February 2024

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Over a month into the western new year and a few days before the lunar new year, I’ll celebrate the academic calendar and welcome everyone to spring 2024. Queens College is an all-season school—Winter Session recorded an 8 percent gain in enrollment over 2023. The new semester repopulates the campus and infuses it with energy.

We started the semester by hosting two notable guests. Our status within the CUNY system offers us access to colleagues at many sister institutions. To introduce them to our talented faculty and staff, and vice versa, enriches the intellectual conversation that makes academic life worthwhile.

Cathy N. Davidson, Distinguished Professor of English and in the MA in Digital Humanities and MS in Data Analysis and Visualization at the Graduate Center, visited campus on Wednesday, January 31. Davidson is senior advisor to the chancellor on transformation and founding director of the Futures Initiative, a program dedicated to advancing equity and innovation in higher education. She is also the R. F. DeVarney Professor Emerita of Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University, where she served as the nation’s first vice provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. She toured the campus and shared an excellent PowerPoint presentation with a most appreciative faculty and staff audience, including fellows from QC in the Career Success program she developed: Sebastian Alvarado, Schiro Withanachchi, Kevin Shih, Elizabeth Ijalba, Dean Savage, and Nerve Macaspac.

In the photo, I'm standing with (from left), Cathy Davidson; AVP for Planning, Facilities and Operations Zeco Krcic; and Jackie Cahill.

Davidson is co-author of The New College Classroom.

Later that afternoon, faculty and members of the administration enjoyed conversation with CUNY Associate Vice Chancellor and University Vice President of Research Rosemarie Wesson, following a campus tour. A chemical engineer, Wesson previously served as associate provost for research at City College and as the dean of research, helping to grow its research portfolio. She served as a program director for many years at the National Science Foundation. 

From left: CCNY Assistant Director of Proposal Development Jackie Lee Weissman, CCNY Director of Research Development Alan Shih, CUNY Research Operations and Strategy Officer Daniel Siepmann, School of Education Dean Bobbie Kabuto, School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences Dean Daniel Weinstein, VP for Communications and Marketing and Senior Advisor to the President Jay Hershenson, Director of Research Compliance Paul Kran, Associate Vice Chancellor Rosemarie D. Wesson, Professor Jeff Beeler (Psychology), President Frank H. Wu, Professor John Dennehy (Biology), Assistant Professor Jonathan Gryak (Computer Science), Assistant Professor Eleonora Gianti (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Interim Associate Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs Maria DeLongoria, Asian American / Asian Research Institute Interim Executive Director Diana Pan, and School of Social Sciences Dean Ekaterina Pechenkina.

Black History Month got off to a great start on campus with the February 1 launch of “Struggle to Learn, Learn to Struggle”: The Impact and History of the SEEK Program at Queens College, 1966–Today, an exhibition in the Rosenthal Library, Barham Rotunda. “Struggle to Learn” will be on display through May 2. I hope everyone will get a chance to see this multimedia show about the history of the Percy Ellis Sutton Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) Program, which has served as a model for expanding educational access to underserved communities across the United States. The exhibit’s official opening, taking place this Thursday, February 8, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm, will feature a ceremony in the rotunda, followed by refreshments in the Tanenbaum wing.

On February 4 and 5, the Kupferberg Center for the Arts held a staged reading of Mississippi Land. A drama about an African American family’s efforts to hang on to property they have owned since the Civil War, Land raises issues that resonate today; I’m proud that this work was presented on campus. Tomorrow—February 7—from 10 am to 4 pm, the Office of Student Development and Leadership (OSDL) will showcase inventions by Black people in an interactive exhibition set up in Dining Hall 400, Midway Court.

Black History Month events, including a tour of the Louis Armstrong House Museum centered on Armstrong and civil rights in America, are scheduled throughout February. For details, please see the college’s press release.

The winter sports seasons are winding down, and I’ll be rooting for the Knights basketball teams as they look to qualify for the East Coast Conference playoffs. The men’s basketball team is in great position to make the playoffs, as they sit in fourth place with just a few weeks left in the regular season.

Jayden Seraphin at the hoop

I’m looking forward to the spring sports, and I’m excited to see how our baseball and tennis teams will perform this year. After they each won the ECC Championship last year, the baseball and tennis teams were predicted to finish first this season in the ECC pre-season coaches’ poll. The baseball season begins on February 23 with a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and the men’s tennis spring season starts on March 1 with a match against Division I Hofstra University.


You can follow all the latest Knights news at https://queensknights.com/.

As many of you know, Queens College is involved in its latest Middle States accreditation cycle, which takes two years to complete. Members of the college’s seven working groups met at the kickoff yesterday—Monday, February 5. To learn more about the Middle States accreditation process, click here.

On Thursday, February 8, at noon in the Q-Side Lounge, John Mogulescu, dean emeritus of the CUNY School for Professional Studies, will discuss his new book, The Dean of New Things, with VP for Communications and Marketing and Senior Advisor to the President Jay Hershenson. The book title hints at Mogulescu’s long CUNY career in which he led or supervised the creation of the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, and numerous other initiatives. It’s sure to be a fascinating conversation. Reserve your place here.

Speaking of coming attractions, I’d like to put in a plug for the hybrid SEES Alumni Career Event on February 14, taking place from 12:15 to 1:30 pm in the Science Building, Room C-207, and virtually (Zoom ID: 827 8857 5939; passcode 321). SEES graduates will talk about working in jobs related to earth and environmental science; then, in a session moderated by peer advisor Julia Sandke, they’ll field questions from students.

Also on this month’s calendar are the February 15 opening of the Psychology of Portraiture at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum and on February 26, a lecture on neo-genetics and human rights in European biolaw by Helena Pereira de Melo, professor of Constitutional Law, Health Law and Bioethics at the NOVA University of Lisbon. Your attendance is very much welcome.

With the release of the governor's 2024-2025 executive budget in Albany, we are vigorously advocating for greater investment by the state in Queens College and CUNY. This includes meeting legislators and staff here in Queens at their offices and up north in the capital. We are hosting on-campus opportunities to press for our operating and capital budget needs aimed at supporting student success. The process of legislative review goes until March 31. Then the city budget deliberations move into higher speed and we will continue working with council members to obtain their support. I encourage all readers to speak with your local elected officials on behalf of investing in public higher education—bringing long-term economic, educational, and social benefits to the borough, city, and state. Together with Assistant Vice President Jeff Rosenstock, I will be visiting legislators in both Albany and their home district offices to advocate for all of us.

The latest issue of the popular Queens Magazine is now available online. It’s an inspiring read, filled with stories about the people who make this college such a remarkable institution.

I’ll close with reminders about two important scholarship programs. Students of Hispanic heritage who are citizens, permanent residents, or covered by DACA have until February 15 to apply for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s 2024 Scholar Program. Visit the fund’s website Hispanic Scholarship Fund: Scholarship Main (hsf.net) to learn about the program’s benefits and requirements and access the application.

Applications for TheDream.US National Scholarship 2024-25, for undocumented immigrant students who arrived in the United States before age 16 and prior to November 1, 2018, must be submitted by February 29. Complete information, including eligibility requirements, is available here.

May you have a productive and enjoyable spring semester. Stay safe and healthy!

PS: I was a guest on the NY1 public affairs program, “In Focus,” moderated by Cheryl Wills. The episode aired on Sunday, February 4, and is posted here.

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