Dear Friends and Colleagues:
I am delighted to celebrate the immigrant experience in our country through this publication of the CUNY/New York Times Knowledge Network 2007 Nation of Immigrants Calendar. Since the founding of City College as The Free Academy in 1847, the mission of The City University of New York has been to provide access and opportunity to all people. Creating an open door for students to achieve success has benefited millions of students and society at large. A critical component to CUNY’s success has been New York’s immigrant population. From Jonas Salk (City College 1934), the son of East European immigrants and the creator of the polio vaccine, to Fiona Smith (York College 2005), a Guyanese immigrant awarded a Salk scholarship to attend the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, CUNY is the incubator of scientific pioneers. In 2005, 40 percent of
CUNY students were born outside the U.S. mainland, speaking 117 languages in addition to English and representing 164 different nationalities. From its beginnings 160 years ago, CUNY continues to provide opportunities for all students to achieve and contribute to society.
The Nation of Immigrants Calendar, Web site and curricula have been guided by Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Jay Hershenson and President Gail Mellow of LaGuardia Community College. They turned to Dr. Richard K. Lieberman, director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College, to implement this vision, develop the calendar and help plan appropriate outreach. For 28 years, the Archives has produced exemplary calendars and lesson plans on a variety of subjects, including the history of the New York City Council, the origins of public housing, voting rights and citizenship and, most recently, women’s leadership. Dr. Lieberman and his colleague Dr. Steven A. Levine and other researchers combed the vast resources of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, the Dominican Studies Institute, City College and The New York Times Photo Archives to produce the one-of-a-kind images, historical documents and period material that fill the Nation of Immigrants Calendar. The Calendar benefited from some of CUNY’s and the nation’s finest scholars in immigrant and urban studies to underscore the integrity of the content.
The commitment of the calendar’s sponsors has been particularly gratifying, and I am especially grateful to The New York Times Knowledge Network. I would like to especially thank JPMorgan Chase Chairman William B. Harrison, Jr., and C.E.O. Jamie Dimon, President Kimberly Davis of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Vice President Laura Winter, Vice President Tim Noble, Senior Vice President Leonard Colica, and Senior Vice President Cheryl Halpern of JP Morgan Chase for their generous assistance and support. I want to express my appreciation to Chairman and CEO Herbert M. Allison, Jr. of TIAA-CREF for his continued support and assistance.
I would also like to thank Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Department of Cultural Affairs, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Vice President Thomas Newell of the Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. Their historic support and funding of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives and its calendars and curricula has helped the Archives to preserve history and make it available and accessible to the public. This project, of course, builds on the success of the CUNY/New York Times Knowledge Network Women’s Leadership Calendar published last year and the Voting Rights and Citizenship Calendar published in 2005 with the generous help of JPMorgan Chase and TIAA-CREF.
We are deeply appreciative of our ongoing partnership with our esteemed colleagues at The New York Times Knowledge Network, in particular Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Alyse Myers, Education Marketing Director Felice Nudelman, Newspaper in Education Manager Stephanie Doba, and Group Director of Community Affairs and Media Relations Diane McNulty. A formal collaboration was established to make the calendar widely accessible and to facilitate the curricular elements. The New York Times Photo Archives generously contributed photographs.
Because the issue of immigration is critical to our country’s future, the project is designed to reach the widest possible audience. The interactive Web site, www.cuny.edu/nationofimmigrants, includes research and images that could not be included in the Calendar because of space limitations, and has links to additional documents and to immigrants’ rights and immigrant history organizations for a fuller investigation of the topic. Both the Calendar and the Web site are also published in Spanish. In addition, research from the Calendar will be used to develop curricula for fourth-, seventh/eighth- and eleventh-grade students. The lessons will teach students to interpret original documents and help them prepare for document-based questions used in both the New York State Department of Education and Board of Regents examinations.
The Nation of Immigrants Calendar is a work of scholarship, with each month designed for both aesthetics and education. The months do not concentrate on a particular ethnic group, but instead look at the immigrant experience through themes, such as work, arrival, food, celebration and second generation to describe the immigrant experience. Through these themes, we are able to understand the differences and similarities among immigrant groups and also look at the lives of individuals. These themes explain the dynamic nature of immigrant cultures, neither fully grafting the culture of the homeland onto American soil, nor quickly assimilating the dominant American culture. Instead, immigrants often adapt the cultures of their homelands to the new world they have settled in.
The month that focuses on arrival explains why immigrants come to the United States and how they are part of a global community connecting the United States to their homelands. Immigrants have not arrived in the U.S. as individuals, but as parts of communities in constant communication, whether it was a Russian shtetl and Manhattan’s Lower East Side a hundred years ago or the Dominican Republic and Washington Heights today. Similarly, the month focusing on celebrations describes how holidays like Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland and Carnival in the West Indies have been reshaped into ethnic pride parades on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, respectively.
The Nation of Immigrants Calendar is a testament to how immigrants have built our country and constantly reinvigorated American society.