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.
Former Journalist, Scholar of
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
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
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
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.”
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
|Gregory L. Matloff
Seasoned Star-Flyer Comes to
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
sciences and encourage them to contribute constructively to the future
of the human race."
A New Star for City’s
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?”
Film-Maker Focused on Human
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
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 www.Lionessmedia.com.
|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
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,
Philosopher’s Vita Contains
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
Riding ‘Ubiquitous Computing’
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
|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
Bringing IT Experience to the
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.”
|Suzanne Jill Levine
Virtuoso Hispanic Translator
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
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."