Latest Fashions in Faculty­ CUNY Unveils New Fall Line

Third World Development Expert

  Caf Dowlah
Caf Dowlah

Before arriving this year at Queensborough Community College as a professor of social sciences, Caf Dowlah worked for several years as an economic consultant for the Dhaka office of the World Bank in Bangladesh, later as a policy advisor with the United Nations. He returned to the U.S. in 2001 as a visiting scholar at Columbia University, while also serving
as a consultant for USAID, the U.S. Infor-mation Agency and the European Union, among other organizations.

The Bangladesh national, whose three degrees are all from U.S.C., says of his extramural experiences, “I think I am basically an academician, but it occurred to me that my theoretical training in development economics could be strengthened further with some practical experience. I looked, therefore, for opportunities to work with the World Bank and the U.N., which are intricately involved in third-world development.”

“I think the most striking thing for me at Queensborough was to see a real United Nations in practice,” Dowlah explains. “One can see faces of almost every nation on earth at this campus.”

Dowlah’s research has been on the economic transition of formerly socialist countries, reform in underdeveloped countries, and the globalization of trade. He is also the author of two books, The Life and Times of Soviet Socialism and The Soviet Political Economy in Transition: From Lenin to Gorbachev. A third is forthcoming, Globalization, Multilateral Trade Regimes, and Marginalization of Least Developed Countries.

Vincent DiGirolamo
Vincent DiGirolamo

Former Journalist, Scholar of Newsboys
After teaching at Princeton, U.C. Santa Cruz, George Mason University, and in Beijing, Vincent DiGirolamo has just arrived in the Baruch College history department with areas of expertise perfect for a campus in Manhattan: immigration, labor, youth, media, and New York City in the 19th and 20th centuries.

A CUNY homecoming is involved too, for the native Californian recalls happily his “most life-changing intellectual experience” occurred at the Graduate Center in 1980. “I was working for a union newspaper in San Francisco when I attended an N.E.H. summer seminar on working-class history led by professors Herbert Gutman and Stephen Brier. The seminar helped me to see ordinary working people—immigrants, slaves, and families—as active participants in history who contributed to the ideas, institutions, and values that shaped this country.”

He went back West, he says, able to write “with new understanding and passion about migrant cannery workers in Alaska, a Mexican-American theater troupe in the Salinas Valley, and Vietnamese refugee fishermen in my home town, which became the subject of my PBS documentary, Monterey’s Boat People. A growing desire to teach led the U.C. Berkeley B.A. in journalism on to graduate school—an M.A. in comparative social history from U.C. Santa Cruz, and a doctorate in history from Princeton.

DiGirolamo’s forthcoming book, Crying the News: Peddlars of the Press in America, is a history of newsboys from the Revolution to the Great Depression. ”It analyzes their role as political actors and symbols in American culture,“ he says.

“At Baruch,” Di Girolamo says, “I hope to inspire—and be inspired by—a new generation of CUNY students.”

  Dr. Vrunda Prabhu
Dr. Vrunda Prabhu

One Calculus Course Indivisible
Coming to Bronx Community College, Dr. Vrunda Prabhu found an immediate reward —a campus thronged with eager students. Originally from Bombay, India, Prabhu was used to seeing crowds of people, but there was a lot of space between students at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, where she previously taught.

“I walked onto the BCC campus and found students everywhere. It was exciting,” said Prabhu, who brought with her to BCC a $400,000 research grant from the National Science Foundation to explore problems which limit students from understanding calculus. Bronislaw Czarnocha, her co-principal investigator on the research project, “Indivisibles in Calculus,” teaches at Hostos Community College. Her research involves managing teaching experiments at several U.S. universities and at a university in Mexico.

“I like my classes filled with students who ask many questions,” says Prabhu. She did her undergraduate work in India and earned her doctorate at the Univer-sity of Kansas in 1993, writing her thesis on point set topology. Prabhu, married to a research scientist, has two children and is a passionate yoga practitioner. “It keeps me in tune with mathematics, life around me, and with myself.”

  Mychel J. Namphy  
Mychel J. Namphy

Cultural Contexts
of Malcolm X

This fall Mychel J. Namphy brought to the English Department at York College special interests in African American literature, Native American literature, and the theory and practice of autobiography.

Holder of a B.A. from Columbia University, Namphy earned his doctorate at Princeton University with a study of Malcolm’s Mood Indigo: A Theodicy of Literary Contests. His research analyzes the literary and film portraits of Malcolm X, and examines the manner in which he has become an aspect of contemporary cultural and political history. Namphy is particularly interested in Malcolm X’s and Alex Haley’s use of the genre of spiritual autobiography to portray American life.

