Newswire

HAVE YOU HEARD? Afro-Latin jazz composer and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill, a professor at Brooklyn College,   won his third Grammy at the 57th awards ceremony … A statue of John Jay, one of our Founding Fathers and the first Chief Justice of the United States, was unveiled at his namesake school, John Jay College of Criminal Justice … Three Queens College students won top honors in the CUNY IBM-Watson Case Competition with the creation of a new app to aid in preventing child abuse …

Hunter College alumnus Rishi Singh, speaking, was one of the undocumented immigrants who met with President Obama to push for immigration reform.

Hunter College alumnus Rishi Singh, speaking, was one of the undocumented immigrants who met with President Obama to push for immigration reform.

To assist students, faculty and staff in understanding President Barack Obama’s recent executive action on immigration, CUNY Citizenship NOW! has launched a new initiative that includes a series of free legal clinics, a new Web page and an information hotline. Last year, President Obama announced the executive order to defer the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants and grant them work authorization for three years. The presidential order is expected to impact scores of CUNY students who may now become eligible for in-state tuition, internships, job opportunities and admission into degree programs requiring licenses, such as nursing and law school. Although a federal court judge has temporarily blocked the president’s deferred action order, CUNY Citizenship Now! Director Allan Wernick said his staff would continue with plans to help people prepare for the programs. “Deferred action or no, immigrant New Yorkers need our help,” Wernick said. The Administrative Relief includes two programs that benefit undocumented immigrants. The first is an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, for qualified persons who came to the U.S. before age 16; the second, Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, or DAPA, is for qualified undocumented parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who was born on or before Nov. 20, 2014. CUNY citizenship Now! is holding free legal clinics in February and March on CUNY campuses for applicants seeking to apply for DACA. Undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents are also invited to attend so they may gather information and obtain a free and confidential consultation on the DAPA program. Citizenship NOW! is also making plans for its 13th annual call-in event co-sponsored by the New York Daily News. The weeklong hotline will operate at Guttman Community College from April 27 to May 1 and provide immigration assistance to thousands of callers.

John Jay College President Travis takes a ‘selfie’ with the unveiled statue of the college namesake.

John Jay College President Travis takes a ‘selfie’ with the unveiled statue of the college namesake.

John Jay was one of our Founding Fathers, the second governor of New York and the first Chief Justice of the United States. But until recently, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, there were few memorable images that honored his important legacy. That changed in December when President Jeremy Travis unveiled and dedicated a life-size bronze statue of John Jay in the Lynn and Jules Kroll Auditorium at his namesake college. The statue, created by StudioEIS in Brooklyn, stands at 5-foot-10 and weighs 670 pounds. Jay is wearing a judicial robe with one hand outstretched and the other hand holding the justice’s oath of office. A nearby plaque describes many of the highlights of Jay’s career as a patriot, jurist, elected official, diplomat and essayist. “You can’t help but be impressed” by what Jay accomplished, President Travis noted, calling him “our forgotten Founding Father, one of the greatest New Yorkers, who helped create our democracy.” The statue, he said, provides “a way for us to reconnect with an important part of our nation’s history.” Ivan Schwartz, one of the co-founders of StudioEIS, detailed the yearlong process of creating the likeness, speaking of his team’s “forensic pursuit of evidence” that included examining portraits and busts of Jay, measuring his only surviving judicial robe, and having a model photographed in different poses at the installation site to provide alternative approaches to the eventual statue. “We had to be meticulous about what John Jay looked like,” said Schwartz, whose studio has also created statues of such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Frederick Douglass and other signers of the Constitution.

The CUNY Games Festival at the Graduate Center

The CUNY Games Festival
at the Graduate Center

Game-Based Learning for Higher Ed. Nearly 200 college educators, students, and independent game designers joined together at the CUNY Graduate Center for the 2nd annual CUNY Games Festival, a one-day conference that highlights how game-based learning is transforming higher education. Though much attention has focused on game-based learning for K-12 students, the CUNY Games event has gained recognition as being one of the only conferences devoted to both “digital and nondigital” game-based learning at the college level. In addition to CUNY, other universities that attended the conference included New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Dartmouth College and the University of Arizona. The Jan. 16 event was organized by the CUNY Games Network, a diverse group of faculty and staff from across the University who use game-based learning in a wide range of academic fields, from psychology and computer science to English literature and history. Presently, they estimate that more than 160 CUNY professors use games either in their college classrooms or mentor students on designing games that will potentially impact the public. The CUNY Games Network also serves as a resource for faculty who are interested in using game-based learning, but aren’t sure where to start.

