the Journal of the Early Republic for the year 2001.

The Journal of the Early Republic is published by the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) at Purdue University, which was established in 1977 as a nonprofit organization of professional and avocational historians interested in the encouragement of studies in the history of the United States during the period of the Early Republic.

The selection committee consisted of Gary Kornblith, chair; Lacy K. Ford Jr.; and Joanne Pope Melish, and commended Sassi’s article, “The First Party Competition and Southern New England’s Public Christianity,” for offering both a nuanced interpretation of the impact of party politics on New England religious culture between 1800 and 1815, and a fresh explanation of the rise of Protestant-based reform movements soon afterward.

Sassi’s article covers the period between the Revolution and Civil War, known as the Early Republic. It focuses on the “descendants of the Puritans, who were still pursuing the ideal of a godly society in the new American era after the Revolution,” summates Sassi. The material in his article is relevant today, because “it discusses the origin of reform movements like the abolitionist movement, nationalism, and our national identity.”

His article looks at the effect that the first period of political party competition had on religious and social life in New England, carefully integrating intellectual and political analyses of sermons and other clerical writings while explicating the obstacles and opportunities presented to New England ministers by the Jeffersonian challenge to Federalist leadership at national and state levels of government.

The Congregational clergy known as the “Standing Order” were the most significant factor in the civil, religious, and cultural affairs of most New England communities but found, to their dismay and alarm, that they could no longer rely on civil magistrates to promote Christian morality as they understood it, while dissenting ministers from this ecclesiastical establishment adopted Democratic-Republican ideas and rhetoric in their campaign for the disestablishment of the Congregational Church.

As the crisis of authority deepened, Standing Order clerics lost faith in the nation’s divine mission, but they also developed a brilliant evangelical strategy for winning back the hearts, minds, and souls of New Englanders. Out of the Standing Order’s conservative concerns came the upsurge of religious revivalism and social reform movements that transformed New England much more dramatically than disestablishment per se during the 1820s and 1830s.

“Sassi tells this complex and fascinating story with greater precision and clarity than earlier authors in an article that is at once analytically sophisticated, well situated in the relevant historiography, and blessedly free of jargon,” comments Professor Michael A. Morrison, coeditor of the Journal of the Early Republic.

Sassi’s most recent book, A Republic of Righteousness: The Public Christianity of the Post-Revolutionary New England Clergy, published in 2001 and available from by Oxford University Press, argues that New England clergymen furthered the vitality of early republican culture through the application of their corporate ethic to public issues, fostering American identity, nationalism, and civil religion.

Inquiries concerning membership in SHEAR, or institutional subscriptions to the Journal should be addressed to: Editor, Journal of the Early Republic, Purdue University, 1358 University Hall, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1358.


Absract of The Impact of the First Party Competition upon the Southern New England Clergy’s Public Christianity by Jonathan D. Sassi

During the first fifteen years of the nineteenth century, political polarization and conflict wrought a profound change upon the southern New England clergy’s public Christianity. Clergymen across the denominational spectrum transformed the ways they linked religious belief and life in society. For most ministers of the Congregational Standing Order, Jefferson’s election and the rise of the Democratic-Republican Party inaugurated a period of drastic reevaluation. They became frustrated with the inaction of Federalist politicians, repudiated their providential reading of revolutionary American history, and spiraled into apocalyptic nightmares of impending doom by 1812. But their response to the first party contest did not stand alone. Even within the Standing Order a few moderates and Republicans bolted from the leading camp. Religious dissenters meanwhile embraced the Jeffersonians. Not only did the Democratic-Republicans give dissenters electoral allies, but also the dissenters’ critique of the establishment became more mainstream, as they added popular Jeffersonian rhetoric to their sectarian complaints. By joining with others who detested the Standing Order’s political preaching, dissenters were able to weaken or even bring down the establishment. Because of these changes, the Congregational ministry had to conceive new strategies if it still wanted to connect Christianity and society. Moving outside the establishment, it emphasized the socially sanctifying role of the evangelical churches acting on their communities. These changes in ideology, catalyzed by the polarization and acrimony of partisanship, prepared the way for the denominational realignments and reform initiatives of the 1820s.