Namphy’s interest in spiritual autobiography and the literature of human transformation is not purely an intellectual pursuit. For over a decade the equal-opportunity educator has taught classes in prisons, drug treatment centers, police academies, churches, child development centers, public and private high schools, Ivy League colleges, and graduate schools. “My teaching in all those fabulous places, with such a wide variety of wonderful students,” Namphy says, “is the driving force behind my research and scholarship on Malcolm X.”

“It is an honor to serve such a vibrant, active student body, and a university with such an incredible history of service to the city.”

  photo of Peter Carey
Peter Carey

From Down Under, Double-Bookered
Peter Carey’s newest novel, scheduled to appear this fall, may be titled “My Life as a Fake,” but he is a genuine—and prize-winning–novelist in real life. Probably the best known of his novels, which have been praised for their “extravagant imagination,” is Oscar and Lucinda. This “anti-romantic romance” set in the 19th century won the Booker Prize (Britain’s most prestigious competition) in 1988, and it was later turned into a film starring Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett.

In 2001 Carey, a native of Bacchus Marsh in Victoria, Australia, achieved the rare coup of a second Booker Prize with True History of the Kelly Gang, cited by the judges for its “magnificent story of the early settler days in Australia.” It also garnered the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. In the novel Carey tells the story of Australia’s version of Jesse James, Ned Kelly, the cattle thief, bank robber, and folk hero who was hanged at the age of 25 in Melbourne in 1880. The New Yorker praised it for transforming “sepia legend into brilliant, even violent, color” and for containing “pretty much everything you could ask for in a novel.”

Following a year’s visiting professorship, Carey is now joining the Hunter College faculty as professor and director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing. A New York resident with his wife and two children for more than a decade, Carey has taught creative writing at Barnard College and at Columbia, New York, and Princeton Universities.

  photo of Gregory L. Matloff  
Gregory L. Matloff

Seasoned Star-Flyer Comes to Brooklyn
When he turned 13, Gregory L. Matloff received a telescope from his father. Those first views of the moon, planets, and stars inspired New York City College of Technology’s new professor of physical and biological sciences to become an astronomer. After earning a B.A. in physics from Queens College in 1965, the native Brooklynite worked for a few years as an aerospace engineer while earning a Master’s in astronautics, then a doctorate specializing in planetary spheres, both from N.Y.U.

“Because of good mentoring, I’ve been fortunate enough to have many research opportunities,” Matloff says. “I have published or delivered more than 80 papers in such journals as Acta Astronautica, Applied Optics, Icarus, Spaceflight, Mercury, and the journals of Energy, Geophysical Research, Astronautical Sciences, and the British Interplanetary Society.” He has also authored or co-authored five books dealing with astronomy and astronautics, including The Starflight Handbook.

Matloff’s research has concentrated on atmospheric physics, alternative energy technologies, space astronomy, and advanced spacecraft design. “In recent years, I’ve been able to contribute to NASA research and development on the solar sail—a propulsion system that is pushed through space by the pressure of sunlight and requires no fuel,” Matloff says. “We live at a crossroads of history. For the first time, our species has the opportunity to improve terrestrial living conditions and expand into space. Or, using the same technology, we can destroy ourselves.

“I hope to give students a good background in the physical and planetary
sciences and encourage them to contribute constructively to the future of the human race."

A New Star for City’s Top Observatory

  image of Charles Liu
Charles Liu

Imagine faraway galaxies colliding at a million miles per hour, giving birth to billions of stars. Or imagine super-massive black holes that generate more energy in one second than the Sun has in a million years…or the universe expanding since the Big Bang for nearly 14 billion years, our own home, the Milky Way, being carried along for the ride.

Enter the twilight zone of astrophysicist Charles Liu, new professor of engineering science and physics at the College of Staten Island.

Born in Taiwan but a New Yorker from childhood, Liu had many interests—music, philosophy, history, and science—but astronomy won out, taking him to Harvard for a B.A. in astronomy, astrophysics, and physics. Then he headed for a place with clearer skies, the University of Arizona. “I wanted to be able to look up and actually see what I was studying!” Liu enjoyed “wonderful advisors” there and “world-class telescope facilities to cut my teeth on.”

After post-doctoral research at Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Sonoran Desert and at Columbia University, Liu in 1998 joined the scientific staff of the American Museum of Natural History. While there, in addition to continuing his research on star formation and galactic evolution, he helped lead the redesign and renovation of Hayden Planetarium and the Rose Center for Earth and Space. He will continue there as an associate astrophysicist and also returns regularly to Kitt Peak to conduct observations.

Liu recently brought his research down to Earth with One Universe: At Home in the Cosmos, which he co-authored with Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Robert Irion. The book won a 2001 Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics.

One draw to CSI for Liu is doubtless the presence of the city’s largest and most sophisticated public observatory (seen above), which, like the Museum of Natural History, has a series of events and activities aimed at educating and entertaining visitors.

