CSI Alumna Dr. Muriel Howard named AASCU President

After her graduation from Richmond College (a predecessor of CSI) in 1970 with a Bachelor’s in Sociology and a minor in Elementary Education, Dr. Muriel Howard has dedicated her life to public higher education. After a 23-year tenure at University of Buffalo, and her most recent 13-year service to Buffalo State College, eventually becoming the institution’s President, Dr. Howard has been chosen as president of American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). AASCU is an advocacy and support organization representing over 430 public college and university members in the United States, as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Member institutions pride themselves on access and opportunity, being student-centered, and acting as “stewards of place”—connecting students and faculty with the people in the outer community to advance local education, the economy, and quality of life.

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Discussing her selection to lead AASCU, Dr. Howard remarks, “I was especially thrilled and honored to be selected because I was recommended and selected by my peers. In addition it is a privilege to have an opportunity to help advance national policies that will impact the lives of so many students. This opportunity comes at a very exciting time in my career in that I believe that I had accomplished many of the goals that I had established for Buffalo State College. I was ready to examine new opportunities that would enable me to have a greater impact on higher education and to help a greater number of students….”

Regarding her new role, Dr. Howard says, “We are an association that is focused on student access, affordability, and competiveness in higher education. My role will involve working on public policy issues such as garnering more Pell support for students. I will work closely with our member institutions to seek greater opportunities for first-generation and non-traditional learners as well those students who are from underserved populations and creating professional development and leadership opportunities for institutional leaders—especially college and university presidents and chancellors.

Richmond College Revisited
When asked if her time at Richmond College had an impact on her success, Dr. Howard’s response was “Absolutely. We had a wonderful faculty. They were extremely talented and came from some of the most prestigious universities in the country. Some of them were interested in what we might today call applied research and frequently guided students through academic learning experiences that involved the community. I vividly remember two experiences that I was engaged in and I know that those experiences influenced my life and my work at Buffalo State College. In addition, Professors Francis Botchway and Charles Thomas from the African American Studies Department provided a home away from home for students and spent many out-of-class hours helping myself and other students chart a course of success. So, certainly, my experience at Richmond was extremely meaningful.”

Richmond College also provided a spark that kept Dr. Howard focused on her own education, and eventually, helping others to advance their studies. “Before I completed my degree, I remember Brian Sherman (who was my major adviser in Sociology) saying to me, ‘You should go to graduate school.’ I thought about it and decided to work for a semester on Staten Island at the Urban League, following through on my major in Sociology. Over the summer, I decided to go back to graduate school [at the University of Buffalo] and discovered that Brian had been right. It was the most important thing he ever said to me. I had a great experience at the University of Buffalo and completed my Master’s of Elementary and Remedial Education and a Doctorate in Education, Administration, Organization, and Policy while working full time at the University. Prior to this new position, my entire career in higher education has been in Buffalo.

A Connection to CSI’s Future President
While at the University of Buffalo, Dr. Howard found herself working with Dr. Tomás Morales, who is now CSI’s President. “When he was working for [City College] CUNY,” Dr. Howard recalls, “he was very much involved with the EOP [Educational Opportunity Program] and helping students to gain access to college. Our careers were moving along similarly and we would attend statewide meetings together and try to champion issues that we felt were important to access, retention, and the persistence of students. Tom and I always shared ideas and information about projects or activities that we were involved in at our institutions and we often lobbied together in Albany.

Today, Dr. Howard and Dr. Morales are working together again, advocating for higher education, as they both sit on the AASCU Board.

Making an Impact at Buffalo State
As President of Buffalo State College, Dr. Howard certainly brought positive results. Among her many achievements are the successful overhaul of the institution’s general education program. In addition, she helped to amass over $350 million for new buildings and other capital improvements on campus, including a new arts center, and a new math and science center, residence hall, and technology center, which are currently under construction. Dr. Howard was also instrumental in expanding the school’s honors program from about 60 students to 200, and she succeeded in increasing the number of faculty, noting, “last year I was able to hire 50 new faculty members before the economic decline came along and that was just in one year.”

The Importance of Public Higher Education
Now that she is heading AASCU, Dr. Howard can continue her lifelong work to help others gain access to a college or university education. “I think that public higher education is a basic right that everyone should be afforded and take advantage of at some point in their life. I found it to be a transformational experience and have been afforded many opportunities and benefits as a result of my collegiate experiences. Like me, most college graduates, tend to volunteer more, help others, and are more engaged in their community and society. College graduates also tend to apply their knowledge to support and advance their careers and offer to support other family members who wish to attend college. I believe that a college education is the greatest and most important opportunity available in society. It is a special gift and I am thankful to my family for the support and many sacrifices that they made to support my siblings and me.”

