9/11 Changed John Jay

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, undoubtedly changed our country and city forever. Together we mourned the 2,997 victims, cried for their families, and in the aftermath, wondered how this could happen. But for John Jay College, the loss of 67 students and alumni made a lasting impact on the College’s community, mission of justice, curriculum and scholarship.

In the summer of 2001, John Jay offered upwards of 500 New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers an inaugural two-semester certificate course in leadership training. Initially everything was going well, but by mid-September only three students were attending classes. The rest of the students were working on search and rescue efforts at the World Trade Center (WTC) site or Ground Zero. At the time, approximately, 1,000 of John Jay’s 11,000 students were police officers, another 1,000 worked in uniformed services, including corrections and emergency medical services, and others were firefighters. Resuming classes on September 13, the College provided additional counseling for students, faculty and staff.

As students slowly made their way back into the classroom, it was clear the impact the attacks had on them. Many were traumatized themselves; some first responders sought supportive services, and law enforcement hopefuls became uncertain about their chosen career path.

In the following months, professors at John Jay joined the victims’ family members and others in a call for Congressional hearings into the WTC disaster, identifying the need for a federal building disaster investigation. In October of 2002, President George W. Bush signed the National Construction Safety Team Act which gives the National Institute of Standards and Technology the authority to investigate significant building disasters and more importantly, prepare recommendations for improvements to building codes and protocols of emergency response.

Additionally, John Jay faculty created a counterterrorism class and later established it’s Center on Terrorism, the only university-based entity devoted to terrorism research and education in New York City. The Center is also linked to the College’s Advanced Certificate in Terrorism Studies, a graduate-level program for those seeking to better understand terrorism and counter-terrorism. John Jay also launched the Dispute Resolution Center with two initiatives to facilitate information exchange, increase awareness, and advance discussion about the role and importance of dispute and conflict resolution, mediation, arbitration, peacemaking, collaborative problem-solving, restorative justice, violence prevention and related fields, through convenings and digital communications.

Following 9/11, several scholarships were established by multiple donors to honor the memory of our lost alumni and community members for students to excel academically and professionally. Over the years, many scholarship recipients have carried on the legacy of the fallen, devoting their work for civil society.

Working with then-Senator Hillary Clinton, John Jay administrators, professors, and family member Sally Regenhard secured federal funding to create the Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies (RaCERS) at John Jay College in September 2008. The applied-practice Center is named after Sally’s son, Christian Regenhard, a probationary firefighter who was killed on 9/11.

In 2013, the College began its annual tradition of planting 2,977 flags on the Jay Walk, each one symbolizing a life lost on 9/11. Of these, 67 are John Jay flags, one for each of the College’s fallen heroes. Additionally, John Jay hosts its annual tribute ceremony, an initiative that began in 2013, recalling the service, reflecting on the day, and reaffirming the College’s commitment to each other. John Jay is also home to a steel beam from one of the Twin Towers which sits at the college’s Memorial Hall (Read ‘About the Sculpture’ below). On the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the College dedicated a plaque in tribute to our students, alumni and faculty who fell ill or succumbed to illness as a result of their unselfish response efforts in the days and months following 9/11. In 2017, John Jay proudly dedicated an art exhibition in Memorial Hall, created by the Society of Illustrators with support from the NYPD, to visually tell some untold stories of the heroes from 9/11. In 2021, for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, John Jay featured a special project where alumni, family members of first responders and public officials shared in-depth testimonials and stories about their experiences on and in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. These profiles appear on this website. In 2023, John Jay initiated the first-of-its-kind Bone Marrow all-day Drive in the University dedicated to helping those suffering from blood cancer as this disease is recognized as a 9/11-related illnesses.

The events on 9/11 will forever be engrained in the fabric of John Jay’s fight for justice. Sixty-seven community members were lost that day, and many have succumbed to illnesses in the years since. Their memories serve as a reminder to advocate for justice, the common good, fairness and respect.

