Queens College Skyline, view of Manhattan
Discimus ut serviamus: We learn so that we may serve.
QView #119 | February 8, 2022
What’s News
CUNY Researchers Provide Insight into Pandemic
Photo: Jackie Molloy for the New York Times
John Dennehy (Biology; seen in the photo above), Monica Trujillo (Queensborough Community College), and colleagues at universities across the country have gone viral with a study of New York City sewage. Published in Nature Communications on February 3, their paper, “Tracking cryptic SARS-CoV-2 lineages detected in NYC wastewater,”—which identifies fragments of COVID variants that haven’t been seen in clinical patients—was covered by the New York Times, the Columbia Missourian, the Jerusalem Post, and other news outlets.

The cryptic lineages found by the team have been circulating for a year, apparently without affecting people. Now the team is trying to determine where the variants came from.

Dennehy has been collecting COVID data from the city’s wastewater since June 2020; as noted in a story on the CUNY Graduate Center website, his lab detected the presence of the omicron variant more than a week before the first case of it was reported in the United States. 

Dennehy was the subject of the Big Ideas video Waste, Not: Sewage Holds Evidence of COVID-19. As noted further below in this issue of QView, additional Big Ideas videos are in the works.
New CUNY Transcript Policy Makes the Grade

In a policy announced by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul on January 31, CUNY ended its practice of withholding transcripts and enrollment information from graduates and students who owe the university money.

“This compassionate action reinforces the university’s mission of ensuring equity for our students of all backgrounds as they pursue their educational and career objectives,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “Enabling all CUNY students and graduates to verify their academic credentials regardless of circumstances allows them to move forward in their education or enter the workforce, building their careers as they help drive New York’s economic comeback. We are buoyed by Governor Hochul’s mandate to standardize this practice across higher education institutions in New York State. We thank the governor for her leadership and conviction.”

Hochul’s announcement builds on action CUNY took in August 2021, suspending the requirement that students had to pay all debts in order to receive their diploma.

“Like Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, I am grateful to Governor Hochul for ending this punitive form of debt collection,” says Queens College President Frank H. Wu. “Small outstanding balances from activity fees, library fines, and other incidental charges were creating significant obstacles for some students. Now, armed with an academic transcript, students and alumni can receive their diploma, pursue employment or advanced degrees, and ultimately be in a much better position to pay their balances in full.”
Chancellor Matos Rodríguez Addressed State's Joint Legislative Hearing on CUNY's Budgetary Needs Read more
Godwin-Ternbach Offers Getting There and Tiny Pricks
Tomorrow—Wednesday, February 9—the Godwin-Ternbach Museum is opening a pair of exhibitions: Getting There: Works by Andrew Ellis Johnson & Susanne Slavick and the Tiny Pricks Project. Running through May 13, the two shows will be presented in person and virtually, and accompanied by virtual programs.

In Getting There, two professors at Carnegie Mellon University use art to examine famine, climate change, social injustice, and other critical issues affecting migrants and refugees. Johnson’s ink and mixed media works on paper and Slavick’s oil and mixed media paintings on paper and panel are paired with writings by novelists, poets, anthropologists, and journalists who have informed the artists’ projects.

Tiny Pricks features selections from the public art initiative of the same name, curated by artist and activist Diana Weymar. She started the project in January 2018 after stitching “I am a very stable genius” onto a piece of her grandmother’s uncompleted needlework and sharing the item on Instagram. Before long, participants around the world were embroidering Donald Trump’s words on vintage and antique fabrics. These contributions resulted in a compelling textile protest—described by Weymar as “the material record of the Trump presidency”—comprising more than 4,300 pieces.

For information about museum hours as well as Getting There and Tiny Pricks programming, visit www.gtmuseum.org.
Treble Choir Showcased in Boston
The Queens College Treble Choir is one of only four collegiate choirs from Maryland to Maine to be featured at the Eastern Division Regional Convention of the American Choral Directors’ Association (ACDA), taking place in Boston from February 9 to 12. The ensemble, chosen by the ACDA through a rigorous, blind audition of three contrasting pieces taken from performances of the last three years, will sing twice on Thursday, February 10.
Directed by Eric Rubinstein (ACSM), the QC Treble Choir—a select, auditioned group of music and non-music majors from across the college—specializes in repertoire written for soprano and alto voices exclusively.

