Welcome to John Jay!

More than 3,000 new faces joined the John Jay community with the start of the 2015-2016 academic year, including 1,491 freshmen.

Classes for the fall semester began on Thursday, August 27, the same day as the third annual New Student Convocation. The entering class also includes 1,654 transfer students, along with 443 new students in master’s-degree programs.

President Jeremy Travis, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Jane Bowers and Vice President for Student Affairs Lynette Cook-Francis headed the welcoming committee at the Convocation, where the new freshmen were introduced to the academic journey awaiting them and the variety of services at their disposal. The Convocation was followed by a barbecue on the Jay Walk for the freshmen.

The entering class is primarily made up of New York City-area residents, with the majority of those coming from the five boroughs. Queens is the single largest source of new freshmen, with 32.8 percent of the total, followed by Brooklyn (18.98 percent), Bronx (13.41 percent), Manhattan (7.38 percent) and Staten Island (5.1 percent).

Another 6.64 percent hail from Nassau County, 3.69 percent from Suffolk and 2.95 percent from Westchester. Out-of-state residents, including international students, make up 5.23 percent of the freshman class.

Females make up 58.82 percent of the entering freshmen, and males 41.18 percent. And, in keeping with John Jay’s federal designation as a Hispanic-serving institution, Hispanic/Latino is the largest ethnic /racial subgroup in the entering class, with 42.77 percent of the total. White students make up 19.28 percent of the freshman class, followed by Asians (14.26 percent) and Blacks (9.5 percent).

Forensic Psychology is the number-one choice of curriculums among entering freshmen, with 17.54 percent of the new class indicating this as their intended major. This is followed by Criminology (17.34 percent), Criminal Justice/BS (16.06), Forensic Science (6.89 percent) and Law and Society (5.96 percent).

Freshman Orientation Gets a Makeover

Freshman orientation underwent a dramatic makeover for the entering class of 2015, and the more personalized and collaborative approach appears to have been a runaway success.

Previously conducted in two sessions of several hundred students each, freshman orientation was reengineered so that incoming students could choose from one of 15 dates in June and July, with no more than 100 students in each session.

New students enjoyed a morning of orientation, followed by lunch, then advisement and registration for their first semester of college classes. It was only by attending orientation that new students were able to register.

“We’ll be doing some tinkering with format and content, but I really think we hit the mark,” said Rosann Santos-Elliott, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Student Affairs. “Although we’re still analyzing the data, from what I’ve seen the results of surveys we handed out have been very, very favorable.”

Following check-in, students and their families went their separate ways, with different, custom-tailored programs for each group. For example, while new students enjoyed a session on “Understanding your Academic Journey,” a workshop for family members covered “Saying Goodbye, Letting Go, and Learning to Live with a John Jay Student.” Later in the day, as the freshmen were registering for classes, there were faculty-led panels for their families.

“Some faculty members really stepped up to the plate for orientation,” said Santos-Elliott. “We had sessions on how families can best help students, what’s it like in the classroom, grading and GPA secrets, things like that. And the feedback we’ve gotten indicates overwhelmingly that the faculty panels were extremely or very helpful.”

Building on the success of orientation, the Office of Student Transition Programs will hold a Family Weekend Sept. 25 and 26. Click here for a tentative schedule of events and registration information.

Year-Long Initiative Addresses Police-Community Schism

The recent escalation of concern regarding excessive use of force by police, particularly in communities of color, has underscored a troublesome chasm in police-community relations, and the need for reform of police policy and practice to make them more reflective of a mandate to protect and serve.

To this end, John Jay College on Sept. 29 will launch a year-long initiative, “Bridging the Divide: Reimagining Police-Community Relations,” which will utilize various mediums of engagement to examine polarizing issues of race and justice and pursue inclusive, constructive public discourse on best practices for improving relations between police and the communities they serve.

As envisioned by a committee under the leadership of Professor C. Jama Adams of the Department of Africana Studies, “Bridging the Divide” will include student-organized theater and performing arts productions; TED talks; demonstration workshops; seminars; digital and social media, and more. The initiative will culminate in a two-day conference next May that will engage the broader community on these issues.

“The Bridging the Divide initiative embodies the commitment of the John Jay community to engage itself in pursuit of a justice system that is fair, effective and based on mutual respect,” said Professor Adams. “This initiative will seek to develop a road map for reimagining a criminal justice system guided by the principles of justice upon which our institutions are predicated.”