Learn More: The Day That Changed a College and World Changed at Manhattan’s John Jay College

About Sculpture

Working with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, John Jay College of Criminal Justice was honored to receive the N-4 steel beam that until September 11, 2001 supported one of the towers of the World Trade Center. The twisted beam, 3.5'H X 8.3'L X 5'W with a thickness of .25", was preserved and stored in Hanger 17 at John F. Kennedy International Airport after that painful morning. It is the centerpiece of John Jay’s 9/11 Memorial Sculpture. The names of 67 of the fallen from John Jay are etched on the granite lunation, or outer pathway, which was designed by Skidmore Owing and Merrill Architects. The inscription reads “Dedicated in Memory of those from the John Jay College Community Who Lost Their Lives on September 11, 2001.” 

The John Jay community extends gratitude to those who contributed to the production and placement of our sculpture in Memorial Hall: 

  • Robert Pignatello, former Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Finance and Administration, John Jay
  • Christopher Trucillo, Chief of Police, NJ Transit, former Security Chief at the Port Authority and Public Safety Director, John Jay 
  • Ynes Leon, former Director Office of Space Planning and Capital Projects, John Jay 
  • Janet Rubel, former Executive Associate to SVP Robert Pignatello City University of New York, Facilities Planning Construction and Management Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Skidmore Owing and Merrill Architects


9/11 Articles

Alumni and Staff Stories

Behind the Badge: How 9/11 Led John Jay Students to a Career in the Force

9/11’s Impact on CUNY





A Mixed Methods Examination of Law Enforcement Investigatory Strategies Used in Jihadi and Far-Right Foiled Terrorist Plots Before and After 9/11 by Josh Freilich (Criminal Justice)

  • Citation: Josh Freilich: Klein, B.R., * J. Gruenewald, S.M. Chermak & J.D. Freilich. 2019. A mixed methods examination of law enforcement investigatory strategies used in jihadi and far-right foiled terrorist plots before and after 9/11. Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice and Criminology 7(2): 29-58.

Are We Ready? Public Health Since 9/11 by David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz (History)

  • Citation: David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, Are We Ready? Public Health since 9/11 (University of California Press, Milbank Memorial Fund, 2006)

Homeland Security, An Introduction to Principles and Practices by Charles Nemeth (Security, Fire, and Emergency Management)

  • Citation: Homeland Security: Introduction to Principles and Practice, 4th edition (New York: CRC Press, 2018).

The Informant, Islam & Muslims in New York City by Ibrahim Bechrouri (Sociology)

  • Citation: Bechrouri, Ibrahim. 2018. “The Informant, Islam & Muslims in New York City.” Surveillance & Society 16 (4): 459-472.

New York After 9/11 by Susan Opotow (Sociology), co-edited by Zachary Baron Shemtob (JJC Criminal Justice PhD). Chapters from John Jay College faculty Norman Groner and Charles Jennings, both Security, Fire, and Emergency Management Faculty.

  • Citation: Opotow, S., & Shemtob, Z.B. (Eds.) (2018). New York After 9/11. New York: Empire State Editions, an imprint of Fordham University Press, 2018.

The Number of Missing by Adam Berlin (English)

  • Citation: The Number of Missing (Adam Berlin, 2013) A novel about the aftermath of 9/11 in NYC.

Reality  by Sara Whitestone (English)
Redefining Humane Treatment After 9/11 by George Andreopoulos (Political Science)

  • Citation: George Andreopoulos: Redefining Humane Treatment after 9/11,' Global-E, vol. 12(6), 2019; 21st Century Global Dynamics, University of California at Santa Barbara

Remembering What Matters by Gina Rae Foster (Teaching and Learning Center)
The Silver Lining of September 11: NYC-Dispute Resolution Roundtable Breakfasts at John Jay College by Maria Volpe (Sociology)

  • Citation: Volpe, Maria, 2016, “The Silver Lining of September 11: NYC-Dispute Resolution Roundtable Breakfasts at John Jay College.” The John Jay Sociology Dept. Sociology Newsletter Fall 2016 issue.

Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses by Charles Strozier (History)

  • Citation: Strozier, C. (2011). Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses. New York: Columbia University Press. doi:10.7312/stro15898

John Jay has established a variety of initiatives, programs, research centers, scholarships and more that honor the nobility of the victims’ sacrifice in positive, constructive and long-lasting ways. 

These initiatives, some of which are described below, as well as others, attract many of the world’s leading scholars, practitioners and outstanding students. The memorial and the College’s programs speak to our unique mission of “educating for justice,” and will serve as a continuing call to action. 

