IN THE FALL of 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed to host a small dinner party for a select circle of colleagues: fellow billionaires. Among the guests were Warren Buffett, the renowned investor and philanthropist, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, along with wife, Melinda, now co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of the evening was to persuade other attendees to sign on to the Giving Pledge, a campaign spearheaded by Buffett and Gates to encourage the wealthiest people in the world to commit to giving at least half of their fortunes to charity.
IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE. But true. Kam Wong was not always a stellar student.
Today, the distinguished Baruch College alumnus and donor is president and CEO of the Municipal Credit Union of New York, with more than 350,000 members and almost $2 billion in assets.
MEET JUAN RODRIGUEZ — New York City’s first immigrant.
He’s also a historical figure who went unrecognized for centuries.
But now researchers at City College have come together to set the record straight.
Rodriguez was born in Santo Domingo or Hispaniola (present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) — the first European colony established in the Americas. He was part of a crew that arrived in Hudson’s Harbor aboard a Dutch ship in 1613, probably sailing from the Spanish colony of Hispaniola. Rodriguez was also a free, dark-skinned man, according to Dutch notarial documents published by the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.
“The story of Juan Rodriguez belongs to the history of all New Yorkers,” says Ramona Hernandez, director of the institute and professor of sociology at City College. “It shows that immigration and Dominicans are as old as apple pie. And it shows that New York has had inter-actions between different races and ethnicities since the very beginning.”
Rodriguez has been labeled the first because “he is simply the first individual for whom a historical record exists who is known to have lived in the Hudson Harbor area for several months (1613-1614), far from his society of origin, with only the local Native Americans as companions,” says Anthony Stevens-Acevedo, the assistant director of CUNY DSI.
It is likely that while living on the island of Santo Domingo, Rodriguez was hired to work as a sailor for the Dutch. The fact is that we find Rodriguez on a Dutch expedition destined for New Amsterdam and the Netherlands in 1613. But once Rodriguez arrived in Hudson’s Harbor he adamantly refused to leave, according to “Juan Rodriguez and the Beginnings of New York City,” a monograph published by the institute. Dutch notarial documents reveal that he lived and worked in New Amsterdam for at least eight months between 1613 and 1614.
Paraphrasing the few written statements that survive about Rodriguez, Hernandez says: “He was left here because he told whoever hired him, ‘I’m staying right here. And if you don’t leave me, I’ll jump overboard!’ We don’t know why he said that but I think this is a spirit of rebellion that
IN PARTS OF AFRICA, baboons can be controversial. Some people consider them pests, while others value the lessons they teach us about human behavior.
WYATT EARP was an icon of the American West. Both an outlaw and a lawman, he was the only man to walk away uninjured from the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.
A collection of new books written by CUNY authors
WHILE IT BEGAN AS A GAME played by teens in one of the working-class Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods, or “favelas,” today Projecto Morrinho has evolved into an art installation meant to inspire social awareness and international dialogue on the Queens College campus.
Guttman Community College, formerly known as the New Community College of CUNY, opened in the fall of 2012. It’s the first CUNY community college to open in more than 40 years, and it was renamed after the University received a $25 million gift from the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation. The donation, the largest to a community college in New York history, was given to support the college and other community college initiatives to boost student retention and graduation rates.
Outstanding Teachers: BILL WILLIAMS jokes that what led him to collaborate with Sandra Clarkson was the constant refrain at cocktail parties: “Oh, you teach statistics? I hated statistics!”
Outstanding Teachers: KIMORA – SHE USES only one name – has taken on what may seem a quixotic mission: to encourage students who intend to become police, corrections or probation officers to be ethical – if not happy – in their work. She sets the same goal for the teenage prisoners with whom she works.
Outstanding Teachers: As a teenager on the brink of college, Jennifer Basil faced a big decision – theater or biology. At 17 she’d apprenticed at the New York State School of Performing Arts at the Circle Repertory Company in New York City. But at age 9 — “after watching everything on PBS about animals and fish” – she had written to the renowned Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory on Cape Cod, looking for work.
Outstanding Teachers: ANTHONY CARPI, professor of environmental toxicology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, hasn’t been teaching much since he was tapped to be the Interim Associate Provost for the Advancement of Research last year, but he finds other ways to work with students.
Outstanding Teachers: TOM OFFERS TO SELL HIS JACKET to Sally for $50. Simple, right? But what if Ellen offers Tom more after Sally says OK? What if Tom changes his mind? Does it matter that nothing is in writing? What if Tom lied about the jacket’s material?
MOST OF US gratefully remember a special teacher whose skill in the classroom transformed our learning experience, making complex or unfamiliar material accessible, relevant, and compelling, and igniting our curiosity. At The City University of New York, we are fortunate to have many faculty whose expertise and creativity have enriched student proficiency in demonstrable ways. I am delighted that this issue of Salute to Scholars recognizes some of the exceptional faculty whose teaching has garnered awards and acclaim. I commend all of our faculty for their efforts to improve student progress through innovative, dedicated instruction.
Outstanding Teachers: DARA BYRNE, an associate professor of communication and theatre arts at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says her “favorite place is in a class with freshmen, because I enjoy helping them see what the higher education environment can do for them.” And she teaches just the course – the one they don’t want to take.
AFTER BEING ACCEPTED to Kingsborough Community College in 2011, Mushfica Masud was depressed to receive a class schedule filled with remedial courses.
But two years later, Masud boasted a 4.0 GPA, made the dean’s list, and was recently awarded a scholarship for academic excellence.
THE UNIVERSITY is now in the book business with the launch of the CUNY Journalism Press. The academic press housed at the
Graduate School of Journalism will use a new publishing model to produce books related to the craft.
Outstanding Teachers: When she was just 4 years old, Queens College associate professor Susan Croll announced that she would be a medical researcher. As a youngster, she was fascinated by her father’s psychology lectures at SUNY Broome Community College and helped him grade the bubble exams, “but not the essay questions.” Now The Princeton Review has recognized this neuropsychologist for her own teaching abilities.
ARTIST and York College professor of painting Nina Buxenbaum grew up in a multiracial, politically active family in Brooklyn. Early on, her work centered on black collectible imagery — Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben and Mammy — that Buxenbaum found “disturbing.” Later, it became more personal as she developed her own identity as a biracial African-American woman.
Nearly Killed at 15 by a Bullet That Tore Through Her Brain, Vada Turns Experience Into Art