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Bernard Spitzer, ’43, Gives $25 MM to Architecture School
Bernard Spitzer, ’43, a prominent New York real estate developer, is giving $25 million to CCNY for the benefit of the College’s School of Architecture. President Williams has recommended to Chancellor Goldstein that the CUNY Board of Trustees name the CCNY architecture school The Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture. “This historic, transformative gift from Bernard and Anne Spitzer will make the City College School of Architecture one of the best in the nation,” said President Williams. “I strongly believe there are few things more fundamental to the common good than an educated society, and few institutions that contribute more faithfully to that overarching goal than City College,” added Mr. Spitzer. “I feel privileged to support their work, their vision and their future.” Dean of Architecture George Ranalli said the gift “will enable us to make several enhancements we could not otherwise afford that will propel us into the top tier of U.S. schools of architecture.” The proceeds of the gift will support undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, study abroad opportunities, supplemental stipends and support for faculty research, publication and exhibitions. The Spitzers gave $2.1 million in 2005 to endow the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Chair in Political Science at CCNY. More on this story.
Iraq War Vet Don Gomez Named 2009 Truman Scholar
CCNY junior Don Gomez, a veteran of the U.S. Army who had two tours of duty in Iraq, has been named a 2009 Truman Scholar. Mr. Gomez is an international studies major with a 3.85 G.P.A. as well as a Colin Powell Fellow with the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies at CCNY. As a member of the U.S. Army infantry from 2001 to 2006, he served tours of duty in Iraq from February 2003 to January 2004 and from May to August of 2005, and held the rank of sergeant at the time of his discharge. He earned several medals as a paratrooper including the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Parachutists Badge. Since coming to CCNY, he has been active in Veterans Affairs on several levels. He established the City College Veterans Association, a student club, and has been actively involved in the effort to establish a Veterans Affairs office on campus. The Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 in funding to students pursuing graduate degrees in public service fields. It is one the most prestigious and competitive national scholarship programs. More on this story.
Senior Kimberly Paige Young Named Javits Fellow
Kimberly Paige Young, a senior in City College’s English Honors Program, has been selected as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow for the 2009-2010 academic year. The program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, provides up to $30,000 in support for a period not exceeding four years for graduate study in the arts, humanities or social sciences. Ms. Young, who will graduate from CCNY next month with a double major in English Literature and Comparative Literature, will use the award at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she’ll pursue a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature beginning in the fall. “I’m extremely grateful and happy to have been selected as a Fellow,” she said. “The Fellowship will allow me more freedom to do my research as I work towards my doctoral degree.” A Brooklyn resident who is fluent in French and has a working knowledge of Latin, Ms. Young has been an outstanding student at CCNY, with a 3.91 G.P.A. In 2007, she received a City College Fellowship, which is awarded to the College’s most talented undergraduates who are interested in careers in advanced research and college teaching. More on this story.
Architecture Students Build Models for NYC Panorama
Three City College architecture students are helping to rebuild New York, albeit in miniature. The three, Steven de Laurentiis, Ricky Shum and Claudia Ma, work one day a week building models for the Queens Museum’s Panorama of the City of New York, a 9,335 square foot scale model of the Big Apple created for the 1964 World’s Fair. They were recommended for the project by Professors Fran Leadon and Marta Gutman. The models are being built as a fund-raising project for the museum and to update the Panorama, since much of New York’s built environment has changed over the past 45 years. The first big project the students worked on was an 8”x8” replica of Citi Field, the new home of the Mets, which, appropriately enough, replaced Shea Stadium on the Panorama. Ms. Ma installed the model at a press event at the museum last month. “We worked from original drawings that were scaled down,” said Mr. de Laurentiis, a junior from Ozone Park. “Including the planning it took four months to build the model.” “We traced the facades of the stadium and simplified them to match the context of the rest of the model. Then we made seats, walls and the rotunda,” added Mr. Shum, a junior from Elmhurst. “We even matched the colors in PhotoShop!”
