February 6, 2018 | Academic Affairs

By KimoraKimora, Senator from John Jay College

Faculty heard a great deal of valuable information from the speakers at the fall, 2017 University Faculty Senate Conference, held on November 3, 2017 at the Graduate Center/CUNY. The title of the conference was Innovations and Disruptions in Higher Education: Views from the Professoriate.  Here are some highlights:

Dr. Matthew Cotter, Executive Director of UFS, introduced Dr. Chase F. Robinson, President of the Graduate Center/ CUNY. President Robinson spoke about being committed to advanced learning and education for the public good. He emphasized the need to create and honor diversity.

Dr. Kathleen Barker, Vice Chair of UFS; Professor of Psychology, Medgar Evers College, stated that change may be innovative and/or disruptive.  There are unforeseen consequences accompanying change.

Dr. Martin J. Burke, a member of the UFS Executive Committee and Associate Professor of History at the Graduate Center/Lehman College, introduced Dr. Angie McAlister, Senior Vice President for Research, ACT.  In her presentation, “How Cognitive Computing will Change Everything: Teaching, Learning, and what it Means to be an Educated Citizen”, she pointed out that technology is a powerful tool that reaches students where THEY are. Technology can never substitute, however, for a skilled and caring professor.

Dr. Robin Rogers, Associate Professor of Sociology, Queens College & the Graduate Center/CUNY, spoke in her presentation “Big Data, Big Money”, about the need for us to embrace change. We need to meet the needs of current students who have a different set of expectations and skills during a time of great economic inequality. She mentioned that CUNY leads the nation’s four-year colleges in helping students attain the American dream of moving up the socio-economic ladder.

Dr. Kathleen Barker introduced Dr. Stephen Brier, Professor of Urban Education, the Graduate Center/CUNY. In his presentation, “The Impact of Austerity Policies on CUNY, Past and Present”, he not only gave the audience a quick history of CUNY, but he examined the social consequences of austerity in public higher education.

Finally, Dr. Sarah Willie-LeBreton, Chair of Sociology and Anthropology, Swarthmore College, shook us in our seats with her invigorating commentary about the importance of NOT being acquiescent.  In her speech entitled “Democratic Tendencies: America’s Academy Transformed”, she encouraged us as academicians to talk about difficult issues in our classrooms.  Those hard issues include discussions about sex trafficking, as well as race, class and gender in everyday life.

Dr. Matthew Cotter closed the wonderful conference after a compelling audience and panel interaction.

Kimora is a professor of Criminal Justice in Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration (LPS) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and chairs the UFS Committee on Student Affairs.

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Photo: Professor Kimora, Senator from John Jay College, by CUNY.