The media campaign CUNY Countdown is in high gear to boost voter registration and participation… The University’s Energy Institute has developed a battery with breakthrough technology that ultimately can be used to reduce greenhouse gases from vehicles… And a CUNY team in South Africa found baboons stick to a healthy diet no matter what the food temptation.

‘CUNY Countdown’ to Boost Voter Registration,Turnout. As election excitement builds across the city, the University launched a new “CUNY Countdown” social media campaign to increase voter registration levels and boost turnout at the polls.

CUNY-VOTE-2013-Horizontal-PosterFor 10 days leading to the Sept. 10 primary and Nov. 5 general election, CUNY will send University-wide email blasts and use Facebook and Twitter to post daily reminders about registration deadlines and voting issues. Students will also be encouraged to serve as primary and Election Day poll workers or interpreters, positions that pay up to $575 for completing a training course, passing an exam, and working two election days.

The theme of the CUNY Countdown is “My City, Our Future, CUNY Votes.” More information is available at the CUNY Votes website ( and a CUNY Votes Facebook page and Twitter account #cunyvotes.

During a meeting to launch the CUNY Countdown campaign, Senior Vice Chancellor Jay Hershenson reported that nearly 60 percent of CUNY students are registered to vote, exceeding the average voter registration rate for New York City college age students by almost 10 percentage points.

Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly attributed the high rate of voter participation among students to the University’s historic public-service mission, coupled with more recent outreach efforts of the CUNY Votes campaign, civic partnerships, social media, and the scheduling of dozens of mayoral forums across CUNY’s 24 campuses.

The University struck partnerships with several civic organizations to increase citywide voter participation including the New York Public Interest Group, the New York City Campaign Finance Board Voter Assistance Unit, Common Cause and Citizen’s Union.

Crew, El-Mohandes Arrive, Peruggi Retires.

Tbriefshis fall, the University welcomes two new college leaders and bids farewell to the first woman president of Kingsborough Community College. Rudolph Crew, former New York City schools chancellor and most recently Oregon’s chief education officer, becomes the new president of Medgar Evers College. At the CUNY School of Public Health in East Harlem, Dr. Ayman A.E. El-Mohandes, a pediatrician and internationally recognized researcher in infant mortality, takes the helm as new dean. The dean will be the subject of an interview in an upcoming issue of CUNY Matters. Dr. El-Mohandes, a native of Egypt, served as dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center since 2009. And after nine years of service at Kingsborough Community College, President Regina Peruggi announced in April that she would retire. The news came shorty after Kingsborough was named among the four best community colleges in the U.S. by the Aspen Institute.

Construction Fund Hosts Minority Women Business Conference In an effort to build more connections with diverse contractors and architects, CUNY and the 2013-08-12_unv_mwbe_077ACity University Construction Fund recently hosted the fifth annual Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) conference at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Last year, CUNY was responsible for 20 percent of all new construction in New York. The University’s facilities include 303 buildings throughout the five boroughs. Speaking at the conference, Iris Weinshall, vice chancellor for facilities planning, construction and management, said with so many new projects, this is a great chance to partner with more minority and women-owned businesses. Gov. Andrew Cuomo set a goal of 20 percent participation by MWBEs in New York State. Weinshall said CUNY has met that goal for the past two fiscal years. In 2013, CUNY spent $14.7 million on minority women’s business enterprises.

Trustees Appoint Five New Distinguished Professors. The Board of Trustees recently approved the appointment of five new Distinguished Professors. Three are already members of the doctoral faculty: Joshua B. Freeman, a history professor at Queens College; Yunping Jiang, a mathematics professor also at Queens College; and Daniel M. Greenberger, longtime physics professor at City College. Two professors will join the CUNY Graduate Center as new faculty this fall: mathematics professor Jeremy Kahn comes from Brown University and history professor Megan Vaughan leaves Cambridge University for CUNY.

It’s no secret that the water quality of the Hudson River stinks, but a new study by Queens College, Riverkeeper and Columbia University provided startling raw fuel for a U.S. political agenda. The study, led by Queens College assistant professor Gregory O’Mullan, tapped sites from New York Harbor to the Tappan Zee Bridge and affirmed that illness-causing, antibiotic-resistant bacteria do indeed multiply when untreated sewage overflows pipes. Armed with these facts, U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) took congressional Republicans to task for cutting money for clean water. Irvington Mayor Brian Smith, who happens to be a Republican, placed the blame on both parties, but said the facts clearly warranted more spending in this area.

The play’s the thing. Over the summer, a dozen master’s students took roles as “acting” teachers at the Kigali Institute of Education in Rwanda. The idea of bringing drama to the classroom was to help the institute’s students perfect their pedagogical skills so they can make lessons fun, participatory and thought provoking. At the end of the three-week training, the group acted out the principles in a play.

