Spring 2010 Semester Wrap Up

It has been another banner year at York across the spectrum. Faculty scholarship continues to soar and the students they mentor have made us all proud this graduation season.

Performing Arts

Co-curricular activities went from "on the move" to "on the run" with a dazzling Theatre and Performing Arts Center season. For that we extend congratulations and thank you to Professor Kenneth Adams and the faculty of the Fine and Performing Arts Department as well as to Matthew Katz, director of the Performing Arts Center, and his staff. The Jazz Series of the Performing Arts Center featured the legendary Cyrus Chestnut Trio, the Latin Giants Orchestra, pianist Geri Allen as well as Stefon Harris and Jacky Terrasson, Quintet of the Americas and others. The Special Presentation Series also featured a diverse lineup of performers and performances such as Ain't I a Woman and Unwritten. The Little Theatre featured performances by students and guest actors alike: Lynn Nottage's Fabulation, directed by Professor Tom Marion, featured York students and brought to the campus the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright to enjoy York's interpretation of her work, followed by a "talk-back." Thornton Wilder's Our Town, and Linda Nieves-Powell's Yo Soy Latina, both directed by Professor Timothy Amrhein, drew appreciative audiences; and The Tempest, York's first fully-staged Shakespeare play, directed by Prof. Marion, also enjoyed a successful run with support from the College as well as high schools, community members and seniors from across the borough.

Congratulations to everyone involved in these wonderful productions showcasing the talent of York faculty, student-performers and production crews! 

Annual Fund Raiser

While on the subject of performances, a big THANK YOU goes to everyone who supported the Third Annual Foundation Gala honoring music impresario George Wein, alumnus Patrick MacKrell, and Assemblywoman Vivian Cook. Our featured performer, Branford Marsalis gave an amazing performance and we were delighted that patriarch, Ellis Marsalis, joined his son on piano and while his youngest son, Jason, played drums.

Mr. Wein, was gracious, generous and engaging. Once again, Matthew Katz and his team did an outstanding job of preparing the theatre for performance. Professor Tom Zlabinger and his York College Big Band, also wowed the audience with their outdoor welcoming performance in front of the PAC. Indeed, it was a mini-struggle getting everyone to leave the entertainment outside for the featured performance inside!

About a week later we were honored that CNN correspondent, Soledad O'Brien premiered the documentary, Rescued at York and we applaud Dr. Ron Daniels of the Department of Social Sciences for his outstanding participation as a member of the post-viewing panel.

Undergraduate Research

Under the leadership of Provost Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, York has joined the Council on Undergraduate Research, and established the Office of Undergraduate Research. Congratulations to Dr. Rishi Nath, the director, and dozens of students and their faculty mentors who presented their research in the sciences, literature, social work and the visual and performing arts during first Undergraduate Research Day in April.

We were pleased to have as our keynote speaker that day, Dr. Kenneth G. Furton, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida International University (FIU).

Cross-Border Collaboration

In a case of scholarly reciprocity and commitment to an idea, Mathematics Professor Nath served as host in April to visiting Trinidadian scholar, Steven Khan, a doctoral candidate at the University of Waterloo, (Canada) and as a faculty member of the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad. Professor Khan discussed the relationship between Mathematics and the Steel Pan, using connections between math and music to interest students of particular ethnic backgrounds in mathematics.

Prof. Nath met Professor Khan while he (was a visiting scholar at the University of the West Indies, at St. Augustine in 2008. He reported upon his return that there was an opportunity for international collaborations given his newly "internationalized perspective" on mathematics education and research. Prof. Khan gave a pair of talks to both a general audience at York as well as to the Tensor Scholars, a math group lead by Professors Lidia Gonzalez and Nath, dedicated to increasing the representation of women and minorities in the mathematical sciences.

Tensor Program participant, Kiran Bhamra, '10, has received a scholarship to Stevens Institute of Technology for a Masters in computer science this fall, in a run up to the doctorate. Ms. Bhamra joins Yi Di Zhang, '06, as the second York alum at the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology  New Jersey's answer to MIT.

