Colin Powell School Alumni Blog en Championing Housing Justice and Community Engagement
Yana Kucheva: Championing Housing Justice and Community Engagement

Professor Yana Kucheva, interim chair of the Sociology Department at CCNY, explores the intricate intersections of housing, social inequality, and justice, She is also deeply engaged in community-based research. Currently the interim director of CCNY’s Sociology Department, Kucheva channels her passion for teaching and mentorship, inspired by her own mentor, Professor Hilary Silver.

Please share something about your personal and professional background.
I am a sociologist and demographer who studies U.S. housing policy, the social safety net, and environmental and climate justice. I came to the U.S. as an undergraduate student at Brown University where I earned a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and economics. I completed my PhD in Sociology at The University of California, Los Angeles and was a postdoctoral scholar at the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Stanford University. At CCNY, I teach courses on housing and community development, poverty and inequality, environmental sustainability and social justice, and methods of sociological research. This year I am also the Interim Chair of the Sociology Department. I am an avid indoor and outdoor urban gardener and in my free time, I take care of street trees and write about the social history of houseplants.

How did you discover a passion for your field; and what made you decide to pursue a PhD?
As a freshman in college, I signed up for a mentoring program where I was paired with a faculty member — Prof. Hilary Silver — who met with myself and a group of students once a month to discuss the transition to college and provide guidance on classes. I reconnected with Prof. Silver as a junior when I took her course on housing and homelessness in the U.S., and she helped me apply for summer funding to do research on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program in Rhode Island. That study turned into my undergraduate thesis project, and I have been researching housing in the U.S. ever since. Prof. Silver was also the person who encouraged me to apply to graduate school and guided me through the process. This experience has been formative in how I mentor students at CCNY and is one of the main reasons why I have chosen to dedicate my career to teaching and working with undergraduate students.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?
My research is at the intersection of U.S. housing policy, social inequality, and social justice. I have published widely on the relationship between residential segregation, geographic mobility, and U.S. fair housing policy, with a particular focus on HUD assisted housing programs and anti-discrimination policies. My co-authored book Moving Toward Integration: The Past and Future of Fair Housing, provides the most definitive historical account from the 1880s to the present of how fair housing laws were shaped and implemented and how public policy can be used to achieve broad housing integration within a generation.

My current research combines the study of housing with immigrant, environmental, and climate justice. Recent projects in this context include a study of mixed-status families and the U.S. social safety net during the COVID-19 pandemic, funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, and a study of indoor air pollution in NYC, funded by the National Science Foundation. I am also the Principal Investigator of a large interdisciplinary project, funded by the CCNY Collegewide Research Vision (CRV) Initiative, which employs expertise across sociology, architecture, engineering, and computer science, to co-create scalable climate solutions with community partners in the areas of housing, energy, and environmental justice.

Can you say a bit about what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School? How does CCNY differ from other colleges or universities you’ve been associated with? 
When I first interviewed with the Sociology Department at CCNY, I knew I had found my people! Having colleagues who are genuinely excited to work with you and to support you is what makes all the difference for junior academics. We certainly do not have the resources of any of the institutions where I have earned my degrees, but CCNY’s impact on social mobility is as large as it is due to our commitment to educating students who are the first in their families to go to college. In fact, the most fulfilling part of my job here has been working with and mentoring undergraduate students and creating paid research opportunities for them to actively contribute to the production of knowledge on social justice issues.

Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years.
My current work focuses on community engaged research with partners across New York City. I am starting two new projects at the intersection of land justice, housing justice, and environmental justice in collaboration with WEACT and the NYC Climate Justice Hub (a partnership between CUNY and the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance). I am also working on a new project on zoning, housing production, and residential segregation, funded by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development. In Fall 2024, I am excited to teach my general education course on environmental sustainability and social justice. The first iteration of this course was disrupted by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I am looking forward to fulfilling the initial vision for the course as a vehicle to showcase the breadth of climate and environmental justice research done by CCNY faculty across all our divisions.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Powell School special?
It has been my privilege to grow as a scholar, teacher, and mentor at the same time as the Colin Powell School has grown and matured in its mission to educate the next generation of leaders in service to society. As the CCNY division that houses the social sciences, we combine an unparalleled commitment to our students and to engaged scholarship. We have comprehensive advising, mentoring and professional development services that are tailored to the specific needs of our students. And there is always someone available to help you – whether you are a freshman trying to fill out the FAFSA or a Department Chair that needs to figure out how to sign off on student scholarships!

Wed, 05 Jun 2024 16:51:35 -0400 colin powell school
Societal Perspectives


Larry Au
Societal Perspectives: Professor Larry Au's Journey

In the academic realm, Professor Larry Au stands out for his interdisciplinary scholarship. Originally from Los Angeles and Hong Kong, Au has spent the last decade in New York City. He became an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department in Fall 2022. Au's research focuses on inclusive science and medicine, delving into precision medicine's globalization and the politics surrounding long Covid. As he works on his first book project on Chinese biomedical innovation, Dreams of Global Science: The Transnational Politics of Chinese Biomedical Innovation, he envisions a future where scientific norms align with societal needs.

Please share something about your personal and professional background.
I received my PhD in sociology down the road from Columbia University in 2022. I’m a sociologist and I consider myself to be an interdisciplinary scholar primarily interested in topics related to science, knowledge, and technology. I also hold degrees in history and global governance. I’ve lived in New York City for almost a decade now, so the city is home. I was born in Los Angeles, but grew up in Hong Kong.

How did you discover a passion for your field; and what made you decide to pursue a PhD?
I had the good fortune to have the opportunity to explore a wide range of disciplines when I was an undergraduate, but I eventually decided to concentrate in sociology. My sociology professors back then were particularly supportive and provided enthusiastic mentorship. I was also drawn to the plurality and openness of the discipline to a wide range of viewpoints, topics, and methods. When I got to graduate school, I still hadn’t quite decided on what to focus on, but I connected with other graduate students and faculty who worked on issues related to the sociology of science, knowledge, and technology. What they were working on just seemed so fascinating—topics such as how genetic technologies shape social inequalities, how patients can create new forms of expertise and challenge expert authority, and how the state plays a role in shaping scientific knowledge and innovation. Through conversations with them, I eventually narrowed down what I was really interested in.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?
My research now looks at how we can make science and medicine more inclusive, and in the process, serve the public better. One part of this work examines the globalization of precision medicine — or the use of genomics and other forms of big data to improve diagnosis and treatment — as a policy idea and scientific project, focusing primarily on its rise in China. A lot of money has been invested in these new tools, with promises that these technologies will revolutionize and disrupt mainstream medicine. In my work, I show how we need to critically assess these optimistic claims and think about how inequalities and inequities often accompany new forms of scientific innovation.

A second part of this research looks at the politics of expertise around Long Covid, in particular, the experience of patients as they navigate uncertainties around their condition. This is very collaborative research, with folks in all career stages and in different institutions. Through talking to patients in the United States, Brazil, and China, we’ve come to understand how collective illness identity is shaped by institutional factors related to healthcare provision, histories of patient activism, as well as more micro-level processes related to patient-physician interactions. The goal of this research is to think about how to better provide care for this group of patients who have already gone through so much.

Can you say a bit about what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School? How does CCNY differ from other colleges or universities you’ve been associated with? Perhaps discuss your work with students.
The students here really are fantastic and it is a privilege to be able to work with them. Not only are the students here incredibly diverse, they also represent all that makes New York City great: creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and more. I teach classes at CCNY related to the sociology of health and illness and medical sociology, and many of my students already have backgrounds and experiences in health professions — such as working as certified nurse assistants, doulas, physician assistants, volunteering in community health settings — or aspire to enter these careers after their time at CCNY. They’ve been able to bring so much to the table by sharing their experiences. Because they are already so embedded within their communities, you can not only see the impact that their education at CCNY will have on them, but also on others around them.

Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years.
I am working on my first book project, tentatively titled Dreams of Global Science: The Transnational Politics of Chinese Biomedical Innovation. The book explores U.S.-China scientific collaboration in the life sciences, and how Chinese scientists navigate this increasingly contentious terrain. The book argues that scientific norms, goals, and priorities are shaped by the location of individual scientists within broader social structures and networks. It is in everyone’s interest to better align these norms, particularly around new technologies like gene editing and genetic data sharing.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?
The Powell School really is a welcoming and supportive community for students. The faculty and staff here are truly committed to seeing their students thrive after their time at CCNY. The types of opportunities that our students have access to really are incredible, such as things like fellowships to explore career opportunities in community organizing, climate justice, policy work in DC, and more. And it’s been great to see how the faculty and staff here are continuously working to better serve our students.

Tue, 14 May 2024 10:46:14 -0400 Colin Powell School
Cultivating Leaders!



Bobby Deriwal

Cultivating Leaders: Bobby Derival’s Impact at the Colin Powell School

Bobby Derival, Executive Director of the MPA Program at the Colin Powell School, is passionate about creating positive social change through education and mentorship. 

Derival’s background as a public health practitioner and entrepreneur brings a unique perspective to the MPA Program, emphasizing the importance of leadership development and challenging the status quo for a more equitable society. 
 What strategies do you employ for student recruitment and admissions in the MPA program, and how do you ensure a diverse and talented student body?
The Colin Powell School MPA Program looks at each masters candidate holistically — which means that we take the “whole person” into account. In addition to considering academic performance and achievement, our admission committee reviews candidates’ professional experience, their commitment to civic engagement and public service, as well their demonstrated ability to think critically about the challenges in their lives or within their community. 
The MPA Program is rigorous and amounts to a major time commitment, something we tell all candidates up front. In an effort to ensure a diverse and talented student body, we’ve adapted our graduate program to better support working professionals, especially those from backgrounds underrepresented in public service leadership and management. We provide academic and professional coaching to each student who enters the program, we have a part time option, and we continue to explore different learning modalities through hybrid and virtual programming. The Colin Powell School MPA model is responsive to student needs and ensures multiple touch-points with students to ensure that MPAs can align their graduate school experience with their career aspirations and development. 
Can you share more about your experiences as a public health practitioner and entrepreneur and how they contribute to your role in the MPA program?
Prior to this role, I worked in the NYC healthcare service delivery sector as the Chief Executive Officer for a minority women-owned home care agency. Working in the private sector, particularly in the entrepreneurial world of small business, taught me valuable lessons on how to maximize limited resources, how to leverage a diverse range of stakeholders, and how to meet both the people you serve and those you employ “where they are”. Even as a trained public health practitioner, I did not feel immediately prepared to navigate the real world dynamics of financial pressures competing with the programmatic priorities of serving a medically vulnerable population. Yet, as is often the case in life, baptism by fire is the best teacher. I tell my students all the time — it's OK to struggle, in fact, adversity is a gift that trains you for the next challenge that you’re bound to face in life. 
When I became MPA Program Director, I brought with me a deep commitment to challenging the status quo — always in service to advancing a more equitable society. In addition, my experiences in healthcare and business forged my dedication to leadership development, something that I viewed as sorely lacking in the many sectors that affected people’s everyday lives and wellbeing. 
Can you say a bit about what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School? How does CCNY differ from other colleges or universities you’ve been associated with? 
Surprisingly, my first interaction with CCNY was by chance (though I do not believe in coincidences!). I was offered an opportunity to visit the MPA program’s Leadership class in Fall 2018. What I witnessed changed my life in profound ways. I recognized, almost immediately, that developing leaders through educational programming was a career pathway I had never considered, but that really appealed to me. I also realized that CCNY, and the Colin Powell School in particular, was the most unique place to cultivate that mission. Up until that point, most of my experiences with academia had been with private colleges and universities. On CUNY’s Harlem campus, however, something different is happening. The authenticity of diverse perspectives and experiences found at this institution energized me, and I quickly could not see myself being anywhere else. I love working with my students — both inside and outside of the classroom. They are the leaders we need to take power and shift our systems to better serve our diverse public. 
Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years. 
As the program evolves, we see numerous opportunities to improve the quality and relevance of public service management instruction through experiential and applied learning experiences. We are particularly focused on exposing students to in-demand skills that will take their leadership and management practice to the next level. I see this as core to our mission to prepare public service professionals to shift power and transform society.
In practice, this can look like expanded course offerings and fellowships in partnership with organizations on the frontline of public service and social change. For example, we’ve partnered with the NYC Department of Housing and Preservation to embed MPA fellows in their policy and strategy team for summer internships. As a next step in our engagement, we’ve begun to develop an MPA course offering, delivered by HPD, to hone MPA skills in policy innovation and policy entrepreneurism. Deepening our partnerships will be a key programmatic focus for the next couple of years.  
What do you want everyone to know about what makes the Colin Powell School special? 
The Colin Powell School is a place where transformational leadership already exists — amongst our students, our faculty, and our staff. It is also a place where that leadership capacity is cultivated, nurtured, enriched and exercised in both the smallest and most profound ways. We learn so much from our community. And that ability to listen and learn allows our institution to adapt to shifting needs, meet our diverse stakeholders wherever they are, and to deliver high-quality instruction and programming. The extraordinary people of this place are exactly what makes the Colin Powell School so special. 

Wed, 21 Feb 2024 12:27:56 -0500 Colin Powell School
The Diversity of This Community Reflects the Diversity of N.Y. Itself


Bruce Cronin

Bruce Cronin: “The Diversity of This Community Reflects the Diversity of N.Y. Itself”

Influenced by his parents' activism as opponents of the war in Vietnam and supporters of civil rights, Political Science professor Bruce Cronin developed a passion for international politics, particularly human rights. After earning a degree in Political Science and Urban Studies at SUNY Albany, he pursued a career as a community organizer and later earned a PhD from Columbia University. Cronin’s scholarly work delves into human rights and international law, with a focus on state violence. 

Please share something about your personal and professional background.
I’ve grown up in all three regions of New York state: the City (Brooklyn), Long Island, and upstate. I went to college at SUNY Albany, majoring in Political Science and Urban Studies. Following college I worked as a community organizer for two years, mainly organizing tenants, and later as a staff person for a nuclear disarmament organization, Mobilization for Survival. I decided to pursue academia and attended New York University for my Master’s Degree, and Columbia University for my PhD.  After receiving my degree, I was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for International Affairs, Harvard University. The following year I was hired as an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I stayed for five years. However, my goal was always to return to New York and I accepted a position at City College in 2003. My wife was able to secure a job as a college professor at Wagner College in New York, so we have been fortunate to be able to coordinate our professional and personal lives.
How did you discover a passion for your field; and what made you decide to pursue a PhD?
I have always been interested in politics, particularly international politics. My parents were strong opponents of the U.S. war in Vietnam and supporters of the Civil Rights movement. I guess I was influenced by that. During the late 1980s, I worked to oppose U.S. intervention in Central America and decided that I wanted to pursue the study of international relations more formally. Although I always had a passion for human rights, my interest was piqued by the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda. I became particularly interested in the protection of civilians and the laws of armed conflict after witnessing the war crimes and the abuse of civilians during the Russian war in Chechnya, the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the 2006 war in Gaza. I viewed international law as one of the few ways to restrain (up to a point) the ambitions, violence, and aggressive tendencies of states.                               
Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?
My primary research focuses on human rights and international law. I am currently working on the third leg of a three-book project addressing state violence and international law. The first book (Bugsplat) examined why states that are committed to the principle of non-combatant immunity end up killing and injuring large numbers of civilians during their military operations. I found that despite the efforts of many Western military organizations to comply with the laws of armed conflict, the high level of civilian casualties produced by their military operations is the inevitable outcome of the reckless methods through which they fight wars. Drawing on their superior technology and the strategic advantage of not having to fight on their own territory, such states employ highly-concentrated and overwhelming military force against buildings and infrastructure located deep within heavily-populated towns and urban areas, inevitably producing high levels of civilian casualties and severe damage to civilian facilities.
My most recent book, Purging the Odious Scourge of Atrocities, explores the growth of a type of international human rights law that prohibits the use of extreme violence by states against their populations even when perpetrated within their own borders. I found that the international community has developed a universal legal ban on such nefarious practices as genocide, widespread attacks on their civilian population, torture, and the violation of civilian immunity in civil wars. Such a prohibition is legally binding even if states refuse to sign treaties banning these practices.
Can you say a bit about what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School? How does CCNY differ from other colleges or universities you’ve been associated with?  

I originally came to City College as a means of moving back to New York, where I grew up.  However, almost immediately I realized how fortunate I was to work in an academic environment that was so culturally diverse and exciting. City kids are far more interesting and street-wise than other students whom I have taught. They bring a depth of experience, diverse backgrounds, and knowledge that is unique among college students. I love the close sense of community among them. The diversity of this community reflects the diversity of New York itself. 
Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years. 
My current work over the next year or two focuses on the use of armed force by states against other states and non-state actors. The prohibition against the use of military force by states is one of the most deeply embedded legal norms in international law and diplomatic practice. It is the cornerstone of the United Nations, an organization in which every country in the world is a member. Yet despite the general ban against the use of military force, many acts of state violence are common and some types are tolerated by the international community. My research explores the extent to which states, individually or in concert with others, can use force when the Council does not act. In practice, there appears to be a hierarchy in international law regarding the types of armed violence employed. Some are illegal at all times, while others are contingent on specific circumstances. Still others may be technically illegal but are tolerated depending on the purpose and means. The determination of which acts fall into which category depends on the degree to which a particular use of force is consistent with, or violates, basic values that have been broadly accepted by the international community. These values have been enshrined in international law and diplomatic practice.
What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special? 
The mission of City College is to provide a diverse student body with opportunities to advance and achieve academically, creatively, and professionally in their chosen fields, thus its public commitment to “access” and “excellence.” Most people are aware that CCNY makes great effort to increase access to underserved populations, but the Colin Powell School also excels at providing the resources for students to achieve the excellence side of the commitment. Through the Office of Student Success, its staff of advisors provides a level of student support and service unparalleled at City College, or at CUNY for that matter. The School provides close support for all students from admission to graduation. Its fellowship and internship programs offer unparalleled financial and academic support to students majoring in one of the School’s departments. From a faculty perspective, I find a real sense of community among the professors in the five academic departments and this (among other things) encourages interdisciplinary collaboration and socializing. 

Tue, 30 Jan 2024 10:31:57 -0500 colin powell school
The Students Are the Heart and Soul of the Institution


Marta Bengoa

Economics Professor Marta Bengoa: “The Students Are the Heart and Soul of the Institution”

Professor of Economics Marta Bengoa is the first woman to achieve full professor status in Economics at CCNY,  and as such values her role as a mentor, particularly for women in Economics and Business. 

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.

I am a Professor of Economics; my field is international economics with international trade specialization. I am the first woman to become a Full Professor in Economics in the history of City College and part of the elite of women across the country who are Full Professors in Economics (only 14% of the women who start a Ph.D. in Economics achieve the highest professorship level in Academia). I first came here as a visiting  professor in 2008 and I was immediately haunted by the thriving community, its potential, and the kind of impact and influence I could develop at CCNY, especially for women in Economics and Business, as a mentor.
My time at the City College of New York has been extremely productive and rewarding. It has allowed me to flourish in my field and be internationally recognized by my peers through national and international research collaborations. The Colin Powell School is a thriving institution, and the school ranks top in the country in promoting social mobility. I am very proud to be a faculty member of CCNY and I have seen myself grow in parallel with the latest renascence of the school.

How did you decide to pursue a PhD and discover a passion for your field?
I studied a bachelor's degree of five years in Business Management in Spain, and I was always more interested in the econ subjects than in the business ones. When I graduated in 1995, there was a huge recession in Spain, hitting households very hard and with an unemployment rate above 25%. I was worried about my country, about my peers and thought about what kind of policies could be implemented to try to ease out the hardship. I did work in the corporate world after graduation, in large multinationals, but was never fulfilled. Then, after a thoughtful discussion with the father of one of my friends (who was a professor) I decided that a PhD could be what I was looking for. And the rest is history.
Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?

