MARCH 2015

Till Debt Do Us Part:
John Jay Graduates Rank in Top 10 of Those with Least Student Debt

John Jay College has secured a place on a new U.S. News & World Report “short list” of the top 10 colleges where students graduate with the least debt. “On average, 68 percent of 2013 graduates borrowed to attend school,” according to the U.S. News, and the “average student loan debt was $27,666.” At John Jay, by contrast, only 20 percent of students borrowed money to attend college, and for those students the average student loan debt was $11,246.The vast majority of John Jay students graduate debt-free.

The U.S. News notes that this short list complements the magazine’s overall rankings as “a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas.” Brooklyn College was the only other City University of New York (CUNY) school to make the U.S. News short list.

“We are proud of the fact that John Jay has a national and global reputation for excellence and expertise in educating for justice, and that we are able to offer our distinctive academic programs at a highly affordable cost to our students,” said President Jeremy Travis. “Our students can graduate nearly debt-free and become successful in their careers right out of the starting gate, without spending years paying down their student loans.”

As part of the CUNY system, John Jay College has one of the lowest tuitions among public colleges and universities in the nation, starting at approximately $6,000 a year for in-state students. Affordability and access for all hardworking students who strive to complete their degrees at John Jay are essential aspects of the College’s core mission.

Click here to view the U.S. News report.

Federal Task Force on Policing Gets a John Jay Education

>The federal Task Force on 21st Century Policing, established by President Obama in the aftermath of several racially charged incidents of police killings of minority suspects, recently reaped the benefit of input from John Jay President Jeremy Travis and two key faculty members.

The task force was launched in December 2014 “to identify best practices and make recommendations to the President on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust and examine, among other issues, how to foster strong, collaborative relationships between local law enforcement and the communities they protect.”

On Feb. 24, Travis testified in Washington, D.C., at the task force’s final listening session on the Future of Community Policing. Travis focused on three themes for the panel’s attention: the role of higher education in advancing professional policing; the role of research in advancing effective policing; and the importance of legitimacy, procedural justice and racial reconciliation.

“The college I am privileged to lead. . .was created 50 years ago at a time much like the present, when the nation was asking profound questions about the role of the police,” Travis told the task force. “To advance the profession of policing, our government should invest in the education of police officers and police leaders.”

To read the president’s testimony, click here.

On February 13, at a listening session in Phoenix, Ariz., Professor Delores Jones-Brown of the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration was part of a panel on Community Policing and Crime Prevention Research. Her presentation, titled “Neighborhood Policing: A Safe, Respectful and Effective Community Policing Strategy,” is available here.

Professor David Kennedy of the Department of Criminal Justice, who also serves as Director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control, delivered testimony at the Feb. 13 session on Using Community Policing to Reduce Crime.  To view his remarks, click here.  

The information collected in these sessions will be used by the task force in developing recommendations that will be presented to President Obama in March 2015.

Dick Ward, Alumnus, Faculty Member, Administrator, Dead at 75

Richard H. Ward, a Founding Generation alumnus (B.S. ’67) who went on to become an administrator at John Jay and other institutions,  and was a respected, pioneering figure in criminal justice education and research, died Feb. 17 at his home in Bethany, Conn. He was 75.

Ward, whose criminal justice career began with the NYPD in 1961, earned his master’s and doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, before returning to the College in 1970 as a member of the faculty. He also served as Dean of Students and Vice President of John Jay. Before he left the College in 1977 to become Vice Chancellor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ward launched numerous innovative programs, including the Criminal Justice Center, John Jay Press and Law Enforcement News, the award-winning national newspaper for police. He later became Dean of the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University, and at the time of his death was Associate Vice President for Research and Special Programs at the University of New Haven. 

“Dick Ward will be remembered as one of the most important early leaders of John Jay College,” said President Jeremy Travis. “When the existence of the College was threatened in the mid-1970’s, Dick Ward was a member of the small team pulled together by President Gerald Lynch to devise the strategy to save John Jay. He was a wise advisor to many at the College, around the country, and indeed across the globe. He provided a vision of a criminal justice system informed by research and concern for the humanity of those who worked in the field, as well as those touched by the realities of crime. He believed in the power of education to change lives of individuals, and in the transformative role of institutions such as this one which first welcomed him as a student 50 years ago.” 