Program and Faculty Accomplishments

We are delighted that The National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) has awarded accreditation to our Medical Laboratory Scientist program. York has been awarded this initial accreditation by the National Review Board.

Congratulations for this long-sought after accomplishment go especially to director, Peter Jackson, MS, MT (ASCP); Department Chair, Dr. Robert Brugna and Dr. Dana Fusco, Dean of the School of School of Health and Behavioral Sciences. Faculty scholarship continues to soar at York, elevating the stature of the College and the success of our students. This spring Dr. Gerard McNeil (Biology) received more than $472,000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue his study of the function of RNA-binding protein critical to the female egg, using the common fruit fly as a model; Dr. Beth Rosenthal (Social Sciences) received more than $472,000 from the NIH to be applied her study of Adolescent Trauma, Psychopathology and Resilience; and Dr. Ruel Desamero (Chemistry) received more than $468,000 from the NIH toward his research project Dihydropterdine Reductase: Mechanism of Enzyme Action. These research projects have the multi-level effect of providing learning opportunities for our students as young researchers in the labs of their faculty mentors.

2010 Graduates

This year's graduation class saw an impressive number of scholars and we congratulate all the faculty mentors who made it possible:

Kudos to Dr. Ivica Arsov, Dr. Margaret McNeil and Dr. Emmanuel Chang, respectively, for their mentorship of Adeola Adebayo, Anika Toorie and Sherida Rahaman who have all been accepted into the PhD program in Pathobiology at Brown University in Rhode Island. Ms. Adebayo and Ms. Toorie are both MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers) Scholars as is Dexan Brown, a Chemistry major who will study molecular pharmacology at Stony Brook University.

The group of three graduates going to Brown was recruited by our own alum, Dr. Andrew Campbell, '81, a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

We congratulate all the faculty mentors and the counselors who guided all our students to the successful outcomes now fueling their promising futures.

The accomplishments cut an impressive swath across academic disciplines. Physics and Mathematics major Nicholas Hunt Walker has been accepted into the PhD program in Astrophysics at the University of Washington; Tanisha Placide who graduated with academic honors, and with honors in Social Science Research, is heading to nursing school in the fall, the first step in her plan to earn a Ph.D. in Nursing.

And then there is the compelling story of Charles Lugo. Mr. Lugo who grew up in foster care, found himself at York and the Chemistry lab of Professor Adam Profit with the support of Biology Professor Jack Schlein. He has been accepted at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health on full scholarship. He also credits the inspiration of his fellow students, including the person he calls his "smart friend," Chibuzo Chigewe, '10, now at Meharry Medical College.

And there's Bebe Haniff, who graduated with the BS/MS in Occupational Therapy. Ms. Haniff, a non-traditional student, graduated with the highest GPA of the BS/MS Occupational Therapy students. Ms. Haniff, mother of three adult children, endured extreme hardships to get to the United States to provide a better life for her family. Her outstanding example has now inspired her two daughters to enroll at York.

I am pleased to note that this year's valedictorian, Joi Yau, is a Mathematics major. Congratulations to the Department of Mathematics and Computer Studies for minting another woman mathematician from York! There is high demand for ethnic and gender diversity in the mathematical sciences and York must play a solid role in this area. Ms. Yau, who was born in Panama, will visit China, her ancestral homeland, studying and connecting with family before attending graduate school.

Congratulations to the director, faculty, students and staff of the CUNY Aviation Institute at York College for guiding the first cohort of graduates! It was a decade ago that the seed was planted and initial funding provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. We are gratified by this successful outcome. This group of graduates has set the stage for future aviation scholars at York.

This year's Commencement Exercise was one of our best, not only for the impressive graduates, the inspiring faculty participation, and our special guests. It was also spectacular in its presentation -- from the repositioning of the podium to the welcoming awning and the receptions, alumni participation, the public reception amid red-and-white-covered tables on the plaza to the remarkable performance of the York College Big Band. Commencement delivered pomp and circumstance at its best. Congratulations to the entire committee for a job well done!

I wish for everyone, an enjoyable and restful summer!