A common methodological theme of my work is the use of detailed micro- and administrative data, at the firm and individual level, to econometrically estimate the effect of policies and responses to policy changes on a variety of economic outcomes. My research focuses on four major areas of specialization, in which I do combined theoretical and empirical research in fields that are intertwined: i) Trade integration, foreign direct investment (FDI), and home bias effect ii) Innovation, productivity, and technical progress. Iii) Migration and innovation, iv) Economic growth and inequality: Theoretical and empirical analysis.
With respect to my contribution to the subfield of international trade, I have published an important set of papers that have allowed us to have a better understanding of the magnitude of the home bias of trade (one of the puzzles in International Economics), as well as its influence on the distribution of foreign direct investment across Europe. This work is ground-breaking as it quantifies the size of the border effects of trade at a very disaggregated level to help understand why consumers and firms prefer to purchase local “home” goods and inputs in a globalized world. It happens that the size of the home bias is of significant magnitude and affects foreign investment placements, employment, and industrial development.
Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students. What do you like about CCNY?  

I love the intellectual environment and enjoy the many discussions with students and colleagues across fields. Critical thinking is encouraged because the institution is interdisciplinary, cosmopolitan, and diverse (so it allows me to constantly learn from others). It is a thriving environment, and I am always happy to come to work. After 13 years of working for CCNY, I still find it extremely exciting and intellectually stimulating. The mission and vision of the CPS align with my view of the world, and I love being part of a community that is proud of educating and shaping the next leaders of the country and the world at large. What could be more exciting than that?
Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?

I am currently working on a project with colleagues at CCNY and from other institutions about international migration in the US and what makes those migrants to be entrepreneurs. We are also focusing on how local and federal policies affect entrepreneurship decisions for natives versus migrants. This is still an undeveloped topic in the entrepreneurship and migration fields and given the increasing flows of migrants coming to the US, we think that shedding some light on the topic can help understand the migration dynamics and the economics behind it. I am always excited about teaching, especially in person. I am a passionate person and that translates into how I teach.
What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special? 

The people: the staff, the students, the faculty…we all face many hurdles working here as this is a public institution with structural barriers (bureaucratic and budget-wise). However, we are always creative in finding ways to overcome those with the objective of giving the best of us to our students. The students are the soul and heart of the institution, and we thrive when they excel inside and outside of the walls of our institution. We are in the business of creating well-rounded new leaders and in my opinion, we are doing a stellar job.

Tue, 05 Dec 2023 11:24:07 -0500 Colin Powell School
Professor Diana Greenwald: “I Learn Something New from my Students Every Day”
Diana Greenwald

Professor Diana Greenwald’s academic journey was profoundly influenced by the post-9/11 era and the subsequent Middle East conflicts. Her academic focus revolves around the examination of local Palestinian politics in the West Bank, carried out under the backdrop of Israeli occupation. Her research encompasses data collection and analysis, including interviews with local politicians, shedding light on the intricate dynamics at play. Her work underscores the complexity of Palestinian lives under occupation and the resilience of individuals navigating these challenging circumstances.

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.

I began studying Middle East politics while I was in college. 9/11 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan occurred during my senior year in high school, and the war in Iraq started my sophomore year of college. Thus, many of my formative years in my 20s were consumed by the broader “War on Terror.” I became interested in studying the politics of the Middle East and the Arabic language while I was an undergraduate at Georgetown University. After college, I worked for four years in Washington, DC. Before starting at CCNY and the Colin Powell School in 2018, I had finished my PhD at the University of Michigan and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School.

How did you decide to pursue a PhD and discover a passion for your field?

As part of my undergraduate degree, I wrote a senior honors thesis on Egyptian intellectuals and their relationship to the Egyptian state under the former regime of President Hosni Mubarak. I loved the research process — reading primary sources and even interviewing some of the intellectuals themselves and other scholars with expertise in Egyptian politics. I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to pursue a PhD, so, after college, I traveled to Syria for a summer Arabic program. When I returned to the US, I got a job offer to help a displaced Syrian human rights activist reestablish his NGO in Washington, DC. I worked there for two years, then subsequently worked for two years at a DC think tank. I soon realized that I felt more fulfilled in the academic world, not in the policymaking world, so I began applying for PhD programs.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?

In my book and in related work, I study how local Palestinian politics works in the West Bank under Israeli occupation. For this research, I got to do what I love most — collect and analyze various kinds of data, including interviews with local politicians from all across the territory, geographic data on Israeli and Palestinian territorial control, and quantitative data on how Palestinian local governments manage and dedicate their resources. I find that Palestinian mayors, municipal councils, and staff operate in a very challenging environment, often stuck in between the Israeli military authorities and their own people. I also find that the way the Israeli occupation works generates fissures and tensions within Palestinian politics, but also, surprisingly, Palestinian politicians from diametrically opposing parties can also be parts of the same social networks, or even family members or friends, with one another. The most meaningful thing I have tried to achieve in my work is to reflect the complex reality of Palestinian lives under occupation, and to highlight the agency and voices of people living within this reality.

Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students. What do you like about CCNY?  

Our students, and the broader community, are what makes this place special. I teach courses in world politics, courses on the Middle East, and courses on global conflict and economic development. Many of our students at the Colin Powell School and at the college as a whole are first- or second-generation immigrants, or have lived outside of the US for some period of time, so we really do benefit from having a global classroom. I learn something new from my students every day. I have also been able to hire a few students on a part-time basis to assist with research; this has been a great experience for both the students and me.

Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?

I am currently exploring several possible future research projects. One builds on a paper I have already published to analyze the impact of generational or cohort membership on political attitudes in conflict settings, such as Palestine. We define generations as cohorts of individuals who were roughly the same age (or in the same age range) at the same period of time. So, to place it in terms that are relatable for all of us — Perhaps having lived through the COVID-19 pandemic shapes one’s attitudes in durable ways. But perhaps it not only matters that you lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, but it matters how old you were when the pandemic occurred. The latter is what we use to define generations. In conflict settings, we might think that exposure to certain key events is likely to have long-lasting effects on individuals’ political attitudes, depending on whether those events occurred when they were at a particularly impressionable age. Another possible future research project will use historical maps of the MENA region to understand certain aspects of contemporary politics. This will involve efforts to digitize and geocode historical maps, something I am currently exploring with collaborators.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special? 

The school is really unique in the communities that it brings together. The social science faculty are conducting rigorous, influential, high-impact scholarly research, while initiatives like the Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice initiative and the Moynihan Center are doing important work to bridge the gap between research and practical change, whether through movement building or public service. As a result, our students are exposed to a wide range of approaches on how to effect change in their communities and around the world, and they engage with these approaches in the classroom, in fellowships and internships, and as they embark on their post-graduate careers.


Tue, 07 Nov 2023 14:24:00 -0500 Colin. Powell School
Steven Tuber on Almost 40 Years at City College: “I Wouldn’t Have Taken Another Road for a Second”
Steven Tuber Headshot

Professor Steven Tuber has been with City College for almost 40 years, and has been a full professor in the psychology department for more than 30 years. In a recent interview, Tuber described his passion for teaching, the nature of his work with children, his family’s background, and more. Tuber acknowledged the Colin Powell School’s mandate to provide a platform for diverse future leaders as being intertwined with the doctoral program’s mandate to provide the highest quality care to persons who are often ignored or mistreated by the mental health system.

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.

I have had the pleasure and privilege to have been a faculty member at City College for a long time, 39 years and counting. I’ve been a full Professor in the Psychology Department for over 30 years, been Director of Clinical Training in the doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology for 24 of those years and the Head of that Program for 21 years, both and counting! I wouldn’t have taken another road for a second, except for if I had been offered the position of starting point guard for the Celtics, but at 5 '7” that wasn’t going to happen! I grew up poor financially on the streets of Coney Island in the 1960's to immigrant parents who lived lives full of trauma and loss and thus wanting to be part of City College was a natural desire on my part once I felt that I had something to offer to students. I have always loved teaching and being in the front of a classroom is still a deep thrill, even after all these years.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?

Most of my work clinically and intellectually has been with children. Even as a teenager, I was fascinated by babies and their rapid development and took to working therapeutically with children and their families from the very start of my doctoral training. I continue to teach our doctoral students how to be child therapists and have written extensively in this area. I have also been drawn to assessment techniques that could make the process of treating children clearer and more three dimensional. I have used ambiguity-driven tasks such as the Rorschach Inkblot Method to get a closer look at the inner conflicts of prospective patients and found it very useful. I’ve written extensively on the use of this method as well. Since 2016, the doctoral Program has exclusively become part of the Colin Powell School and we are honored to have been designated the first doctoral granting Program in the Colin Powell School.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?

The Colin Powell School’s mandate to provide a platform for diverse future leaders is beautifully intertwined with the doctoral program’s mandate to provide the highest quality care to persons who are often largely ignored or mistreated by the mental health system. I look forward to future intersections between the Clinical Program and the Colin Powell School.

Tue, 17 Oct 2023 12:38:48 -0400 Colin Powell School
City College Feels Like my True Home Institution

Norma Mayorga Fuentes, director of the Latin American and Latino Studies program, spoke to us about her experience at the Colin Powell School and what makes it special. 

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.

I am an immigration scholar, a qualitative sociologist/ethnographer by training and a philosopher by default. When I was invited to give a job talk at City College, late spring of 2014, coincidentally scheduled within the newly renovated premises of the Dominican Studies Institute, I remember being very nervous.  My talk focused on the immigrant experiences of Dominican and Mexican women in New York City and included a crowd of Latino/a/ Caribbean scholars I recognized. To slow the rate of my pulse, or break the silence, following my academic introduction, I remember sharing with my audience what brought me to City College. I said that I felt this is where I belonged given my past history of volunteer work for a national Dominican 2000 conference led by Dominican youth; my rushing to donate a copy and electronic version of dissertation, the moment Columbia Library bounded it, following my degree completion, in 2005.
A month before, the day of my dissertation defense, my mentor, Herbert J Gans, a world-renown race, ethnicity and urban poverty expert, had announced that I was the first U.S. Latina-American to receive a PhD from the Sociology Department, as other peers or graduates before me, socialized in Latin America, often returned to their nation of origins to transfer their elite education into their nation-state or society.  I remember sharing this statistic and emphasizing, as I do in the prologue of my recently published book on this subject, that unlike the average Latin American student who enters Columbia, my education was unusual, as the daughter of a single Dominican mother, and as a third generation descendant of a family nursed, sustained, and led by working women, devoid of the income authority or tutelage of men. I shared with my audience and since then with my students, to try and gain their trust or incite their humanity, why City College feels like my true home institution. I tell them how, like the average CCNY Colin Powell student, I had managed to achieve a higher or advanced education, despite multiple family, work, and intergenerational responsibilities as the daughter of working poor immigrants; and as the first member of my family to reach such mobility heights in the diaspora.  

As my ongoing, longitudinal and comparative research focused on the social mobility of the daughters of immigrants in the cities of Amsterdam and New York reveals, these immigrant youth often face double burdens, forced to navigate the larger institutions of the host society, alone and mostly on behalf of their parents’ and younger siblings. We are, I often joke but invite my students’ reflections about the miracle, meaning and function of our education, as part of an innovative and not fully understood social experiment in a new terrain, like those of men-directed robots on the moon, charting new terrains, gathering new data, which one day hopefully bring our host nation new discoveries for a better world, a more humane society.  But, again, why City College? I tell students these days that I survived at Columbia’s PhD Program. It was here where I found a refuge, a place to volunteer, to dream of the possibility of social mobility, of having a space and function in the larger society, along with other Dominican graduate students, like Nancy Lopez (Professor, University of New Mexico); Edward Paulino (Professor, John Jay); and Zaire Dinzey (Professor, Rutgers University) and others I cannot include nor recall at this moment. It was in these young students’ company, in the DSI, and in the NAC building where I found solace, away from the pressures and at the times isolation and at times, alienation, from the privileged peers with whom I shared classes and other assignments. As I say in my book, and as one of my daughters has reminded me whenever I feel like leaving, “it is there mom, where you will really make a difference, nowhere else!”

How did you decide to pursue a PhD and discover a passion for your field?
While completing a summer course within the Anthropology Department at Columbia, spring of 1989, an advanced PhD Adjunct Professor invited me after students had presented their individual end-of-term projects, to speak about graduate school. His name is David Nugent, today a distinguished MacArthur Genius Fellowship recipient. He asked me if I had plans for graduate school, and after I professed an interest for maybe Law School or Public Health, he retorted, “Why not a PhD in Anthropology or Sociology?” I remember being in awe of this proposition; that he would think I was a candidate for a PhD, as I had never entertained such a possibility, determined to complete a medical or law degree, as most children of immigrants are encouraged to aspire. Besides, I had already earned an Associate Degree in Economics and Business Law at a Catholic College in Yonkers, and given it some try at a pre-medical program at Fordham University (2 years) and then at Columbia’s School of General Studies. The spring I was to apply to college, I had proposed to my guidance counselor my interests in medical school; but was soon persuaded to first complete a two-years’ associate degree: “Who’s going to pay for your school, my dear?”  my counselor gestured, “…. I suggest you learn how to type and this way you can pay for your school and help your mother!”  Despite his disavowals, completing an AA degree in business law and executive secretarial ensured my educational and career mobility and boosted my confidence. After my associates, I had brief jobs in a non-profit servicing immigrants in the City of Yonkers, and then as a Social Worker in the local district, within foster care. The experiences and my typing increased my ability to find work at Columbia University and pay for most of my undergraduate and graduate years. 
By the time of my transfer application to the School of General Studies at Columbia University as a part-time student, I had already secured a full-time job on campus. A work peer and close ally of my then husband, suggested I try to find a job at the university, irrespective of a possible admission. “This would allow you to get some form of tuition assistance and become a member of this educational community!” Indeed, after a placement test at the HR office allowed me the choice of a full time job as Assistant to the Director of the Harriman Russian Institute or to the Chair of the Sociology Department, I chose the latter. Unbeknown to me, and in retrospect, I came to understand how privileged I was to have worked and received the close mentoring of such brilliant and humane scholars, such as Professor Peter M. Blau, a world renowned sociologist of bureaucracy and formal organizations, and later, from Professor Herbert J Gans, who became my undergraduate senior thesis advisor and then my PhD mentor and professional sponsor.  Working within the Department, despite my youth and lack of elite social capital, gave me the unique opportunity to read sociological manuscripts, and professional reviews about innovative research and scholarly work which I hardly understood then but which slowly captured my interest, helping me forge a life-time commitment to the sociology of inequality, labor markets, and later, during my graduate training, one focused on international migration, race, ethnicity, and integration and life chances of migrant women and their youth.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?
I think what distinguishes my scholarship as well as my teaching pedagogy is my ability to move from my own experience to that of my research. The knowledge, sensitivity and sensibleness I have developed I owe to my grandmother’s, my mother’s immigrant experience, as well as my socialization in two cultures and as a transnational youth. Most important, my scholarship is based on my ability to represent and interpret the immigrant experiences of the immigrant women I am privileged to document and learn about the protean efforts and stories of Dominican and Mexican women in New York City, the cost and gains behind their migration, and the contributions they make to the social mobility of women in the community of origin and of destination. Such key findings I document in my recent and first book, From Homemakers, To Breadwinners, To Community Leaders (Rutgers 2023). A main key contribution this book makes is in documenting the significance of women-led migration from Latin America and the Caribbean within an increasingly racialized context. I believe this research is timely, especially against the backdrop of policy debates about the future of family reunification laws and the unprecedented immigration of women and minors from Latin America, many of whom seek human rights protection or to reunite with families in the US. The book also provides a new and compelling look at the contributions that Latin American and Caribbean as well as other brown and Black immigrants make to areas experiencing rapid gentrification. How the middle class that moves into East or West Harlem, for example, includes a brown and Black middle class, some of this ethno-racial middle class includes college-educated children of immigrants, whose bi-cultural and mixed racial background allows them to navigate and cross spatial boundaries, as well as contribute to the economic and cultural revival of these historically marginalized neighborhoods. My second book, on the social mobility of immigrant youths, also will include how these contexts and their education and the demography of the neighborhood impacts their racial capital, or valuation or devaluation of their ethno-racial identities.

Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students.
What do I like about CCNY?  

Working for a division committed to closing the gap in educational inequality, one where most of my colleagues speak or understand or are committed to learning Spanish or another immigrant language. But, for the past 1.5 year, or since our return to back to our offices and the classroom, I have been seriously thinking of writing a poem about our mechanical escalator in the NAC building, for I know this experience is what binds most of our daily existence in our division, besides our commitment to social justice in education! But, I would like to write first about the men and women who keep those escalators, along with our offices and trash cans cleaned, the floors incredibly shiny! I am inspired because it is usually these ‘behind-stage’ actors who make this rather unattractive and forgotten infrastructure physically welcoming to our students and staff. These workers, like the young alumni or students who toil, front and back-stage functions within the Dean’s Office reception area, are also the first or last people who greet me when I arrive or leave the building. What else do I like about our Division? I have become somewhat of an informal expert these past few years directing students to the different classroom destinations, noticing their disoriented looks, during the start of the semester. This past year, in my role as Program Director for LALS, I have become aware of the nice community vibe our division enjoys; the smiles I get from my senior peers in Psychology, especially when I dash through the long corridors of the 6th floor on my way to a classroom; the warm reception I get when walking into the Dean’s Office from any of the young alumni or students who attentively want to help me find a key for my room, the countless times I have locked myself or forgotten my office’s keys. Lately, I am kindled and rejoiced to know soon our Associate Dean will begin to bake his delicious loaves of bread and place them in the common kitchen that now serves as a meeting and community place for most of us. I am reminded of how lucky I am every time I run into Dean Rich, reminded by his warmth and support that I am in the right place, and that things will be ok, working for a person named “Rich!” I think the heart of our division, honestly, is the Advising Office, the young students/alumni and staff, and the senior staff and professors that today make up that office.  There is always someone to receive me, to help one of my students, to rush and get tissues for the latest tears, including mine. Lastly, I am reminded that I am part of a large and protean community at Colin Powell. Every time, I think I must wear my red shoes or ornamental jewelry to match the red color of our wall or floor tiles! That in itself makes me want to come to work every day, smile, and forget about the squeaking mechanical stairs or the non-functioning elevators!

Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?
These past few weeks, I have been preparing to take my year sabbatical while onboarding the interim director for LALS, Professor Sherri Baver. This has allowed me to develop a closer work relationship with her, as well as with the Dean’s Office, especially with Kevin Foster, and Professor Irina (Lotti) Silber, as LALS is officially now part of the larger jurisdiction of the Anthropology Department. One key goal to be achieved during this sabbatical year is to develop a grant for the Spencer Foundation, one which is to support an educational project which I have been thinking about for nearly five years. But, writing a book, applying for tenure and other family and field research responsibilities have limited my time. I hope this grant will allow collaboration between the Sociology Department and LALS Program in the development of new courses and virtual certificate or MA Programs focused on the bridging of the social sciences and STEM disciplines. I am working also in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of international scholars at the Universities of Granada and Deusto (Spain), and at La Universidad Popular Autonoma de Puebla (UPAEP), in Mexico, and Universidad Madre y Maestra in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. A second goal of my sabbatical is to complete follow-up data collection on the role of technology on the educational and work mobility as well as identity formation processes of immigrant daughters in the cities of Amsterdam and New York City. The research is to inform the writing of a second book project. I will conduct a number of in-depth interviews, in addition to focus groups among daughters and mothers, who participated in an earlier part of this longitudinal project, in 2006-2007 and again in 2009-2010. I also will conduct ethnographic insights of a few neighborhoods undergoing gentrification and public housing renovations; where new cohorts of young, middle class Moroccan and Dominican families, many immigrant youth who have participated in my earlier study, have found housing.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special? 
I believe what makes our School special is the diverse number of scholars that work together on behalf of our large number of youths who are the first in their families to enter an institution of higher education. I believe the addition of a Center for Leadership, one for providing support and education to sexual minorities and the constant efforts in the search and distribution of material and emotional resources on behalf of our students and of the new faculty and lecturers that are joining our division, including our Dean’s reputation (:-) as well as the initiative of the Provost Office (with the hiring of Dr. Vanessa Valdez) speaks of the difference the CP is making in the inclusion of members from our local community in its commitment to narrowing the gap in educational inequality!