“Performing at the ACDA Convention is quite an honor, and speaks to the level of artistry and accomplishment within the voice and choral areas of the Aaron Copland School of Music,” says Queens College President Frank H. Wu.

The American Choral Directors’ Association is a national membership of singers, students, teachers, and choral musicians from all levels of experience. The Eastern Region convention specifically brings together participants from across New England.
Africana Studies Marks Black History Month

In keeping with its interdisciplinary nature, Africana Studies scheduled a rich variety of events for Black History Month. On February 2, the department presented Healing Roots: Documentary and Discussion with Julia Zackery and Jordan and Kamille Gentles-Peart. Yesterday—February 7—the topic was Lessons for the 21st Century: The Promise and Practices of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Two programs remain. A Love Balm for the Ages: Music and Wellness in the African Diaspora, a roundtable discussion, is scheduled, fittingly, for February 14, Valentine’s Day. The final event, co-sponsored by Women and Gender Studies and taking place on February 28, is Womanish Ways: Self-Making and Self-Care Practices in the African Diaspora. Both sessions start at 12:15 pm; advance registration is recommended. 
Knight News Series To Feature Sheryl McCarthy

Sheryl McCarthy, Newsday columnist and host of CUNY-TV’s “One to One,” will be the guest on Thursday, February 17, at 12:30 when The Knight News will host the next date in its Visiting Journalists Series, this time in collaboration with the Queens Podcast Lab

A former journalism professor and Knight News faculty advisor, McCarthy has a long and distinguished career encompassing print media (the Boston Globe, the New York Daily News) and network television (ABC News). Johnny Sullivan, Knight News editor in chief, will moderate as she talks with students interested in careers in journalism and media. The session will take place on Zoom; the meeting ID is 797 375 6638.
Renovations Remain on Track

The athletic facility renovation project is on course to be completed in about 8 weeks, weather permitting. The last stages involve final track surfacing, site utilities work, and asphalt work in certain areas of the facility.
What’s the Next Big Idea?

Big Ideas—a series of original videos created by the Office of Communications and Marketing to highlight cutting-edge work by QC faculty—returns for a second season on Thursday, February 10. To learn more about the professors and projects highlighted in this year’s episodes, watch this teaser.
CUNY Distinguishes Burger

Glenn Burger (English) has been named Distinguished Professor by the CUNY Board of Trustees. A member of the QC faculty since 2000, he is internationally known for his studies of medieval English literature, where his knowledge of theory and a wide range of writings has led to fresh readings of long familiar texts.

Burger earned his BA and MA in English at the University of Toronto and his DPhil at Oxford University. After first teaching at the University of Alberta, he began his career at QC as an associate professor, becoming a full professor in 2004. He has chaired his department and served as interim dean of graduate studies.

Burger’s specializations concern medieval English and Scottish literature (especially Geoffrey Chaucer, the Chaucerians, and women writers) and medieval cultural studies, especially orientalism, gender and sexuality, and affect and emotion. “Professor Burger exemplifies a cosmopolitan outlook and rigorous scholarship,” says Queens College President Frank H. Wu. “His field owes much to his innovative work, our students have been fortunate to study with him, and we all have benefited from his extensive service to the college community. I am pleased to see him recognized with the highest academic honor that CUNY awards to faculty.”

Over the course of his teaching and research, Burger has published widely. His first book—A Lytell Chronicle: Richard Pynson’s Translation (c. 1520) of La Fleur des histoires de la terre d’Orient (1307) (University of Toronto Press, 1988)—was an edition of a medieval history of Asia, the Mongols, and the Crusades by an Armenian prince, Hetoum of Korikos.

Significant Scholarship

In recent work, drawing largely on queer and postcolonial theory, Burger has continued to contribute significantly to rethinking medieval literature, especially in his books Chaucer’s Queer Nation (University of Minnesota Press, 2003) and Conduct Becoming: Good Wives and Husbands in the Later Middle Ages (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). Both explore the making of the modern self and community through textual workings and reception. An active scholar, he has also edited five books, published twenty-eight articles and book chapters, given more than twenty lectures domestically and abroad, and delivered over fifty papers.
Ford Foundation Awards Grant to Dance Professor
Faculty member Gabriel “Kwikstep” Dionisio (Dance) recently received a grant from the Ford Foundation for his non-profit organization Full Circle Productions, a dance company that preserves and embraces New York City Hip Hop culture as it evolves. The Ford Foundation aims to reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Its grant will support Full Circle’s national cultural activation tour inspired by the United Hip Hop Vanguard—a network of leaders and cultural workers who will host program activities that will support the national breaking, or breakdancing, community and reverse the past two decades of its cultural erasure.