“Astronomy is perhaps the most basic of the basic research sciences,” Liu says. “Astronomers study things we can’t touch, that are far larger and older than Earth itself. We attempt answer to the most fundamental questions that all humans ask: Where are we? How did we get here? Where are we going? Are we alone?”

  image of Rachel Lyon with another person  

Film-Maker Focused on Human Rights
Rachel Lyon, a new professor of Media Studies at Queens College, has set foot on five continents during her two decades as an independent film-maker. She has directed and produced documentaries, specials, and feature films, as well as the critically-acclaimed restoration of Othello, directed by Orson Welles.
Lyon’s work, screened at film festivals around the world, has won numerous awards, including an Emmy for Men Who Molest: Children Who Survive and three Telly Awards for her last film, Mr. Dreyfuss Goes to Washington (2002). She has worked with the likes of Ted Turner, the Smithsonian and National Geographic Television, and she is president of Lioness Media Arts, an independent production company. Lyon has taught previously at Columbia, Northwestern, and New York Universities.
“I received three different offers in three states,” she says, “But I was excited about Queens College. The student body is diverse and interesting, and the Media Studies faculty is remarkably talented.”
Currently at work on three films, including one on the death penalty, Lyon gravitates to such themes as gender, family, global peace and justice. “I go for issue-oriented documentaries, from the black market in plutonium to the worldwide impact of fundamentalism to the tragedy in Tibet,” she says. “I focus on the human rights of people around the world.”
Lyon will be teaching video production, advanced production and documentary film-making, making sure that her students do “real shooting, real editing, real writing, real research. We are like modern-day Homers with new equipment and new materials.”
More on her work can be found at

  C. Gabrielle Salfati
C. Gabrielle Salfati

Globe-Trotting Forensic Expert
Professor C. Gabrielle Salfati feels right at home on John Jay College’s ethnically diverse campus: a French native, she speaks six languages and has lived in Europe, South America, and the Far East. Most recently, she was course director of the graduate program in forensic behavioral science at the University of Liverpool, where she developed the Certificate of Higher Education of Investigative Psychology.

In spite of arriving for an interview in a snowstorm last winter and then getting a taste of the city in blackout mode, Salfati says she is eager to settle in. “I have met lots of warm, wonderful people in New York, and it’s been the same here at the College, with the faculty, the staff, and the students.” She is also delighted to be teaching at “one of the few places in the world where you can combine psychology and police science.”

Her scholarly research has focused primarily on sexual homicides and offender profiling. She has trained police and other legal professionals in various European countries and Israel on the subject of Offender Profiling Evaluations, which are employed in crime scene analysis. Salfati has lectured and published on Greek, Canadian, American and European perspectives on homicide. She has also conducted research on the consistency of violent behavior among career criminals as well as research on the various levels of violence by criminals of different national and cultural groups.

A “semi-professional” photographer and former Arts reporter for the Liverpool Gazette, Salfati’s terpsichorean interests, like her professional life, cross several borders: she is currently in dance training that includes Oriental belly dancing, African dance, and salsa.


Saul Kripke  
Saul Kripke

Philosopher’s Vita Contains a Schock
Recognized as one of the nation’s leading philosophers, Saul Kripke, has recently been appointed professor of philosophy The Graduate Center, after visiting in the Philosophy Program since spring 2002. In 2001 Kripke won the Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy, which is given by the Swedish Academy of Sciences and is the equivalent in its field to the Nobel Prize. Known for delivering brilliantly clear lectures without notes, Kripke rarely writes for publication, but some of his lectures have been recorded and transcribed into highly significant, influential publications.

A prodigy in his field before gaining his bachelor’s degree, Kripke was soon giving lectures on logic to MIT graduate students. His early work focused on technical issues in modal logic. In 1972, Naming and Necessity, a series of lectures, was published and, according to the London Review of Books, these Astood analytic philosophy on its ear.“ His Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, similarly generating much debate, was published in 1982 and has generated a new industry in Wittgenstein scholarship.

The Harvard-educated native of Bay Shore, New York, has been the subject of several books and numerous dissertations. Recently retired from Princeton, where he spent much of his career, Kripke also taught for several years at Cornell and has been the John Locke Lecturer at Oxford University

  Nancy Griffeth
Nancy Griffeth

Riding ‘Ubiquitous Computing’ Wave
Returning to teaching after a 15-year hiatus, Nancy Griffeth is bringing 27 years of experience in computer science to Lehman College. “My mother was the head of a girls’ school in Memphis for 35 years, and my two sisters are both teachers,” says Griffeth, who previously taught at Northwestern University and Georgia Tech. “So I guess it’s in my blood.”