CCNY PR Students Conduct College Finance Campaign
The CCNY chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) recently conducted a campaign to show eighth graders at Harlem’s Frederick Douglass Academy and their parents the importance of preparing for college financially. The chapter’s Gear Up Initiative, conducted in partnership with Timothy Cooper, a representative of a Citibank branch in Harlem, combined research with workshops for students and parents from five eighth-grade classes at the school. “Many students were under the misconception that all they had to do was apply for financial aid and all their expenses would be taken care of,” said chapter President Antoniette Pemberton. “Many of them did not take into consideration living expenses or tuition inflation.” In addition, many parents had not begun to save for their children’s college education. The Gear Up Initiative is the CCNY PRSSA chapter’s entry for the Bateman competition, a national contest in which PRSSA chapters demonstrate the analytical, problem-solving, campaign development and execution skills that are essential for success in the public relations profession. The chapter is considering making the Gear Up Initiative an annual event.
CCNY Mock Trial Team Excels at Regional Tournament
A nine-member team from City College’s Legal Studies Program won the “Spirit of AMTA Award” at the 2009 American Mock Trial Association regional tournament at St. John’s University, February 28 – March 1. CCNY received the award after being voted the school “best exemplifying honesty, civility and fair play” by its peers at the competition, which included Yale, Columbia, New York University and Pennsylvania State and 21 other schools. “This was the first time City College has entered its own team in the tournament and the experience was wonderful,” said team captain Sohana Barot, a senior majoring political science. In previous competitions, CCNY entered a joint team with John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The other CCNY team members were Farahly Saint-Louis, Mohamed Aissaoui, Lisa Liu, Irene Castro, Joseph Johnson, Jeet Gulati, Lylekar Leslie and Creola Clark. “They did a great job,” said Adrienne Jones, a practicing labor lawyer and Adjunct Professor and Pre-Law Advisor in the Legal Studies Program. “They prepared very well and Sohana was an excellent captain.”
Chemistry Grad Student Swapnil Jadhav Wins 2 Awards
Swapnil R. Jadhav, a M.S.-Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry, has received the 2009 Division of the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS) Outstanding Student Abstract Award and the Wiley – Blackwell 2009 Poster Award. The AOCS award is bestowed to a student who approaches a new way to meet today’s big technical challenges in industrial oils. Working under Professor George John, Swapnil came up with a new way to execute the idea of gelation. Swapnil then presented the idea on a poster. He will present his poster and receive his award at the 100th AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo in May in Orlando. “Advancement in using fats and oils as sustainable resources leads to environmentally sound detergents, cosmetics, energy production, better food and sustainable growth” said Professor John. The 2009 Wiley- Blackwell Award was presented to Swapnil in Emden, Germany, for the best poster presentation on fats and oils as renewable feedstock for the chemical industry. After completing his studies, he plans to land a job in his field as a scientist. Once he accumulates experience, he would like to open up his own research firm. Swapnil earned a bachelors degree (B-Tech in oils, oleochemicals and surfactants) from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, India.
Students Convert Diesel Engine to Run on Bio-Fuels
Members of the City College chapter of Students for Alternative Sources of Energy have modified a Lister engine, a small diesel engine commonly used in rural India and other countries, to burn bio-fuels instead of diesel oil. If successful, their engine, which was purchased with a grant from Dean of Engineering Joseph Barba, could use renewable energy to generate electricity or pump water for rural communities in developing nations. While the conversion has proven successful in brief tests, the students need to demonstrate how the engine would perform over long periods of time to prove the technique’s commercial viability. The students will perform a Bio-Engineering Longevity Test, running the engine for 500 hours over the summer. Metropolitan Food Service, which operates City College’s cafeteria and faculty dining room and already recycles waste oil, will donate approximately 150 gallons to fuel the test. Yesid Agualimpia, a senior mechanical engineering major and president of the club says the group wants to investigate whether the engine could be powered by oil produced from seeds of the jatropha plant, which is grown in Africa, Asia and Central America, and can produce 10 times the energy of corn. Jatropha seed oil has a viscosity similar to diesel oil when heated to 110 degrees Celsius, he notes.
Tamara Kirson Named ESOL Teacher of the Year
Tamara Kirson, the lead instructor and staff developer in CCNY’s Adult Literacy Program, is “The New York Times” 2009 ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Teacher of the Year. Ms. Kirson was recognized at a ceremony at the newspaper’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, where she received a commemorative plaque and a $2,500 gift. The ESOL award program recognizes instructors who have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty to help students learn English and develop the skills to create successful new lives in the United States. Winners are selected by a committee of distinguished ESOL advocates. The committee cited Ms. Kirson for her creativity in integrating civic activities when teaching English, the extraordinary success of her students and her collaborative efforts to improve the Adult Literacy Center, which is run by CCNY’s Adult and Continuing Education Program. An ESOL teacher for 16 years, including ten at CCNY, Ms. Kirson, a Manhattan resident, thanked her students and colleagues for helping her to earn the recognition. “It’s not always fully understood what we do as teachers of ESOL and more importantly what our students are able to accomplish,” she said. More on this story.