CSI President appointed to New York City Charter Revision Commission

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg appointed Dr. Marlene Springer, President, College of Staten Island (CSI), The City University of New York (CUNY), to a 13-member Charter Revision Commission to be chaired by former Police Commissioner Robert J. McGuire.

This Commission will review the entire City Charter to determine whether revision is needed and will hold a series of public meetings and hearings in all five boroughs before issuing a final report of its findings and recommendations.

The bipartisan Commission will decide by early September whether to propose any amendments to New York City voters on Election Day, Tuesday, November 5, 2002.

The members of this Commission “represent the very best of New York: independence, intelligence, and integrity,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “I am certain they will do an excellent job in evaluating whether civic improvements are needed, and if they are, in proposing amendments to the voters this November.”

“The City Charter Revision panel is joined together by a deep interest in the issues that face our city, and will be focused on positively contributing to whatever changes are necessary to the City Charter,” commented CSI’s President Springer. “I look forward to collaborating with my fellow members on the panel, and recommending a roadmap for legislators to bring our great city into the 21st Century.”

The Charter Revision Commission members include Robert J. McGuire, Herman Badillo, Richard I. Beattie, Wellington Z. Chen, Jerry E. Garcia, Patricia L. Gatling, Judah Gribetz, Patricia M. Hynes, Harry Kresky, Loretta Lynch, Cecilia E. Norat, Marlene Springer, and Herbert Sturz.

CSI presents First Annual Beverly Curry Scholarship Award

The College of Staten Island, in cooperation with the CSI Foundation, presents the annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, in the Campus Center on the Willowbrook Campus.

This year, Scholarship Committee Chairpersons Dean David Podell and Dean José Torres, recognize new and returning CSI students for their outstanding academic achievements and promise. With over 150 scholarships to be awarded, CSI is investing approximately $200,000.00 (mostly privately raised) in the future of its students during the upcoming academic year.

This year’s award ceremony presents the first annual Beverly Curry Memorial scholarship. Reflecting on the past to build a better tomorrow, Frederick Curry established this scholarship in memory of his wife Beverly Curry, whose life was taken in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Beverly Curry attended CSI in the evenings while working full-time at Cantor Fitzgerald. She was a Dean’s List student, maintaining a 3.8 Grade Point Average, and was majoring in Finance.

Mrs. Curry was a student who loved learning, and her roots were firmly planted into the fertile soil of CSI. Professor of Economics Simone Wegge considered her his favorite student because “in spite of the weighty financial responsibilities she shouldered at work each day, Beverly came to class upbeat and ready to work.”

At the recent CSI commencement ceremonies, Frederick Curry accepted a Special Dolphin Award dedicated to Beverly Curry, from CSI President Marlene Springer.

“While Beverly had the choice to attend colleges close to her office in Manhattan, such as Pace and NYU,” commented Mr. Curry, “she chose CSI because she knew she would get one of the best educations in the country.”

“CSI helped Beverly better appreciate the natural and artistic realms, grasp the complexities of moral issues, recognize the centrality of technology in our society,” continued Mr. Curry, “and understand human differences in culture, gender, and race.”

The Beverly Curry Memorial Scholarship provides financial assistance annually to a student who demonstrates high academic and professional promise, with a special interest in African-American women, who are often underrepresented both in college and in business. It ensures that the memory of Beverly Curry will live on, together with her dreams and dedication.

The fund awards its first scholarship this year to Mauberte Osias, a CSI senior majoring in psychology and the physician assistant program. A resident of Brooklyn, she graduated from the Clara Barton High School for Health Professionals before entering higher education on Staten Island.

Osias doesn’t let her academic challenges stand in the way of helping within the community. She has volunteered in the emergency medicine department at Bayley Seton Hospital and with the Board of Education’s Big Apple Games. As well, she is a CSI ambassador, dedicated to the educational mission of the college, assisting faculty and students in a variety of projects.