Tue, 29 Aug 2023 13:50:25 -0400 Colin Powell School
A Coup and its Impact


A Coup and its Impact: Professor Omnia Khalil’s Journey from Architect to Scholar

Omnia Khalil

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.
I was an architect, who was highly interested in community action planning to upgrade the urbanely deteriorated neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt. I then studied anthropology to fulfill a professional engagement with communities by learning to be an ethnographer and an engaged scholar, which was a journey I spent with my professors at American University in Cairo, especially Hanan Sabea, Martina Rieker, and Reem Saad. While I started my Ph.D. studies at the Graduate Center, I continued the journey with the encouragement of my advisor Jeff Maskovsky, who always helped me to be on the same track of being an engaged scholar, along with the amazing mentorship of professors Madana Limbert, Gary Wilder, and Paul Amar. Being at the Graduate Center, CUNY, made me politically and intellectually familiar with CUNY system and its contribution to the diversity of students who come from lower social classes, LGBTQ+, Muslim communities, and POC. The pedagogical philosophy of many professors I have met and worked with made working at CUNY the right political thing to do, that meets my social justice values, along with feminist Marxism, as a scholar. Joining CCNY and the Colin Powell School was special, not only as a CUNY institution of teaching and learning but also due to the number of people in this school who are concerned with achieving a social justice perspective, not only by teaching in the classrooms but also extend to activities and tremendous support and resources to the students. 

How did you decide to pursue a Ph.D. and discover a passion for your field?
My MA in Egypt was focusing on questions of gentrification, labor, and space in one neighborhood in Cairo. This was back in 2012 and 2013, which met the political upheavals of the Egyptian revolution of 2011. When I finished, the political sphere changed due to the 2013 coup, which led to tremendous oppression and backlash against revolutionary groups in Egypt. My questions about space and labor shifted to questions about violence and urban development as many mega projects started to be implemented in Egypt, which caused massive forced evictions to poor urban neighborhoods. The passion for the Ph.D. research project was to continue questioning the phenomenon of urban transformations and their political meanings in that contemporary moment in Egypt.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?
My scholarly work investigates the rise of the securitization regime in Cairo, Egypt, in the aftermath of the 2013 coup. I conducted 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Bulaq Abule’lla, a district in central Cairo that the Egyptian state targeted for residential and commercial redevelopment because of its high land values and neighborhood access to the Nile River. Adjacent to Tahrir Square, it was also a significant site of revolutionary activity during the 2011 revolution. In my work, I trace residents’ responses to the Egyptian state's rollout of new security measures and redevelopment schemes, focusing in particular on the three sites of Wikalet el-Balah, Maspero Triangle, and Ramlet Bulaq. My findings show how security is being accumulated via counterinsurgency efforts resulting from collaboration between state security and the residents of poor neighborhoods. My contribution to the field has to do with showing contradictions in communities who live in unregulated economies, and how subjectivities are shaped in such political contexts, it is a dialectical understanding of geography, counterinsurgency, and violence.

Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students.
The best thing about CCNY and Colin Powell School is the diversity of the students we have, They come from a variety of social, economic, and political backgrounds, which enrich the classroom with questions related to their lives. International students, immigrants, and different nationalities enrich the classroom by making comparisons internationally between contexts, and not answering their concerns of social justice and political ideologies through one lens of analysis. In our conversations, we learn a lot about other countries and regions around the world, along with other histories to grasp the meaning of some other worlds towards an imagination of our present worlds, and future ones in political economy, gender, and human life.

Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, and engagement — for the next couple of years.
I am preparing my book manuscript The Making of Counter-Insurgent Geographies in Post-Revolutionary Cairo, Baltaga and Maslaha at Bulaq Abule’lla, which is based on my Ph.D. research project and findings, along with an Arabic book titled The Disappearance of Cairo about the neighborhoods that were evicted in Cairo, and meanings of place and politics. Regarding my teaching, I look forward to designing more classes about geography and security, along with the global social theory and introduction to international studies and anthropology classes. I look forward also to engaging more with students who come from Middle Eastern backgrounds and plan for activities to enrich their presence at the Colin Powell School and their intellectual growth.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?
What makes the Colin Powell School special is the number of engaged scholars who work alongside the students. Most of the faculty members are engaged both academically, and practically with communities around them to implement policies and solutions towards a more socially just future. In many classrooms, the assignments do encourage students to engage with their surroundings, to prepare them for a future of engaging with their communities to find ways in which to achieve collaborations. The preparation of students at Colin Powell School is not only about learning and teaching academic works but also encouraging the students to think of how to change our present from a position that they discover themselves in their future.

Mon, 17 Jul 2023 16:17:09 -0400 Colin Powell School
10 Year Anniversary of the Colin Powell School


Dean Rich-Pres. Boudreau 10th anniversary

Dean Rich in conversation with President Boudreau on the 10 Year Anniversary of the Colin Powell School

Dean Rich
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Colin Powell School, and I want to invite you to take a step back and reflect on the founding of the School. Take us back if you will: Colin Powell graduated in 1958; what got him reengaged at the College?
President Boudreau
I had been the director of the Colin Powell Center for only a few months and was told that the way to change the profile of the Colin Powell Center was to bring Secretary of State Colin Powell to campus to give a policy statement. And that would change everything for us. That turned out not to be the case. He came, and he did a terrific talk. A woman from Iran had just won the Nobel Peace Prize, and he talked about her. But when he stepped down from the stage, he pulled me aside, and he said, “I can't do anything while I'm in this office, but when I step down, I'm going to come back, and I'm going to see how I can help you.” There are pictures of him mingling with our students at the reception before he gave his talk, and he was very devoted to that.
So, sure enough, about six months after he left the office, he came back to the campus and we had a group of the really extraordinary first cohort of Colin Powell Fellows and he sat in a room with them and they talked about their lives and experiences. He asked them who they were, what they wanted to do, where they were from, and was, I think, more deeply moved than I thought he was going to be. At that time, there was a board of directors of the Colin Powell Center, and that board had never met. I had a really clear sense that we needed to start over with the board because we had essentially been dodging phone calls from them. So, I raised the question of reformulating this board with General Powell, and he kind of had me at arm's length for a little bit there. We ran the Colin Powell fellowship program for another year or so. We were into our second cohort when he came back and was willing to talk about the trajectory of the Colin Powell Center. For me, it was all about this fellowship program. I didn't necessarily know very much about what I was doing. I didn't have a curriculum. But we were on to something, and it was exciting.

Dean Rich
Let’s back up even further. How did you get involved with the Colin Powell Center in the first place?

President Boudreau
Oh, it was really funny. I had been Chair of the Political Science department. I had a little bit of a reputation, I think, for taking a department that was kind of moribund and giving it a little bit more life. You [Andy] joined the faculty at the time. Our big innovation was that we were going to do a lectures series, and I would go to Costco and buy food, and we would get students to come to lectures, and we asked the speakers to stay and engage with the students. There would be 20 people in a room with a lecture, and it made no impact on the educational quality. We were really trying, as a department, to do something new. We had a bunch of younger faculty — you, John Krinsky, Bruce Cronin — that were interested in this project. With respect to the Colin Powell Center, the Rudin Foundation had given us $500,000 to be spent over five years, and they were coming to campus for the first time after making that gift to figure out what we'd done with it. And there was nobody directing the Colin Powell Center.
Paul Wachtel had done it for a year or two, but going into it knew he didn't want to do it permanently. A guy named Ron Farrell, who had been our dean, was given the Colin Powell Center, but he did not engage with it very much. It was kind of moribund, so the long and the short of it is, they needed somebody to talk to the funders about what we had done with the money, and the answer was, we hadn't done anything. It was all basically still there. They had asked me a couple of times to be the director. I had refused, because I was chair of the department. It didn't seem to me you could do both jobs. But finally, I agreed, thinking that this was an opportunity to develop a program that would really support our students. At the time, the only kind of similar program that we had on campus was the Watson Fellowship program, which did wonderful things for a very, very small group of students. And I thought we could do the same sort of thing — specialized seminars, supported internships, access to other kinds of opportunities. It was as vague as that.
And when we met with the Rudin Foundation, I told them we hadn't done very much, but I had this plan going forward, and the Rudin Foundation was willing to stick with me on it. I had that plan in place. I had a group of extraordinary students that were there when General Powell met with them, and that was going to be the way going forward. I had pretty good anecdotal evidence at the time of what the college's official line was: “The average City College student works an average of 30 hours a week.” I would say that to everyone who would listen. And I thought if we could give students a $10,000 scholarship every year, If we could give them the ability just to be students, to focus on education and then provide some other opportunities, they could do great things. And indeed, they did. That initial cohort was extraordinary, and it proved the concept that with more support, our students would be as good as any City College student ever in our history.
Dean Rich
And you shifted the name from the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies. It became the Colin Powell Center for Leadership and Service.
President Boudreau
Yes, General Powell liked that idea. He was always a little disinterested in a policy studies center. It wasn't what he wanted to do. I had read his autobiography. I had heard him say at least once that every stage in his career, at its core, involved educating young people. And knowing what I knew about City College students, I knew that it would be tremendously beneficial to our students to have this kind of a support.
Dean Rich
You started at the very beginning with a cohort structure, and I wondered if you might reflect on that. You could have just given out individual fellowships, and they could come see you on their own, but you did it as a cohort. Now, as you know, everything we do is cohort, and I just wonder if you have thoughts about the importance of that as a structure.
President Boudreau
I always thought, particularly talking to alumni at the time, they always had stories about the people that were sitting next to them in classrooms and what they had gone on to do, and what they had gone on to do together with classmates and other City College graduates. But I also thought that our students didn't just need money. They needed a sense of accomplishment. And that worked better in cohorts. At that time, it's hard to think back, but there was no place to get a cup of coffee except for the student lounge. We didn’t even have the coffee spot in the NAC. There were no benches anywhere on campus, forget the Hoffman lounge or some of the things that you’re doing up at the Colin Powell School. We didn’t even have grass on campus, we didn’t even have a blade of grass on campus. And so, the idea, I thought putting our students in a cohort was essential. In fact, when I was running the master’s program in international relations, one of the things I did to try to do to develop a sense of cohort was I taught one class in my apartment where we’d have dinner every week. I used to do office hours — these are masters students so they were all of age — at a bar on 110th street and Amsterdam Avenue. The rule there was that it was only to talk about international relations. So, in all these different ways it just occurred to me that students who were typically engaged in City College in a kind of “cash and carry” way, where they come pick their classes and go home, would have an opportunity to build connections with each other and then with the institution. So, I brought all of that into the Colin Powell Center. 
Dean Rich
How was the decision made to merge the school of social sciences with the Center?
President Boudreau
We had been getting bigger and bigger over the years, and we had gone from one scholarship to Colin Powell Scholarships. We then had taken on the Koch service scholarships. We had done something called Community Engagement Fellows, and Partners for Change. So, we had four separate scholarship lines. When you became Associate Director of the Colin Powell Center,  you brought the whole service-learning portfolio. And then we had taken service learning and were also doing seminars on public scholarship, where we were taking faculty and supporting them to find their voices to write for broader public audiences. But none of this really had a foothold in the college’s core activities, which is its degree granting work. These activities were always co-curricular. So we began to think about bringing the two together.
There was an interlude where we had started a campaign to build Colin Powell Hall, largely at the behest of some of General Powell’s friends, I would say fairly reluctantly on his part. We were supposed to raise about $15 million and the state was going to pay for the rest of it. And then the state said they didn’t have the money, so we’d have to raise all of what was $25 million, and then step by step by step over the next two years $25 million turned into $81 million. I went to see General Powell when the price tag was $41 million and he said “Ok, let’s raise the money,” and then it was $61 million. At $81 million, I thought “If we raise this money to build this building, we’re going to have no more operational funds.” The president and I spoke, and we agreed that we should  abandon the building project. We should instead do what we always had a sense that we should be doing, which is to attach the work of the Colin Powell Center to the main degree granting activities of the college somehow, and we founded the Colin Powell School. That way, we would be able to take the $30 million or so dollars that we had raised at that time and instead of spending it on construction, we could spend it on starting the programs of what became the Colin Powell School. I went down to have what I thought was going to be a really difficult conversation with General Powell, and it was so clear that this was far more attractive to him than building a building with his name on it. I was relieved to be able to say it; he was clearly relieved too. It had never occurred to me that he had in his mind acquired what he thought was an obligation to, or a responsibility or made a promise to, his college that he would help us build this building. And to be released from that and instead focus on what was a much more dynamic project, to build the school, was a relief to everybody and it made so much sense.
Dean Rich
As you now reflect, it’s been 10 years. What do you think you hoped the Colin Powell School would become on campus, and how would you describe what it means to have the Colin Powell School?
President Boudreau
You know, it’s funny. I thought even before we launched the school that increasingly the Colin Powell Center was becoming one of the things that people who are not involved in City College would see from a distance; that they would hear about it. They would start to see our students. But I also thought that this idea of service and leadership, of involving students in taking the things that brought them to school in the first place, a desire for just housing policy, equitable distribution of resources, fair immigration policy, policing policy that isn’t disproportionately visited on people of color — that a school that foregrounded those things and actually took students who were immigrants and people of color and people that had suffered at the hand of inequitable health systems or poor schools and put them in a position to make a difference, we’d have a much more informed set of policies in America. It was so important for me to figure out how to mobilize the voices of our students, and also to take faculty and staff who for the most part are not accidentally at City College, not accidentally at the Colin Powell School, but have come here to teach these specific students in this specific community around a set of specific concerns and commitment. That’s what I hoped the Colin Powell School would become, this place where leadership was developed to carry students with a more democratic and just or equitable perspective on important questions into the world when they graduated. And I only had, when I think of it now, I had less than three years, in some ways it felt like I was involved in the Colin Powell School forever. It was the leadup, a big long leadup. We had a year and a half of meetings where we talked about what it meant to take the ethos and the programs of the Center and move it over. And we spent time on questions from what the name would be to silly things like does it have to have special colors. And my view from the beginning was that we had established a mission and an ethos and a kind of commitment to certain things at the Colin Powell Center that had to be merged with the existing programs of social sciences.
Some faculty would say things like “Well, I just want to continue to be a sociologist. I don’t want to necessarily be involved in this other project.” So, it took us over a year to iron all that out and I felt like, as dean, we were only just getting started in the programmatic transformation of the school: building programs that would sink roots and would attract faculty. I tried to do some things that didn’t work. I had an idea that immigration was going to be one of our big strengths and taught a seminar designed to bring alumni and City College students together where one member of our faculty teaches his or her best lecture on immigration over the course of the semester. That didn’t really work out so well, but we started making investments in more activist programs. It was October, 2016, when I was tapped to come into the president’s office as interim president, and Kevin Foster agreed to be the acting dean while I was here. He did a good job of keeping everything running, but there wasn’t a lot of programmatic innovation during this period. We had built an Office of Student Success that I think had some real strong prospects and some important flaws. I think one of the significant flaws was it was on another side of campus, and so it was really difficult to integrate the work of that office with the academic core of the college. Kevin did me the favor of dismantling it and you all have now resurrected it in a place that’s intimately interrelated with the rest of the school.
So, what do I think of it now? I mean I got to be honest. If I could have mapped out where I wanted the school to be, it’s on that trajectory. You’ve done, I think, an exemplary job of taking the idea of the original fellowship programs, where we would maybe have 20 sometimes more Colin Powell Fellows who wanted to be in a seminar. But they came from across the college, and so did we teach leadership and service in the absence of a substantive curriculum? Hard to do. Did we on the other hand say you’re going to study this thing – immigration, justice reform, whatever be it– this is going to be the seminar this year. And some of them would be deeply interested, and some of them couldn’t care less. Working with that small group of students it was hard to figure out exactly how to teach leadership and service. What you’ve done now, with a group of between 3000-4000 students is you’ve said “No we’re going to recruit students interested in climate change, racial justice,” so you’re able to marry that activist mission of the school with the leadership and service values. Watching that unfold over new programs like the new Institute, Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice, I think you’re now operating at a scale where you can say “these are the five issues for now that we have a commitment to, and we’re going to recruit students that also have a commitment to these issues.” And that’s going to be how we execute on one element of the mission. The core social sciences and our faculty are the backbone of the school, and they are stronger than ever. And, then, of course, is the extraordinary support that you have in the Office of Student Success and the various elements of the program that you’re bringing in. Those two levels  — what do we do for students that are in an extraordinary way committed to making a difference on these issues and how do we connect the social sciences to that — and then, what are we going to do for the majority of students who maybe aren’t going to be a Racial Justice Fellow or a Climate Change Fellow but we know they’re going to be successful. I think that combination is exactly what we had in mind when we talked about bringing the ethos of the Colin Powell Center into the Division of Social Sciences.
Dean Rich
Speaking to you now as both the president and the founding dean, where would you like to see the Colin Powell School go over the next 10 years?
President Boudreau
I’ve always thought that people should recognize the Colin Powell School the way they recognize the Maxwell School or the Kennedy School. I don’t mean that it should just be prominent, I mean that it should be prominent in a specific way with a specific set of commitments. I think the social and political and economic leadership of people who come from underserved communities — that should be the identity of the Colin Powell School. I think expanding the work on student success is important. I think being diligent about asking — there’s climate change and there’s racial justice, significant work in immigration — where is social justice work going in the U.S. over the next decade, and making sure that the Colin Powell School keeps up with that. I also think there’s a real role for an expansion of work with people who aren’t necessarily matriculated students. You started this with Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice, where you’re bringing in mid-career professionals who are activists. I think there’s a lot of room for that level of engagement. I also think about the Conversations in Leadership series that you’re doing. And the fact that it is clearly being produced to be available online, in perpetuity, I think is fantastic. So, it seems a little like an empty response to say keep on doing what you’re doing, but that’s kind of what City College needs the ability to say “here’s how we translate our values, commitments, into social political economic impact.” I think that’s what the Colin Powell School should be doing.
Dean Rich
General Powell passed and Linda Powell stepped up to be chair of the board of visitors. And General Powell’s long-time assistant, Peggy Cifrino also joined the board. So many people remain involved who care deeply about General Powell and the legacy that he brought to this place. I wonder if you could reflect a little bit about having the connection of his family and friends to the school in an ongoing way as such a crucial part of his legacy.
President Boudreau
It’s funny, the original board that we put together, and so many of the original donors to the Powell School did it because of their personal friendship with General Powell. They worked with him, were influenced with him, socialized with him, many of those people were not available to us. General Powell would shepherd them into a supporting relationship with the college and the school, but that relationship always went through him. He was such a presence, he was so dynamic, so charismatic that I think you would be foolish if you didn’t ask the question “what happens when he steps away one way or another from this world?” I think the job always was to figure out how you translate his personal charisma and commitments and the desire that everyone had just to be in the room next to him and have his attention for a little while into an institution, into the aura of an institution. I think certainly having the family involved, Linda, Michael, that’s huge. Because what it says to us — Linda, when we launched the school, she used the phrase when she was talking about her service to the Colin Powell School “it’s my turn to put my shoulder to the wheel.” She meant that in my family this is the work that we do and this is going to be how I manifest that work.
So, there’s continuity there. But there’s also I think the ability to take the legacy of General Powell that was so concentrated in his purpose and diffuse it into the work of the school. You think about someone like Marco Antonio Achón who’s here, yes because he loved General Powell, but he doesn’t need for General Powell to be in the room to sustain the work that he’s doing. So many of the other people who are relatively new to the board, maybe younger and certainly more accessible, like Stephen Schwartzman, David Rubenstein, or even James Baker that will be able to see the importance of the institution not as a place where you get next to General Powell, but as an institution that will carry forward the values and commitments that he had and the mission that he gave us to build the place where people who are today like he was back then can be provisioned for success. And so, I think we are well on the way to at least identifying what a succession plan looks like and bringing in people. Here’s the thing: there was a long period of time where people didn’t need to see evidence that the Colin Powell Center was working because General Powell said it was. What’s fortunate, and I think a huge accomplishment, is that while he was with us and especially in the last four or five years, anyone can walk up to the program, to the Colin Powell School, without him being in the room and say “this is something that needs to prosper.” He’s not with us anymore, but I see him in the work that we’re doing. Frankly, that was the puzzle that needed to be solved in the institutionalization of the Colin Powell School, and we solved it.