A former president of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Ward was an acknowledged leader in the development of the academic field of criminal justice in the United States. He also worked in more than 50 countries to help develop education and training curriculums for law enforcement. 

John Jay alumna Marie Simonetti Rosen (B.A. ’82) is one of the many individuals who called Ward a mentor, having served as his executive assistant before going on to become Publisher of Law Enforcement News. Rosen recalled: "Dick Ward had a profound influence on the lives of those who knew him. Everyone who worked for him or those he mentored benefited from the experience. His entrepreneurial spirit, his boundless energy, his jovial personality, his inherent ability to lead and his overwhelming commitment to law enforcement in the U.S. and abroad are borne out by many who followed in his footsteps. John Jay was indeed lucky to have had someone like him as a teacher, dean and vice president. He was one of kind."

Three-peat! 2013 Grad Wins White House Internship

For the third time in five years, a John Jay student — in this case, a 2013 graduate — has been accepted to the Presidential Internship Program. Taniya Dewan, who earned her B.A. in International Criminal Justice, began her assignment in the Office of Administration, Executive Office of the President, in February.

Dewan, a Queens, N.Y. native, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Global Relations with a concentration in security policy at New York University, while working as an analyst for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“This internship is a dream come true, a unique chance to obtain a deeper understanding of public service, gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills,” said Dewan. “My experiences at John Jay College are extremely significant and one of the major reasons for my accomplishments. The diverse culture and robust environment enabled me to transform my ideas into social action and leadership through my rigorous course work, research, internships, community service, and other learning experiences. For four years, John Jay had literally become my second home.”

As an undergraduate, Dewan immersed herself in a variety of academic and social activities, including the Pre Law Boot Camps, the Peer Ambassador program and the Desi Club, which promotes and shares the culture of the Indian subcontinent and South Asia.

Dewan acknowledged with gratitude the John Jay faculty and staff who served as her mentors. She cited Premwati Sukhan, Associate Director of the Center for Career and Professional Development, who helped her secure an internship with the U.S. Marshals Service, and helped her through the application process for the White House internship. 

She was a research assistant for the Center on International Human Rights, working with Professor George Andreopoulos, the center’s Director, and contributing to the center’s annual research report on civil and human rights issues. As a member of John Jay’s United Nations Student Association, she was part of the Model U.N. Team that won five awards at the 2013 National Model United Nations Conference, including the Distinguished Delegation Award. 

Dewan described as a “life-altering experience” her work with Professor Baz Dreisinger of the English Department on the Prison to College Pipeline Program, which provides college-level academic course work to inmates while also preparing them for reentry into society. She says that experience fostered her belief that education is an important tool for social change.

Looking ahead, Dewan envisions a career in the global intelligence field doing research and analysis. In addition, she is interested in addressing issues facing women the South Asian community who may face cultural and economic obstacles to pursuing their own aspirations. Her ultimate goal is to serve on the President’s National Security Council.

“This internship is a golden and enriching opportunity to serve at the world hub of international policy and governance,” said Dewan.

Students’ Research Prowess Takes Center Stage

Ten John Jay students, including three freshmen, enjoyed a rare opportunity to present research at a top-flight academic conference last month, when their poster presentations were accepted for display at the Eastern Sociological Society (ESS) conference in New York.

At the ESS conference, held Feb. 26 – March 1, John Jay students and faculty participated in a total of 26 sessions, including poster presentations, paper sessions, workshops, roundtables, mini-conferences and author-meets-critics sessions. In addition, President Jeremy Travis was a participant in a Presidential Session on “The Future of Mass Incarceration.”

“Our students had truly spectacular exhibits and research presentations at the 2015 ESS conference, and we are very proud of their accomplishments,” said Professor Henry Pontell, the newly appointed chair of the Sociology Department and Presidential Scholar. “Special thanks go to Professor Jay Pastrana and all the faculty advisors and mentors for giving our students this wonderful professional opportunity which will undoubtedly help advance their careers.”

The ESS gathering is the largest regional sociology conference in the country.
The participating students, including two recent graduates, had to submit an abstract of their research to compete for a spot at the conference. Upon acceptance, they worked with Pastrana on polishing their posters and presentation skills.