Winners Nekita Singh, Kimberly Sy and Lizeth Mejia

Winners Nekita Singh, Kimberly Sy and Lizeth Mejia

Students’ Innovative Apps Offer Technology to Improve Services

CUNY students are tackling some of New York City’s biggest challenges and creating apps to solve them in the CUNY IBM-Watson Case Competition, hosted recently at Baruch College. Students used IBM’s Watson cognitive technology — processing information more like a human, understanding natural language, generating hypotheses based on evidence, and learning as it goes — to pitch ideas for apps that would help improve city services and higher education. “The partnership with IBM offers students the opportunity to look into the future and the way society does business and provides services. It empowers students to shape the future that they will inherit,” said competition director Stan Altman, a public affairs professor at Baruch. The first-place pitch, Watson LMSW — Licensed Master Social Worker —proposes a new statewide child welfare information system that would act as a virtual caseworker assistant, integrating information across all agencies to identify child abuse and maltreatment cases quickly and accurately. Caseworkers are spending a lot of time filing paperwork so they’re left with less time to sit down with the children and families. This app is all about preventing abuse as opposed to reacting to abuse,” said Queens College senior Kimberly Sy, who along with classmates senior Nekita Singh and junior Lizeth Mejia, pitched Watson LMSW. The next step is to work with the CUNY Center for Student Entrepreneurship at Baruch College to develop their app. They will also have the opportunity to present their winning pitch to leadership in the Administration for Children’s Services. The second-place proposal, SmartCall, uses Watson to improve the city’s 311 helpline. And Advyzer, the third-place pitch, is an app that integrates academic goals and user preferences to provide personalized academic advisement to undergraduates. The CUNY-IBM tech challenge attracted more than 300 students from 18 CUNY campuses. The top three teams were awarded a total of $10,000 in cash prizes donated by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation. The first- second- and third-place teams were awarded $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively.

Arturo O'Farrill

Arturo O’Farrill

Arturo O’Farrill at the 57th Grammy Award Ceremony. Afro-Latin jazz composer and bandleader Arturo O’Farrill ’96, a professor at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music and a two-time Latin Grammy-Award winner, became a triple award winner at the 57th Grammy Awards ceremony earlier this month. The Offense of the Drum, his first album with Motema Music, won in the Best Latin Jazz category. “This award is special because The Offense of the Drum represents a departure from ‘typical’ Latin jazz. It is pan-American, contemporary — it even includes the first recorded example of reggaetón jazz — and features 37 different types of drums,” says O’Farrill, who joined the Brooklyn College faculty in Fall 2014 as the director of its jazz ensembles.

Executive Vice Chancellor Allan Dobrin puts on the gloves.

Executive Vice Chancellor Allan Dobrin puts on the gloves.

Hoping to give New York boxers an educational boost, the University is teaming with the New York State Athletic Commission to launch a pilot program that provides professional and amateur boxers with academic opportunities to help them succeed outside the ring. The initiative, “Fight for Your Future,” allows boxers to pursue their education by obtaining a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or enrolling in a CUNY undergraduate or graduate program and be awarded scholarships based on academic merit to help them graduate from a CUNY school. Through this program, boxers will now have educational opportunities much like those afforded to other athletes. Currently, there are approximately 2,500 registered amateur/professional boxers in New York State. At a conference to launch the program at Kingsway Gym in Manhattan, CUNY’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Allan Dobrin said the point of the program is to take all the attributes that boxers have in the ring and use them to create successful careers in other areas. “For genera-tions, ambitious young people have sought to make a place in the world for themselves through boxing, but too often, without an education, it led to a limited future,” said Dobrin. “CUNY is proud to provide the opportunity for an education that can lead to options for these young people.” CUNY will administer the program, while NYSAC, USA Boxing Metro and the Daily News will assist in recruiting applicants from the state’s boxing community and help promote the program.

news5The Pathways curriculum is in its second academic year and has been implemented across all undergraduate campuses. Here are some of the findings so far:

  • Preliminary data show that in Fall 2014, 135,510 degree-seeking students at the University (61 percent of all degree seeking students) were following the Pathways curriculum. Approximately 13,900 of these students were enrolled at CUNY prior to implementation of Pathways and thus could have continued in their original curriculum, but chose to switch to Pathways.
  • Preliminary data also show that in Fall 2014 approximately 419,607 seats were filled in Pathways courses.
  • Over the three semesters of Pathways (Fall 2013, Spring 2014 and Fall 2014), students have transferred Pathways courses from one CUNY college to another on more than 418,500 occasions.
  • More than 1,660 courses have been approved for the Pathways Common Core by the Common Core Course Review Committees, composed of CUNY faculty. Additionally, more than 500 “STEM variant” math and science courses (courses colleges require for majors in STEM fields) are offered in the Common Core.
  • The Common Core Course Review Committees (CCCRC) will continue to review and approve courses on an ongoing basis. Currently, there are 55 faculty members serving on these committees.
  • Faculty committees have identified common entry-level courses into 10 popular majors — Biology, Business, Criminal Justice, Economics, English, Nursing, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Teacher Education. A total of 639 courses have been identified by colleges offering these majors and are guaranteed to transfer for credit toward the majors.