Tue, 16 May 2023 11:29:30 -0400 Colin Powell School
The core of what makes us human
Laura Brandt
The core of what makes us human: Psychology Professor Laura Brandt’s commitment to researching substance use disorders

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.
I am from Germany and lived in Austria for about 13 years before coming to New York, and my journey here was and is a winding road with many bumps and curves. While I knew that I wanted to become a researcher relatively early on during my graduate studies and my interest in addiction developed soon after, I would have never guessed that this path would lead me here. One important thing to know about Austria is that it’s tiny – the population of Austria is roughly the population of NYC! Consequently, there is very limited research funding, particularly for “niche” fields such as substance use disorder (SUD). For people in North America this may sound outrageous, given that SUDs are such an important public health challenge, but the “opioid epidemic” has affected European countries to a much lesser extent for many – partially complex – reasons (some of which I discuss in my class “Assessment and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders” in the Mental Health Counseling program). Therefore, my growing interest in SUD research, and particularly opioid use disorder and opioid overdose prevention, made it almost inevitable to leave beautiful Vienna and travel across the big pond. A fellowship from the Austrian Science Fund allowed me to do just that. I spent my first three years at Columbia University, in the Department of Psychiatry, and eventually I started craving discussions with fellow psychologists – no offense to psychiatrists! A colleague connected me to a research team at CCNY – Drs. Teresa Lopez-Castro, Adriana Espinosa, and Bob Melara from the Department of Psychology – and I simply loved working with them. I explored ways of spending more time in this creative, dynamic, and diverse space, and lo and behold, the Department of Psychology was hiring Assistant Professors – for the first time in eight years – and I was incredibly fortunate to join their faculty.

How did you decide to pursue a PhD and discover a passion for your field?
I got hooked on research pretty early on in my graduate studies. Through an Abnormal Psychology class, I became interested in alexithymia, a clinical construct manifesting itself in an inability to perceive and describe emotions sufficiently. At the time, only a few experimental studies examined the automatic processing of emotional information in alexithymia – so I set out to do just that. This plan was way overambitious for a thesis, but rather than deterring me, my wonderful mentor Dr. Ulrich Tran – after quite a bit of convincing – invested an enormous amount of time and energy in guiding me through the process of setting up and carrying out my study (if you are interested in the details see here). It took everything that I had to complete this project, but from thereon I was head over heels fallen for science and pursuing a PhD was the logical and necessary next step to work towards a research career. My interest in substance use disorders was fueled by my experiences during my post gradual clinical training which I completed at an addiction treatment center. I still remember sitting with my very first patient and, albeit having absolutely no idea what I was doing, I felt like I was in the perfectly right place. In my view, substance use and substance use disorders touch upon the very core of what makes us human and I cannot think of a more fascinating and daunting scientific pursuit.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field – and to you – about your work?
One of my main research interests is in the implementation of interventions for substance use disorders and particularly overdose prevention. Reducing fatal opioid overdoses remains a major challenge for public health. Nonetheless, many opioid overdose deaths are preventable, and programs have been developed where laypersons are given brief education in recognizing the signs of opioid overdose and trained to respond to these situations including the use of naloxone, an opioid “antidote”. We often refer to these programs as “Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution” (OEND). OEND is an effective public health intervention to reduce opioid overdose fatalities. However, in the US as well as in Europe, different services have produced a range of OEND training protocols over the years, varying in their format, content, and level of training. These variations make it difficult to determine which contents are routinely covered in trainings, and to understand how this may influence outcomes, such as overdose knowledge and readiness to respond to an overdose situation. Addressing the question how differences in implementation have influenced outcomes of the intervention is incredibly relevant because it builds a bridge between the laboratory (where interventions such as OEND are developed under controlled conditions) to the real world (where these interventions are then used under “non-controlled” conditions). Interventions may work perfectly in a laboratory context, but fail to benefit people in the real world. Critically evaluating the bridge from laboratory to practice and checking where it may be brittle helps us ensure that we implement evidence-based programs to benefit all who need them. If you are interested in details of my work on the implementation of OEND see here.

Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students.
I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome to CCNY and the Colin Powell School, both from the staff and the students. I quickly noticed more signs of a kindness with which people tend to treat each other at CCNY. Just to name one of many examples: It seems to be a universal rule that everyone holds the door for everyone. This does not seem like a big deal, but we are in NYC (you all know what I am talking about) and this seemingly simple act translates into a metaphor: here, no one will slam a door in your face – to the contrary, we will open it for you. To me, this attitude makes CCNY and the Colin Powell School special and it is expressed in a myriad of opportunities offered to students (fellowships, stipends, and other programs) geared towards supporting them in pursuing their individual academic paths toward a career that best fits their unique skillset and interests. It is truly rewarding to be part of this community and after a class filled with inspiring discussions from a highly diverse range of perspectives, I gladly accept an elevator that is overcrowded because the other ones are not working (anyone who occasionally visits the NAC building will know what I am talking about).

Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?
I am currently in the process of establishing my own lab at CCNY. For the past few years, I worked in a hospital setting and had patient contact on a daily basis. I still struggle a bit with finding creative solutions for translating my research activities, which used to involve patients, into a public-school setting where it is more difficult to conduct clinical research. However, I cannot wait to work with students and I have no doubt that, together, we will come up with study designs that not only work around but exploit this unique setting to produce new and exciting research.

Tue, 14 Mar 2023 13:17:23 -0400 Colin Powell School
Visiting Fulbright Scholar Margo Groenewoud brings new Caribbean insights to CUNY DSI


Dr. Margo GroenewoudVisiting Fulbright Scholar Margo Groenewoud brings new Caribbean insights to CUNY DSI

Originally from the Netherlands, Margo Groenewoud has lived in the Dutch Caribbean for more than 15 years. There she obtained her PhD, developed herself as a teacher, and discovered the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program, which ultimately brought her to CCNY. In this position, Groenewoud focuses on research, guest lecturing and digital humanities, bringing her expertise on the Dutch Caribbean in the context of trans-Caribbean history and Caribbean Studies. Groenewoud aims to raise awareness of the intertwined histories of New York City and the Caribbean: “Just take a walk here in the neighborhood and count all things Dutch or Dominican, just for a  start. And there is so much more that doesn’t meet the eye!” The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program aims to bring new insights and practices to the US and endow the scholars with experiences they bring to their home communities, while strengthening relationships between different institutions. 

Tell us about your professional, personal, and academic backgrounds.
Originally, I am from the Netherlands but I have lived in the Dutch Caribbean for over 15 years now. I studied history at Leiden University, doing my thesis on a comparative study in colonial history. After that, I wanted to gain work experience in a variety of places, so I left academia thinking I would never return…  In 2007 I moved to Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean and started to work there as Library Director at the University of the Netherlands Antilles (now University of Curaçao). It was there that I started to feel that I belonged in academia. Long story short, I obtained my PhD degree, continued to publish and develop myself as a teacher, and then last year received major support for my scholarship through a CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (DSI) Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence grant.

What projects have you worked on prior to City College that you are most proud of?
Frankly, when I started my PhD research, I never ever imagined an academic career as viable, thinking I could never compete with the ‘young generation.’ Then one day I met someone who had done exactly that in her (late) forties, and that really changed my attitude and my life. In that context, publishing in the amazing Small Axe Caribbean journal of criticism in 2021 was a major achievement and something I still feel very proud of, mostly because of the originality of the piece. I found my voice and an audience for it – that felt amazing.  

How did you find yourself ending up at CCNY? 
A friend and former DSI Research Fellow, Dr. Sheridan Wigginton, suggested getting in touch with CUNY DSI when I was preparing a new research project on Dutch-Spanish Caribbean affairs. I had a very nice and fruitful zoom conversation with DSI Librarian Sarah Aponte, who showed genuine interest and offered great support. We remained in touch and eventually applied for the Fulbright with the institutional support of Dean Dr. Andrew Rich of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, and of course Dr. Ramona Hernandez, CUNY DSI director. Knowing the odds for getting a Fulbright, I successfully applied for a DSI Research Fellowship. Then in May came the news that I was also awarded the Fulbright.  

How are you affiliated with the Fulbright program? 
I take part in the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program, which is a program for non-US scholars to work in a US institute for higher education for one or two semesters, and to bring new insights and practices to the US. Also of course, this program intends that you learn new things here that you will bring back to your home community, and aims at building sustaining relationships between institutions.

What are your primary responsibilities as the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence? 
In my case, the emphasis is on research, (guest) lecturing and Digital Humanities. The output relevant to teaching will be through a publication (DSI Research Monograph) and developing Digital Humanities and teaching materials. I will guest lecture in a variety of places and for different audiences, which will be of major importance for fine-tuning my writing and teaching. I hope to continue my relationship with the CUNY community and CCNY as guest lecturer and in projects, bringing in my expertise on the Dutch Caribbean in the context of trans-Caribbean history and Caribbean Studies where needed.

What initiatives have you been working on?
Apart from the lecturing activities already mentioned, we also started a Round Table Conversations on Digital Humanities in Caribbean Studies that will continue in the coming months. DSI Library has developed a broad and very interesting offering of Digital Scholarship. The idea of this conversation series is to make connections with relevant partners and scholars, and to bring the discussion on Digital Humanities – which is mostly project-based – to a higher and strategic level. Also, I take part in some of the very interesting grant proposals being developed by DSI, in particular some relevant to heritage and education.

What are your overall impressions of CCNY and CPS in the time you’ve been here?
More than expected, I feel very much at home. I come from a small Caribbean island university where we teach mostly first generation students from all sorts of backgrounds. Though the Harlem ‘vibe’ is unique, the university population feels very similar to that of my home institute. The challenges relative to being a public school, such as non-functioning elevators, are also very relatable. Having said that, having all these amazing research facilities - such as the libraries and the offering of workshops and lectures - make me feel like being in a research candy store. Coming from an island that suffered major economic recessions in the past decade, the contrast in material wealth and facilities is substantial. To have so much research material available at your fingertips, online but also through the support of the DSI librarians, and being surrounded by so many interesting scholars, has had a major influence on the quality and efficiency of my research. 

What do you hope to accomplish in your time as the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence?
Apart of course from my scholarly output, I hope to have supported raising awareness and building knowledge about how intertwined the history of New York City and its population is with the history of the Caribbean, and in particular with the Dominican Republic and the Dutch Caribbean. These histories for centuries have intersected and intertwined. Just take a walk here in the neighborhood and count all things Dutch or Dominican, just for a start. And there is so much more that doesn’t meet the eye! There are so many amazing stories to tell, and I would love to continue discovering and telling these stories together with my colleagues and friends here at CCNY. 

Tue, 24 Jan 2023 09:55:45 -0500 Colin Powell School
Using Interdisciplinary Research to Address Social Problems in the Global South and the U.S.


Prabal DeNew Economics Chair Prabal De: Using Interdisciplinary Research to Address Social Problems in the Global South and the U.S.

As a high school student in Kolkata, India, Professor Prabal De took interest in the writings of the renowned Indian economist Amartya Sen. After completing his undergraduate studies in economics, he came to the U.S. and completed a Ph.D. in economics at NYU. Having grown up amidst the immense cultural diversity of India, he now considers himself an adopted New Yorker. As an economist, he has pursued a level of interdisciplinary research uncommon to the field, drawing links between poverty, inequality, mental health, education, and more both in Global South countries and among marginalized groups within the U.S. After a decade of teaching the principles of macroeconomics, his enthusiasm for explaining the major economics headlines of the day hasn’t waned in the slightest. Professor De looks forward to forging new institutional and community partnerships as the new chair of the Economics and Business Department at the Colin Powell School.

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School.
I grew up in Kolkata, a colonial, cosmopolitan city rich in diversity and cultural history. I briefly lived in New Delhi, India’s capital, while completing my master’s degree. Although my life in Delhi exposed me to the kaleidoscope of broader Indian culture and customs, where people speak dozens of languages, eat, dress, and socialize in many ways, I never felt at home there. I did feel at home in NYC immediately, though. I came here in 2002 to start my Ph.D. in Economics at NYU and never left. I live in the City with my wife and twin daughters, and consider myself an adopted New Yorker.
How did you decide to pursue a Ph.D. and discover a passion for your field?
I have been studying economics for a (perhaps embarrassingly) long time. I did my undergraduate at Presidency College, Calcutta, which has produced many prominent economists, including two Nobel laureates. Although I knew very little about economics in high school, I was influenced by some of the writings of one of them, Amartya Sen. I also understood at a rudimentary level that economics combines the rigor of hard science with the more fluid curiosity of disciplines like philosophy. During my graduate studies in Delhi, I interacted with a large swath of economics practitioners — academics, government policymakers, economists working in the private sector, and researchers in think tanks. I realized that I wanted to do independent research, exploring, in particular, the causes and consequences of poverty. I was fortunate to have a couple of mentors who advised me to apply to some of the top U.S. universities, and NYU made an offer with a generous fellowship.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field — and to you — about your work?

I am a bit of a maverick when it comes to research. Modern economists are generally hyper-specialized. My work, on the other hand, is extremely interdisciplinary. My early work was in development economics, which examines economic issues like poverty, inequality, and lack of access to health and education in low-income countries of the world. But early in my career at CCNY, I realized that, unfortunately, some of these issues ail large parts of American society too. Fortuitously, a couple of collaborations happened with my colleagues at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) through a National Cancer Institute grant. We jointly examined the economic aspects of health inequality, particularly in cancer care. That work expanded into larger works on health inequality and discrimination. For example, some of my work shows how patients who feel discriminated against not only based on race/ethnicity but also gender, gender identity, and immigration status report lower physical and mental health outcomes.
Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School? Perhaps speak to your work with students.

I am very grateful to my department for supporting my interdisciplinary work, particularly in my early days as a junior scholar. And now, the Colin Powell School has assembled an amazing group of scholars that share many of my research interests, such as health justice and immigration. I am still an economist at my core, though. I have been teaching principles of macroeconomics for over ten years now and still get excited to explain headline items to my students — inflation, unemployment, GDP, the Federal Reserve. And my research is linked. If you study economics, you will learn great tools to analyze many societal problems in a rigorous, often evidence-based way. It is a unique discipline. For example, in a recent paper, my student and I showed how the Great Recession of 2008 increased mental health problems, and drinking.
Share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years?

I have just been elected as Chair of the Department of Economics and Business, for which I feel humbled and honored. I will devote a significant amount of my energy to the service of my students and colleagues. I do plan to continue my research and mentoring and complete the projects I am pursuing with my collaborators, particularly my former Ph.D. students. On the research front, I will continue to explore themes in health economics, such as links between education and health, the benefits of expanded access to insurance, and policies that promote economic and health equity. I just submitted two big federal grants jointly with my collaborator MSKCC. Keeping my fingers crossed.
What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?
I plan to focus on creating robust collaborations with an array of partners: academics, community, government, etc. It will involve a multi-pronged strategy. Some examples of such a strategy would involve overhauling our website to make it more informative, reaching out to high school counselors in our area to let them know about the fantastic things happening at CPS, and working with the CCNY media office to promote the innovative work of CPS among the wider public. Through different collaborations, we can ensure that a wide range of stakeholders appreciate CPS's uniqueness.

Mon, 12 Dec 2022 15:28:36 -0500 Colin Powell School
Explores How Countries Reckon with Legacies of Genocide


Dirk MosesProfessor Dirk Moses Explores How Countries Reckon with Legacies of Genocide

In this interview, Dirk Moses, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations, reflects on his upbringing in Australia, his studies in both Australia and the United States, and his current work as a member of the Colin Powell School community. He recalls being politicized after seeing the Australian government oppress indigenous people, crush labor movements, and promote extractivist environmental policies. This drove him to study politics, history, and law and eventually to become an expert in the study of genocide. His work on Germany’s reckoning with its Nazi past has led him to explore how countries like Australia and the United States can reckon with their own settler colonial and genocidal legacies. Most recently, Professor Moses has published commentary online about the Ukraine war. Regarding the Colin Powell School community, he says: “I've been here only a few months but it is already apparent to me that the CPS is special for offering transformative opportunities for students and faculty.”

Please share something about your personal and professional background, and what brought you to CCNY and the Colin Powell School. How did you decide to pursue a Ph.D. and discover a passion for your field?

My generation of Queenslanders was politicized by gerrymandered rightwing governments, which oppressed Indigenous people and the labor movement while pillaging the environment. In response, I studied politics, history, and law in my combined five-year arts/law degree (which is possible in Australia). As political ideas and movements grabbed my attention, I moved to the U.S. for graduate school at Notre Dame and UC Berkeley where I developed an intense interest in how West Germany dealt with its Nazi past. I eventually translated this interest to the Australian context: how does a settler colony reckon with its genocidal pasts and decolonize? I am still asking that question. I know Americans are too.

Can you please briefly describe your scholarly work and findings? What’s most meaningful to your field--and to you--about your work?

While working on German intellectuals and the Nazi past, I began working on the history of genocide in colonial contexts. With colleagues, we tried to effect a “colonial turn” in the field, which has succeeded to some extent. Throughout that work, I observed how difficult it is for groups to successfully claim they have been victims of genocide: the bar was set too high. So I wrote a book about how that bar came to be conceived as the “crime of crimes.” Obviously, this field is affect-laden: the subject matter of this field is not only of a theoretical interest.

Can you say a bit about what you like about CCNY and the Colin Powell School?

The Colin Powell School and City College are renowned institutions: a community of world-class scholars and students. The alumni board in the NAC attests to our illustrious graduates, many from the social sciences housed in the Colin Powell School. I also like the centrality of the teaching mission here.

Please share something about your plans — regarding research, teaching, engagement — for the next couple of years.

I am now back to writing about Germany and Holocaust memory, this time in relation to its more diverse population. This work is part of a book about traumatic memories and genocidal subjectivities called “Genocide and the Terror of History.” Additionally, I have been writing online essays on the Ukraine war in relation to the question of genocide and possible peace solutions. In doing so, I am fortunate to benefit from the advice of colleagues in the Colin Powell School.

What would you want to make sure everyone knows about what makes the Colin Powell School special?

I've been here only a few months but it is already apparent to me that the CPS is special for offering transformative opportunities for students and faculty. Education at its best is a transformative experience for all of us: by inviting us out of our intellectual comfort zones and the necessary material conditions for serious learning (quiet spaces) and career advancement (internships).

Mon, 12 Dec 2022 15:19:00 -0500 Colin Powell School
From Guyana to NYC to Tennessee: Lorianne Mitchell’s Journey to Becoming a College Professor


Lorraine MitchellFrom Guyana to NYC to Tennessee: Lorianne Mitchell’s Journey to Becoming a College Professor

Whether she was helping friends resolve conflicts, being absorbed in reading her mother’s Psychology textbook, or people-watching in downtown Manhattan, Lorianne Mitchell knew from a young age that human relations fascinated her. This motivated her to join the Psychology Department at CCNY. As an immigrant from Guyana with two siblings also in college, Mitchell worked hard and took the most credits she could each semester. After graduating from CCNY, Mitchell earned her PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and became an Associate Professor of Management at East Tennessee State University. Reflecting on her time at CCNY, Mitchell expressed her gratitude for Professor Vivien Tartter, who demanded her strongest effort and offered her the most thorough feedback: “Professor Tartter’s class was instrumental in preparing me to go from undergrad to PhD. I am forever grateful for her tutelage and support,” Mitchell said.

Tell me more about your background. Where are you from? 

I immigrated with my family from Guyana in South America, a couple of days after my eleventh birthday, and it was cold. We came from two degrees below the Equator to the coldest day in the Northeastern part of the United States in December. We moved: it was my mom, my brother, my sister, and I, the middle child. My mom’s mom and sister sponsored us to come to the US. We were following the American Dream, pursuing all of the opportunities that are available in the United States. We moved to Coney Island, and it was ten of us in a three-bedroom apartment. We lived there and then we moved to East New York after that, and we continued going to school in Coney Island, taking the bus and train back and forth. 

I went to a magnet junior high school in Coney Island. There were seventy students selected to be in that program, and we had different schedules than the other students. You’d come into school early and take classes all day long, and we’d have professors coming to give us classes or we’d even leave school early to go take classes at the community college. By the time we got to our junior and senior years in high school, we were taking AP-level courses. It was an intensive program but I think it prepared me for college better, as compared to the other students in my school. 

