Dancing and Celebrating at Alumni Reunion
Hundreds of alumni from throughout John Jay’s proud 49-year history returned to their alma mater on April 9 for a festive annual reunion that featured a salute to the College’s “Founding Generation” and the first-ever after-party.
The reunion was in fact a full day of events that included a video presentation featuring Distinguished Professor Blanche Wiesen Cook and Jim McCann (BS ’75), founder of 1-800-Flowers and a trustee of the John Jay College Foundation. A discussion that paired faculty members with their former students followed. There were also building tours, career-advice sessions, and pre-dinner receptions.
Returning alumni were welcomed at the soaring, light-filled Lynn and Jules Kroll Atrium in the College’s new building, where many guests couldn’t help but note the stark contrast between the gleaming new facility and the place they knew as John Jay, whether at the Police Academy, 360 Park Avenue South, South Hall or North Hall. President Jeremy Travis told guests that John Jay has “become a true go-to location for New York City.”
At the dinner in the new student dining hall, the Alumni Association honored Distinguished Professor of History Gerald Markowitz with the 2013 Distinguished Faculty Award. Markowitz, author of the history of John Jay, Educating for Justice, was honored for more than four decades of teaching at John Jay and a distinguished record of scholarship. He paid tribute to his faculty and staff colleagues for having recognized “how important and thrilling it is to teach at a public university,” and said he continues to be “inspired year after year by how hard our students work.”
Thomas Belfiore (BS ’79, MA ’96), the winner of the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award, was saluted by New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano (BS ’76) as one of “the people who have served the city and kept us safe.” Belfiore enjoyed a successful 20-year career with the New York City Police Department before moving on to a variety of prominent private- and public-sector positions, including his current job as Deputy Chief Security Officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “If I were to be considered a success,” Belfiore told the audience, “it’s because I surrounded myself with people like you, and then chose to listen to you.”
An inaugural Outstanding Young Alumnus Award was presented to Dominick Cromartie (BA ‘00), who used his John Jay education as a springboard to Harvard Law School, where he earned a JD degree in 2003. Cromartie, who is currently a litigation associate at Davis & Gilbert LLP, told the reunion attendees: “We believed that we could achieve more, and make a greater contribution. I’ve noticed that current students share these same values as well.”
The Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship for 2014 was presented to Milton Pelotte, a Criminal Justice major who is on track to graduate in 2015. He hopes to follow his John Jay career with launching a nonprofit organization that will help youth from low-income families connect with career-building mentors.
On a picture-perfect spring evening, guests also got to enjoy the reunion after-party. The event was hosted by former John Jay student and now Latin music entrepreneur Johnny Marines, with guests DJ Camilo of Hot 97 radio and Tahiry Jose (BA ’02), star of VH1’s “Love and Hip-Hop.”
By the end of an evening filled with wall-to-wall music and dancing, the Twittersphere was abuzz with reunion-related messages. “Thanks for having us; such an honor.” Jose said in one of many post-event tweets. Marines added: “I want to thank President Jeremy Travis @JohnJayPresJT, for inviting me to host the very first Alumni Reunion after-party.”
Honoring John Jay Vets
Since its founding in 1964, as the nation lurched toward war in Vietnam, John Jay College has been home to countless veterans seeking to launch or advance post-military college educations and careers. On Thursday, May 2, John Jay will honor that service with a Salute to Veterans reception for alumni vets as well as current students who have served.
John Jay currently has more than 600 students who are military veterans, along with thousands of alumni, according to Welby Alcantara, who was recently appointed as Veterans Services Coordinator. “We’re hoping that the vets who have graduated will reach out with their time and their own stories of overcoming hardship to help those who are still in school and may be facing some of the same issues,” Alcantara said.
In what may be seen as a sign of the times, the John Jay Veterans Association currently has a female president, U.S. Navy veteran Carolina Vasquez, who is the first woman to head the student club.
John Jay’s longstanding relationship with veterans earned it two official stamps of approval last year, with the College being designated as a “military friendly school” by GI Jobs magazine, and being ranked among the Top 50 “Best for Vets” colleges by Military Times. The distinctions honor the colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans and spouses as students and insure their success on campus.
To learn more about the Salute to Veterans event, visit www.jjay.cuny.edu/salutevets, or call 212.621.3736.
In Service to City and Country
Alumnus Kevin V. Arias was a marine reservist and a full-time student at John Jay in 1990 when he was called up to active duty in November of that year, and subsequently deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Desert Storm. On March 3, 1991, while on patrol in Kuwait, he stepped on what he thought was a rock. It turned out to be a land mine.
Arias was luckier than most in such a situation. Although he sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs and was knocked unconscious, he did not lose a limb from the explosion. He was quickly medevaced to a fleet hospital in Saudi Arabia and subsequently to a rehabilitation facility in Germany. By the summer of 1992, Arias was back in the United States and had switched from serving his country to serving his city, as a member of the New York City Police Department.