Osias plans to achieve a Master of Science degree upon completion of her undergraduate coursework. In addition to her community volunteerism and rigorous academic schedule, “there are all the obstacles that young men and women face today in our society,” commented Osias. “To overcome these obstacles, one should put in mind that a profession need not be based solely on the amount of years it take to complete [a degree] but on the outcome and the success of one’s life.”

Kurtz Foundation establishes Professorship for CSI Researcher

The Kurtz Foundation recently established a Professorship at the College of Staten Island (CSI,) named the Leonard and Esther Kurtz Term Professorship.

The Leonard and Esther Kurtz Professorship provides two continuous years of funding in support of the innovative polymer and biopolymer chemistry programs at CSI. Dr. Fred Naider, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, is the College’s first recipient of this prestigious Professorship. The funding comes at a crucial time, providing the additional resources needed to further distinguish the international reputation of CSI’s research.

The Kurtz Foundation, located in Farmingdale, New York, is a strong supporter of the health sciences, education and the arts. It had assets of nearly one million dollars in the year 2000, and is a highly selective independent foundation that provides general and operating support to qualified organizations. Grants for the year 2000 include the University of California at San Diego, the Mount Sinai Hospital and Medical Center, and the School of Medicine at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

“Dr. Naider’s research and teaching are at the highest levels,” commented Dr. Marlene Springer, President of CSI, “and have helped CSI establish a reputation for excellence that ranks the polymer chemistry program among the best in the greater New York area.”

“We have been pleased to follow Dr. Naider’s career,” commented Robert J. Kurtz, M.D., President of the Kurtz Foundation, “his rise through the faculty ranks at the College of Staten Island, and his latest promotion to the Rank of Distinguished Professor at City University in the winter of 2000.”

Naider’s research is focused on the biological function of peptides (small chains of amino acids) and their role as nutrients and signaling molecules. More specifically, Naider investigates how peptides cross cell membranes, and how cells communicate by the use of peptide signals.

The research lab is also the site of Naider’s mentorship of postdoctoral fellows and Ph.D. students. Undergraduates benefit from Naider’s expertise as well, learning organic chemistry and biochemistry in preparation for their careers in medical technology, medicine, optometry, dentistry and the basic sciences.

“I have benefited from their fresh minds, their curiosity, and their thirst for knowledge,” explains Naider. “I hope they have benefited from my passion for peptides and yeast.”

During Naider’s 27-year career at CSI, his findings have appeared in 180-refereed articles and he has been awarded nearly $6 million in research grants.

Like Mother, Like Daughter A Graduation Celebration x2

Marie and Kelly Payne of Westerleigh will have good cause for a double celebration on Thursday June 6, 2002. The mother – daughter pair will walk across the stage at the College of Staten Island to receive their bachelor degrees together at the College of Staten Island’s 26th annual commencement exercises.

Four years ago, Kelly Payne, the second of five children to Marie Payne began to pursue her SLS (Science, Letters & Society) degree at the College of Staten Island. Inspired by her daughter, Mrs. Payne, who had taken continuing education classes at the College, decided to enroll as a full-time student the following semester. This mother and daughter have always been close and shared many experiences, such as a family love for softball, but over the past four years the pair shared much more, an education.

Mrs. Payne realized about one year ago that she had the potential to graduate with her daughter. She had to double up her course load and take summer classes to accomplish becoming a member of the Class of 2002, along with her daughter Kelly. But, for Mrs. Payne it was worth it. Her dream of graduating from college was made even more special by being able to realize her dream on the same day as her daughter. On this topic Kelly honestly states “I must admit, at first I was a little jealous that I would have to share this time with someone, but once I saw how proud my mother was, (to receive her degree), I was overwhelmed with pride myself.”

Though the Payne’s never actually took classes together, they could never fit their schedules together, they did help each other through the trials of college. They helped each other with homework, proofread papers for one another and were there for one another when things got tough. Kelly says attending college with her mother not only strengthened their bond as mother and daughter it allowed them to discover a new friendship.