My brother is a year ahead of me, so he went to college the year right before me. Because his college education cost my mom so much, I didn’t have as many options as he did. He was able to go away to college, and in our culture, women don’t leave their homes until they’re married. So I mostly looked and applied to schools in New York since my mom could not afford to pay for us both to go to college at the same time. I got some financial aid, which covered my tuition and I was able to get into the Psychology program at CCNY. 

What motivated you to study Psychology?

I’ve always known I have a helper personality, I don’t know if it’s the middle child syndrome or what it could be. My personality has always been, whether it be on the block with my friends or someone gets into trouble, someone gets hurt, I’m the one that’s mending them. Friends always knew they could come to my house after school for a snack, and I would feed them. I remember in junior high school, we had a mock court system, and I chose to be a defense attorney because I wanted to defend the helpless or the kids who got in trouble. I always tried to find a way to get them out of trouble, whether it was lunch duty or something like that. I found myself always trying to find a way to make someone else’s life easier. So at one point, people thought I was going to be a doctor because I was always patching people back up. But that was not my interest. 

My mom was also in school at one point, and she had been a teacher in Guyana, and one of her required readings was in a Psychology textbook. I had always had a passion for reading, and I just started reading her textbook. It was so interesting to me, and that was when I knew that I wanted to do something in Psychology because the mind was fascinating. I’m a natural social scientist; I can sit for hours at the Met Cloisters or the Flatiron District and people-watch. I’m a natural observer of people and I think I have a very good intuition when it comes to people. That to me was the beginning of wanting to explore human behavior.

Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments about your time at CCNY?  

I remember how hard I worked to earn my degree. My advisors told me to take four classes, but I took 18-21 credits per semester, trying to get ahead. My brother, sister, and I were all in college at the same time. My mother was just above the poverty line, and could not qualify for government housing or any of those things, and she wasn’t getting any aid from my dad. So it was my mother working two to three different jobs, trying to make sure that her children had the best opportunity possible. We barely saw her because, by the time we woke up, she was already at work, she’d cook and leave food, but she was gone. I couldn’t take classes over the summer because I had to work 40 hours plus a week. Any break we had from classes, I was working: spring break, fall break, any break we had, it was work, work, work. 

I also fondly remember my extracurricular activities because I enjoyed singing and being a part of the gospel choir. I was a soprano. I remember singing the National Anthem in front of Hillary Clinton, which was a pretty memorable moment. I distinctly remember being a part of the Italian-American Club because I had studied Italian since junior high school. I remember the Jewish Studies program since I grew up a Seventh Day Adventist, and I took a lot of courses in Jewish Studies. I enjoyed the readings and learning the history of Jewish people and how they came to this country, how much they suffered, and the parallels between African Americans and Jews. I fondly recall tutoring with the SEEK Center, as well as being part of the Miss City College Pageant. I remember sitting out on the Quad with other students.

Tell me more about working with Professor Vivien Tartter, as you had mentioned doing research and some writing for her. 

I asked around, between talking to Psychology students and professors, and asking, “Who was the toughest professor?” I figured I learned best under those circumstances; my dad was militant and my mother was an educator, so we learned in tough environments. I needed a lot of structure and I needed a lot of almost boot camp style learning to do research. I thought Professor Tartter would give me the structure I needed to prepare myself for graduate-level research. 

One of my jobs over winter break was selling knives for Cutco. While selling knives, I had cut off the tip of one of my fingers, and I still have the scar and the tip eventually grew back. This led me to research this company, and I stumbled across the phrase Industrial-Organizational Psychology, so then I researched that. I kept coming across different terms and ideas, and this led me to realize that all of these programs would require me to do research, and so I had to prove to them that I could do that, or they wouldn’t even want to talk to me. 

I got into Professor Tartter’s class and I noticed that even if I was doing well, I still got feedback. It wasn’t, “This is your grade, good job, wonder!” I even had kept the papers up until this day, and I showed them to her and I said, “Honestly, this was the beginning of me showing how capable I am of writing, how capable I am at thinking and putting my thoughts together coherently.” Those papers were the catalyst for so many other papers. It wasn’t about the content, because the content was about ensuring there were parenting classes to prevent child abuse. It had nothing to do with my career path, but it had to do with the way of thinking and putting things together, that I wanted to remember and I’d go back and read those papers. Professor Tartter said, “I don’t give out As, and if you got an A, you were pretty good!” Then number three, the fact that even with an A, there was copious amounts of feedback on how I could even better myself in the process. I always read the feedback, I always read it, and took to heart what she said so I could better myself for the next one. For the most part, I’ve kept some stuff from graduate school and notes, but I’ve only kept two papers from Professor Tartter. 

How has your career unfolded, and how did the Colin Powell School help you along the way?

After CCNY, I had my graduate advisor tell me that one of my professors had taken the train downtown and given my letter of recommendation in person. That to me was pretty significant because no other professors had done that. 

For me, CCNY didn’t just prepare me academically, it gave me confidence in my skill level to be able to do the work I needed to do. One of my jobs was working in the career center, and through the career center, I was able to get a number of internships, which I needed immediately. I was able to get an internship with the city of New York, working in the personnel department. I was able to get an internship with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, working with their employment arm. I wanted enough experience to show that I understood employment and HR, and those types of environments. CCNY was not only able to provide those working opportunities, whether they were paid or unpaid, but those opportunities also showed my graduate programs that I was serious about this and I knew what the work would entail. It helped me to be an attractive applicant for the PhD program.     

Have you been involved in the CCNY community since you graduated?

Yes, I came back after the pandemic and some personal health issues, as students had been reaching out to me and telling me about the positive impact I had on them. This was also a time in my career after teaching, which I’ve been doing for 20 years now. When you start to see the impact of your work, of your life’s work, it’s more fulfilling than anything else. This made me want to reach back to the people who had an impact, and who I vividly remember, and share this feeling of fulfillment, gratitude, and impact. So hopefully Professor Tartter was able to feel that in my reaching out to her. She was gracious enough to meet with me.  

Do you have any advice you’d like to give to current or future students at CPS or CCNY?

Absolutely! I say, experience the breadth of college, this is what I tell my students now. Sometimes we get so tunnel-visioned, and I’ve seen at open houses, students come in with a plan and what they want to study and what they want to do after, and I’m amazed that they have this plan. But I remind them that their brains aren’t done growing, so you never know what can trigger something that will take you to a place where you can truly be fulfilled. CCNY offers so many different activities, majors and classes students can take. For instance, I took a speech class because I needed an extra credit to make up 21 credits. So I took this speech class that really taught me how to better overcome a stutter and two how to overcome my West Indian/New York accent, how to code-switch between friends and family, and a more professional setting. A theater class I took taught me mindfulness and meditation which I still use to this day. It was about going into yourself and reflecting. It’s the little things and classes that help you become a well-rounded individual, which if you did not want, you could just go to a technical school. But if you’re going to a liberal arts institution, you’re trying to emerge as a well-rounded person, and to me, CCNY gives you the ability and option to become that well-rounded person, and not just focus on getting a job. CCNY helps people become fully actualized individuals, who can present and be more than just an employee to the world. 

Mon, 11 Apr 2022 14:12:09 -0400 colin powell school
How Remote Teaching Spurred Adaptation and Innovation: Reflections from Professor Mehdi Samimi


Mehdi SamimiHow Remote Teaching Spurred Adaptation and Innovation: Reflections from Professor Mehdi Samimi  

Professor Mehdi Samimi joined the Colin Powell School’s Economics and Business Department in the middle of the pandemic when all classes were being conducted online. Here, Samimi shares his reflections on his first full year of remote teaching:
Teaching online was initially challenging for me for several reasons such as not knowing the audience, lack of online teaching experience, lack of direct immediate feedback from the audience, and technological difficulties. On the other hand, necessity is an important driver of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. I was able to overcome some of the challenges and in some cases even found some advantages in online education. 
Here are the challenges I had in more detail:
Lack of familiarity with the audience: My only in-person contact with Colin Powell School students prior to teaching was my campus visit in Dec 2019 in which I met a few students and heard their concerns. While the meeting became an important source of information for me, it was far less than what I needed to know my audience and be able to teach and learn from them. I had taught students at Iowa State University and that experience was extremely helpful, but significant differences exist between students at different schools and in different regions. As we often do when we lack information on something, we relied on heuristics and other alternative approaches. For example, I designed assignments to be a medium to get to know my students better in addition to serving the normal purposes of assignments. When I teach mission and vision in my principles of management course, I ask students to write a personal mission statement. When I teach personality and work attitudes, I tell students to take a personality assessment test, report the results, and discuss the jobs they have had in the past and what they would prefer to do in the future.
Lack of online teaching experience: When I started my job at CCNY, I had only half of one semester of experience of online teaching. While the goal of online and in-person teaching is the same, the means of reaching the goal are fundamentally different. One thing that helped me in this matter was to hold weekly meetings with a few other senior professors in our department to share experiences and to remind each other that we were not alone. 
Lack of direct, immediate feedback from audience: Teaching (especially when it comes to social sciences) happens through a two-sided interaction. Such interactions are based on feedback that each side gets from the other side. I adjust my teaching based on reactions I get and see in the audience. Additionally, my brain works better in bringing relevant examples when I am in a dialogue with others than when I am the solo speaker. Therefore it was a big challenge to not have the normal channels of feedback from students. To confront this challenge, I added more class activities, break-out rooms, and question and answers in online sessions.

Mon, 15 Nov 2021 16:51:49 -0500 Colin Powell School
Spielman Research Lab, Legacy of Harold M. Spielman (Class of ‘50), Facilitates Award-Winning Research on Social Inequality


Harold SpielmanSpielman Research Lab, Legacy of Harold M. Spielman (Class of ‘50), Facilitates Award-Winning Research on Social Inequality

 By Adriana Espinosa, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Director of the Spielman Research Lab
The Spielman Social Sciences Research Lab was established by a generous donation by Mr. Harold Spielman in 2013. The mission of the Spielman Lab, as envisioned by Mr. Spielman, is to support Social Science researchers at the Colin Powell School as well as recruit and train the next generation of Social Science researchers. Located on the 7th floor of the North Academic Center, the Spielman lab fulfils this mission by providing faculty, students, and research staff of The Colin Powell School with technology, software, and dedicated space to generate new research ideas and gather and analyze data. The Spielman lab has provided junior faculty as well as many undergraduate and graduate students with research opportunities that have resulted in award-winning thesis projects and presentations at national academic conferences. Similarly, by licensing software programs for the collection and analysis of data (e.g., Qualtrics, MPlus, MAXQDA Analytics Pro), students, faculty, and research staff of the Colin Powell School have been able to gather and analyze new data for their projects, including evaluations of student services and programs. True to Mr. Harold Spielman’s vision, the Spielman lab has led to the creation of research projects that tackle persistent social issues such as disparities in health, racial discrimination, and social inequality. I have used the lab’s facilities and resources for my own work since joining the Department of Psychology in 2014, and was appointed Director of the Spielman lab in June 2019. Without a doubt, Mr. Spielman’s generous gift has created a resource that has had a tremendously positive impact on my work, the work of my peers, and too many students to enumerate. I am truly honored to be affiliated with the Spielman Lab. 

Mon, 15 Nov 2021 16:46:53 -0500 Colin Powell School
Collective Transformation to Fulfill CCNY’s Historic Mission: Professor Chen on Becoming Sociology Department Chair


Katherine ChenCollective Transformation to Fulfill CCNY’s Historic Mission: Professor Chen on Becoming Sociology Department Chair

Can you share a little about your background and how you made the decision to go into academia? 
As an organizational researcher, I specialize in studying how innovative democratic organizations can transform people’s relationships and help a broader range of stakeholders to collectively pursue their interests. This question was sparked by my own experiences with organizations that were too bureaucratic and hierarchical. I also was troubled by how university courses only taught conventional ways of running firms, voluntary associations, schools, and other institutions. I began to understand that people need real-world examples of what inclusive and meaningful forms of organizing look like. Learning about these organizational practices could inspire people to create futures that are more sustainable and equitable.
I’ve published widely on this research, including an award-winning book Enabling Creative Chaos: The Organization Behind the Burning Man Event. I also recently co-edited Organizational Imaginaries: Tempering Capitalism and Tending to Communities through Cooperatives and Collectivist Democracy, a collection of studies of worker cooperatives and other alternative organizations in several countries including the UK, France, Argentina, and Brazil. My most recent project examines a New York alternative school that has pioneered self-directed education and other democratic practices. This school has spread such practices across its international network of affiliates while remaining deeply rooted in its local community. In addition to observing and participating in democratic organizations, I have also studied how organizations more generally help people navigate complex markets, including when they choose health insurance providers or decide on options in school-choice districts. 
Prior to joining CCNY, I earned my PhD in sociology at Harvard University and bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Stanford University.  As a graduate student, I wasn’t sure whether I should go into academia, given how challenging of a career path is involved. Despite the difficulties, I can’t imagine a life without active research. Especially now, societies need more ways of imagining better possible worlds and bringing about these potential futures. By researching and teaching on these topics, scholars such as myself are able to inspire our society’s future leaders to think creatively and wisely about possibilities.  
Why did you decide to take on the challenges of being department chair, and what are your priorities? 
Serving as chair of the sociology department is another way that I can practice what I research – collective transformation. Organizational research has shown how diversity on teams makes them more creative and inclusive in their thinking, and as academia diversifies, I think we’re also becoming better able to address pressing social problems with greater sensitivity to stakeholders. In part, this involves recognizing and revaluing the often “invisible” work performed by various groups and individuals. For example, this past week I ran into Freddie Mendez, a former student who graduated from CCNY as a sociology major. He just finished his master’s degree in library sciences and will be transferring from his job at the Washington Heights public library to the Midtown public library. In part, his job entails helping patrons get accurate information, including on available social services and connecting with the appropriate agencies – critically important connective work, now that we are slowly emerging from the pandemic. Many of our undergraduates currently work in or go on to work in underserved communities – everything from mentoring high school and college students, to assisting with enrichment programs for people with autism, to advocating for parents and their children in schools. Such work is crucial to sustaining societies. Sociology degrees help students develop a deeper understanding of societal issues and gain the critical and research tools they need to work toward rectifying them.
My priorities as chair are to help our department grow in ways consistent with CCNY’s unique role within the community, as a linchpin, historied institution that fosters economic mobility.  
Our faculty have a wealth of expertise on topics of great societal importance: ranging from housing policy and environmental issues, to the well-being of local and ethnic communities in the US and elsewhere. Through the courses, research opportunities, and mentoring that our faculty provide, we give students the training and knowledge they need to generate positive social change. Since our students are embedded in local communities – for instance, most live in NYC households, rather than dorms, and many also work in the NYC area – they are already well-positioned to make a broader societal impact, such as by connecting the people in their neighborhoods and organizations with resources and opportunities.  
As a department, we do face challenges that alumni and other supporters could help with. We need people who can help mentor our undergraduates, many of whom are immigrants and first-generation college-goers who must navigate between their own needs and those of their families and communities. We also need donations to help fill resource gaps that have opened up in recent years. For instance, several of our faculty have retired or have left to continue their careers at other universities. We also lost our senior-most faculty member to COVID back in March 2020, an especially shocking loss. Our students and their households continue to be severely impacted by the pandemic, both in terms of its health consequences and its economic fallout. Donations would go far in supporting our students – from paying for necessary programs to helping us establish a faculty line in our department. Like many institutions in the wake of this pandemic, we’re aiming to rebuild, but we hope to do so in ways that strengthen relationships with local communities – including our beloved alumni. With your help, we can ensure that our next generation of graduates can act as the leaders they’re meant to be. 

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:48:00 -0400 Colin Powell School
A New Strategic Direction: Punit Arora on Becoming the New Economics Department Chair


Punit AroraA New Strategic Direction: Punit Arora on Becoming the New Economics Department Chair

Can you share a little about your background and how you made the decision to go into academia?
Truth be told, it was an accidental decision to get into academia. I never imagined I would be an academic! After several high profile, high-pressure jobs with the Indian government, I decided I needed a break. I wanted to experience a new culture and came to the US for a masters program. That one-year break ended up becoming a PhD. More importantly, I fell in love both literally and metaphorically in my personal and professional lives. What could be better than creating and disseminating new knowledge (and getting paid for it)?
Why did you decide to take on the challenges of being department chair, and what are your priorities?
I felt our department (EcoBiz) needed a change in its strategic direction. To stay relevant in the changing higher education landscape, we need a greater focus on interdisciplinary entrepreneurship and business education. It also fits in well with my background (business, entrepreneurship and government), so I felt the timing was right for me to step up to the plate and take up the challenge head on. I was also encouraged by several colleagues, who felt the same way. 

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:46:12 -0400 Colin Powell School
Stepping Up to the International Stage: Professor Yochanan Shachmurove on Becoming Director of the MA Economics Program


YochananStepping Up to the International Stage: Professor Yochanan Shachmurove on Becoming Director of the MA Economics Program


Can you share a little about your background and how you decided to go into academia?

I was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, went to Tel Aviv University with a BA in Economics and an MBA in Finance and Operations Research. I was accepted to a few universities for PhD programs, including the University of Chicago and the University of Minnesota. Due to the better financial offer, I decided to go to the University of Minnesota. There, I wrote my dissertation titled: "A Rational Expectations Equilibrium Model of Capital Accumulation Under Uncertainty," under the supervision of Nobel Laureate Professor Thomas J. Sargent (Chairman), Professor Neil Wallace, Nobel Laureate Professor Christopher Sims, Nobel Laureate Professor Edward C. Prescott, and Professor Symord Geisser from the Department of Statistics. Having the opportunity to work alongside and be educated by such a group of brilliant minds and talented individuals, certainly opened my eyes to the world of groundbreaking economic thinkers whose work has had an immense, pioneering impact on the field. Along the years, I have met and cooperated with other Nobel laureates in economics, who now I consider as friends who I can call and consult with frequently.

Indeed, I enjoyed my studies at Tel Aviv University which at the time was the hallmark of economic research, with my university teacher suggesting I pursue an academic career. Fundamentally, I think that at the time I graduated with a BA, it was evident that Israel, or to a greater extent the world, should rely more on human skills emphasizing the power of the mind, rather than only centering around military might. My drive is rooted in this interplay of the ever-evolving global stage to look at financial issues and macro – monetary policies, naturally advancing my career in the field of economics.


Why did you decide to take on the challenges of being the MA director, and what are your priorities?

We cannot move forward without acknowledging the former MA Director, Professor Prabal De's achievements. Without his hard work, diligence, and leadership, we would not see the MA program in its current profitable state. 

Once Professor Prabal De decided to step down from his role as director, I realized the time had come for me to step in, contributing more to the Department of Economics and Business, with maybe a smaller number of academic papers. Moreover, I gained an immense understanding about efficiently organizing and managing large groups from diverse backgrounds from my years in high school, the army, and academia.

My priorities are to contribute to the quality of the program and add an international dimension and perspective. As a member of the Executive Committee of the Graduate School of The City University of New York, I would like to strengthen the relationship with our MA students, the PhD students, and faculty members, hopefully leading a few of our MA students to pursue an academic career. I also would like to see our MA students get jobs at the Federal Reserve System, in particular the New York Fed and other of its branches, the State Department, as well as international economic institutions, such as the World Bank, The International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and the United Nations. I would also like to see our MA students enrolled in Law Schools and pursuing Certified Public Accounting degrees. 

As I have done since arriving at City College, I will use my extensive network of national and international universities to improve the visibility of the MA program at CCNY. My experience of more than a quarter century at the University of Pennsylvania and more recently at New York University should propel us to achieve new heights.



Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:44:17 -0400 Colin Powell School
Guiding Psychology Students During the Pandemic: Tiffany Floyd on Becoming Director of Master in Mental Health Counseling MA Program in 2021


TiffanyGuiding Psychology Students During the Pandemic: Tiffany Floyd on Becoming Director of Master in Mental Health Counseling MA Program in 2021

Professor Tiffany Floyd, an expert in reducing gender-based health disparities, became the director of the Masters Program in Mental Health Counseling (MHC) earlier this year. Professor Floyd is a clinical psychologist whose research and clinical work focus on reducing health disparities. Her specific areas of interest include mood disorders, women’s health, behavior change, and prevention/risk reduction. After receiving her PhD from Temple University, Floyd completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York, where she developed several grant-funded projects aimed at reducing cancer risk among low income and/or racial and ethnic minority females. At CCNY she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in personality science and group dynamics/group counseling and provides clinical supervision to graduate students.

