December 1, 2002 | CUNY Matters Columns
Ralph Waldo Emerson once called the scholar “the world’s eye,” whose duty is “to cheer, to raise, and to guide men by showing them facts amidst appearances.” That seems to me a strikingly apt way to describe the work of the outstanding men and women scholars on CUNY’s campuses. With the new academic year well under way, I want to welcome faculty members who are new to the University, in advance of our yearly Reception for New Faculty at the Harvard Club on November 20.
As a faculty member at Baruch College, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, Polytechnic University of New York, Cooper Union, Eastern Connecticut State University, and the University of Connecticut, I enjoyed years of fulfilling work as a researcher and a teacher in statistics before focusing my energies on higher education administration. I know first-hand the central importance of an engaged and active faculty in the life of any university.
The faculty of a university comprise its signature and provide the clearest indication of how the organization defines itself. They give the institution its reputation, set the tone for informed deliberation and discussion, expand the body of knowledge, and nurture their students’ minds.
New faculty members are of particular importance at a university, adding new voices to the critical conversation and infusing the intellectual atmosphere with new perspectives. We were treated to an exciting demonstration of this last month at the University Faculty Senate’s Fall Conference, an impressive presentation of cutting-edge research by eight recent CUNY arrivals, titled “Pleasures of the Mind.” After an illuminating keynote by Pulitzer-winner and Distinguished Professor of History Mike Wallace, two panels of scholars who have been at CUNY colleges for five years or less offered their insights on the latest trends and innovations in their fields of interest, from Africana studies to biomedical engineering to computer science.
This year, the University is proud to welcome a distinguished cohort of new teachers and scholars. They include scholars from Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Brown Universities, as well as winners of the NSF CAREER award, the USSR Academy of Science Chebyshev Prize, and the Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy.
They join a constellation of eminent CUNY writers and teachers, including the Poet Laureate of the U.S., winners of Pulitzer prizes, the National Medal of Science, Academy of Motion Picture Awards, Guggenheim fellowships, MacArthur “genius” awards, and Fulbright scholarships. They are innovative educators, members of the most prestigious national academies, and foremost leaders in the academic enterprise.
As we endeavor to build faculty ranks here at CUNY, we will continue to inform the public of their credentials and accomplishments. Watch for our upcoming special March edition of CUNY Matters, which will feature extraordinary faculty members, new and long standing.
According to a Yiddish proverb, “A nation’s treasure is its scholars.” I am enormously proud of the men and women of the faculty who contribute mightily to the vibrant intellectual activity at CUNY, and throughout our City and State.