After graduation, Mrs. Payne, who is now completing an internship at the United Nations plans to pursue her degree in Political Science. Kelly Payne is already registered to continue her education. Kelly will began the pursuit of her Master’s Degree in Education in the fall of 2002 at the College of Staten Island.

No lazy dog days of summer for one CSI graduate

At six weeks old, Courtney Sue Gross had her first surgery to correct the cataracts with which she was born. She underwent 23 surgeries to correct glaucoma, retinal detachments in both eyes, and various other visual defects, and had lost vision in her right eye at the age of five. After four more surgeries, at the age of 10, Courtney went completely blind.

Courtney’s passion for reading motivated her to learn Grades I and II of Braille in 5 months, whereas people typically take up to 2 to 4 years to be completely Braille-literate. Even without the ability to read the printed word, Courtney was always in mainstream Honors and Scholar classes from elementary through high school. Courtney learned cane skills quickly as well, but felt extremely limited relying on the use of a cane.

During the summer of 1999, after high school graduation, Courtney’s dream of having a seeing eye dog became a reality when she trained at the Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ. She was paired with Xavior, a one-and-a-half year old male Golden Retriever. “With Xavior,” comments Gross, ” I have gained more independence, confidence, inspiration, and determination to succeed.” And it is with this renewed sense of zeal and strength that Courtney set off to college.

Courtney, a Staten Island resident, was accepted to the ivy-league Barnard College as well as the CSI Honors Program. Ultimately she chose CSI and began her college career in August 1999.

Since Courtney entered CSI with 16 college credits, (she earned these by obtaining high scores on Advanced Placement examinations in High School), Courtney completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology within three years, by carrying a 16-credit course load each semester. Throughout her stay at CSI, she maintained a general Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.87, with a 3.95 GPA in psychology.

Courtney’s achievements don’t end on the personal and academic, however. She believes in giving to community, and has volunteered at Clove Lakes Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, assisting with recreational activities, mailing and clerical responsibilities, and sometimes just visiting with new-found friends.

Courtney also works with at-risk adolescents on Staten Island as part of her mentoring class, and spends time at her alma-mater, Susan B. Wagner High School, where she tutors students that need help in English. She also observes interactions between teachers and students in an effort to devise more productive and successful educational practices with a psychological foundation.

“CSI’s professors have been very helpful, understanding, accommodating and willing to listen to my concerns and those of other students. All of the professors that I’ve had are knowledgeable and experienced in their fields,” comments Gross. “They have been encouraging and supportive, providing guidance, opinions and insights, and have always encouraged me despite my blindness, and were willing to give their assistance, even if it didn’t directly involve class matters.”

Jennifer Lynch, CSI Honors Program Counselor, and Ellen Goldner, the Director of the CSI Honors Program, have provided the signature services that helped Courtney choose CSI over Barnard. They worked one-on-one with Courtney, as they do with all Honors Program students, helping with staff interactions, the bursars office, financial aid, registration, graduation, and all of the other complications.

“I have always believed that the only way to improve and to change the world is to educate, to understand, and to accept all people regardless of their race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability or social class,” comments Gross.

“When people begin to realize that we are responsible for one another and are need to assist one another, they are often more open to the reciprocity which results from volunteering. In my opinion, this reciprocal relationship is the most valuable reward anyone can receive.”

June 6, 2002, marks the second graduating class of the CSI Honors Program. Courtney graduates as a Dean’s List student with a Student Leadership Award from the CSI Alumni Association. She has recently become a member of the Richmond County Psychological Association and the nationally recognized honors society PSYCHI.

Courtney and Xavior recently returned from trips to Florida and France, and will take a short summer vacation visiting friends in Texas.

This fall, Courtney will seek out new challenges at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, as she begins work on a Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology.

CSI Senior Awarded First Place in Statewide Science Competition

The College of Staten Island (CSI) Discovery Institute’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), participated in the Statewide Science and Technology research competition at the Sagamore resort located in Lake George, NY on April 6, 2002.

Four CSTEP students participated from CSI: Adebime Baruwa and Alexandra Krawics, both freshman, Oluwaseun Cole, a sophomore, and Ruth Duchatellier, a senior.

