Spring 2011

April 7, 2011

Stated Meeting of the Faculty Address by President Karen L. Gould

Introduction

Good afternoon. Welcome to the Spring Stated Meeting of the Faculty. Before I begin my remarks, I would like to acknowledge Namulundah Florence from the School of Education, who is the new secretary of the faculty. We are very grateful she has agreed to serve in this capacity. Professor Florence replaces Nehru Cherukupalli, from Earth and Environmental Sciences, who filled this position for more than ten years. At this time, I would like to recognize Professor Cherukupalli, who is here with us today, and thank him for his many years of distinguished service.

Nehru joins 54 other members of our faculty and staff who elected to participate in the university’s early retirement program. The span of their contributions represents a remarkable 1,642 combined years of service to Brooklyn College. Today, we express our enormous gratitude for their many years of dedicated service, and wish them the very best in the years to come. View PowerPoint presentation >>

Faculty Accomplishments

This has been a remarkable year for Brooklyn College on many fronts. As we look back on the past ten months, we can take great pride in what we have accomplished together. We have taken a number of important steps to lay the foundation for the future, while continuing to honor the impressive legacy of this great institution.

I want to begin with some well-deserved accolades for the faculty and share a few of the many achievements that are worthy of recognition. This past year, faculty research and published works have once again demonstrated that Brooklyn College truly is an institution of scholarly excellence. Dozens of noteworthy books, journal articles, and essays have been published across many disciplines. Recent books from our faculty include:

  • Raising Brooklyn: Nannies, Childcare, and Caribbeans Creating Community, by Tamara Mose Brown in sociology;
  • No Day, No Dusk, No Love, a translation of an Italian work of Carla Panciera by Luigi Bonaffini in modern languages and literatures;
  • Forensic Accounting for Dummies, co-authored by Frimette Kass-Schraibman in accounting;
  • Power at the Roots: Gentrification, Community Gardens, and Puerto Ricans of the Lower East Side, by Miranda Martinez in Puerto Rican and Latino studies;
  • A Legal Theory for Autonomous Artificial Agents, co-authored by Samir Chopra in philosophy;
  • Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Writings (Selections from the Writings of Charles Peirce), edited by Matthew Moore in philosophy;
  • Tracking the Mobility of Crime: New Methodologies and Geographies in Modeling the Diffusion of Offending, by Jeremy Porter in finance and business management and children’s studies;
  • Immigrant Teachers, American Students: Cultural Differences, Cultural Disconnections, by Namulundah Florence in education;
  • And Yet They Were Happy, by Helen Phillips in English;
  • Proof, Computation, and Agency: Logic at the Crossroads, co-authored by Rohit Parikh in computer and information science;
  • Eden of the Charles: The Making of Boston, by Michael Rawson in history;
  • IT and Efficiency Analysis in Commercial Banks and Insurance Firms: A Global Comparison, co-authored by Hong-Jen Lin in finance and business management;
  • Policing Democracy: Overcoming Obstacles to Citizen Security in Latin America, by Mark Ungar in political science, and
  • Left Glove, by Mac Wellman in the creative writing program in English.

Next Thursday, our library will host its annual reception to celebrate these and other recent books by our faculty.

In addition to publishing activities, faculty members have also been engaged in an impressive array of research projects and grant-supported activities with both broad and local impact.

Recently, two professors were awarded Career Enhancement Fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation: Sophia Suarez in physics and Rosamond King in English. Each will receive one year’s release time to focus on research.

Since last June, faculty researchers have received more than $10 million in external funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the National Security Agency, the National Park Service, and other funders.

  • Luis Quadri in biology has secured more than $200,000 to work with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to develop new antibiotics capable of combating the spread of pathogenic bacteria;
  • Alexander Greer in chemistry has received nearly $350,000 in funding from the NIH to develop a fiber optic device that may be used to treat human diseases such as brain tumors;
  • Kai Shum in physics is working with a private enterprise and the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology, and Innovation to develop more cost-effective, high-quality solar cells; and
  • Nancy Romer in psychology has received multiple grants totaling more than $1.3 million to prepare underprivileged students for college through the BC Community Partnership.

In all, nearly eighty research projects have been funded this year. The scholarly life and productivity of the faculty are points of pride for the college and essential to the academic excellence we seek to foster in our teaching and mentoring.

Tow Professorships

As we acknowledge a number of notable faculty accomplishments this year, I have the honor of announcing the recipients of the Tow Professorships for the next academic year. These awards recognize distinguished contributions in teaching, scholarship, and the advancement of the college’s mission.