Breaking, an athletic style of street dancing, has become mainstream in recent years and popular worldwide. It is even scheduled to become an Olympic sport for the first time at the Paris Games in 2024. However, there are concerns among the breaking community that the art has become too commercialized. Full Circle Productions wants breaking to maintain its cultural roots, which began organically in the streets (at block parties and park jams) and community centers of Black and Puerto Rican communities in the 1970s. That’s when DJs extracted the instrumental “break,” the most percussive breakdown section, from the middle of funk, jazz, and disco songs and looped them together to create a new performance art and culture with its own rules, fashion, and language.

“The Olympics happens every four years,” noted Kwikstep. ”Hip hop happens 365 days a year. It doesn’t stop. What we don’t want to do is pin our hopes on something that happens every four years when you could be involved in it every day of your life. Just because it happens around the way in a community center doesn’t mean it’s less important. As a matter of fact, it’s the most important platform that we should be cultivating.”

Kwikstep has been admired for decades in the dance community for his breaking. He has worked with prominent hip hop figures throughout his career and has choreographed dances for popular hip hop artists and television shows. He founded Full Circle Souljahs in 1992; five years later, it became Full Circle Productions Inc., a nonprofit he co-founded with his wife, Rokafella. 

Hip Hop for Beginners

At QC, Kwikstep regularly teaches a course called “Hip Hop 101: The Break Down, The Moves and Movement of a People.”

As part of the grant, Full Circle Productions will meet with United Hip Hop Vanguard’s national members, youth along with elders, and from communities nationwide, making stops in Cleveland, Ohio; Miami, Florida; Los Angeles, California; Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; and Portland, Oregon. Their main focus will be the tradition, technique, and trajectory of music and breaking in hip hop culture.

“The United Hip Hop Vanguard was an answer to what we needed to express ourselves through,” explained Kwikstep. “Cultural activation and reintroduction to the original hip hop essence needed to be done nationally. Especially by intergenerational means . . . We’re bringing our insight from New York City but giving agency to each region because each region has their particular style in defining the needs from their community . . . We will discuss what’s happening to the scene, why was it so vibrant, and how did it disappear. And what do we need to do to reactivate it to the fullest?”

Meetings in each city will coincide with breaking events that members of United Hip Hop Vanguard will put on together.

“We don’t want to put together a commercialized event,” added Kwikstep. “We want to put together an organic event—which is known as a jam. Jams came out of block parties and park jams. When you have that kind of experience, the seed is firmly planted that way, much like an organic farm, without any sort of artificial content. It makes a much more lasting impression.”
In Memoriam
At Baccalaureate last year, Jerome Chazen was honored by President Frank H. Wu.
Jerome Chazen

Jerome Chazen, founder and chairman of Chazen Capital Partners, chairman emeritus of Liz Claiborne Inc., and chairman of the board of trustees at the Louis Armstrong House Museum (LAHM), passed away on Sunday, February 6, at the age of 94.

A native New Yorker and WWII navy veteran, Chazen earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Wisconsin, where as a student journalist and jazz aficionado he interviewed Louis Armstrong. Chazen continued his education in New York, receiving an MBA from Columbia University. Starting out as a Wall Street analyst, he moved into retail, experience that served him well as one of the four founding partners in Claiborne; he led the sales, marketing, distribution and licensing programs integral to the company’s success. He was chairman and CEO of Claiborne from 1989 to 1996.

Chazen founded the Jerome A. Chazen Institute for Global Business at Columbia and served on the board of numerous educational and cultural institutions, ranging from his alma maters to the 92nd Street Y, the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurial Initiative Fund, the Lupus Research Alliance, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. At Queens College, he was beloved for his dedication to Louis Armstrong—with whom he remained in contact in New York—and the landmark Queens institution bearing Satchmo’s name.

Jerry Chazen was an accomplished businessman, but I know him because he loved and respected Louis Armstrong,” said LAHM Executive Director Regina Bain. “His heart glowed when he listened to Armstrong play or heard his stories. As the board chair of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, he was a fierce advocate for the Armstrong legacy and all that it represents: artistic genius, community inclusion, support of young people and joy. I feel deeply in my heart that this man was a mensch—a man of deep integrity and honor. I am proud to have known him.”