“The hiring process for the NYPD was already in progress when I got called up,” said Arias, who is now in his 21st year on the job and working as a detective in Queens. He put in nine years with a Manhattan South narcotics squad, and another four working out of the Bronx District Attorney’s office. He is also certified as an NYPD hostage negotiator, and in that role won a commendation in 2012 for his part in a successful rescue.
As important, after his active-duty military service, Arias returned to finish his degree at John Jay, receiving his BA in Deviant Behavior and Social Control in 2001, and a master’s in public administration in 2009. His experience and aptitude caught the eye of Professor Maria Haberfeld in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration, who was instrumental in Arias being hired as an adjunct faculty member. He is currently teaching Police Science 227, Police Training Programs.
“John Jay has given me a lot, and I want to give something back,” said Arias. One of the things he got from John Jay, Arias quickly and proudly points out, was a wife. “I married my college sweetheart,” fellow graduate Gisel DePena Arias (BA, ’01, MA ’12), he said. “You could say it was one of the fringe benefits of a John Jay education.”
THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS BAILIFF is a John Jay alumnus! Read all about Petri Hawkins Byrd and his rise to daytime TV stardom, in the spring 2013 issue of Justice Matters, coming soon to your mailbox.
National Model UN Team Keeps Up Its Winning Ways
For the ninth consecutive year, a 17-member team from John Jay’s United Nations Student Association won multiple awards at the 2013 National Model United Nations (NMUN) Conference, including a Distinguished Delegation Award.
The team was led by Angelina Pienczykowski, an undergraduate majoring in International Criminal Justice, along with faculty adviser Professor Jacques Fomerand of the Department of Political Science.
Each year, delegations to the Model U.N. Conference represent a different member country of the United Nations, with John Jay this year representing Angola. The John Jay students served as delegates on nine Model U.N. committees, deliberating, negotiating, drafting and adopting resolutions and reports on a variety of international issues. The team won Outstanding Position Paper Awards for its work the International Atomic Energy Agency Committee, General Assembly Third Committee, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Committee, and Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations.
The conference was held March 17-21, although team preparations began in November 2012, with the students conducting extensive research on aspects of the national, regional and international policies of Angola.
More than 5,000 students from over 200 schools in 29 countries attend the NMUN Conference. The John Jay delegation at the 2013 conference included Pienczykowski, Alketa Korra, Ana Paredes, Denise Batista, Ekrem E. Emeksiz, Imtashal Tariq, James Williams, Jamila Khan, Jenny Chen, John Bae, Kehinde Kehinde, Mateo Garcia, Matthew Johnson, Sabrina Pestel, Scott Leisner, Taniya Dewan, Yumna Khan, Hernan Carvente, Katherine Azcona, Daniel Golebiewski and Popy Begum.
Middle States Commission on Campus
It happens every 10 years. It means continued federal financial aid and course transferability for students. It helps the College plan for the future while demonstrating to the public that John Jay is accomplishing its mission and achieving its goals.
It’s the culmination of the reaccreditation process by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and from April 21-24, a team of outside evaluators will visit the campus to determine whether the Self-Study Report prepared by the College is an accurate assessment of John Jay’s performance against 14 standards.
“Members of the College community, and particularly students, may be asking ‘What’s this got to do with me?’” said Associate Provost Jim Llana, who co-chaired the exhaustive reaccreditation self-study process. “And the answer is, a great deal, if you are interested in making John Jay the best it can be, and believe in a focus on student learning.”
Roughly 100 faculty, staff, administrators and students worked on six committees that produced working drafts to address the various standards. “Essentially, the standards concern planning and assessment in the broad context of our mission,” said Llana.
A student guide to the John Jay Self-Study, along with a short guide to the 14 reaccreditation standards, can be found on the College’s Web site.
The standards include Mission and Goals; Leadership and Governance; Assessment of Student Learning; Planning, Resource Allocation and Institutional Renewal; Integrity; Institutional Assessment; Student Admissions and Retention, and Student Support Services, among other focuses.
The reaccreditation team, led by Robert Bogomolny, President of the University of Baltimore, will engage in numerous scheduled meetings during the four-day visit to John Jay, but will also be allowing time for informal talks with a variety of College stakeholders — faculty, students and staff — to get firsthand perspectives on the situation described in the Self-Study. A team will present its conclusions at an exit meeting during the Community Hour on April 24, which will be open to the entire College community, Llana noted.
“The Self-Study is about all of us at John Jay,” said President Jeremy Travis, “and the strength of our reaccreditation effort depends upon wide participation across the College’s various constituencies.”
Llana observed that public institutions have to be especially concerned with the effectiveness of the education they offer, both in and out of the classroom. “We at John Jay embrace the reaccreditation review as one of the best opportunities we have to set the tone for continuous improvement,” he said.
Trustees in the News
Here in the media capital of the world, the John Jay Foundationís trustees continue to make news. Here are some recent write-ups:
Board chairman Jules Kroll was featured March 28 in an article on the Web site BloombergBusinessWeek.com, discussing recent hires by Kroll Bond Rating Agency Inc. To read the article, click here.