Through the continuing generosity of Leonard and Claire Tow and the Tow Family Foundation, we are awarding six Tow Professorships for the coming year. Each Tow Professor will receive a $25,000 stipend. Two of our honorees are unable to join us this afternoon due to their research and conference engagements, but four are with us today. When I call your name, please stand and remain standing until all recipients have been identified for our collective applause. In alphabetical order, the Tow Professors for 2011–12 are:

  • Ray Allen, from the conservatory of music and director of the American studies program for 12 years. Professor Allen has enabled students to see connections between music and the other disciplines. Since joining our faculty in 1993, he has been an influential campus citizen and an active scholar whose most recent book, Gone to the Country: The New Lost City Ramblers and the Urban Folk Music Revival, was published in the prestigious Music in America series with the University of Illinois Press;
  • Tanni Haas from speech communication, who is recognized by his chair and colleagues as an innovative and engaging teacher and as a prolific scholar who is one of the world’s foremost experts on public journalism. Chinese and Korean translations of his 2007 book, The Pursuit of Public Journalism, will be published next year;
  • Régine Latortue from Africana studies, who has served on the faculty for 33 years, including prior service as department chair. Professor Latortue is recognized as a pioneer in the field of African diaspora literature, a curricular innovator and dedicated mentor, and an exemplary college and community citizen, particularly through her work with Brooklyn’s Haitian American community;
  • Juergen Polle from biology, who is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of algae physiology and biofuel production. His current research is supported by federal grants totaling more than $2 million, and he has attracted many talented students to his lab;
  • Tobie Stein from theater, who is perhaps best described as “an international ambassador for performing arts management.” A highly regarded graduate program head, she is also a noted scholar in her field whose publications include Performing Arts Management: A Handbook of Professional Practices and a recent keynote address at Tainan National University of the Arts in Taiwan; and
  • Ellen Tremper, chair of English, who will mark her fortieth year on our faculty next fall. She has deftly guided the growth of the Department of English into a national powerhouse. An active scholar, writer, teacher, and department leader, Professor Tremper’s many contributions to Brooklyn College are wide-ranging, and her impact on generations of undergraduate and graduate students at the college has been enormous.

Please join me in a round of applause for these exceptionally fine teachers, scholars, and academic leaders, and for our generous alumni, Leonard and Claire Tow.

Student Achievements

Along with this talented faculty, we are fortunate to have a student body that is intellectually capable and motivated to succeed. Colleges and universities across the country aspire to achieve the diversity that is present on our campus every day. We embrace this rich diversity as one of the defining characteristics of Brooklyn College and as an essential part of the educational experience we provide.

This year our students have given us many reasons to be proud. Recently we learned that two seniors have been awarded prestigious Fulbright Fellowships. Michelle Leuenberger, a chemistry major, will work at the Karlsruhe Institute in Germany to conduct research on the conversion of light energy into electrical energy.

And Christine Pigott, a television and radio major, will complete a master’s program in media studies at Falmouth University in England.

This week we learned that another senior, Matthew Vann, majoring in broadcast journalism and editor of The Excelsior, has been named a 2011–12 New York City Urban Fellow. This highly selective, nine-month fellowship combines work in mayoral offices with seminars on urban public policy.

Sophomores Katelyn McQuater and Esthena Brutten have just been named Watson fellows, another prestigious honor.

And, by now you have surely heard about Zujaja Tauqeer, our most recent Rhodes scholar. A senior majoring in history and planning to pursue a medical degree, Zujaja speaks four languages, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and has already published research on the biochemistry of autism. She will be spending two years at Oxford studying the history of medicine.

Zujaja joins an impressive group of Rhodes Scholars, which includes two previous recipients from our college, Eugene Shenderov and Lisette Nieves. Lisette will return to Brooklyn College in the fall as the next Belle Zeller visiting professor of public policy and administration in the Department of Political Science.

Rosen Fellowships

It is wonderful to see our students receive national recognition and support from the Rhodes Trust, the Fulbright and Watson Foundations, and other respected organizations. It is also cause for celebration when we are able to foster exciting learning opportunities for our students through the support of dedicated donors.

Today, I am very pleased to acknowledge nine students who also exemplify the best of Brooklyn College. These students are the first to receive the newly established Florence Rosen Fellowships. They have each been awarded $4,000 to $7,000 to complete a special project that furthers their career goals. These fellowships, which will be awarded annually, are made possible by a generous contribution from Florence Rosen, a BC Foundation Trustee and an alumna from the class of 1959. This year’s inaugural class of Rosen fellows includes:

  • Mubashir Billah, a junior chemistry major, who will travel to Jordan for six weeks to study Arabic language and literature in order to better understand Middle Eastern culture;
  • Eric Carlsen, a sophomore with a dual concentration in economics and food, will visit nine organizations across the U.S. to study best practices in urban agriculture and food distribution;
  • Elizabeth Cusick, a junior health and nutrition sciences major, will research the effects of HIV treatment on child development in Cape Town, South Africa;
  • Isabelle Jagninski, a sophomore political science major, will teach a course on gender oppression to students in a GED program in New Orleans;
  • Adele Kibbe, a junior anthropology and archaeology major, will work with a Peruvian-American nonprofit group that connects archaeologists with Peru’s northern coast residents;
  • Nick Lerman, a junior majoring in cultural literacy and visual media studies, will assist internationally acclaimed filmmaker Ramin Bahrani on a feature-length film;
  • Thomas Lombardo, a junior art history major, will stage a theatrical production in the East Village of Don Nigro’s Seascape with Sharks and Dancer;
  • Sheran Sharafi, a sophomore political science major, will work at a law firm in Israel to study the similarities and differences between Israeli and American judicial systems; and
  • Jeneé Whitehead, a junior marketing major, will spend a year in Paris studying French and ballet.

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet these young scholars with the Rosens, and they are indeed an amazing group of students. Please join me in applauding Florence Rosen for her creative initiative and for her wonderful support.

The Impact of Fundraising on our Future

Since last July, in partnership with the Brooklyn College Foundation, we have raised more than $7.5 million to support the college. These funds provide much-needed assistance for the academic pursuits of our faculty and students; they are also critical to the future development of our college.

Last December, a $2.5 million gift from Murray Koppelman, an extraordinarily dedicated BC Foundation Trustee, enabled the foundation to acquire the one remaining parcel of land adjacent to our campus. The foundation’s acquisition of this lot, after years of research and negotiations, has opened up an exciting set of opportunities for the college at a fortuitous time in our institutional planning when the campus master planning for facilities and grounds is nearing conclusion. We have not yet determined how this land will be developed since many conversations will need to take place among members of our campus and local community. Possibilities will include an academic home for the new School of Business, a student residence hall, commercial space for the college bookstore, and a college café. Nonetheless, this is one of the most strategic investments in our college’s history. Without the vision and extraordinary generosity of Murray Koppelman, this land purchase by the BC Foundation would not have been possible.

Barry Feirstein, chair of the foundation’s board of trustees, has also demonstrated an outstanding commitment to Brooklyn College. His gift last summer of $5 million will support the proposed graduate programs in cinema at Steiner Studios. While there is still much to be discussed and planned before the future of these programs can become a reality, Barry Feirstein’s leadership gift is already having a powerful impact on our current and future fundraising for this and other college initiatives.

Earlier this week, we received word of a gift from Yolanda Jacobs, an alumna from the class of 1935. Ms. Jacobs chose to include the Brooklyn College Foundation in her estate, donating $1.3 million to endow a scholarship fund for deserving students. On behalf of the entire college community, I extend our sympathy and deep gratitude to Yolanda Jacobs' family.

Gifts like these are truly transformational. It does not require gifts of this magnitude, however, to make a meaningful difference in the life of the college. This year alone, we have received nearly 7,000 gifts and pledges of less than $1,000 each, totaling nearly $600,000. These funds have a direct and immediate impact on our students, enabling us to support students in a variety of ways, including providing $100 scholarships to 689 students, disbursing nearly $70,000 to help offset the tuition increase this spring. Even a small gift can make a big difference.

Revenue Streams and Budget Implications

I share this news with you today as a reminder of the critical role of fundraising for our future. As you well know, public investment in higher education is on the decline in nearly every state. This is a regrettable and very shortsighted response to the challenges of state budget deficits. I assure you, however, that I will advocate tirelessly on behalf of Brooklyn College and public higher education, and I will continue to lobby hard to stem the funding decline in New York State. Even so, we must acknowledge this trend and do all that we can to secure the future of Brooklyn College.

As you are aware, the New York State budget for Fiscal Year 2012 was released last week. Although we have yet to confirm the precise impact for Brooklyn College, we anticipate a reduction to our base budget of at least $4.5 million. In order to absorb this significant reduction without compromising our core academic programs, we will need to take great care. Over the next several months, we will engage in focused conversations at all levels.

Like many great public institutions, Brooklyn College has experienced financial challenges throughout its eighty-year history. I have no doubt that we will emerge from this economic downturn as an even stronger, more vibrant college. In order to do so, however, we must identify new revenue streams, even as we continue to lobby in Albany for the students we serve and the value of a Brooklyn College degree for our city and our state.

Successful fundraising, as I have noted, is one of the keys to our future success. Increased success with grants and contracts can also have a positive impact on the research activities of our faculty and students.

Equally critical is a strategic enrollment plan that attracts qualified students, increases enrollment yield, and strengthens our revenue. I am not suggesting that the solution to declining state support should rest on the shoulders of our students. I am, however, certain that there are improvements to be made in our undergraduate and graduate enrollment practices that will enable us to grow, to achieve an appropriate balance of in-state, out-of-state, and international students, and to be more efficient with our resources.