What unique challenges did you face as you assumed leadership of the MHC program in the middle of the ongoing pandemic? 

One of my top priorities has been to ensure that our students have the information, resources, and support they need to navigate this unusual time. This pertains not only to CCNY-specific factors, but also to the various professional training requirements associated with their path towards licensure. As a result, it has been extremely important for me to stay abreast of various factors affecting their requisite education and training, and to make sure that they have accurate and up-to-date information to support them in completing their degree. Hosting regular program-wide town hall meetings, enhanced oversight of clinical internships, and implementing new systems for connecting with students are just a few of the tools that have been introduced during this period, and that will remain key features of the program. After a year with so much uncertainty, it is important to provide students with as much clarity and guidance as we can. Above all, I want students to know that they are not alone. We are here to help them successfully negotiate the various demands of this unique period of time.

Where do you see the MHC program going in the future? 

I am very excited about the future of the MHC program. I see it expanding in both size and strength in the years to come, beginning with growing the number of program faculty and increasing our admission capacity by at least 50%. We are also eager to add CACREP (Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) accreditation to the list of attributes that attract so many students to the program each year. Adopting CACREP’s nationally-recognized set of standards will make it even easier for our graduates to transfer their professional license across state lines, making it yet another major draw for the program.

The need for quality mental health care has risen dramatically in the past year, making the MHC program’s role in producing well-trained, highly effective counselors more vital and salient than ever. It is extremely gratifying to know that our program contributes to the body of professionals equipped to meet the mental healthcare needs of diverse communities.

As a clinical psychologist with a focus on health disparities, I am deeply committed to the MHC program’s mission to increase diversity among mental health counselors working in the community. I am excited about the opportunity to further this mission in the years to come.

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:41:15 -0400 Colin Powell School
“Be Generous with the Time You Give Students”: Professor Rajan Menon, Dedicated Teacher and Prolific Scholar, Retires

Rajan Menon“Be Generous with the Time You Give Students”: Professor Rajan Menon, Dedicated Teacher and Prolific Scholar, Retires 

Professor Rajan Menon, the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Chair in Political Science at the Colin Powell School, retires this fall after more than ten years at CCNY. A native of Kerala, India, Professor Menon grew up in New York City and Wichita, Kansas. He is a prolific author, whose research focuses on American domestic and national security policy, globalization, and the politics of Asia, Russia, and the post-Soviet states. During his time at CCNY, he dedicated generous amounts of time and energy to students and published widely in both academic and mainstream publications. In a recent interview, he talked about his love for the life of a scholar and his close productive relationships with fellow faculty across disciplines at CCNY. Professor Menon previously taught at Lehigh University, Columbia University, and Vanderbilt University and has held fellowships and other positions at the New America Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the National Bureau for Asian Research. He also served as Special Assistant for Arms Control and National Security to Congressman Stephen J. Solarz (D-NY).

Tell us a little about you: where did you grow up?

I was born in Kerala, a tiny sliver of a state at the tip of India's southwestern coast. It’s an unusual place in many respects, certainly for a country in what is now called “the Global South.” It has a literacy rate of over 90%; a life expectancy rate that compares favorably with Europe's; an excellent public health system; and beautiful Hindu temples, mosques, and synagogues (and the food is spectacular). Kerala, in Hindu families anyway, is also a matrilineal society, and one wonderful consequence of that has been that women are well represented in politics and professions. Kerala's Communist party—which made a priority of land reform, progressive taxation, education, public health, and educating people about contraception—deserves considerable credit for the low levels of poverty in the state. One drawback has been that Kerala loses too many highly trained people because the state doesn’t have a lot of industry (though it has spectacular beaches and seafood) and so they go elsewhere in large numbers. As an aside: many less-well-educated Kerala Muslims, having worked for years in the Persian Gulf, return flush with cash, and that has had interesting, and to my mind largely positive, effects on social hierarchies and wealth distribution. 

What were some early experiences that influenced the direction your life/career took?

The earliest influence was that my mother and I left India in 1958 and I have spent 80% of my life in the United States. I grew up in New York City and Wichita, Kansas (quite a contrast), but I was sent back to a boarding school for some years. I received a superb education there, but British-style boarding schools are tough places and not for the faint of heart. You see sides of human nature you shouldn’t, especially as a child. It never once occurred to me to send either of my daughters to one.

How did you become interested in the field you pursued?

Most of my family, certainly on my father’s side, are in the Indian foreign service, and we jokingly refer to it as the family business. But it’s not a business I particularly cared for (the reasons are too complicated to do justice to here), having come to know it very well. So academia enabled me to escape the family business (to which I am temperamentally unsuited in any event) and to enter one that had three big attractions for me: first, you don’t have to be someone’s son or grandson to succeed and can make your own way (or not). Second: you actually get paid to read, write, teach, and watch young people grow, change, and succeed. What a deal! Third: you have no “boss” and you have enormous freedom to work on what you want, as opposed to what someone else (an ambassador perhaps) tells you to work on. I’ve always believed that I have the best job in the world and have never seriously thought of taking another, though I have been offered the opportunity. I did spend one year in government, enough to learn that it was not for me.  I should add that I would never have made a go of it as an academic but for the example, inspiration, and assistance of outstanding professors in graduate school.

What brought you to City College?

To be honest, I wanted to make life simpler. I had lived in New York and commuted to Pennsylvania to teach (at Lehigh University) for twenty-five years.  I am not enamored of cars and driving, and there are only so many books-on-tape (that’s what they were back in the day) you can go through before you’ve had enough. Then came smart phones and the horrible effects it had on the way people drive. So commuting became deadly as well as dangerous. I was very happy at Lehigh, but when an opportunity to teach at City College came along, I took it without hesitation. It has been one of the best professional decisions I've made. This is an extraordinary place, not only because of its storied history and beautiful campus—well, there’s the NAC but if you work in it, as I do, you don’t have to look at it—but also on account of its exceptional faculty and students. I have met some truly outstanding scholars here. As for the students, when someone from another university asks about them, I say this: “I have never taught at a school where I am in awe of the students." What our students achieve despite the hardships many endure, and the comes-with-birth advantages they lack, is extraordinary. It has been a privilege to witness their successes.  I also joined a department that's not just collegial but also knitted together by friendships. When we have had occasion to hire, we have hired well, and the caliber of the department’s scholars, notably the younger ones, is as good as at any other university. 

How long have you taught at CCNY?
I joined in 2010, left for a year and returned to Lehigh (CUNY’s bureaucracy made me crazy) but missed it very much and came back in 2012. I have never regretted that decision. City College is not flush with resources but it does exceptional things despite that disadvantage, and it has a mission that's more important now than ever perhaps.

How has the experience of working at CCNY changed/evolved over the years?
I’ve gotten much more involved in faculty governance than I’d planned or wanted to. If you have a wonderful job but find that the place where you work could be improved, you have three choices: to say that improving it is not your problem, to complain endlessly and make yourself and others miserable, or to pitch in and try, in small ways, to make things better. I chose the third path.

Please share an accomplishment that you consider particularly significant in your intellectual life at CCNY?

I’ll take the liberty of sharing two. One is getting to know and working closely with a number of faculty in other divisions besides my own. A good many of my closest friends at CCNY are in the sciences, humanities, and arts. I have learned a great deal from them. As for personal accomplishments, I’ve written two additional books since joining CCNY and am working on a third. My freelance writing for newspapers and magazines has increased in volume and exposed me to a new world.

What advice would you give to students currently at CCNY?

Study what interests you and resist the trend that’s turning our nation’s universities into venues for vocational training. This is the last chance you’ll have to read widely and acquire an education that enables you to explore several different disciplines. Pay attention to your writing and learn to write in a manner that makes your readers want to read on. Learn a new language or improve your facility in the ones you know. 

What advice would you give a faculty member just starting their career?

Success (however you define it) in academia will require working long hours and often seven days a week. But remember that you’re doing what you love. If you don’t think you are, you should reconsider your choice of career. I’d add that teaching, or writing for that matter, never gets easier and once you think you can coast you’re no longer a good teacher. Be generous with the time you give students. They will never forget it and your advice and interest in them can make a big difference in their lives. 

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:38:17 -0400 Colin Powell School
Take Time to Learn the History of the College: Professor Bill Crain, Advocate of Free Speech and Open Admissions, Retires

Bill Crane

Take Time to Learn the History of the College: Professor Bill Crain, Advocate of Free Speech and Open Admissions, Retires


Professor Bill Crain is retiring after 51 years at City College. A native of Los Angeles, CA, Professor Crain is a developmental psychologist by training, whose work focuses on how children's minds and personalities evolve. He wrote Theories of Development: Concepts and Applications, which is now in its sixth edition. He is a much-loved teacher, and Professor Crain has been a staunch advocate for open admissions and free speech at CCNY. He has organized against tuition hikes and standardized entrance exams, and he urges new faculty and students to learn about the college’s history and its role in promoting equality of opportunity. Along with his wife, Dr. Ellen Crain, Professor Crain runs Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary in Dutchess County, NY, which provides a safe home for farm animals rescued from abuse and neglect. Here, he discusses his background and career:

I grew up in East Los Angeles until I was 11 years old. Then our family moved to Anaheim, where I graduated from high school in 1961.  

During my high school days, McCarthyism was still going strong in Anaheim and its neighboring Orange County towns. For example, the school bussed us to attend a Christian Anti-Communism rally.  As a participant in the California Boys’ State program, I spoke out against efforts to restrain free thought, and I got into mild trouble with the American Legion. As the graduation valedictorian, I repeated the need for the free expression of ideas.

My father was a clinical psychologist who worked in Los Angeles’ Juvenile Hall and in the California Youth Authority.  He sparked my initial interest in psychology. I attended Harvard University as an undergraduate and studied with several professors who strengthened my interest. These included Erik Erikson, Robert White, and George Goethals.

I received a PhD from the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago in 1969. I then took a clinical psychology internship at the University of Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute.

I had a longstanding wish to become a teacher, and I decided to take a job offer from CCNY because of its reputation as a great teaching college. I came in 1970 and have been here for 51 years. 

When I first came to campus, most of the students were white. As the new Open Admissions policy was implemented, the ethnic composition of the student body changed. My classes have always been exciting, and I have had many terrific students. I believe CCNY continues to be a terrific place to teach. Colleagues tell me that our undergraduates are much more interesting and outspoken than those at Ivy League colleges. 

During my first years on campus, I had only a vague notion of CCNY’s historic importance.  I didn’t appreciate how it had opened opportunities for New Yorkers regardless of their income or cultural background.  I gained insight into the need for such opportunities when CUNY imposed tuition hikes, banned remedial classes at the senior colleges, and installed standardized tests that disproportionately closed doors to students of color.  I then became a staunch advocate of Open Admissions and an opponent of biased tests. I have been arrested for acts of civil disobedience in efforts to keep college access as open as possible.  

One of my proudest intellectual accomplishments is my textbook, Theories of Development: Concepts and Applications, now in its 6th edition. I wrote it to help teach my undergraduate child development classes, and many former students have told me that it gave them an understanding of how development can proceed from people’s spontaneous interests and passions.

My main advice to students is to pay attention to grades, but don’t become obsessed with them. More important is your love of learning. Let yourself become excited by ideas.

My main advice to a new faculty member is take a little time to learn about the history of the college. You will realize that you are teaching at a place that has played a central role in promoting equality of opportunity in the United States. 

Mon, 30 Aug 2021 18:19:37 -0400 Colin Powell School
Colin Powell School Staff Engage in Intentional Group Reflections on Year of Pandemic



Kendra WrightColin Powell School Staff Engage in Intentional Group Reflections on Year of Pandemic

As the Colin Powell School marked one year of working remotely due to the pandemic, Finance Director Kendra Wright shared her reflections on the unexpected challenges she faced and what she learned in 2020. Her candid reflections inspired others to share their thoughts, as well. Since Kendra’s initiative, the Colin Powell School has set aside time during each week’s staff meeting for two team members to share their reflections on this difficult year. 
A moment of reflection on the year 2020. I, like many, saw the beginning of a new decade, 2020, as a jump start to a fresh slate of life. The highest of all, mother nature, had another thing in mind. After moving back from the West Coast in Spring 2019 and getting my feet back familiar with the soil here on the East Coast, hustling to find a job and securing the perfect opportunity in August 2019 that aligned with my future goals, and competing in the fast-moving New York apartment market and going on a limb and saying ‘Yes’ to an apartment in November 2019 that unknowingly would become my safe haven, I’m settled in my new place and ready to explore. Then March 2020 changes the direction of how I thought my story would go.
At the start of March 2020, I’m physically on campus working at the Colin Powell School in the Finance department. Students are around and then suddenly they disappear. Friday, March 13, 2020, I’m told to pack everything I need to work remotely, give or take a month or two. I leave from seeing my colleagues each day, students moving about on campus, and my office. I am restricted to a hideout location, my apartment. The pandemic has escalated, everything has shut down, and I am trying to grasp what has happened as things have transpired so quickly.
I hear sirens constantly, blaring PSA messages: “Stay Home”, “Keep six feet apart”, “Wear a Mask,” and so on. I’m feeling the pain and hurt of brown people losing their lives for just jogging, or just quietly sleeping in their homes or having a knee placed on their neck. A new foe, “anxiety”, has come to greet me, my worries, fears, and troublesome thoughts. I brainstorm to find the best remedy to ditch this new opponent and to help me handle the uncertainty of the pandemic and the world we live in. My medication is that I turn inward and focus on stillness. Strengthening my mind, body, and soul to higher levels. Consciously evaluating my thoughts, listening to my body and finding productive ways of feeding my soul. I am on a marathon towards healing and peace.
2020: you were a transforming year. You increased my appreciation and love for people, enjoying more of my own company with myself, and new levels of patience. The direction that 2020 made my story go in allows for new beginnings, experiences and opportunities that I anxiously wait for. I thank you 2020 for the intangible rewards and gifts you have given me. You were something else and your imprint will be everlasting on the hearts and minds of every living human being on this Earth. Farewell!

Mon, 22 Mar 2021 17:35:33 -0400 Colin Powell School
Celebrating Psychology Professor Bill King As He Prepares to Retire



Prof. Bill KingCelebrating Psychology Professor Bill King As He Prepares to Retire


After over half a century at CCNY, Professor Bill King will retire this year. Raised in Newark, New Jersey, he graduated from Rutgers University and the University of Colorado and has been with CCNY since 1967. In this interview he tells about his early education and his circuitous path to the field of psychology, offers highlights of the way CCNY has changed over the decades, and gives advice to future students and faculty. Professor King has served in multiple tenures as department chair, graduate program director, and dedicated advisor to countless students. Bill’s hard work and dedication will be sorely missed. The Colin Powell School wishes to thank Bill for his years or loyal service. 

Tell us a little about you: Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Newark, just across the river from Manhattan. I think it was similar to kids growing up in an ethnic enclave in Brooklyn or Queens. In my case it was a Jewish neighborhood; my friends’ parents were first and second generation immigrants from Eastern Europe; many were Holocaust survivors. I think my experience was probably analogous to the background of many of our students. My parents were especially keen on me attending college to get a better life but had very little idea what that meant. Because of that, they had little direct influence on my schooling and not very much schooling themselves. They never checked my homework or put many restrictions on my activities even though they were wonderfully loving parents. Fortunately, my peers were focused on academics to a greater degree and this fact together with a good school system gave me enough background to succeed academically. 
What were some early experiences that influenced the direction your life/career took?
First, going to college was an ever present thought throughout my childhood. Second, my father bought me a chemistry set when I was eight or nine and I spent many hours trying to create explosives and metal disks in the shape of quarters to use in vending machines. I was not so much interested in the product but more in solving the problem. I did succeed in creating a perfect lead disk the size of a quarter but discovered that it was too heavy to actually work. I was satisfied with a partial success. I would probably have blown myself up with my attempt to manufacture nitroglycerine or real gunpowder but could never get my hands on strong nitric acid for the former or potassium nitrate for the latter.  
How did you become interested in the field you pursued?

I went to Rutgers University in Newark taking the bus to school. My choice of college was dictated by the fact that I was admitted and I could earn the tuition and costs by working part time and living at home. My interest in school had shifted from chemistry to biology and because I had no idea that it might be possible to study biology and make a living, I chose dentistry as my goal. This seemed possible because my brother-in-law was a dentist and I figured that I would be able to take many biology classes with that major. In retrospect it is hard to understand that I did not see becoming a biologist as an option, but I didn’t. This helped me understand that unless children see people they actually know and can relate to or identify with succeed in some field, they are not likely to see it as a viable possibility for themselves. I did well my first semester and during my five minute advisory session with a science advisor was told I should switch to pre-med. Not really being interested in dentistry except as a major which would allow me to study biology, I switched. In my sophomore year, I Iost interest in science classes and became very interested in creative writing and drama and with no guidance, cut many of those classes and stopped doing much of the work. Thus, during my junior year I felt I had ruined my chances for medical school and although I loved English I felt I would never be able write well enough to succeed and I knew I couldn’t spell well. In the world before computers and spellcheck, that was no small matter.  My choice of psychology as a major was strongly influenced by my instructors. My introductory psychology class was taught by Dr. Daniel Lerhman, who researched the effect of hormones on behavior and whose lectures were so vivid and well organized that I did not take notes but could remember them perfectly. And, they were rooted in biology. He had Niko Tinbergen, one of the world’s foremost ethologists, give a guest lecture. It was grand. Dr. Lerhman was a graduate of The City College.
My instructor for experimental psychology, Dr. Dorothy Dinnerstein, was amazing also and in addition to teaching us how to conduct research from beginning to end, she added a worldview beyond laboratory work. She wrote a fascinating book, The Mermaid and the Minotaur, displaying a breadth of thinking she communicated to her students in addition to the material. Dr. Dinnerstein graduated from Brooklyn College. Thus, I transitioned from an uninspired pre-medical student to a psychology student. I would add that I was also strongly influenced by my classes in abnormal psychology and child psychology with Dr. Mavis Hetherington. We were the first class she taught after getting her doctorate from UC Berkeley, and she showed up for class in an evening gown looking like a movie star. Contrary to stereotype, she became an outstanding nationally known researcher known for her groundbreaking work on the effects of divorce on children.
What brought you to City College?
We wanted to move back to the New York area to be close to our families.
How long have you taught at CCNY?
I came to CCNY in 1967 after teaching three years at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. That makes about 53 years not counting this semester as I am on leave. 
How has the experience of working at CCNY changed/evolved over the years?
I began as a researcher in cognitive development and during the 1970’s earned a post-doctoral certificate in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy from NYU. I then introduced a master’s course in psychotherapy and later an undergraduate class on the same topic. There were turbulent times when students vanished into the underground to protest the war in Vietnam and times when we could see police battling with protesters on the corner of Amsterdam and 135th street. Our students changed regularly depending on which groups most recently immigrated to New York and according to the socio-political forces in the city.  
When I stopped active research and completed my postdoctoral studies, I became chair of the Department from 1981 to 1989 and again from 2004 to 2007.  Also, I was director of the general MA Program on and off for a total of 17 years and also directed the Mental Health Counseling Program from 2007 to 2020. My experiences as chair were different from anything I had done before and I appreciated the opportunity to help the faculty and especially the students both undergraduate and graduate.
Please share an accomplishment that you consider particularly significant in your intellectual life at CCNY.
I can’t point to a single event that stands out, perhaps because I have spent nearly my entire adult life at The College during which time I learned a great many things about myself and others. Learning to be a chair and to deal with and try to resolve or ameliorate conflicts involving every combination of faculty, students, and administrators taught me things I could not have learned otherwise.  Changing from a researcher to a psychotherapist also taught me a great deal. A thought I have often had is that I probably helped more people in very significant ways doing advisement than I did doing psychotherapy.
I experienced great satisfaction advising students all along from the very beginning of my time at the college. Not having any advisement as a high school student or early in my undergraduate career and yet succeeding through the good fortune of meeting a few extraordinary professors has motivated me to help students, especially those for whom college is a great unknown and who like me are the first generation in their family to have the opportunity to attend College. 
What advice would you give to students currently at CCNY?
Try to follow your own true interests if you know them. If you don’t, get help trying to find them. You will have a better chance to fulfill your dreams as well as your parents’ if you do. I don’t know if this is really good advice but it worked for me.
What advice would you give a faculty member just starting their career?
Whatever you do to succeed, make sure it’s something you really care about or your success will not sustain you.  Also, pass up the cheap publication for something you think really matters even if it lowers your publication count. 

