School Ties

A Home Away From Home - And Close To Class

Queens College's new residence hall offers stylish surroundings plus many extras

Until this year, Dear Aunaetitrakul, a Queens College senior, had to commute to class from her home in the suburbs, and the trip could be a grind.

But in the fall, Aunaetitrakul moved into The Summit, a new residence hall that opened on campus in August. "I live in Manhasset, LI, and now I don't have to worry about being late to class any more," says the political science and media studies major. "I can pretty much walk to my classes and have more time to myself."

Although it's still a commuter school for most students, the University is taking steps to provide some housing.

With 155,738 square feet, The Summit has 144 units, accommodating 506 bedrooms - 489 of them rented to students. There are 13 room configurations but the typical unit is either a fully furnished two- or four-bedroom suite. Rents vary depending on the unit's size and location, but the price per semester ranges from $4,250 for the shared two-bedroom suite to $6,250 for the single four-bedroom suite.

Each suite has a kitchenette with a full-size refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave and sink. The building is equipped with high-speed Internet and extended basic cable; residents also have access to a fitness center, study lounges and a meditation room.

"I love it, it's so convenient, and it's more than I expected from a college", says freshman Daniela Celi, who confessed she probably wouldn't have come to Queens College from Orlando, Fla., if it weren't for the new residence hall. "Here we're basically getting an apartment," she says. "No kids are this lucky to have something like this."

Queens College students are offered 10-month housing contracts with the option to extend for an additional two months, says Donal Farley, special assistant to Iris Weinshall, CUNY vice chancellor for facilities planning, construction and management.

About 98 percent of the 489 student beds are occupied for the fall semester, according to Maria Terrone, a college spokeswoman. Some housing contracts were signed late so the demographics breakdown isn't final, but early indications were that slightly more than a third of the occupants are from Long Island with the remainder from New York City, upstate New York, other states and abroad.

The new residence hall is born out of the success of The Towers, which opened in 2006 at The City College of New York. "Chancellor Matthew Goldstein came up with the idea of creating a housing facility for City College to further enhance the educational experience," Farley says.

Although Hunter College has had dorms for decades on East 25th Street in Manhattan, it inherited them when it took over Bellevue Hospital and Medical Center's nursing program. City College was the first to have newly erected student quarters.

The future of residence halls at the University depends on the success of The Towers and The Summit. Unlike dorms at other schools, these buildings must be fully self-supported through rental income and cannot be funded by CUNY. "The ultimate test is if it will pay for itself," says Farley. "If that's the case, then the chancellor is all for creating new ones."

Aunaetitrakul, thankful she no longer has to travel two hours to get to class, hopes that more residence halls are added to CUNY schools. "Why not build more?" she says. "It helps increase enrollment and gives us a sense of campus life."


Rare Additions to the Ranks of Adams and Emerson

From left; Thomas Bradshaw, Heather Hendershot, Bnjamin Carter Hett, Jonathan H. Shannon, Robert Courtney Smith, Victoria Sanford

MARY Ann Caws' election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in the spring came as a great surprise to her. "I'm simply delighted," says Caws, distinguished professor of French, English and comparative literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. "I'm just as pleased as I can be."

Being elected to the academy, which ranks Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson among its members, is one of the highest honors in the United States.

Michael Sorkin, distinguished professor of architecture and director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at the The City College of New York, also was elected.

The two were inducted into the academy in October, bringing the total number of members from CUNY to 14.

Caws and Sorkin aren't the only professors with fresh awards on their resumes. Six faculty members were awarded Guggenheim Fellowships, tying the University for first place in the nation for the highest number of winners, along with Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University.

Guggenheim winners are playwright Thomas Bradshaw, assistant professor of English at Medgar Evers College; Benjamin Carter Hett, associate professor of history at Hunter College and The Graduate Center; Jonathan H. Shannon, associate professor of anthropology at Hunter College and The Graduate Center; Victoria Sanford, associate professor of anthropology at Lehman College and The Graduate Center; Heather Hendershot, associate professor of media studies at Queens College and The Graduate Center; and Robert Courtney Smith, associate professor in immigration studies, sociology and public affairs at Baruch College and The Graduate Center.

Caws' expertise covers a range of avant-garde literature and art and written or edited 60 books.

She is most known for her work on surrealist poetry, including that of Rene Char, whose work is very close to her heart, she says. Her most recent book, Provencal Cooking: Savoring the Simple Life in France, is a cookbook and memoir.

Caws, who began teaching at Hunter 40 years ago, is still fascinated by the willpower of her students. "They seem imbued with an exciting openness that I have not seen anywhere else," she says. "I wouldn't give up [teaching them] for anything."

Sorkin has written hundreds of articles on architecture. He was the architectural critic for The Village Voice for 10 years and is a contributing editor for Architectural Record.

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock and other scholar-patriots to undertake studies of complex and emerging problems. Current projects focus on science, technology and global security; social policy and American institutions; the humanities, culture and education.

Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts."