The three freshmen were members of First-Year Seminar sections taught by Professors Ric Curtis and Anthony Marcus. “This is unprecedented success for freshmen,” said Kate Szur, Senior Director of Student Academic Success Programs. “It shows the benefit of early research engagement, and is a testament to the research mentoring provided by the faculty.”

The student participants and their research topics were:

Brenda Ballena (B.A., Political Science). “Homelessness and the Feminization of Poverty.” Mentor: Pastrana.

Kelsey Barnett (freshman). “Love During First-Time Sex.” Mentor: Curtis.

Leslie Camargo and Scott Friebl (freshmen). “Gender Socialization and Body Modification.” Mentor: Curtis.

Sarah Corro (B.A., Criminology). “Assimilation in Multiracial Marriages.” Mentor: Pastrana.

Ayesha Hakim (junior). “A Borderless World: How Social media Is Dissolving International Borders, Creating World Citizens.” Mentor: Michael Rowan.

Rabia Javed (freshman). “Gender, Jobs and Careers in the Online Sex Industry.” Mentor: Curtis.

Gabriella Mungalsingh (junior). “Sex Work in Trinidad and Tobago: Factors Restricting Sex Workers’ Access to Healthcare.” Mentor: Rosemary Barberet.

Tsvetana Muntyan (sophomore). “LGBT Discrimination and Hate Crime in Russia: Results of the Federal Anti-LGBT Propaganda Law.” Mentor: David Green.

Lisa Thompson (senior, CUNY BA). “Critical Theory within Higher Education.” Mentor: Crystal Jackson.

Noted Sociologist Is Newest Presidential Scholar

John Jay College has added another academic heavyweight to its faculty, with the recent appointment of noted criminologist Henry N. Pontell as a Presidential Scholar, Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology. Pontell comes to John Jay from the “other” coast, where for the past 35 years he has held faculty and administrative positions at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).

“I’m truly excited about being back in New York, where I was born and raised, and working alongside the fine faculty and staff at John Jay College and CUNY,” said Pontell. “Especially meaningful is the fact that my first scholarly publication which launched my professional career was accomplished with the enthusiastic support of John Jay faculty members. I look forward to helping further build both the department and the institution in the coming years.”

President Jeremy Travis said John Jay is “fortunate to have Dr. Pontell join our faculty as a Presidential Scholar and lead one of the largest academic departments at the College. Our students will benefit greatly from his scholarly expertise and experience in the fields of sociology and criminology.”

Pontell’s appointments at UCI have included Chair of the Department of Criminology, Law and Society, Director of Graduate Studies in Social Ecology, and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. He also conceived and led the development of the Master of Advanced Study program in Criminology, Law and Society, which in 2003 became the first online degree program at the University of California. The program was rated #1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in January 2015 in the magazine’s first ranking of online criminal justice graduate programs.

His research and teaching interests include deviance and social control, white-collar and corporate crime, financial and health-care fraud, identity theft, comparative criminology and cybercrime. His two current primary research projects include a comparative study of white-collar and corporate crime in China, and an examination of the mechanisms by which major financial fraud is related to ever-larger global economic crises.

With nine books and more than 100 articles and chapters to his credit, Pontell is the author of the International Handbook of White-Collar and Corporate Crime (Springer), Profit Without Honor: White-Collar Crime and the Looting of America (Pearson, Prentice-Hall), and Big Money Crime: Fraud and Politics in the Savings and Loan Crisis (University of California Press), among other publications. He has worked with many federal agencies including the FBI and the Secret Service, and has testified on financial institution fraud before the Congress and national commissions. He is a past Vice President of the American Society of Criminology, a past President of the Western Society of Criminology, and is a Fellow of both organizations. He currently serves as President of the White Collar Crime Research Consortium of the National White Collar Crime Center.

The oft-honored Pontell, who holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Stony Brook University, is a past winner of the Albert J. Reiss Jr. Distinguished Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association, the Donald R. Cressey Award from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the Paul Tappan Award from the Western Society of Criminology, the Herbert Bloch Award from the American Society of Criminology, and the Gil Geis Lifetime Achievement Award from the National White Collar Crime Center.

Edifice Rex:
New Building Wins Prestigious Architecture Prize

A jury of the nation’s top architects has chosen John Jay College’s new building was one of eight winners of the 2015 American Institute of Architecture (AIA) National Honor Awards. The award recognizes extraordinary work in architecture and reflects “a resurgence of architecture for the public.”