Competition was tough, with the CSI students competing against students from NYU, Cornell University, SUNY Downstate, Binghamton University, Rochester Institute of Technology and Fordham University, to name a few. This year’s event was the tenth annual hosted by Syracuse University, and brought together over 300 students from 41 colleges and universities across New York State.

The first place winner in the physical science category was CSI senior Ruth Duchatellier for her research on “Expression of Aminophospholipid Translocase in Brain-derived Cell Lines.” High School students benefit from Duchatellier’s achievements also, since she is a tutor with the Discovery Institute’s STEP program.

Duchatellier, a native of Haiti, transferred to CSI from York college. Her primary goal in life is to become an oral surgeon by working with the National Institute of Health (NIH) and their research and training programs for dental students.

The Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program is a New York state-funded program designed to increase the number of historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged undergraduate and graduate students who complete programs of study that lead to careers in scientific, technical, health-related or licensure programs.

Leonard Ciaccio, Ph.D., Co-Director of the CSI Discovery Institute and Director of CSTEP at CSI commented, “CSTEP is an especially valuable resource to the young adults of New York City, and is an investment in our future. CSTEP provides select opportunities for students, allowing them to collaborate and build upon their interdisciplinary coursework and research with CSI faculty. Ultimately, CSTEP enables the students to become leaders among the next generation of scientifically and technologically trained professionals.”

The weekend CSTEP conference consisted of student presentations of research projects and a series of workshops on such topics as “Preparing for Medical School” and “Diverse Leadership in the Next Millennium.”

During a conference address, Johanna Duncan-Portier, deputy commissioner, NYS Education Department, expressed pride in the “magnificent achievement” that she saw in the CSTEP students’ research presentations.

This year, awards for research, evaluated by teams of independent judges, were given to undergraduate students from City College of New York, Clarkson University, College of Staten Island, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Manhattanville College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, SUNY Brockport, and SUNY Stonybrook.

The CSTEP conference is part of a year-round program that provides CSTEP students with research opportunities, career-related internships, counseling, career advisement, and academic and cultural enrichment activities. The CSTEP program is funded by the New York State Education Department.

For more information visit: discovery.csi.cuny.edu

Print quality photos with captions available, click here

CSI Observatory hosts viewing of rare Planetary Phenomenon

Look, up in the sky, over New Jersey, it’s a rare grouping of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. But look quick, it may not be seen again for 34 years.

Planetary alignments are typically accompanied by stories based on superstitions from medieval times that the Earth could be pulled off its orbital path or suffer extraordinary tides. The combined gravitational force of planetary groupings on the Earth is trivial, however, and happens regularly with no disturbances.

A similar arrangement of planets happened two years ago but was not visible from Earth because of the position of the Sun. The Earth, of course, survived the last alignment, and this year’s phenomenon is also no cause for concern.

The CSI Observatory will host a viewing and an informational program about this planetary alignment on Friday May 3, 2002, from 8:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m., weather permitting. The program is free and open to the public. Join Professor Irving Robbins, Director of the CSI Observatory, for a chance to view the individual planets and their grouping through the observatory’s telescope and with the naked eye.

Through the telescope will be a chance to view: the moons of Jupiter & Jupiter’s atmosphere; the rings of Saturn; the ice caps on Mars (if we’re very lucky); our nearest neighbor, Venus, in gibbous phase; and the most difficult planet to find, Mercury. Other celestial wonders will also be available for viewing.

“Each of these planets alone is intriguing, and we could spend an entire night studying one,” commented Robbins, “but the opportunity to learn about them and view them as a grouping is an exciting chance for novice and veteran sky-watchers alike to witness part of the celestial ballet.”

Call the CSI Astrophysical Observatory at 982-3260 for updates and weather advisories. The observatory also has public viewing hours on most Monday nights, call for details and availability.

If you can’t join us for this occurrence of planetary phenomena, join us for the next viewable alignment sometime in April 2036.

For more information on the CSI Astrophysical Observatory, visit their website at supernova7.apsc.csi.cuny.edu