Recharge. The Energy Institute has developed a highly efficient zinc-manganese rechargeable battery whose breakthrough technology ultimately can be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, improve gas mileage and supply renewable energy farms. The $5-million project was funded by the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency and will be manufactured by Urban Electric Power, which has a history of making eco-friendly batteries.

The baboon diet. If you want to eat healthy, ape the baboon. When Queens College associate professor Larissa Swedell and a trio of students spent a month studying the eating habits of a female baboon in the Tokai Forest of Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, South Africa, they discovered that she was never tempted to overindulge. No matter what goodies they offered, she stuck mostly to her veggies.

Ten teams of NYC college students used their brains to promote their business ideas at the 11th Annual SmartPitch Challenge, a partnership of the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise, the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship at Baruch College and IBM.
Baruch undergrad Dwight Peters, the top winner, took home $5,000 for, a B2B company that makes limited-edition iPhone and Samsung Galaxy cases for nonprofits’ fundraisers. The designs are voted on via social media, and $7 from each sale is funneled back to the charity.
The other winners were:
•    Baruch MBA student John Fout won $2,500 and the second-place place spot for Sohha Greek Yogurt, which is from a family recipe. He plans to add vegetables and other savory toppings to it as is done in Mediterranean countries and bring it to the U.S. market.
•    Baruch undergraduate finance student Morris Sued took the third-place $1,000 prize for, which makes it fast and easy to get delivery from kosher restaurants.
•    Baruch undergraduate finance major Eli Attias was awarded fourth prize, access to the virtual business incubator, for Coufsa, which will partner will shipping companies like Fedex and UPS to allow retailers to advertise and offer coupons to a targeted ZIP CODE audience on the blank spaces of the packages.
•    Baruch undergraduate finance major Ronald Zorrilla’s fifth-place entry, Outdoor Project, is a nonprofit that will partner with the New York City school system, as well as religious and cultural institutions, to offer elementary-school children outdoor experiences. He will use the virtual business incubator to finalize the idea.

sobe_lifewaterLook for Pepsi. The City University of New York has signed a $20.75 million agreement that gives the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of New York, Inc., exclusive rights to provide most carbonated and noncarbonated drinks on campuses for the next 10 years. After the contract took effect on July 1, Pepsi distributed first-year royalties totaling more than $1.38 million above the previous contracts that individual colleges had signed with varying vendors.
Future royalties will vary with sales, which also will be the basis for dividing the revenue among campuses. The colleges will use the revenue to enhance programs. In addition, the CUNY Athletic Conference will receive $300,000 over 10 years; previously, it did not receive any income from “pouring rights.” Another $200,000 over the life of the contract will support CUNY-wide or campus-based sustainability initiatives.

In the spring of 2012, CUNY’s Board of Trustees voted to seek a University-wide beverage contract. The trustees acted after Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Allan Dobrin identified a potentially higher stream of revenue by single University-wide contract instead of the varying beverage contracts that individual colleges had executed with different vendors. Following a standard procurement process, the University named a committee composed of five campus vice presidents for administration and chaired by Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Management Services Burt Sacks. The committee interviewed company representatives, who then submitted their best and final offers. The panel chose Pepsi because it offered more money and more forms of promotional support than competitors. The contract covers carbonated and noncarbonated natural and artificially flavored nonalcoholic beverages, including sodas, juices, cold teas, bottled water, sports drinks and cold packaged coffee drinks.

CUNY-Led Team’s Research to Focus on Jamaica Bay Ecosystem
The City University of New York will lead a consortium of top-tier research institutions in studying the interaction of storms, rising sea levels and the impact of urban development in a new Science and Resilience Institute centered on Jamaica Bay.

briefsJamaica“Together with our distinguished partners, we will engage in a groundbreaking effort to revitalize the Jamaica Bay ecosystem,” Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly said. The goal is “a comprehensive revitalization and restoration program for Jamaica Bay and the entire watershed.”

More broadly, said Vice Chancellor for Research Gillian Small, the new institute “presents an exceptional opportunity for CUNY and our partners to test and evaluate the ideas and programs that will become seedbeds for the wider movement to create a more sustainable and resilient world.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Kelly in announcing creation of the institute at an Aug. 12 press conference. They also highlighted progress toward cooperative management of 10,000 acres of federal- and city-owned parks in and around Jamaica Bay.

The CUNY-led research consortium includes Columbia University’s Earth Institute and its Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Cornell University, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York Sea Grant, Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Stevens Institute of Technology, Stony Brook University and the Wildlife Conservation Society.