Jerry Carlson Wins Emmy for CUNY-TV’s “Nueva York”
“Nueva York,” CUNY-TV’s Spanish-language cultural series created and produced by CCNY film Professor Jerry Carlson, won a New York Emmy Award at the 52nd Annual Awards Ceremony March 29. The show, whose segment producers include six graduates of the CCNY Master of Fine Arts Program in Media Arts Production, was recognized as the Best Magazine program by the members of the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. “Nueva York,” which premiered in 2005, explores the rich textures of Latino society in the city, focusing on politics, art, culture, and the traditions of Spanish-speaking populations across the metropolitan area. CCNY Distinguished Lecturer Carmen Boullosa, an acclaimed Mexican novelist, hosts the program. Accepting the award on behalf of the team, CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson, the program’s executive producer, said it was a great honor for CUNY to create and present the series because “Latinos and Latinas are the present and future of the city.” “Nueva York” is shown Thursdays at 10 a.m., 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. on cable channel 75 in New York.
Peruvian Academy Honors Raquel Chang-Rodríguez
Distinguished Professor Raquel Chang-Rodríguez of the Foreign Languages and Literatures Department was elected “Académica Correspondiente” by the Peruvian Academy of the Spanish Language, an affiliate of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language, Madrid, Spain. The election to this prestigious corporation recognizes Professor Chang-Rodríguez’ many contributions to the study of Peruvian and Spanish-American literature and culture. These include more than 15 books and editions spanning the three centuries of the colonial period as well as her stewardship of “Colonial Latin American Review,” the prize-winning interdisciplinary journal she founded at City College in 1992, which is now the premiere publication in the field.
CCNY-Led Team Links Brainwave Activity, Visual Perception
Can we always see what is in front of us? According to Dr. Tony Ro, a Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at The City College of New York (CCNY), the answer is “no.” New research published in “The Journal of Neuroscience” by Professor Ro and colleagues from the University of Illinois demonstrates that the brain cannot detect images when brainwave activity is in a trough. “We may have our eyes open, but we sometimes miss seeing things,” Professor Ro said. “When the brain is in a state of readiness, you see; when it is not, you don’t see.” In their research, Professor Ro and his colleagues demonstrated how the phase of the brainwave or alpha wave can reliably predict visual detection. Subjects were shown a faint image of a dot on a computer screen and asked to indicate whether they saw the image by pushing a button. Subsequently, the dot was masked making it more difficult to see. “We tried to see whether there was variability in people’s ability to see the image,” he said. “When we presented the dots with masks sometimes people saw it and sometimes they didn’t.” More on this story.
Ron Koder Helps Simplify Protein Engineering
Proteins can be engineered in the laboratory in a way that is simpler than the approach Mother Nature uses, according to Dr. Ron Koder, a biophysicist and Assistant Professor of Physics at CCNY. As a post-doc at The University of Pennsylvania, he was part of a team that devised a novel method for producing an artificial protein capable of transporting oxygen, similar to human neuroglobin. Their findings were reported in the March 14 edition of “Nature.” “Instead of mimicking nature, we’re applying the laws of physics directly,” Professor Koder said. “We designed the protein from scratch without using a biological template and wound up with something that works better, in some ways, than the version that evolved naturally. The principles of natural protein engineering are hidden by the complexity accumulated through natural evolution, and results like this show that complex functions may better be incorporated into a protein using the laws of physics than attempting to imitate biology.” He says there are a nearly infinite number of sequences that could perform the function carried out by their design. “It’s not crazy to think that evolution might have hit on that instead,” he said, noting that protein engineering has potential applications in solar energy and medicine. “Right now, the most efficient solar energy device is the green plant, which uses protein to do the work. We think we can do better.”
