CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies 2012 Commencement

CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies 2012 Commencement

Keynote Address by Olaf Olafsson, Executive Vice President, Time Warner, Inc.

Time/Place: Monday, June 4, 10:00 am, The Great Hall at The Cooper Union, 7 East 7th St. at Third Avenue (the Foundation Building), Manhattan

Class of 2012: 175 graduates

The Ceremony

100 graduating students will participate. Guests are coming from all over the U.S., as well as from Antigua, Costa Rica, Croatia, France, Haiti, Panama, Senegal, St. Vincent, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Featured Speakers

KEYNOTE: Olaf Olafsson. With interests in physics, literature, writing, business and technology, Olafsson is an excellent example of interdisciplinarity in action. He is executive vice president, International and Corporate Strategy of Time Warner Inc., having previously been vice chairman of Time Warner Digital Media. Earlier, as founder, president and chief executive officer of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc., Olafsson built and managed its businesses in the U.S. and in Europe and was responsible for the introduction of the acclaimed PlayStation. He is the author of four novels, The Journey Home, Absolution, Walking Into the Night and Restoration, and a short story collection, Valentines. His books have been published in more than 20 languages and he is the recipient of the O. Henry Award and the Icelandic Literary Award, was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Prize, and has twice been nominated for the Dublin IMPAC Award. Olafsson, who was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1962, graduated with a degree in physics from Brandeis University, where he was a Wien Scholar.

FACULTY SPEAKER: Professor Elizabeth Schaible. Prof. Schaible (B.B.A., Univ. Kentucky; B.S., Hospitality Management, New York City College of Technology; M.S., Concentration in Service Management, Rochester Institute of Technology) is chair the City Tech Hospitality Management Department and teaches culinary arts, purchasing, dining-room management and marketing. Prior to joining the City Tech faculty, she held a variety of culinary and hospitality management positions, including executive chef of a corporate dining facility and private chef to the editor of Rolling Stone Magazine; she also owned a retail food and catering operation. Schaible serves on the National Advisory Board of Spoons Across America, a source for children’s culinary education, and she recently completed a photography essay, Down on the Farm: A Farm to Table Photo Essay of the Indiana Farmer. She has mentored June graduate Therese Savery-Connors (See Alumni Awards, below).

STUDENT SPEAKER: Arlene Schulman, B.A., 2012 in English and American Literature: Fiction and Non-Fiction Genres. Arlene is a writer, editor, author, photographer and filmmaker.  Her published books include the award winning The Prizefighters: An Intimate Look at Champions and Contenders; 23rd Precinct: The Job; and Cop on the Beat. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The New York Post and El Diario-La Prensa. She also wrote 26 episodes of a boxing series on ESPN Classic that featured Sugar Ray Leonard. As a photographer her work has appeared in exhibitions and is in several private collections. As a filmmaker she has three completed film: Provincetown Sky, The Tides of Norman Mailer, and My Hands Talk for Me: A Boxing Journey. She has also worked as a communications writer for nonprofits in NYC. Arlene has been accepted to the Master’s degree in New York Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Some notable achievements, graduate school acceptances and job offers for this year’s class include:

George Vourderis (Degree in Iberian Literary and Cultural Studies / East Asian Studies) has received a Fulbright Fellowship to South Korea.       
Lakshman Kalasapudi
(Degree in South Asian Studies / Urban Planning), has been accepted to the Master’s in Anthropology program at the University of Manitoba, with funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
Cheryl Mazzeo (Degree in Molecular Biology), has been accepted to the Ph.D. program in Biomedical Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine with a $31,000+ annual scholarship.
Robin Roberts (Degree in Astrophysics / Earth-Sun Connection), has been accepted to the Ph.D. program in Physics at the CUNY Graduate Center as a CUNY Science Scholar (full tuition and stipend support).
Ray Tebout (Degree in Economic Empowerment / Transitional Counseling Psychology) is now Director of Counseling and Mentoring at the College Initiative.
Thomas Lucas (Degree in The Development and Production of Television and Film / Writing and Performing for Television and Stage) is now Director of Show Development at Jade Town Productions, and Executive Producer and Show Creator of the reality program Carolina Brawl
Ladyane Lima (Degree in Latin American Studies / Economics Policy) is now an Operations Analyst at Morgan Stanley.
Dan Lurie (Degree in Neuroscience / Philosophy of Mind) will be a Research Assistant at the Child Mind Institute in the Center for the Developing Brain,

Awards to be presented, thanks to the generous support of alumni and other friends.

The CUNY Baccalaureate Alumni Fund Awards (four awards)

Laura Kingsley, Mixed Media Sculpture, already a professional artist, has been accepted to the MFA program in Ceramic Sculpture at California College of the Arts with a highly competitive merit scholarship of $18,000 per year.  Laura’s Website is:

Robert Riggs, Urban Anthropology and Mass Incarceration, has been accepted to the Ph.D. program in Sociology at NYU as a Henry McCracken Fellow, with annual funding of over $23,500 for five years. He says, “CUNY BA was crucial to my success in being accepted into graduate school!”

Therese Savery-Connors, Food Service Administration for Disaster Relief.  Tess has been accepted to the new Master’s program in Disaster Resilience Leadership Science at Tulane University.

Ella Viola, Zoology.  Ella, Director of Education at the Staten Island Zoo, has been accepted to the Master’s program in Biology at the College of Staten Island.

Other awards:

The Abby Stein Award: Alyssa Zayas, Adolescent Psychology / Creative Writing. Alyssa will continue her education at John Jay in the Master’s in Forensic Mental Health Counseling.

The Nan Bauer-Maglin Prize for Literary StudiesArlene Schulman, English and American Literature: Fiction and Non-Fiction Genres (see Student Speaker bio above).

The Lesley F. Hughes Health Services AwardAshanti Dixon, Dance Science.  Ashanti will be applying to medical school and also plans to become a certified pre/post natal group fitness instructor.

The Dan Daley Journalism AwardMary-Caitlyn Valentinsson, Language, Culture and Society. Mary-Caitlyn will attend the joint Ph.D. program in Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Arizona.

The Pedro Leonel Lopez Memorial Award: Yuki Nitta, Analyzing Music and Dance. Yuki left Japan to come to the U.S. in 2005 specifically to study the performing arts.

The Barbara Kneller Memorial AwardRoman Levites, Technology and Law.  Roman will attend Cardozo Law School in the fall.

The Professor Diana Bowstead Memorial Award: Marilyn Louis, Women and Francophone Culture of the African Diaspora.  Marilyn applies the Women’s Studies courses she has taken to her work in the arts.

CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies (CUNY BA) is a university-wide individualized bachelor’s degree where students work one-on-one with faculty. With an annual enrollment of 500, the degree is for self-directed, academically strong students who have well-formulated academic and career goals. Most are working adults, many of whom are raising families; 65% are 25 years old and older; and a significant number are returning to school, often after a hiatus of anywhere from 5 to 30 years. CUNY BA has one of the highest graduation rates in New York.  Since its inception in 1971, 7,000 students have earned their degrees through this route; 50% have gone on to graduate school.

PRESS CONTACT: Beth Kneller,