Christian Regenhard Center
The Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies (RaCERS) is a unique applied research center focused on bridging the gap between theory and practice in emergency response and homeland security. RaCERS provides an integrated, comprehensive approach to the study of the emergency response to actual disasters as well as the identification and evaluation of emergency responder technology and equipment needs. 

Center on Terrorism
John Jay College of Criminal Justice lost 67 students and alumni in the World Trade Center disaster. That loss, and the increased interest in terrorism on the part of concerned citizens, prompted the College to create the Center on Terrorism in late 2001. The goals of the Center are to study terrorism conceptually in ways that are familiar and appropriate for a university and to identify the practical applications of that knowledge in the search for alternative forms of human security. Such a blend of scholarship and commitment is particularly relevant for John Jay College, the leading institution in the country in the field of criminal justice and public safety, and one of the few institutions to offer M.A. students a certificate in the critical study of terrorism. 

Advanced Certificate in Terrorism Studies
John Jay offers a stand-alone certificate at the post-baccalaureate level. A student may purse this certificate while studying for a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice. The program offers advanced instruction on the causes, dynamics and prevention of terrorist activities. 

Academy for Critical Incident Analysis
This institute promotes and disseminates research relating to the emergence, management and consequences of critical incidents. 

Dispute Resolution Center
After 9/11, the Center facilitated information exchange and discussion among diverse communities involving conflict resolution, peacemaking, facilitation, dialogue, restorative justice, violence prevention, social justice and related fields in the New York City metropolitan area. Monthly roundtable discussions with leading conflict resolution scholars and experts, the development of a listserve, campus conversations finding common ground with the Muslim community, exhibits, publications about dispute resolution in the Post-September 11th world and research projects have been pursued. 



Scholarships invest in talented young people to advance research, leadership and civic responsibility and compassion in our society. The academic work and accomplishments achieved by the student-recipients serve as a living legacy of the courage, resiliency and integrity demonstrated by those who were injured and lost on 9/11.

The Cheryl Williams Student Presentation Scholarship
In the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, Professor Cheryl Williams, a valued member of the John Jay Psychology Department, rushed to aid survivors and others as a grief counselor at Ground Zero. Comforting and counseling countless individuals, Professor Williams worked tirelessly in the midst of the chaos and debris without a mask or other form of protection. Tragically, Professor Williams developed an aggressive form of lung cancer that eventually claimed her life. She loved the undergraduate and graduate students of John Jay and created this fund to ensure that learning and professional development would be supported for their growth.

Justice Scholarship
This award was established in the Spring of 2002 by Princeton University to honor the memory of the public heroes of September 11th who received their academic training at John Jay College. Scholarships were awarded to entering freshmen who exemplified perseverance and dedication in pursuing a public service career and met other criteria. More than 70 undergraduate students benefited from this award.

Maria I. Ramirez Memorial Scholarship
Established by family members to honor the memory of John Jay alumna Maria Ramirez who was killed on 9/11, this scholarship is awarded to female students who work and attend school full-time pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Myself Third: Spirit of New York Scholarship
On January 17, 2002, Robert Friedman, a retired partner at Goldman Sachs, founding partner at Robeco-Sage Capital Management and an alumnus of the City University of New York (CUNY), established a scholarship for high school students bound for CUNY. The scholarship pays tribute to the altruism of rescue workers following the September 11th attacks, and serves as an inspiration for young people to model selflessness and civic engagement in their communities.

Linda M. Reynolds Terrorism Studies Scholarship
Formerly known as the Alumni Terrorism Studies Scholarship, the scholarship was established to honor the many John Jay alumni who perished on 9/11 and has been revitalized through the generosity of John Jay alumna, and retired Chief Deputy Sheriff in the New York City Sheriff’s Office, Linda M. Reynolds. Chief Reynolds participated in the response, rescue, and recovery operation at Ground Zero following the deadly terrorist attacks and vowed to do something about it. The scholarship supports a graduate student enrolled in the Advanced Certificate in Terrorism Studies program with the goal of helping to train future leaders to better understand terrorism and develop strategies and policies for countering and preventing it.


John Jay College of Criminal Justice
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