Dr. Muriel Howard is the President of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

CSI Expands Students’ Horizons to Italy

For over 25 years, the College of Staten Island, together with institutional partners, the American University of Rome (AUR), the Instituto Venezia, and Lorenzo de’ Medici LDM) in Florence and Tuscania, has enabled hundreds of students to discover the delights of Italy and to experience the life-changing effects of studying abroad.

The programs, which are offered to CSI and CUNY students, and nationally, through the College Consortium for International Studies (CCIS), have been growing in popularity throughout the years. As of 2008, 415 students had studied in Italy under the auspices of the College of Staten Island.

Last summer, President Tomás and Mrs. Evy Morales visited LDM and AUR to meet our partners and learn more about the wonderful opportunities our students have to study in Florence, Rome, Venice, and Tuscania–four distinctly different and rich settings in Italy.

Discussing the programs at Lorenzo de’ Medici (LDM), Chris Tingue, Coordinator of Education Abroad at CSI, says, “CSI students may study abroad at Lorenzo de’ Medici’s main campus in Florence or in Tuscania and now Venice. There is also a unique “Three Cities” semester program that would allow students to do a month in Tuscania, followed by a month in Rome and Florence.

All of CSI’s Italian partners work together to help make this experience available to all interested students, as financial aid, scholarships, and careful planning are essential to many participating students. This has led to recent developments at LDM, according to Tingue. “In order to build on its long tradition of cooperation with CSI,” and in order to attract more CSI degree-seeking students, Lorenzo de’ Medici has now agreed to offer full program cost scholarships to degree-seeking Lorenzo de Medici students. For CSI students at LDM sites for fall or spring, they may benefit from a full program cost scholarship equivalent to over $7,500 or partial program scholarships for the short-term winter and summer sessions. Through increased efforts to create campus-wide awareness of the LDM grants, we anticipate more CSI students being able to benefit from these scholarships and we anticipate seeing more CSI students able to study abroad in Italy via the LDM programs.”

At all participating institutions, CSI students have the opportunity to study Italian language while learning about Italy in a wide range of courses taught in English. Students earn college credit while studying topics that they would be unable to study on their home campus. Whether walking the streets of Florence with a noted art historian, debating issues with students in a political science classroom in Rome, learning Italian language and culture in Venice, studying in one of the new courses in opera and song literature, or enjoying guitar and mandolin studies in Tuscania, students have “the experience of a lifetime” in Italy.

The experience to study in Italy often has such a profound effect on students that they become natural recruiters for the programs upon their return to the U.S. In fact, Study abroad alumna Margaret Ricciardi, an adult student and artist, so enjoyed her experience in Florence, that she created the Frank and Margaret Riccardi Scholarship Fund to help others realize their dream of studying in Italy.

College of Staten Island President Dr. Tomás Morales (third from right) on his trip to Italy

Celebrating 25 Years of Students Studying in Italy

The College of Staten Island’s Center for International Service hosted a reception on November 20, during International Education Week, to celebrate a quarter-century of offering study abroad programs in Italy.

Together with institutional partners, The American University of Rome, the Istituto Venezia, and Lorenzo de’Medici in Florence and Tuscania, the College has enabled hundreds of students to discover the delights of Italy and to experience the life-changing effects of studying abroad.

At the event, CSI President Tomás Morales and Robert Marino, President of The American University of Rome, spoke of the strength of the partnerships and toasted to the bright future for international understanding through educational exchange.

They were joined by study abroad alumnae Margaret Ricciardi, a 94-year-old adult student and artist, who is preparing for a Manhattan exhibit.

This semester marks 27 continuous years of courses at CSI for Mrs. Ricciardi. She is currently enrolled in oil painting and sculpture.

Mrs. Ricciardi earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art in 1985, studied in Italy twice, and established the Frank and Margaret Ricciardi Scholarship in 2006. “I was fortunate and wanted to share with others everything that the College has to offer. It’s a wonderful experience, a wonderful College,” said Mrs. Ricciardi. “It’s not a tremendous amount, but it is what I could afford, and it will help students study in Italy and study Italian. It is a tribute to my husband, who came to America from Italy when he was 16 years old.”

The programs, which are offered to CSI and CUNY students and nationally through the College Consortium for International Studies (CCIS), have been growing in popularity. During the calendar year of 1994, there were 90 students in the program; at present there are 90 students studying in Italy under the auspices of the College of Staten Island, and a total of 415 students will have participated in the CSI-sponsored programs during 2008.

All students have the opportunity to study Italian language while learning about Italy in a wide range of courses taught in English. Students earn college credit while studying topics that they would be unable to study on their home campus. Whether walking the streets of Florence with a noted art historian, debating issues with students from the European Union in a political science classroom in Rome, learning Italian language and culture in Venice, or studying in one of the new courses in opera and song literature or guitar and mandolin studies in Tuscania, students have “the experience of a lifetime” in Italy.

CSI celebrated a quarter-century of offering study abroad programs in Italy.