Trustee Jim McCann was the focus of an article published March 26 in Inc. — “Strategizing How to Grow Your Company? Ask 2 Questions First.” To read the full article, click here. click here.
Alan Siegel is co-author, with Irene Etzkorn, of “When Simplicity Is the Solution,” which was published in the March 29 Wall Street Journal. To read their column, click here.
Siegel and Etzkorn’s new book on which the column is based, Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, was reviewed April 8 in The New York Times. To read the review, click here.
Danielle M. Officer (Student Affairs) has been named as the Director of Student Life. Officer previously served as John Jay’s Director of Accessibility Services and, since July 2012, as the interim Director of Student Life. She earned her MPA from Baruch College in 2006, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in education, with a concentration in higher education administration, at Northeastern University.
Mindy Bockstein is the College’s new Executive Director for External Affairs. She was Assistant Commissioner of Policy Development for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and has previously served as Executive Director of the New York State Consumer Protection Board and as Director of Policy Research and Victim Advocate for the office of the New York State Attorney General.
Mayra Nieves has been named Special Advisor to the President. A member of the Executive Staff, she launched the highly successful Symposium Series that features the work of John Jay's faculty and is leading the exploration of new international programs in Latin America, India and Qatar, organizing portions of the Remembering Newtown initiative, and serving as liaison to external constituencies.
Kimora (Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration) spoke to therapists at the Addiction Institute of New York at St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital on March 15. Kimora spoke about the importance of treating addicted patients with cognitive skills education.
Joseph Giacalone (Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration) is the crime scene/investigative consultant for "The Killer Speaks," an original program on A&E TV that walks viewers through the 28-hour murder spree of Maksim Gelman in Brooklyn in February 2011. The show airs on April 17 at 10 PM.
Kwando M. Kinshasa (Africana Studies) was invited to chair a panel on Testimony and Personal Narratives in Literature and the Law at the 39th annual African Literature Association conference, held at the College of Charleston, SC, March 20-24. Kinshasa presented a paper on “The Hobo and the Poet: Clarence Norris and Langston Hughes, et al., and the 1930’s Scottsboro Case. On March 25, Kinshasa was the keynote speaker at the 82nd commemoration of the Scottsboro Boys rape case in 1931. Held at the Scottsboro Boys Museum in Scottsboro, AL, his presentation included a discussion on the ongoing efforts to have the Alabama Legislature and Governor exonerate all nine of the Scottsboro defendants, and the possible political and social repercussions this would have on the American judicial system.
Jodie Roure (Latin American and Latina/o Studies) organized and was a presenter on a panel on domestic violence and international human rights law and principles in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Diaspora, as part of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, held at UN headquarters in New York on March 7. Roure is conducting research on domestic violence in Puerto Rico during her sabbatical year as an unpaid scholar-in-residence at the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico School of Law.
The Printed Page
Norman A. Olch (Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration) is the co-author of the New York State chapter in the American Bar Association’s two-volume, 1,458-page Appellate Practice Compendium. He recently spoke at the New York State Bar Association’s continuing legal education program on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and at the New York County Lawyers Association on New York appellate law.
Kwando M. Kinshasa’s new book, The Scottsboro Boys in Their Own Words: Selected Letters, 1931-1950, will be published in July by Mcfarland & Co. This is an edited collection of letters written by nine African American defendants in the notorious 1931 Scottsboro, AL, rape case.
George Andreopoulos (Political Science/ Center for International Human Rights) has had his new edited volume, Policing Across Borders: Law Enforcement Networks and the Challenges of Crime Control, published by Springer. The book examines the current challenges confronting law enforcement agencies in the Balkans as they attempt to deal with two main transnational threats in that region: human trafficking and terrorism.
James Mulvaney (Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration) had his op-ed article "The NRA's Off-Target Plan" published in the Los Angeles Times on April 9. The commentary by Mulvaney, a Pulitzer prize-winning former journalist, examined the Nation Rifle Association-funded report that recommends putting armed guards or staff in every school.
Baz Dreisinger’s (English) article on South African reggae star Nkulee Dube, “In South Africa, A Reggae Legacy Lives On,” was published and broadcast on NPR’s Weekend Edition on March 29. Dreisinger is currently in Africa researching a forthcoming book on prisons.
Scott Atran’s (Sociology/Presidential Scholar) article “Social Warfare” was published March 15 in Foreign Policy magazine. Atran examines the impact that sequestration cuts will have on social science research, and concludes that budget hawks' plans to cut funding for political and social science aren't just short-sighted and simple-minded — they will actually hurt national security.
Michele Doney (Math & Science Resource Center) has been elected Secretary of the Association for the Tutoring Profession. At the association’s recent annual conference, Doney also gave two presentations: “Diversify Your Tutoring Staff with International Students” and “The MAP Program: A Targeted Intervention for Students Repeating a Course.”
Read a short story by Brady Harrison in the award-winning J Journal.