The jury said of the building: “This massive programmatic space has created an entire village — from a beautiful and happy daycare to a full-service kitchen and dining facility, mock courtrooms, and full-science laboratories. The diversity of space is impressive, and it is hard to imagine that it could be done better.”

Upon learning of the AIA award, President Jeremy Travis said: “We are thrilled with this high honor for our awe-inspiring new building that was designed by the master architects at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM). We are grateful to our colleagues and friends at the City University of New York, as well as the City of New York and New York State government for bringing this 21st century campus to fruition for John Jay.”

Speaking on behalf of the SOM team, design partner Mustafa Abadan said: "We are very grateful to have had such a great client as John Jay College, who collaborated with us on this very challenging but extremely rewarding project. We are very thankful for the trust they placed in us and that we could rise to the occasion and deliver John Jay the distinction it deserves." 

The College broke ground for the new building in 2007, in order to gain much needed space for its expanding academic offerings and student enrollment, particularly in the science fields. The College also aimed to unify its campus and upgrade its technological infrastructure. Opened in 2011, the distinctive new building includes a landscaped rooftop commons — the Jay Walk — five stories above the sidewalk that connects the historic Haaren Hall building with the new vertical tower. It encompasses more than 600,000 square feet of state-of-the-art “smart” classrooms, forensic labs, moot court room, conference center and simulator labs — all with a 100-percent WiFi environment.

The award will be presented in May at the annual National AIA Convention in Atlanta.

Champions of Justice

On Feb. 18, President Travis played host to the second annual Champions of Justice recognition event, honoring student winners of funded scholarships and the donors who made the scholarships possible. Seen here are family members of the late Alfred Siegel along with students who won the scholarship that bears Siegel’s name.

Taking the Show on the Road
In February, the John Jay On The Road series of meet-and-greets traveled to Orlando, Fla., where several dozen alumni and guests were feted at a reception held in conjunction with the annual conference of the American Academy of Forensic Science. Seen here with Director of Alumni Relations Jerylle Kemp, Dr. Derrick Tinsley (B.S. ’92) brought his wife, Lovely, and daughter, Olivia, to the event. Tinsley, a member of the John Jay Athletics Hall of Fame, is the Campus Dean at Strayer University in Orlando.


On Board. . .

Judith Cahn (Academic Affairs) is the new Director of John Jay Online. She comes to John Jay after having served as Director of eLearning and Distance Education at Yeshiva University, where she also obtained her doctorate in Education.  She has more than 25 years of experience in educational technology. 

Presenting. . .

Staci Strobl (Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration) appeared at a Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., on February 11, presenting an outline for the U.S. to pressure the small Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain to engage in meaningful security reform. Click here to read her blog post on the briefing, including links to an op-ed she co-authored for the Huffington Post and a related seven-minute podcast. 

The Printed Page

Michael Pfeifer (History) had a letter to the editor published in The New York Times on Feb. 19, in which he commented on a new report by the Equal Justice Initiative on lynching in America. Pfeifer pointed out that racially motivated collective violence was a national, not merely a Southern, phenomenon, with hundreds of Hispanics, Native Americans and Chinese people, along with African-Americans, murdered by mobs of whites in the West and the Midwest. Click here  to read Pfeifer’s letter.

Michael Rowan (Sociology), who has been conducting extensive research on homelessness in Jersey City, recently had his commentary “Law and Disorder: A View on Broken Windows from Journal Square” published in the online news source Click here to read the article.


Michele Doney (Math & Science Resource Center), has been elected to a third term as Secretary of the Association for the Tutoring Profession (ATP), an affiliate organization of the Council of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education Associations. Doney will also be co-presenting a pre-conference workshop entitled “Excel Skills for Assessment” at the upcoming ATP conference in San Francisco.

Effie Cochran (Foreign Languages and Literatures) has been invited to be part of an external evaluation committee that will assess the English Department of Linguistics and Philology at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece. During a busy sabbatical year in 2014, Cochran gave a talk on forensic linguistics at the annual American Applied Linguistics conference in Portland, Ore. She also contributed a chapter on “Forensic Linguistics and Pedagogical Implications in Multilingual Contexts” to the Springer publication Englishes in Multilingual Contexts — Language Variation and Education.