Vice President Joyner and his staff have already made progress on this front, which is evident in our current spring enrollment. This semester, we have achieved the highest spring enrollment in well over a decade — due in large measure to the support of both faculty and staff in this effort.

Essential to the continued growth of our fundraising success, external research funding, and student recruitment is the need to strengthen the college’s visibility in New York City, New York State, and beyond. In order to remain competitive, we must take a sophisticated approach to our marketing and communications. The Office of Communications and Marketing will play a strategic role, but broad participation from the faculty and staff will be the key to meaningful progress.

An Eye Toward the Future

We have made substantial progress over the past twelve months with respect to institutional planning.

A New Five-School Structure

In August, we will welcome four new founding deans and mark the creation of four new schools: Business; Humanities and Social Sciences; Natural and Behavioral Sciences; and Visual, Media, and Performing Arts. This new five-school structure for Brooklyn College will help us enhance the visibility of our academic programs and create opportunities for external funding and partnerships that have not previously been achievable. Our four new deans, along with Dean Shanley from the School of Education, will constitute an impressive group of advocates for our academic programs, and I know they will bring strong leadership to our campus. The provost and I are grateful to everyone who has helped make each of the four searches a success.

A New Strategic Plan

The new strategic plan that is about to be released describes the Brooklyn College we are becoming and outlines a plan for the next five years that will put us on the path to realizing that vision. In it, we have reaffirmed our commitment to the values that define Brooklyn College and have articulated the goals we share as an academic community.

Hundreds of people participated in our strategic planning process, including students, faculty, staff, and community partners.

  • A 125-member working committee helped to frame the conversation and guide the process;
  • two town halls allowed everyone an opportunity to learn about the plan and provide feedback as it developed; and
  • regular updates to pages on our website generated nearly 15,000 visits and nearly 180 responses to the drafts, many of which were incorporated into the final document.

With so many individuals involved along the way, this new strategic plan reflects our shared vision of the future. Together, we will:

  • provide an outstanding educational experience for our students;
  • foster a dynamic, responsive, and inclusive academic community;
  • capitalize on Brooklyn as a learning environment and a gateway to the world;
  • promote the impact of Brooklyn College and its alumni; and
  • improve institutional effectiveness and enhance campus infrastructure.

Our new strategic plan will be a living document that informs decisions about where we invest our resources and which opportunities we will pursue. Each year we will align our priorities with the goals set forth in this plan, and each year we will benchmark our progress.

In May, we will invite the Strategic Planning Working Committee to celebrate the plan’s completion and release it to the entire college community. Then, we will turn our attention from planning to implementation.

A New Facilities Master Plan

We also are nearing completion of a new facilities master plan that will provide a framework for our evolving physical plant and future vision. It will outline a rationale for both existing and new infrastructure that will guide our planning over the next fifteen years. The new Facilities Master Plan acknowledges that many of the current issues and problems associated with our facilities are due to age and obsolescence; accordingly, the new plan charts a course for renovation and renewal.

Much like our strategic plan, the facilities master plan is the result of input from many members of our campus community. The plan’s overarching goal is to provide a physical environment that enhances the academic life of Brooklyn College. To do so, it recommends a course of action that includes: the construction of several new facilities, the demolition of current structures where appropriate, the modernization of our current infrastructure, and the enhancement of open space, all in a manner consistent with our commitment to sustainability.

We are still moving forward with some of the remaining projects called for in the previous master plan. This summer, we will complete our new athletics field behind the West Quad, which will provide regulation softball and soccer fields; we will also proceed with the façade restoration to James Hall, which will create a new entrance on the West Quad; and on May 13, we will break ground on the new Leonard and Claire Tow Performing Arts Center, which will provide state-of-the-art performance, rehearsal, and production space for our performing arts programs in music and theater.

With a new facilities master plan as our guide, we will continue to seek the necessary resources to transform our campus into one that meets the needs of a twenty-first–century education. Over time, we envision a campus with appropriate adjacencies and activities around related academic programs, with modern classrooms well equipped for teaching and state-of-the-art research labs and studios, and with more common spaces located around the campus for students and for faculty. In this new campus environment, we will be better able to serve and educate our students and better able to recruit and retain a top-notch faculty as well.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that we have ambitious plans for the future. As we reflect on the tremendous accomplishments of our faculty, as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of our students, I am confident we have every reason to dream big.

It is an exciting time to be at Brooklyn College, and I am honored to be a part of this community. Thank you for your continued hard work, creativity, and dedication to this great institution. I look forward to working alongside you as we build our future together.