The holder of a Harvard B.A. and a Michigan State M.S. in math, as well as a University of Chicago M.S. and Ph.D. in information science, Griffeth recently worked at Lucent Technologies on a team that developed breakthrough testing methods for systems that allow long-distance calls to be made using Internet technology, significantly reducing per-minute cost.

Griffeth’s current research concerns networks that permit ubiquitous computing, a capability described by experts to be the third wave in computer technology. (The first wave built the mainframe, the second brought the personal computer.) Ubiquitous computing will deploy computers in every imaginable setting, blending seamlessly into the physical world. Griffeth’s job is to make it simple, and to design tests to evaluate network performance.


image of Susan R. Jones  
Susan R. Jones

Active Attorney for the Under-Served
The newest holder of CUNY Law School’s Haywood Burns Chair in Civil Rights is Professor Susan R. Jones. She is the first woman to hold this visiting position named in honor of the second Dean of the CUNY Law School, who was killed in a tragic automobile accident in South Africa in 1996.

Especially for those students who plan to work in under-served and under-represented communities, Jones brings a unique perspective to the Law School. A faculty member at George Washington University Law School since 1988, she specializes in small business law—business associations, non-profit organizations, business regulation, tax, and intellectual property—especially as it affects low-income communities and people of color. For the past eight years she has directed the GWU’s Small Business Clinic/ Community Development Project, teaching and supervising law students learning to represent small businesses and nonprofit groups.

Jones was Editor-in-Chief of the American Bar Association Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development Law and has made presentations and written numerous articles about community economic development, homelessness, and affordable housing. The ABA Commission on Homelessness and Poverty has published her Legal Guide to Microenterprise Development: Battling Poverty Through Self-Employment. Jones is also a past chair of the Poverty Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools.

  Dr. Mahatapa Palit
Dr. Mahatapa Palit

Bringing IT Experience to the Classroom
Dr. Mahatapa Palit brought this fall hard-won real-world credentials to teaching business at Borough of Manhattan Community College: She was marketing manager for Antrix Corporation, a Miami-based software-development company that prospered before being crushed as the tech bubble burst.

“Working for a start-up company like Antrix was a great opportunity to see entrepreneurship at work, and the technology environment was really interesting because it was so different from my previous work experience,” Palit says. She found that learning to understand and communicate Information technology concepts and products gave her “a lot of confidence.” Palit has also worked in market research in her native India, where she earned her B.A. and MBA at Delhi University. She enrolled in a Ph.D. program in business administration at Florida International University and taught there as a doctoral candidate.

She was attracted to BMCC in part by its Institute for Business Trends Analysis, where she is now working to help market the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. At BMCC, she notes, diversity is taken to new levels. “Miami was diverse, but in a different way. It had a lot of people from the Caribbean and Latin America. At BMCC, we have students from those places, but also from Turkey, Korea, Poland, China, and all over. It’s a microcosm of the United Nations.”

images of Suzanne Jill Levine  
Suzanne Jill Levine

Virtuoso Hispanic Translator and Biographer
While still quite young, Suzanne Jill Levine achieved acclaim as translator of many challenging works of Hispanic literature, among them Guillermo Cabrera’s Joycean cruise through Cuban nightlife, Three Trapped Tigers, and Manuel Puig’s first novel, Betrayed by Rita Hayworth. Her more than 20 translations since then have won her numerous awards, several NEH and NEA grants, and also brought her a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1997.

Coming to City College as a Distinguished Professor of Spanish from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Levine’s has most recently produced a definitive Englishing of The Non-Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges, which received the National Book Award for Criticism. Soon after appeared her literary biography of Manuel Puig.

Susan Sontag has said of her, “For many years now, Professor Levine has played a major—indeed, indispensable—role in connecting English-language readers with the great literature of Latin America. Her knowledge of this literature is unparalleled.”

Bringing Concern for Race, Justice, Inmates to BMCC

  photo of Michelle Rief
Michelle Rief

For Michelle Rief, a compelling desire to address issues of race and justice inspired her academic and career choices. She has helped to organize conferences and forums around issues of race and justice, and has served on the board of directors of the Delaware County Pennsylvania Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Dr. Rief, who joined the faculty of Borough of Manhattan Community College in September, brings an international perspective to African American Studies. A scholar of African American women’s international activism during the early 20th century, she has presented her research on the topic at several scholarly conferences.

While in graduate school at Temple University, Rief served as resident director for the Strath Haven "A Better Chance" program and as coordinator and executive director of Thresholds in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, which pairs mentors with prison inmates. "Too often, people in prison feel like they have no control over their lives," Rief says. "Thresholds is a program that helps people make decisions and gain a sense that they have some control over their lives."

At BMCC, Rief is teaching classes in African American History to 1865 and Black Women in the Americas and the Caribbean. "The students at BMCC have such diverse backgrounds that they bring many different experiences to the classroom," she notes. "This creates a richer learning environment for everyone."





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