Mon, 22 Mar 2021 17:05:39 -0400 Colin Powell School
Professor Schonfeld on Being a Brownsville Native, Becoming a Teacher and Researcher of Work-Related Stress, and Building Life-Long Relationships

Professor Schonfeld

on Being a Brownsville Native, Becoming a Teacher and Researcher of Work-Related Stress, and Building Life-Long Relationships

Irvin SchonfeldAfter 35 years of teaching psychology, Professor Irvin Schonfeld announced his retirement in December of 2020. Professor Schonfeld graduated from Brooklyn College, majoring in psychology and mathematics, and became a math teacher in the New York City public school system. He later left teaching to complete a doctorate at the CUNY Graduate Center, combining educational psychology and developmental psychology in his research on children’s mathematical cognition. He developed expertise in the impact of job stressors on the mental health and morale of teachers and the self-employed and came to identify with the emerging field of occupational health psychology. Professor Schonfeld is a member of the doctoral faculty of both CCNY and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the founding editor of the Newsletter of the Society for Occupational Health Psychology and is co-author of the book, Occupational Health Psychology: Work, Stress, and Health.
Where are you from and what is your background?
I come from a Jewish family that lived in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn when my dad, a World War II veteran, was discharged from the Army. We moved to a housing project in Flatlands, the least developed section of that borough. At the time we moved in, the housing project was surrounded by meadows, stands of trees, and freshwater swamps. My friends and I spent much of our childhood years in those fields playing baseball and football and in the swamps hunting for tadpoles, frogs, and snakes to bring home as pets. That early experience led to a lifelong interest in science (later at City College I worked with a biology professor on the extent to which some people accept the theory of evolution). I sadly watched all meadows and swamps and, even, a neighborhood farm get developed away.
I attended Samuel J. Tilden High School. I was a pretty good athlete, becoming the captain of the school’s track team. I competed in the 400-meter sprint and ran for the varsity cross-country team.
I attended Brooklyn College, where I majored in psychology and minored in math. I enjoyed Brooklyn College a great deal. I read the Iliad and the Odyssey, took electives in philosophy and comparative literature, and learned enough French to read novels by Camus and Sartre. Professor Kenneth Bruffee’s elective on essay-writing was, perhaps, the best course I ever took anywhere. We read the great essayists, writers such as Lamb, Milton, and Orwell, and learned to write cogent essays.
I got involved in the anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movements. I helped found an underground newspaper. When I was a junior, I got arrested in a demonstration that combined protests related to free speech and the war. That same year, I had a Vietnam-related piece published in a book by George Kennan.
After college I got a job as a math teacher for the NYC Board of Education; in the evenings I earned a master’s degree in psychology at the New School for Social Research. After six years, I quit teaching and pursued a doctorate full-time at the CUNY Graduate Center, where I studied a combination of developmental psychology and educational psychology. I also made sure to take many statistics courses in graduate school.
What brought you to City College?
After I earned my Ph.D., I got a job in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia. As I made progress in that job, I felt like Moliere’s Monsieur Jourdan, who was shocked to discover that he was speaking in prose. I was equally shocked to discover that I was doing epidemiologic research in child and adolescent psychiatry. My boss, David Shaffer, persuaded me to apply for a postdoc in epidemiology at Columbia.
I had been working on research in cognitive development and childhood and adolescent psychopathology. But during that postdoc, I got to know Bruce Dohrenwend and Bruce Link who had been conducting research on stress. My knowledge of the teaching profession—the school in which I taught was plagued with violence and other problems—led to a new line of research, namely, the problem of job stress in teachers.
On the strength of research I conducted in cognitive development and child and adolescent
psychopathology, I got a job in a social science department in the City College School of Education. Once in the SOE, I began to change my research agenda. I obtained grants from the CDC to study the impact of job stress on teachers. While I was there, the SOE reconfigured itself a number of times; I moved from one department to another and to another. Eventually I was able to apply for and get a transfer to the Psychology Department.
What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing a career in the field of psychology?
My passion is to understand how the stress process unfolds at work. The more we understand about the stress process, the better able we are to intervene to make workplaces less stressful and more healthful. In 2017, the Springer Publishing Company published my book on work, stress, and heath.
What has teaching at City College meant to you?
Teaching has meant a number of things to me in terms of my goals for students. First, I like introducing students to scientific methodology (e.g., the experiment, quasi-experiment, prospective study, etc.). I would also like students to appreciate what a scientific hypothesis is. What a scientific theory is. How a hypothesis is related to theory. How we go about collecting observations that could demolish a hypothesis or sustain it.
Second, I recognize that many students have difficulty writing. While writing is important for individuals who go on to pursue doctorates, most of our psychology undergraduates are not going to pursue a doctorate in psychology. And that is okay. However, being able to write well will help students in many other careers. I feel that I owe it to our students (and to their parents) that when students complete one of my classes they will write better than they wrote when they entered the class.
Third, I would like students to further develop their quantitative reasoning skills. Quantitative reasoning is important for doctoral students. It is also important in terms of citizenship. What are the prevalence and incidence rates of depression in the United States? Those kinds of understandings help students appreciate the prevalence and incidence rates of Covid-19 in New York City zip codes. Quantitative reasoning really matters.
Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career that you would like to talk about?
My significant memories include having been fortunate enough to conduct research with some terrific people. One of those people is David Shaffer, who had been the chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia. We wrote several papers together but one paper on the impact of neurological soft signs on depression and anxiety in adolescents stands out in my mind. David wrote the intro and discussion. I wrote the method and results. We published it in 1986. It gets cited again and again.
Another is my work with two people, the late Ed Farrell, my friend and CCNY colleague and Joe Mazzola, a colleague who is now at Meredith College in North Carolina. Although I am a quantitatively oriented researcher, I developed an appreciation of what qualitative research can do in terms of discovery. I have written separately with Ed and with Joe about the value (and limitations) of qualitative research on job stress.
Finally, I have done a great deal of work with Renzo Bianchi. Although Renzo is French, he currently works at the University of Neuchâtel, in the French-speaking region of Switzerland. We have studied the relationship between job-related burnout and depression from different angles. Although this line of research has been controversial, Renzo has made substantial progress in this area. We recently published a new instrument, the Occupational Depression Inventory, which is designed to measure depressive symptoms workers ascribe to their jobs. I greatly enjoy working with him.
Do you have any advice you could give students, former students, and colleagues?
I am only going to give the readers one piece of advice. One of the best things you can do in college and in life in general is to forge relationships. Those relationships can be with fellow students. They can be with colleagues. They can be with people in your neighborhood. Those relationships don’t have to turn into friendships, but sometimes they do. Friendships are almost always rewarding.
It can be helpful to forge relationships with people who are different from you. Of course, the idea of difference applies to people who are of a different gender, race/ethnicity, and age group. Regarding age group, one of my valued friendships is with Cheryl Sims, who was a student in a class I taught. Despite the age differences, I have other friendships with former CCNY students, including Joel Engleman and Nelson Graham.
The idea of forging relationships with people different from yourself is broader than you may think. When I was a college student, I took more science and math courses than courses in other subject areas but my college friends included an English major who took a special interest in Walt Whitman and a classics major who read Homer and Virgil in the original. We learned a lot from each other.
It is very important in life to forge relationships and, when the circumstances are right, friendships.


Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:21:48 -0500 Colin Powell School
Colin Powell School faculty member Iris López, director of CCNY Latin American and Latin@ Studies program, quoted in the Refinery29 article
Iris LopezColin Powell School faculty member Iris López,
Director of CCNY Latin American and Latin@ Studies program,
quoted in the Refinery29 article ‘In Puerto Rico, A History of Colonization Led to an Atrocious Lack of Reproductive Freedom


When birth control pills hit the U.S. market in 1960, it heralded a new age of sexual autonomy for women. “Freedom in a tablet,” as it’s been called, liberated women from becoming pregnant when they didn't want to and gave them more control over their reproductive choices. But in Puerto Rico, where women were used as subjects for birth control trials and impelled to undergo sterilization, the emancipating drug also carries a history of coercion and is emblematic of Puerto Rican women’s enduring struggle for reproductive freedom.

In Puerto Rico, fertility control developed under colonialism in the early 20th century, after the Caribbean archipelago had been seized by the United States in the Spanish-American War of 1898. During this time, neo-Malthusianism — the belief that poverty stems from the proliferation of the poor — was a popularly held view throughout the West, notably by prominent U.S. officials and intellectuals, who also endorsed pseudo-scientific eugenics theories as a means to guarantee that only able-bodied, rich, white people were encouraged to reproduce. The colonial governments in Puerto Rico and the contiguous U.S. were filled with people who believed these philosophies, and the archipelago was deemed overpopulated, specifically by a citizenry of impoverished and thus “inferior” Black and brown people. To solve the alleged problem, government officials instituted policies that, among other things, reduced births through sterilization.

Read more here

Mon, 26 Oct 2020 11:25:03 -0400 Colin Powell School
Beyond race: Impacts of non-racial perceived discrimination on health access and outcomes in NYC by Economics Professor Prabal

Prabal Economics Professor Prabal De has just published, “Beyond race: Impacts of non-racial perceived discrimination on health access and outcomes in New York City.” Using a representative dataset from one of the most populous and diverse cities in the US, this research investigates whether individuals report experiencing discrimination while seeking health care not only due to their race/ethnicity, but also because of their other attributes such as age, gender, type of insurance, and immigration status, the latter group being termed collectively as non-racial discrimination. His findings demonstrate that non-racial discrimination was strongly associated with worse health access and outcomes, and such experiences may contribute to health disparities between different socioeconomic groups. You can read the article here.




Mon, 05 Oct 2020 13:48:03 -0400 Colin Powell School
Business and Economics Alumni of CCNY Remembers Lecturer Len Trugman

Business and Economics Alumni of CCNY Remembers Lecturer Len Trugman

Len Trugman was a family first guy; you knew about that from the moment you walked into his classroom. He loved to show photos of his grandchildren discuss the accomplishments of his children. To some he was Professor, to others Sir, to me he was Truggy.  

When I signed up for Principles of Management with Truggy, it was just another class. Over the semester back in 2010, he was kind enough to let me get to know him.  He was full of truths about life. I remember one day while eating lunch with him in the CCNY cafeteria, I asked him about team leadership, his answer went back to his first love, his family.  He told me “When you lead a team, any team, anywhere, treat your team like your family”.  That is something that stuck with me.  As President of Business and Economics Alumni, I do not treat the board like family, they are my family.  

A year later in Operations and Production Management, he taught me everything I needed to know about cost, efficiency, quality, and inventory.  He said, “they’re all important, but the only one worth increasing costs for is improving quality”. Over another lunchtime conversation about the quality, he stopped for a second and told me “People can increase quality in a major way for free, but it means increasing the quality of who they are as people, leaders, and managers.  To do so means relying on family and those you care about, to be honest with you”.  What Truggy said that day is something I always carry with me and will never forget.  

It is those two lessons and many others that I pass on to students, employees, and most of all family.  I pass them on because they came from a source full of experience. Truggy received his BME from CCNY in 1960, later earned a Ph.D. in engineering, then went back to school and earned an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson in 1975.  He was also CEO of Del Global Technologies.  He was a lecturer from 2001 – 2017.  He also had 2 patents.  

I would always joke with him that when it came to Operations Management, as long as he was around, I would always be second best. Truggy may no longer be with us but I still have a long way to go to get to that level. I am certain though that I will pass on lessons I have learned from him for decades to come.
 F.  Charles Ranieri – Class of 2013
 President of Business and Economics Alumni


Mr. Trugman was a dedicated professor who the best interests of his students in mind.  He was always available to give advice and to promote real world applications of that advice. He filled us with joy with his stories about his work experience and constantly brought up his utmost joy, his family. One of the best memories I have of him was when he started the class by going over a business article written by his son from the morning paper that day. This brought him so much joy. My heart goes out to his whole family.  We will miss you, Mr. Trugman. Thank you. Rest in peace.

Rosanlis Bido – Class of 2017
Vice President of Business and Economics Aluimni

It is with a heavy heart that I have learned about the passing of Professor Trugman. He was truly a great educator and a man of unique wisdom; he will be greatly missed.

Berrin Altan – Class of 2007
Board Member, Business and Economics Alumni

Trugman, AKA the Brooklyn boy. He made everyone feel very comfortable with his calm voice, hilarious jokes, and family stories. He used all of that to merge management and life lessons in an unforgettable way. Thank you Professor Trugman for your many years of service and experience that you were always happy to pass on to others. You will be greatly missed and will be forever in our hearts. May you Rest in Peace.

Shamima Akhter – Class of 2015
Board Member Elect – Business and Economics Alumni


Thu, 04 Jun 2020 12:40:33 -0400 Colin Powell School
Uncovering the History of an African American Settlement in Central Park

Outside of his work as an academic advisor at the Colin Powell School, Herbert Seignoret is helping preserve the history of New York City’s first settlement of African-American property owners. An alumnus of the Colin Powell School’s Anthropology program, Seignoret is the Associate Director of the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History and previously served on the advisory board of the Seneca Village Project.

Can you share something about your background?

I came to the United States from the Caribbean island of Dominica to study architecture in 1989. After taking elective courses in urban anthropology and historical archaeology, I switched to anthropology. These courses gave me a new optic to observe, analyze, and understand the world in a holistic way. My lifelong interest in the historical past was piqued with the rediscovery of the African Burial ground in 1991. At the time, I was learning about the potential for historical archaeology to give a voice to communities misrepresented in the historical record. I was frustrated by the attitude of the General Service Administration towards the descendant community. I was also concerned about the death of minority archaeologists initially involved in that project.

What brought you to City College?

I got to know about CCNY and its architecture program when a group of CCNY study abroad students visited my college in Dominica.

Tell us about your experience at CCNY.

I have worked for more than twenty years at CCNY. I was a program coordinator for two teacher education programs. I served as a teacher’s assistant on archeological field schools and introductory anthropology classes at CCNY. I was recently appointed as an Academic Advisor within the Colin Powell School. Throughout, I have been committed to access and inclusion in education. During this time, I served as an advisor for a number of student clubs. For example, the cricket club, the Caribbean Students Association CSA, and Helping Hands.

What made you want to become an advisor for the Colin Powell School, what do you enjoy most about it?

Working closely with students to reach their maximum potential is a rewarding experience that exceeds monetary value. We see a wide range of students from an amazing array of backgrounds. Helping them navigate the maze and obstacles is satisfying. There are several opportunities and services that they are not aware of. We try to prepare them for these opportunities, be it study abroad, fellowships, scholarships, internships, and mentorship with our amazing faculty. There are also instances when students need the services of the Wellness Center or Academic Standards because they may be going through a rough patch. Seeing them succeed is satisfying.

What can you tell us about the Seneca Village project and what it means to the history of New York City and its residents?

I am the Associate Director of the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History. I have worked with this project for more than twenty years. Seneca Village was an African American and Irish immigrant community located in the area that became Central Park. Through the project, I have observed the power of historical archaeology to illuminate counter narratives and to reveal how communities are shaped by political forces, both historically and in the present. I give lectures on Seneca Village using primary source materials, to encourage a community of learners among students and the public, actively examining and challenging historical misconceptions and representations of minority communities.
How did you get involved with the Seneca Village project, and what does the future hold for it?

I got involved with the Seneca Village as an undergraduate student at CCNY working with Professor Diana Wall. She was the only historical archaeologist in the CUNY system in those days. The story of the Seneca Village project begins in 1992, with the publication of Roy Rosenzweig and Elizabeth Blackmar’s The Park and the People: A History of Central Park. They devoted a chapter in the book to describing the area that was to become the park before it was created, and they featured Seneca Village in this chapter. They brought the village back into modern memory and inspired the Seneca Village project.
In 1995, educator Cynthia Copeland, then of the New-York Historical Society, began to use Seneca Village in programming for middle- and high-school teachers to provide a case study for using primary historical sources in the classroom (Martin 1995). Copeland had worked at the African Burial Ground’s Public Education and Information Center before coming to the Society and was well aware of the power of archaeological study in attracting under-represented minorities to the study of history. Soon thereafter, she and Grady Turner began to curate an exhibit—Before Central Park: The Life and Death of Seneca Village—about the village at the Society.
In 1996, I attended a workshop on researching the village led by Copeland at the New York Historical Society. Diana Wall had first heard about the village in 1993, when she read an interview with Blackmar where it was discussed. She was enthralled by the story of the village. She had just begun teaching at the City College of New York and thought the archaeological investigation of the village could be a wonderful project for incorporating undergraduates into archaeological research. She was also interested in exploring the archaeology of the African-American experience in New York City, her area of research. She contacted the Central Park Conservancy in 1993, but at that time they were not interested in having an archeological study in Central Park, so Wall put the project on hold. Later, some of Wall’s students at City College worked with Copeland as interns on the exhibit. The exhibit, on display from 1997 to 1998, was critically acclaimed (Haberman 1997; Martin 1997; Ramirez 1998). Wall and Copeland began to explore the possibilities of an archaeological project at the village.
In 1997, archaeologist Nan Rothschild of Barnard College joined the study; she and Wall had worked together on various archaeological projects over the years. So Copeland, Rothschild, Seignoret, and Wall organized the Seneca Village Project—now the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History, a 501(c)3 organization—in 1997 to bring the village into the mainstream of American history. The project includes three integrated components: research, education, and commemoration. Project members were actively involved in working towards the erection of a sign commemorating Seneca Village on the site in Central Park; the sign was dedicated in 2001. The Central Park Conservancy launched the Seneca Village signage project on October 23, 2019, after working with IESVH and Community Board 10.
Public Education has always been of critical importance for this project. We would like to have the research be part of the New York City educational curriculum. We would like the signage to be permanent and have walking tours that educate the public of this critical aspect of New York history.

Thank you so much, Herbert Seignoret, for taking the time to speak with us.

Tue, 18 Feb 2020 13:13:42 -0500 Colin Powell School
Our Students Will Bring Political Change: Dean Andrew Rich Participates in CCNY President Boudreau’s Podcast

Colin Powell School students are forward-thinking, engaged, and ready to guide our country out of troubled times. As students at CCNY, they find their voices and gain the skills, hands-on experience, and connections that will empower them as civic and global leaders.

These were central points made by Dean Andrew Rich as a recent guest on the podcast “From City to the World”, hosted by CCNY President Vince Boudreau.

Also on the show was Mohammed Alam, a former Colin Powell Fellow who is now Vice President of Young Democrats of America. During the course of the conversation, Rich, Boudreau, and Alam assessed the national political situation, the roots of the current deterioration of our political institutions, and the 2020 elections.

Listen to the show online or on your podcast platform of choice.


Tue, 04 Feb 2020 13:00:00 -0500 Colin Powell School
"I Help Them Create Their Own Stories" - Professor Hank Nguyen on Mentorship and Student Success

What brought you to City College and the Colin Powell School?

I decided to retire from 16 years of trading, portfolio management, and derivatives research. I thought I could try teaching. I reached out to Professor Kevin Foster and made a pitch to him that I could teach students to develop their second-level thinking. The whole idea of second-level thinking is to stop thinking of the obvious and instead think what average people don't think and see what average people don't see.

What current projects are you working on at the Colin Powell School?

In addition to teaching economics, I have created a small cohort of students who want to learn advanced topics in business or financial economics beyond the regular curriculum. I created independent study seminars for them to work with me, and I have also provided ongoing mentorship. The seminars have included Art Management, Real Estate Finance & Investment, Mergers & Acquisitions with Leveraged Buyout Modeling, Money & Banking, Lean Startup Strategies, and Corporate Strategy. 