Demographic Shifts Drive Urban Growth: Lance Jay Brown
After a half century of disinvestment, traditional American cities are once again on the rise. CCNY Professor of Architecture Lance Jay Brown notes that one trend driving this is demographic shifts marked by an increase in both older and younger populations with fewer traditional families. “We are more concerned about where we find community, how we connect to others and how we move about,” he says. In “Urban Design for an Urban Century,” co-authored with David Dixon and Oliver Gillham, (John Wiley & Sons, 2009), Professor Brown traces the roots of urban form from early cities to suburbanization and, now, recentralization. The book offers urban designers, architects, planners and students a set of principles to meet challenges that include creating sustainable design strategies to accommodate these changing demographics and values. It also includes 70 case studies drawn from projects recognized for excellence by the American Institute of Architects. One of the keys to success for urban designers will be their ability to operate in concert with others engaged in urban change, including community leaders, government officials, engineers, architects and landscape designers, he points out. “Effective urban designs are those that can incorporate the complexity of the urban condition and help balance the needs of competing forces.”
CCAC Amsterdam Avenue Model Spurs Redevelopment
More than 100 community residents, business owners and landlords turned out for a reception at the City College Architecture Center (CCAC) April 6 to examine a 22-foot scale model of the Amsterdam Avenue Heritage Mile. The model covers a stretch running from W. 135th Street to W. 155th Street alongside the CCNY campus’ western boundary. It was built for the Hamilton Heights Village Initiative, a community revitalization project run by Heritage Health and Housing, to convey the project’s scope. The initiative is making grants available to help landlords improve their buildings’ facades and streetscapes. Currently, eight such projects are in development. Most will employ designs created by CCAC that incorporate such features as coordinated awnings, windows and doorframes. According to CCAC Assistant Director Holly Kallman, after the reception three more property owners expressed interest in participating in the façade improvement initiative. The models were produced by a team of 14 student interns, who began working on the project last summer. “Never before have I paid so much attention to streetscapes,” said Camille Dunn, ’08, B.Arch., who served as a project leader. “It was a great real world experience since we worked with landlords and government officials as well as members of the community.”
CUNY CAT to Promote Translational Research
Showing professors how to successfully conduct translational research is a primary thrust for the CUNY Center for Advanced Technology in Photonics (CUNY CAT), according to its new director, CCNY Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering David Crouse. Professor Crouse became director of the CUNY CAT last fall, when the state-funded program, which utilizes technology to generate economic development, returned to the CCNY campus after a brief stay at Queens College. He brings significant entrepreneurial experience to his new post, having founded the spin-off company Phoebus Optoelectronics LLC, which focuses on sensors and solar cells. Through Phoebus, technology has been transferred from Professor Crouse’s research laboratory to the commercial market. “Vice Chancellor (Gillian) Small is putting big emphasis on translational research, and we want to support professors in the establishment and execution of university/industry collaborative research and development projects.” Professor Crouse said. In addition to working with existing high technology companies, professors can form spin-off companies and seek venture capital and small business innovation research and technology transfer grants. He noted that the recently enacted economic stimulus will make money available for grants, particularly for green technologies. Research thrusts at CCNY currently include better performing sensors for global warming research and more efficient solar cells, which could reduce reliance on foreign, carbon-based energy sources.
Finance Expert Edward Altman, ’63, Warns of Inflation
High inflation that could lead to a dramatic devaluation of the dollar is likely to follow the current recession, warns CCNY alumnus Dr. Edward I. Altman, ’63, Max L. Heine Professor of Finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Speaking at a March 24 economics forum at CCNY, Dr. Altman, an internationally recognized expert on corporate bankruptcy, high yield bonds, distressed debt and credit risk analysis, predicted that U.S. unemployment could peak around 10 percent. “At some point the U.S. government will have to repay all the borrowing that it’s doing, and this will probably result in a pretty high inflation rate,” he said at the forum, titled “The Present Crisis in Credit Markets.” Responding to a question on China’s efforts to replace the dollar as the world’s leading reserve currency, Dr. Altman said: “If you own the securities of a country that goes into high or even hyper inflation, then of course the value of those debt securities will fall dramatically, and that’s what China is worried about.” A ten percent unemployment rate would translate into a loss of six to eight million additional jobs, he said.
Professor Kaku Makes Dream Come True for Polish Fan
Dr. Michio Kaku, Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at CCNY, author of popular science books and television host, has fans around the world. Recently, an 18-year-old student from Poland named Gracjan, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, expressed a dream to meet Professor Kaku. While they could not get together face-to-face, they were able to chat via an Internet videoconference arranged by Fundacja Man Merzinie, Poland’s equivalent of the Make a Wish Foundation, and the City College Office of Communications and Marketing. For nearly an hour they chatted online in a wide-ranging scientific conversation that touched on teleportation, the existence of extraterrestrials, light-speed travel and the Large Hadron Collider. Noting that new manned missions to the moon are being planned by the United States and China, Professor Kaku said a trip to Mars would be a far more costly undertaking. “If it costs your weight in gold to put someone in orbit, it would cost your weight in diamonds to go to Mars,” he said. Professor Kaku praised Gracjan, who aspires to become a scientist, for being “well informed and having a good working knowledge of the most advanced questions in physics and cosmology.” He also sent him an autographed copy of his latest book, “Physics of the Impossible.”