CCNY and Sloan-Kettering Joint Research Advances

City College continues its partnership in cancer research with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Last year, the college received a $15.9 million, five-year renewable grant from the National Institutes of Health to improve cancer research, training and outreach in Harlem and the South Bronx. This year the NIH awarded a $100,000 grant to study HIV-related cancers and gave additional money to train students in molecular imaging and nanotechnology. "Our focus is to go into the community and find out what the issues are and then strategize with them," says Karen Hubbard, a City College biology professor and co-director of the Partnership for Cancer Research, Training and Community Outreach. "What you find in populations that are economically strapped is that it's very hard for people to go to the clinic because they can't take off from work."




A New Beacon of Tolerance Amid Diversity

Queensborough's new Holocaust Resource Center: More learning lab than museum.

The Holocaust repository at Queensborough Community College has a new home - a $6 million, 8,000-square-foot structure on the Bayside campus. The Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives, its collection originally housed in the library's basement, opened on Oct. 18 after six years of planning and construction.

Eduardo J. Marti, the college's president, says the center will serve "as a constant reminder to our students and to the community of Queens of the value that this institution places on educating current and future generations about the ramifications of prejudice, racism and stereotyping. It will be a beacon of civility for the residents of Queens." Queensborough is the only college in the state with a Holocaust center.

It is a learning laboratory, not a memorial or a museum, according to Arthur Flug, the center's executive director. It features customized multimedia and interactive displays that combine historical data and interviews conducted by students with Holocaust survivors living in Queens. Starting this semester, student volunteers are being trained as docents and teamed with Holocaust survivors (24 volunteer at the center) to lead guided tours. The center also has a gallery devoted to genocides that occurred around the world, including Armenia, Cambodia and Rwanda.

The archives, available to visitors, include 5,000 books; 1,200 videos; 500 videotaped interviews of survivors; dissertations; periodicals; paintings and carvings by world-renowned artist Rosemarie Koczy, who was a child victim; and 1930s art created by U.S. cartoonists depicting Superman and other superheroes battling Hitler.

"Queensborough is the perfect place for the center because our students represent over 140 nationalities, and Queens is the most diverse county in the U.S.," says Flug. "We use the lesson of the Holocaust to teach our students to identify and react to hate crimes in a way that provides them with life skills."

The new facility is the legacy of Queens College alumna Harriet Kupferberg, who died last year, and her husband, Kenneth Kupferberg, who died in 1993. Their gift of $1 million to the college in 2007 kicked off a fund-raising campaign for a $5 million endowment that will ensure that the center's programs operate in perpetuity. (See Page 8 for story about the Kupferberg family.)

Charles Thanhauser, the architect of the center, says it was "a challenging CUNY commission, because you don't want to make it seem like a celebration of death. On the other hand, you don't want it to be something that ignores the somberness of the topic .... We did want it to have a hopeful feeling."


Clinical Training for Aspiring 'Car Doctors'

Professor George Patchoros, right, discusses an engine with students khadijah Alston, center, and Eddie Morales.

Even before Grace Claudio learned to drive, she knew how to repair cars.

Now she's nearing graduation from Bronx Community College's automotive technology program.

She's one of only three women among the program's 193 students but Claudio, who boxes in her free time and has helped her dad with home repairs since she was 11, says being an auto mechanic is her calling.

"I like working with my hands, putting things together and figuring out what's wrong with the car - you're a car doctor," says Claudio, 20, who expects to graduate from the two-year program this fall with an associate degree in applied science.

Clement Drummond, director of the program, says that even though there's a recession, the automotive service industry is hiring. He also points out technologies that students learn are also applicable to servicing the transportation and construction industries as well as other related fields.

"The service industry has always survived recessions because people will always need vehicles repaired," says Drummond. "This program is a way to fast-track you to a different career."

The program's curriculum, facilities and equipment recently were revamped with $1.2 million in grants and in collaboration with the college's Center for Sustainable Energy and Office of Institutional Advancement. In June, it received master certification from the National Automotive Technicians

Education Foundation and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

"The teachers are always here to help you and to show you how to fix things in case you missed something in class," said Khadijah Alston, another woman in the program who plans to become an automotive technology professor. "They're very positive."

In the shop, students disassemble and study Honda VTEC and Honda and Toyota hybrid engines.

But the students' favorite aspect of the program is piecing together a 1965 MK3 Cobra replica, a low-slung, sleek two-seat racing car with an engine donated by Ford Special Vehicle Team, a division that develops high-performance cars. Claudio, who is president of the Cobra Club, the car's assembly team, is interning at the Master Mechanix auto-repair shop in Yonkers in preparation for the BMW training school in Manhattan, which she hopes to attend after graduation. She's following in the footsteps of Faith Xikis, a recent graduate. Xikis became a certified BMW specialist and is a service manager at Urban Classics Ltd., a repair and restoration shop in Brooklyn. She is also pursuing a master's degree in business at Baruch.

"The automotive technology program is a great opportunity," says Xikis, who started fixing cars at 12 under her uncle's watchful eye. "The teachers were very informative, and I wasn't intimidated by all the guys. I tutored a few of them."