“Jerry had an exemplary career in both business and philanthropy,” said Queens College President Frank H. Wu. ”In recognition of his service to the Louis Armstrong House Museum, which the college administers, I presented Jerry the Presidential Medal, the college’s highest administrative honor, last spring. He will be sorely missed.”

Chazen’s funeral will be held this morning at 9:30 am at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 West 76th Street, Manhattan. The service will be livestreamed.
Ruth Hollander

Ruth Hollander ’77, a treasured member of the Queens College community, passed away five weeks shy of her 105th birthday. An enthusiastic non-traditional student before that term was common, she followed her sons to this campus, majored in history and Jewish studies, and continued auditing classes for decades. Honoring her lifelong commitment to education, family friend and fellow QC graduate Charles Hennekens established a Jewish Studies award in her name and, turning grief into action, created the Jeffrey Hollander Memorial Scholarship—for students going to medical school—to commemorate her son, a doctor who died after contracting hepatitis from a patient. Ruth left a remarkable legacy at Queens College.
O. Bernard Leibman

O. Bernard Leibman, founder of Queens College’s graduate program in school psychology, passed away on February 3.

Raised in the Bronx, Leibman graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and enlisted in the navy, which stationed him in San Francisco. Honorably discharged, he returned to New York and enrolled in City College, completing a bachelor’s in psychology. Continuing in that field, he earned a master’s at Teachers College and a doctorate at Columbia University.

In addition to his work at Queens College, Leibman had a private clinical practice for decades and was active in professional boards and organizations; he was elected president of the Nassau County Psychological Association and subsequently, president of the New York State Psychological Association. Family and friends recall him as an advocate of social justice, free speech, exercise, meditation, and baking—he self-published a book of his favorite recipes.

Predeceased by Barbara Krauss Leibman, his wife of 72 years, he is survived by their two children, two grandchildren, and great-granddaughter. He asked that any memorial tributes be made as a charitable donation to the O. Bernard Leibman School Psychology Endowment at Queens College, which makes awards to exceptional school psychology students who demonstrate dedication and service in the field. 
Heard Around the Virtual Campus
Jonathan Pershing
Nuria Rodriguez-Planas
John Waldman
George Held (English, retired) remains active at 87, serving as a judge for the Bliss Morehead Poetry Grant, administered by the Shelter Island Public Library. Held is writing, too; he has poems published in current editions of Spring, the Journal of the E.E. Cummings Society; Neuro Logical; Blue Unicorn; and other periodicals . . . . Dawn Kelly, a member of the Tech Incubator at Queens College, commented on her experience as a recipient of a federal load and other aid in a New York Times article, “Little of the Paycheck Protection Program’s $800 Billion Protected Paychecks” . . . . Jonathan Pershing ’81, the Biden administration’s No. 2 global climate envoy, is leaving his position this month to return to his previous job, managing the Hewlett Foundation’s climate programs in California. His transition was reported by the New York Times. Pershing is the son of the late Drora Pershing, a QC alumna and ACSM professor . . . . Nuria Rodriguez-Planas (Economics) published a paper on flexible grading, COVID-19, and academic performance at Queens College in the Journal of Public Economics . . . . Anthony Tamburri (Calandra Institute) published “Scorrere della vita e instabilita dell’amore: ‘Anita’ di Alain Elkann all IIC di New York” (“The flow of life and the instability of love: Alain Elkann's ‘Anita’ at the IIC in New York”) in La Voce di New York . . . . Anja Vojvocic ’05, a political science professor at LaGuardia Community College, will work with this year’s participants in the Robert D.L. Gardiner-Joseph Shenker Student Scholars Program at the college, as reported by QNS. Supported by a million-dollar grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, the program gives students hands-on research experience at the college’s LaGuardia and Wagner Archives . . . . John Waldman (Biology) published a paper, “Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and Their Great Fish Migrations,” in Science Advances. Waldman describes this project here . . . . the Calandra Institute hosted a panel discussion, “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis: The Novel, the Film, and the Opera,” as reported by La Voce di New York. Anthony Tamburri (Calandra Institute) introduced the event and participated in the panel, which was moderated by Stefano Albertini (Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò) and included Alessandro Cassin (Centro Primo Levi), Bianca Finzi-Contini Calabresi (Columbia University), and Michael Korie, librettist for the novel’s latest opera adaptation, presented at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene.
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