CUNY’s 2005 Salute to Scholars

CUNY’s 2005 Salute to Scholars honored 249 faculty members who won prestigious national awards or outstanding national recognition for their research, artistic endeavors, and other accomplishments in 2004-05. Their fields covered an extraordinary range—from temperature superconductors to Black Writers in America.

These “teacher-scholars,” said CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein, “are as devoted to the advancement of their students as they are to the advancement of knowledge in their field.”

“The honorees represent the breadth of academic research interests that make up this extraordinary University,” says Selma Botman, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs for CUNY. “Whether the research involves probing the mysteries of Alzheimer’s, developing wall-climbing robots for surveillance and target tracking, organizing a Gwendolyn Brooks symposium, studying early women writers in the viceroyalty of Peru or creating a digital archive for Rapa Nui oral and video histories, the scholarly life of a CUNY faculty member offers insight into the intellectual richness of one of higher education’s most storied academic communities.”

The honorees included:

Eugene Chudnovsky, Distinguished Professor of physics and astronomy at Lehman College and the Ph.D. program in physics at The Graduate Center, who received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a study of the dynamics of the magnetic flux in high-temperature superconductors.

Elizabeth Nunez, Distinguished Professor of English at Medgar Evers College, who received numerous accolades, including an Emmy nomination as executive producer of “Black Writers in America,” a 2004 eight-part TV series.

Janet Poppendieck, professor in the department of sociology at Hunter College, who received a research/writing grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for her work on reinventing school meals.

Sonia Ragir, professor in the department of sociology, anthropology and social work at the College of Staten Island, who received a grant from the Great Ape Trust of Iowa for her primate research.

Henry Wollman, director of the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch College, who received two grants – one from the New York City Public Advocate for his affordable-housing study and one from the Queens Chamber of Commerce for a development/feasibility study on Willets Point.

The event may be called a Salute to Scholars, but the honorees say that it is as much as salute to CUNY and their students as it is to them.

“Through my students’ eyes, I am brought back to my own youth and to my fascination at the power of mathematics to explain the world,” says Chudnovsky, who teaches introductory physics to undergraduates at Lehman. “I tell my students that the language of the Almighty is neither English nor Spanish nor Chinese, but it is mathematics, and thus learning it has some value for all.”

Medgar Evers’ Nunez, who earned a doctorate and published five novels, says that she owes all her accomplishments to the college because it “took a chance on me – young, inexperienced, unpublished…this is CUNY’s extraordinary achievement: It opens doors for students and faculty alike to futures we perhaps only dreamed about. I am energized every time I step into a classroom. I know that I have the opportunity to transform my students, and they, without doubt, will transform me.”

The event, which showcased the University’s academic excellence, was held November 29 at the New York Public Library.

The City University of New York, the nation’s largest urban public university, includes 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, a graduate school, a law school, a Graduate School of Journalism and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. It serves more than 450,000 degree-credit students and adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 35,000 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 200 high schools throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York.