Former Hunter Dean Now Shaping Education Statewide

David Steiner

David Steiner, who became New York State education commissioner in early October, is likely to bring the same verve to revamping elementary and secondary education that he brought to reinventing teacher education during his four years as dean of Hunter College's School of Education.

Steiner came to Hunter as a critic of the way elementary and secondary school teachers were trained. His research had found that many elite schools of education had an ideological bias toward encouraging children to learn according to their natural impulses, not toward the teaching of a body of knowledge, which some call cultural literacy. The result, he found, was that too often teachers were ill-equipped to deliver effective instruction, particularly in the schools of highest need.

At Hunter, he and his colleagues revamped teacher training - making it more skills-based, more realistic, less ideological, more practical. They redesigned the school's two largest programs, early childhood and childhood

education, while expanding and strengthening programs in special education, teaching English as a second language and administrative training. Enrollment rose and all Hunter students passed the most recent statewide general assessment tests.

"The research suggests, very strongly, that nothing makes a greater difference in the education of a child than the quality of her teacher. Everything else we do builds on that," Steiner says.

Top Coach Credits Teamwork For Acing U.S. Tennis Finals

Tennis coach Barry Goldsmith talks with Epraski Yashova, left, and Erina Kikuchi, to players from his latest championship team.

Think of top college tennis teams, and sunny California might come to mind: Stanford University, the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Southern California have notable programs.

Now add Kingsborough Community College to the national list.

In the spring, head coach Barry Goldsmith led the women's team to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III championship in Tucson, making Kingsborough's one of the most successful junior college tennis programs in the country.

"We knew we had the best team going into the championships," says Goldsmith, who was named the NJCAA Region XV Division III, Women's Tennis Coach of the Year. "Our goal was to win the national championship. We visualized it, and we made it come true."

The University has won three national titles since City College took the NCAA basketball title in 1950. Kingsborough teams led by Goldsmith have won two of them. In addition to the women's title, his 1998 team won the NJCAA Men's Tennis championship. The third was in 2004 when the Hostos Community College men's basketball team captured a title.

Goldsmith is quick to credit his successful teams to the players. "Any coach who doesn't give credit to the players is remiss," he says. "I've had some of the best players in the country, including 44 All Americans."

A Brooklyn native and Brooklyn College graduate, Goldsmith has been playing tennis since he joined the Sheepshead Bay High School boys' team in 1962. After Brooklyn College, he coached basketball at the University of Northern British Columbia and the University of Maryland. He then came back to Brooklyn and took a job as a health and physical education teacher at Midwood High School and later became the boys' tennis coach.

At Midwood, Goldsmith won New York City Public School Athletic League Tennis championships in 1971 and 1974 and left the school with a record of 110 wins and only 10 losses from 1971 to 1979 before he would join Kingsborough in 1983.

"A job opened up by my house at Kingsborough, which is a beautiful school surrounded by water on three sides," says Goldsmith. "It's a modern facility with five indoor courts and four outdoor courts and I jumped at the possibility of coaching there."

Aside from coaching at Kingsborough, Goldsmith is also an usher and security staffer on Court 11, at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, for the US Open in Queens. He also has been a United States Professional Tennis Association Master Professional for the last 13 years. It is the highest honor in the field; only about 1 percent of the 15,000 USPTA members achieve the designation.

"I'm very proud to be a USPTA Master Professional," says Goldsmith. "It doesn't mean I'm the best teacher, but it does mean I've done an awful lot in terms of working with ranked players, being a coach, achieving, playing, writing, publishing and being involved in professional activities to promote the sport."

With all that he's accomplished coaching, Goldsmith is most proud of what students take with them as they leave Kingsborough.

"That's really the benefit of coaching, seeing the students go on and take their place in society," he says. "To be productive, not just in tennis, but be productive citizens and do well for themselves."


Analyzing Soldiers' Comments About Music's Role in War

Jonathan Pieslak

Advances in audio technology have revolutionized how American soldiers listen to, share and produce music on and off the battlefield, says Jonathan Pieslak, associate professor of music at City College and the Graduate Center, and author of a recently published book, Sound Targets: American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War.

"Music is present in tanks and on the iPods that soldiers put in their flack jackets," says Pieslak, who interviewed returning veterans to learn about the roles of the music they compose, listen to and play, in war and in American military culture.

Pieslak discovered soldiers listen to heavy metal bands like Slayer and Metallica and rap artists like Eminem and Lil' John to motivate themselves for combat.

"Soldiers spoke about how music put them in a predator mind set, how music would help them step outside of themselves, help them become a monster, help them become inhuman," says Pieslak who also analyzed some of the troops' original lyrics and explored the use of heavy metal in contemporary military recruiting campaigns and in basic training. "To me that suggests some level of psychological transformation."

Pieslak encountered soldiers who listened to country, pop and other genres while praying, sleeping or playing video games.

Others wrote and composed original music for soldiers' memorial services. Pieslak also writes about the use of music as an interrogation technique and torture tool. "If you put someone in a room and play music for them for five days at a [high] level, there are medical studies that show that sleep deprivation will lead to psychosis," he says.