Presidential Gala Honors Martin Cohen, Frank Sciame
Martin Cohen, ’70, and Frank Sciame, ’74, two of CCNY’s most distinguished alumni, will be honored at the Sixth City College Presidential Awards Dinner May 5. The gala, which benefits the President’s Fund for Excellence, will be held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. President Williams will present the awards to Mr. Cohen and Mr. Sciame for their outstanding service and support to their alma mater. “Over the years, The City College has enjoyed the goodwill of generations of alumni. Mr. Cohen and Mr. Sciame number among this noble group whose love for their alma mater is unflinching,” said President Williams. Mr. Cohen, co-Chairman and co-CEO for Cohen & Steers, Inc., an investment company, and Mr. Sciame, founder and CEO, F.J. Sciame Construction Co., Inc. currently serve on the board of the City College 21st Century Foundation. Past gala honorees include Colin Powell, ’58, Sy Sternberg, ’65, Joe Flom, ’48, Bob Catell, ’58, Bert Brodsky, ’64, and Josh Weston, ’50. “New York Times” columnist Clyde Haberman, ’66, will be the dinner’s master of ceremonies. Gala proceeds benefit the President’s Fund for Excellence. For more information, contact the CCNY Office of Development & Institutional Advancement at (212) 650-7125.
CWE Exhibit Looks at ‘Mexico Through Oriental Eyes’
“Mexico Through Oriental Eyes,” an exhibition of Mexican-themed artwork by Japanese artist Hiro Kagami is on display at CCNY’s Center for Worker Education (CWE) at 25 Broadway through April 27. “Rather than illustrating a particular aspect of Mexican life, (Kagami’s) works offer an emotional comprehension, a sublime spontaneity that emphasizes the grace and natural movement of everyday existence,” says Areceli Tinajero, Associate Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures, who curated the 12-piece exhibit. “Moreover, Kagami’s work represents the elegant nature of Mexican women in different contexts.” The paintings, which focus on soil, plants and people, show the harmonious blend of Eastern and Western cultures, as well as the deep understanding and respect for both Japanese and Mexican traditions. “I have always admired Mexican life and culture,” states 57-year-old Kagami, who currently resides in Nagoya, Japan and travels every year to Oaxaca, Mexico, for inspiration. Kagami became interested in Latin American culture while in high school after hearing the Peruvian song “El Cóndor Pasa” remade by Simon and Garfunkel. At the University of Fine Arts of Aichi, Japan, he learned about the works of the Mexican Muralists. Later, he spent two years in Mexico City studying mural painting. More on this story.
CCNY’s Annual Poetry Festival To Take Place May 15
The 37th Annual City College Spring Poetry Festival will take place 9:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, May 15, in Theater B of Aaron Davis Hall. This year’s featured guest poet is the award-winning Stanley Moss, who has published eight books of poetry in the United States and United Kingdom. He also has been a publisher and editor of the Sheep Meadow Press, a nonprofit press that publishes mostly poetry, for 30 years. In addition to Mr. Moss, the event features readings by New York City public school students from elementary through high school as well as college students, alumni, faculty and published poets from around the country. The festival is the longest-running poetry celebration in New York. More on this story.
From the President
During this moment of calm before the flurry of finals and commencement, I hope all of you are enjoying the break as you celebrate the holidays with your loved ones.
This newsletter is overflowing with evidence that City College is thriving as never before, from the ground-breaking gift from Bernard and Anne Spitzer, to the remarkable achievements of outstanding students like Don Gomez and faculty, like MCA Professor Jerry Carlson. Our graduating class – like our projected enrollment next fall – is larger than it has been in decades, and our alumni and supporters are stepping up as never before.
It is indeed – some might say finally – Spring at CCNY. As we draw nearer to our Honors Convocation on May 21 and our 2009 Commencement on May 28, we can all feel gratified and energized in our dedication to one of the truly great universities of the world.
Gregory H. Williams
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