Your students have been placed at very prestigious companies. What is your approach to mentorship, and how has your mentorship aided the students in obtaining these roles?

As a mentor, I don't tell them what to do. I never tell them how to become me, because they have not lived my life story. I help them create their own story. This is not a story about short-term achievements; it is about them asking themselves, where do I want to be and why and how will I get there? I show them how to seek their own true north through a heavy dose of self-awareness exercises. For example, students do their own SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats). I also try to push them out of their comfort zone. When they say, "I did my best," I tell them, "That's good but your best isn't my best." When every one of them got hired for a summer internship, I congratulated them, but I also told them, let's move on and think about where to go next and what we need to do to get to the next step. The principle is never to be complacent! 

Also, the mentorship process must be student-driven. I cannot be a good mentor if the students don't want help. So, the first step is to wait for the students to ask for help. Some students accept it very early on while some students continue to mentally fight back.  

Tell me about your students. How have they responded to your mentorship?

The students who have worked with me have been extremely hard-working and motivated. They take really hard classes with me because they want to be better. They are the ones who are in my office at least twice per week. They are the students who study in my office until 2:00 AM. My office is not really my office. At times, my office has eight students in it. It is for them to use to better themselves by interacting with others in the cohort who have similar ambitions, mindsets, and grit. They all accept one fundamental life purpose I install in them; to be better today than yesterday.  

What can the Colin Powell School do to help your efforts? 

Help get the students in a mentoring program earlier in their academic careers. Mentorship is a crucial component of personal development, and it must start early. It is not a short-term investment but a long journey. You mentioned my ‘recent’ cohort, but they aren't recent; I have been investing significant time and effort into mentoring them.  

Thank you very much for all of your excellent work with the students and for interviewing with us today. 

Wed, 05 Jun 2019 13:00:00 -0400 Colin Powell School
The Colin Powell School Welcomes NYC State Commissioner Howard Zucker as Commencement Speaker
Howard Zucker

As the state's chief physician, Dr. Zucker leads initiatives to combat the opioids crisis, strengthen environmental health and end the AIDS epidemic in New York. Since his arrival at the helm of the NYS Department of Health, he has established a network of hospitals equipped to treat Ebola, implemented programs to address the threat of Zika and spearheaded efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Dr. Zucker oversaw the launch of the state's medical marijuana program and continues to update the program to accommodate evolving needs. He also developed numerous campaigns to address major public health issues, including lead contamination, legionella and breast cancer screenings. His extensive review of scientific literature led the state to reject hydrofracking in its borders.

 As Commissioner, Dr. Zucker presides over the state's Medicaid program, the New York State Public Health and Health Planning Council, and the Wadsworth Center, New York's premier public health lab. He also oversees the entire health care workforce, as well as health care facilities, including hospitals, long-term care and nursing homes.

In his previous role as first deputy commissioner, Dr. Zucker worked on the state Department of Health's preparedness and response initiatives in natural disasters and emergencies. He collaborated closely with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and other health-related entities in the city.

A native of the Bronx, Dr. Zucker earned his M.D. from George Washington University School of Medicine at age 22, becoming one of America's youngest doctors. He is board-certified in six specialties/subspecialties and trained in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital, anesthesiology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, pediatric critical care medicine/pediatric anesthesiology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and pediatric cardiology at Children's Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School.

Before joining the state Department of Health in September 2013, Dr. Zucker was a professor of clinical anesthesiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. He was an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law School, where he taught biosecurity law.

His vast experience in public policy began as a White House Fellow under then-Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. Subsequently he became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health where he developed the nation's Medical Reserve Corps, which today is run by the U.S. Surgeon General and includes more than 200,000 volunteers across nearly 1000 programs. He also worked on the development of the initial SARS preparedness plan, the anthrax crisis, and the National Institutes of Health autism summit, and led a multidisciplinary team on the issue of tissue engineering/regenerative medicine. Dr. Zucker advanced his public policy experience while serving as an Institute of Politics Resident Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and later as a Presidential Leadership Scholar.

Dr. Zucker is recognized internationally for his work to advance global health. As senior advisor in the Division of Global Health and Human Rights at Massachusetts General Hospital, he leads a team of experts in developing a community peace index, a research initiative aimed at identifying the effectiveness of peace intervention programs in countries impacted by war, political strife and economic instability.

Previously, he served as Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) in charge of the Health Technology & Pharmaceuticals cluster. In this capacity, Dr. Zucker was the highest ranked American at the WHO and spearheaded efforts to globally combat counterfeit medicines as well as address the interface between intellectual property rights, innovation and public health. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Council for Emerging National Security Affairs, and was a "high-level expert" on public health for NATO.

While working on a public-private partnership with an educational technology company, he developed The Afghan Family Health Book, a health literacy project that has educated millions of women in Afghanistan. Dr. Zucker has traveled to China and Haiti on medical missions and spoken extensively throughout the United States on national health policy issues as well as internationally on global health challenges.

Dr. Zucker served as associate professor of clinical pediatrics and anesthesiology at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and pediatric director of the ICU at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he launched the restructuring of the critical care complex both from a clinical care delivery standpoint as well as the physical environment. He has held academic appointments at Yale University School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, and as a research affiliate in the Center for Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Zucker received his B.S. degree from McGill University. As a student at McGill, he helped design zero-gravity medical experiments that ultimately were conducted aboard several Space Shuttle missions. Today, he serves on the Board of Directors of the nongovernmental organization that oversees the U.S. National Lab on the International Space Station.

Dr. Zucker holds a J.D. from Fordham University Law School, a LL.M. from Columbia Law School and a postgraduate diploma from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He holds an honorary Doctor of Science from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. A former ABC World News' Person of the Week and Columbia University Pediatrics Teacher of the Year, Dr. Zucker has been listed in Best Doctors in America as well as Who's Who in the World. He is a member of the medical honor society, Alpha Omega Alpha, and the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tue, 14 May 2019 15:04:25 -0400 Colin Powell School
Recovering Lost Heritage: From Gentrification in Harlem to Civil War in Liberia
Matthew Reilly

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Matthew Reilly was recently awarded a grant through the National Geographic Society to support his research in Liberia, where he is completing unprecedented excavations that bring to light little-known nuances of settler-native relations. We had the chance to sit down with Professor Reilly and learn more about his work in Liberia and in Harlem with CCNY students. 

Tell us more about how your collaborative project in Liberia came about.

The project stemmed from my original research on the Caribbean island of Barbados about a group referred to as poor whites or the Redlegs of Barbados, who were the first European indentured servants and small farmers who lived kind of on the margins of sugar plantations once the English got more involved in the transatlantic slave trade. During the course of my research, I met a historian, Dr. Caree Banton, currently at the University of Arkansas, who did her research on one ship of Barbadians who sailed for Liberia in 1865 one generation after slavery officially ended in Barbados. This group was a bit of an anomaly. Most of the settlers to Liberia were either formerly enslaved people who came from the American South or were free people of color from the American North. The Barbadians would arrive several decades after the initial settlers of the 1820s and settle the village of Crozierville in 1865. Crozierville is named after one of the members in the American Colonization Society who provided some of the funding to sponsor this trip. Dr. Benton mentioned that this community was still there, and we decided that this could be a potential project to pursue archaeologically in terms of thinking about heritage in post-conflict Liberia. 

I have now taken two initial trips and built some collaborative efforts with local institutions and individuals. This funding through National Geographic will allow me to work with official collaborators and students who are being funded to make this trip to Liberia  and to fund initiatives at the National Museum of Liberia and build partnerships with universities. One of our project collaborators is the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Cuttington University, Dr. Patrick Burrowes, which brings up another important point about this being really a collaborative effort where we're going to have specialists in history, archaeology, and local Liberian history and heritage both internationally and locally to kind of build something that's truly interdisciplinary from the very beginning. 

It sounds like your work could be groundbreaking.

Yes! There hasn't been any official archaeology in the country of Liberia since well before the Civil War and the 1980 coup. We’re almost starting from scratch. Part of the idea is to help the National Museum build their collections and get funds to get back on their feet after a truly devastating civil war.  It’s really exciting and also kind of nerve-wracking. You have your work cut out for yourself when you're building from scratch, but the good thing is there are so many passionate and dedicated people in Liberia that I'm able to work with. Rather than American academics coming in to help or determine what Liberian heritage should look like, this is really a collaborative effort where we're all working together towards common goals that are established in conversation with one another.

What is the relationship between settlers from Barbados and Liberia, and how will your study discover more about that relationship?

It's really complicated,  partially because most of Liberia’s historical record is written by either foreigners who are visiting Liberia or coming from  a settler background  - people that came from the United States or places like Barbados in the 19th century to colonize Liberia and establish it as an independent nation, which happened in 1847.  These accounts frame Liberian history as a conflict between the settlers and native Liberians,  leading up to the coup in 1980 and eventually the Civil War in 1989.

But local historians and anthropologists are starting to unpack the fact that that separation of settler and native isn't as straightforward or as well-defined as previously believed. We hope to use archaeology to uncover material evidence for a more complex understanding of settler-native relationships. The archaeological record - little things like ceramics, glass bottles, tobacco pipes, or seeds - can tell us a lot about how settlers were living their daily lives and interacting with native Liberians.  For example, were Barbadian settlers consuming locally made ceramics and pots to cook in, adopting local recipes that will then make their way into the kitchens of settler homes?  Revealing such interactions will help to break down some boundaries so we can add more complex dimensions to Liberian heritage, beyond the settler-native divide. We think that will be a powerful tool in thinking about heritage in a post-conflict situation. 

What were your expectations going into this project, and what are your desired outcomes?

One of the goals is really just some basic documentation. While there have been photographers who went throughout different settler communities in the 1970s and 1980s, not much has been done to systematically understand the remains of this architecture since the civil war. Our work is unique because it is getting in at the ground level doing this basic documentation work that has not been done. A lot of these homes that were built by settler families in different states of ruin due to either the passage of time and natural decay or through destruction during the civil war. We'll be using drone technology to film some of these actual communities to actually show what houses look like now in terms of their state of decay or refurbishment, just to get a sense of where things stand. 

These are very important sites, not just for Liberians, but for the broader history of the Back-to-Africa movement. While neighboring Ghana has a lively heritage tourism industry, tourism is in its infancy in Liberia. Perhaps by highlighting some of the important architecture that we find, this can be used as a marketing device to attract visitors to Liberia to see  an alternative history to what you might see at forts for the slave trade in places like Ghana.

So, the hope is that more people will go not just for traditional tourism but to learn more about Liberia’s heritage and history?

Absolutely.  It's something that needs to be decided internally within government agencies and by local communities in Liberia. It’s not something that I can comment on directly, but hopefully, the evidence that we find archaeologically can serve to help discussions about how to build a sustainable and locally-defined heritage base that can lead to tourism marketed towards foreign and Liberian visitors. Heritage sites can help bring foreign visitors and foreign capital, but this needs to be done carefully to ensure sustainability and input from the community members most affected. 

What do you hope to bring back to the Colin Powell School and to the broader City College community?

One thing I can do is get students involved in my research. Last summer, I brought five City College students to Barbados to undertake excavations at a former sugar plantation. Based on my connections there, students had an already-existing infrastructure where we can engage with the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Barbadian students, and other local collaborators. What makes this work particularly exciting is that so many of our students are coming from Caribbean backgrounds, but many haven't directly connected to that side of their past. This is, therefore, a great opportunity for Colin Powell students to physically engage with the landscape of the Caribbean, to learn more about its history, and to connect to its current situation economically, socially, and politically. 

I can also teach topics that directly relate to students and their history and heritage. Last spring I taught a class called the Archaeology of Race and Slavery where we used the debates about monuments around the country to springboard into conversations about how the past is represented in the present. I think for a lot of students who may not have been introduced to this history, it was a way for them to think more critically about their own family history and the landscape around them. While we may think of Barbados and New York as being totally separate, in terms of geography, history, or otherwise, there are so many tangible links between these places that should be acknowledged. Harlem is directly part of that history and can continue to be part of that heritage as we move forward. 

I also hope to build a project here in New York City to involve students in, as did my predecessor Professor Diane Wall, who recently retired. To put it mildly, I have really big shoes to fill. Professor Wall is a huge figure in historical archeology. For years she was involved in excavations just down the road at Seneca Village, in what is now Central Park. Seneca Village had been a predominantly African-American middle-class community whose residents were eventually evicted as a result of eminent domain when the city was building Central Park. For years, students were involved in excavations here in the city. 

I know a lot of individuals here who are distant settlers from these neighboring islands, so this is very interesting work.

That's what is most exciting for me. Prior to being here at City College, I did my Ph.D. work at Syracuse University and held a postdoc at Brown University. While these experiences were excellent in terms of their support and my intellectual growth, I'm now particularly excited to be working with such a diverse group of students in ways that you don't usually get at other institutions around this country. Colin Powell School and City College are special, unique places.

What additional projects would you like to complete at the Colin Powell School in the coming years? 

I would like to contribute to how Harlem sees itself in terms of its heritage and identity in the face of gentrification. In the fall I teach an introductory class in archaeology, which typically has between 80 and 100 students. Last semester, I had students work in groups of 2 to go out to preassigned areas of Central Harlem and take pictures of every single building. What this means is that after this course is taught multiple years in a row, we're soon going to have a database of every building in Central Harlem that can provide a visual record of landscape change. We know that Harlem is undergoing extensive change politically, socially, and materially, and one might be able to see episodes of gentrification happening in real time. Perhaps we're seeing decay in other areas of the city. And we can actually see change, which is what we want to do as archaeologists. So it's part of archaeological methods and interpretation, but the goal is also to be part of ongoing conversations about how Harlem's heritage and history are locally remembered and promoted. We can also help identify sites that are of heritage significance for community members, which can protect those sites from development. 

I can relate to this because I've been in New York for six years now and have seen the changes in Harlem since I got here.

116th Street has changed dramatically in the last few years, and it’s possible that the next area where a similar process could unfold is 135th Street. Shawn Rickenbacker, in the School of Architecture, is actively working these issues of change and urban development in a project called 135th Street River 2 River. I think the project that we're beginning here can complement that project and work in concert with it to think critically not just about the present and future of 135th Street, but it's past as well, and how the past will continue to play a role in Harlem's future in years to come.

In my introductory class, I ask my student to show much time they spend in the surrounding Harlem community. Most commute in for classes and leave shortly thereafter. While this is certainly understandable, this project is an opportunity for our students to see a side of Harlem that they may not have already seen; to engage with local businesses, to try restaurants that they wouldn't normally have an opportunity to try, to become more active and physically present in the community around us.

Thank you for your time and for all the work you are doing in Harlem and around the world.

Tue, 30 Apr 2019 13:00:00 -0400 Colin Powell School
Economics Professor Matthew Nagler Gets His Chance to Tell Them What They Don't Know on Freakonomics Live!

If you had to answer the question, “Do you think that people are generally honest?” how would you answer or better yet, once answered, how would you measure this and what do you think the findings of your research would showcase?

This is what Colin Powell School Economics Professor Matthew Nagler set out to answer through data research and fact-finding in 2013 about social capital and how it has a direct effect of fatalities. His findings lead to the Freakonomics live show, “Tell me something I don’t know” where he presented on a stage in front of 500+ individuals that when social capital is greater, fatalities are lower, suggesting that social capital makes the roads safer. 

We had a chance to speak with Professor Nagler about his experience on the show. 

What was the process like for applying for this type of opportunity?

The initial inquiry came to me through a referral from then-Dean (now Associate Dean) Kevin Foster, back in September. I provided a quick description of some research I had done that I thought would make a surprising and interesting presentation to the layperson audience of the show. I then discussed it with one of the show’s producers Alvin Melathe, who said he thought it sounded promising and would get me on the show during the fall. There was a shuffle in terms of scheduling, and my piece was cut from the fall show I’d originally been scheduled for, though Alvin told me I would be on a future show. Sure enough, I heard from a different producer, Zack LIpinski, in February about doing the show in March. From there, it pretty much came together. I was asked to put together a question that would ask Stephen Dubner - kind of a puzzle - to which the answer would be a lead-in to my research presentation.

His question was: Cars have all kinds of great safety features these days: from anti-lock brakes and airbags to cars being able to brake automatically, if they sense a road hazard that the driver does not see. Now, what do you suppose we could do to improve road safety significantly that has nothing to do with the mechanics of the car, or the skill of the driver? Answer: Get people to trust one another...

Could you give a brief overview of the information/data/results that were derived from the 2013 article in Economic Inquiry, “Does Social Capital Promote Safety on the Roads?” and how that prompted you to come to the fact you presented?

In my 2013 article, I discuss an econometric study I conducted involving data from 48 US states over 10 years. I had data on traffic fatalities in each state in each year, and also data on several measures of social capital - mainly the extent to which people trust one another, as measured by asking people “Do you think that people are generally honest?”; but it is also sometimes measured in terms of measures of civic engagement - how often people go to church, how often they volunteer for charities, how often they work in community organizations, % of voter turnout locally, etc. Controlling statistically for a number of other factors that also affect traffic fatalities, I showed that when social capital is greater, fatalities are lower (that is, social capital makes the roads safer). The result holds up using various alternative measures of social capital, and it also holds up with respect to a number of different measures of road safety (# of accidents, serious injuries in accidents, and pedestrian fatalities - in addition of course to total traffic fatalities).

What was your overall experience like on the show?

The experience was lots of fun! I showed up before the show and immediately was introduced to the other 5 guests - three were academics (a psychologist, a mechanical engineer, and another economist), but two were non-academic “bigwigs”: Andy Byford, who is CEO of the NYC Transit Authority; and Polly Trottenberg, who is the Commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation. One of the best parts of the evening was chatting with the other guests. Polly Trottenberg grilled me a bit on my research and critiqued a few things which, in her view from the practical side, were lacking in my study. It was quite enlightening. Anyway, I was the first of the six guests to take the stage. I thought that being on stage in front of a full house at the City Winery (~500 people I was told) would be nerve-wracking, but I found once I was standing in front of the microphone with the lights on me I got into a kind of “zone.” My wife, who attended with me, told me later that I had been up there for a long time - longer than any of the other academic guests - but I had no awareness of that.

What was the outcome of the show? 

The show is billed as a sort of a game show - the “contestants” (of which I was one) presents their “facts” and then the audience decides which was the most surprising. I think they mainly do that as a conceit to make the show more exciting. Anyway, I didn’t win… that honor was shared by Andy Byford and Dr. Petra Moser of NYU who actually tied in the vote for most surprising presentation. Petra did have a really awesome “fact”: that Napoleon’s conquests were responsible to the success of Italian opera during the 1800s because Napoleon introduced copyright protection in the places he conquered! As for Andy, I think the audience were just enthralled to hear anything that had to do with the subways, which everyone rides!

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us!

Fri, 15 Mar 2019 13:00:00 -0400 Colin Powell School
Political Science Professor Rajan Menon Discusses the Opioid Crisis in America

In a recent piece for The Nation, Political Science Professor Rajan Menon discusses the steady worsening of the opioid crisis in America. “Since 1999, 400,000 Americans have died from overdoses of opioids, including pain medications obtained legally through prescriptions or illegally, as well as from heroin. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that prescription medications were involved in 218,000 of those fatalities.” Menon discusses the politics of the opioid crisis as well as its causes. Read the full article here. 

Fri, 01 Feb 2019 13:00:00 -0500 Colin Powell School
Andrew Rich Named Dean of CCNY's Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Andrew Rich, CEO of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and visiting professor at The City College of New York, is named the Dean of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and Professor of Political Science.

“The Colin Powell School has a distinctive mission—to promote and support leadership development and a service ethic among the students working towards degrees in the social sciences,” said City College President Vince Boudreau.

“Andy Rich spent his entire career thinking about service promotion among young people; as the deputy director of the Colin Powell Center, he introduced and championed our service-learning program. After he left CCNY, he built service programs into the Roosevelt Institute and then assumed the leadership of America’s premier national service fellowship.  Given this background and these commitments, I’m confident that Andy is the right person to guide the Colin Powell School into its new era.”

Read the full press release. 

Thu, 31 Jan 2019 13:00:00 -0500 Colin Powell School