The initiative will open with a flourish and build momentum as the academic year advances, beginning with the annual Lloyd Sealy Lecture on Sept. 29, which will be presented this year by Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, a John Jay alumnus (B.A. ’89). Thompson will speak on the topic of “The role of law enforcement in ensuring justice is delivered.”

On Oct. 7, John Jay students will play their own part in launching the initiative by staging a simulated protest to capture the divide between youth and police.

The fall semester will also include a two-part Forum on Police Perspectives: “Understanding police subjectivities and the psychology of policing” (Oct. 5) and “Police perspectives on community policing” (Oct. 27). A two-part Forum on Community Perspectives will explore “Defining and conceptualizing challenges and opportunities for at-risk communities” (Nov. 11) and “Policing policy — a review of Broken Windows, stop and frisk” (Dec. 1). On Nov. 5, journalist Radley Balko will present a book talk on his latest volume, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.

During the spring semester, the initiative will present panel discussions on race and policing (Feb. 3); women in policing (March 1); policing of religious community groups (March 16), and youth and policing (April 6). A book talk with Art Browne, editor of the New York Daily News, is scheduled for Feb. 16 and will focus on his book One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York.

Among the speakers, presenters and panelists on tap for the initiative are top NYPD officials and other law enforcement leaders, John Jay faculty and other academicians, elected office holders and public officials, news media representatives, and leaders of nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups.

Click here for more detailed information on the Bridging the Divide initiative.

Alumni Profile: Going Places

When it comes to “Bridging the Divide” between police and the community, Francisco Angelo Pucciarello (B.A. ’13) is clearly a young man on a mission. During this past summer, that mission took him from New York to Atlanta to help jump-start a conversation on America’s racial divide. Such a trip would be rather unremarkable except for the fact that Pucciarello traveled the nearly 900 miles by bicycle.

Pucciarello, 24, left his Harlem apartment on June 6, and arrived at his destination on July 24, a red, black and green Pan-African flag flying from the back of his bike. En route, he kept up a steady of Facebook posts, which produced a legion of fans and followers who provided meals and places to stay. As important, everyone he met gave him an opportunity to engage in another conversation on racial justice.

It wasn’t Pucciarello’s first long-distance bike ride, nor his first foray into the heart of America’s racial divide. As a young white man living in Harlem, he had a firsthand familiarity with black classmates and neighbors facing the inequities of the justice system. Then, in the summer of 2014, after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, Pucciarello traveled to Ferguson, Mo., to listen and observe. Once he got there, he said, “It was hard not to take sides, because I saw my fellow Americans being oppressed by a government that was elected to represent them.”

As an undergraduate International Criminal Justice major, Pucciarello continued his deep interest in ethnic and racial justice. He was vice president of the African Students Association and, as a volunteer for the nonprofit organization Feed The Children, he made a number of service-oriented trips to such places as Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda. He now works as Development Coordinator for the International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation, while pursuing a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution and Negotiation at Columbia University.

In 2010, Pucciarello, a New Hampshire native, rode his bike cross-country to Vancouver, British Columbia, a two-month journey that, he later blogged, “gave me a better picture of what the United States was made of,” and, through the people he met, provided “the gift of hope, a free mind, and a greater sense of compassion.”

This is a young alumnus who is going places.

Alumni Profile: Taking Action

Thomas Nazario (B.S., ’71) came to John Jay in the late 1960’s with a keen interest in social justice. That interest and subsequent activism led him initially to become a juvenile defense lawyer and, ultimately, to found and lead a nonprofit organization dedicated to the eradication of poverty worldwide.

A former University of San Francisco law professor, Nazario now heads The Forgotten International, a San Jose, Calif.-based organization launched in 2007 that targets poverty in the United States and abroad, with a particular focus on its effects on women and children. 

“As a young man, I was never quite satisfied with the degree of justice individuals were receiving in both my neighborhood and throughout the country,” he said. “For me, John Jay was a way to try to make things better for others. It turned out to be one of the better decisions I have made in my life.”

The Forgotten International provides grants to schools, charitable medical associations that provide services to the poor, and other community-based organizations fighting poverty. It also provides volunteers who donate several months of their time to aid grass-roots projects in places such as Cambodia, India, Kenya, Nepal, Peru and Uganda, building schools and clinics, teaching, or providing food and medical aid.

John Jay professors provided him with the encouragement he needed to go beyond his immediate dreams, Nazario said. “The truth is, as a Puerto Rican kid growing up in New York, I never got that kind of feedback from my acquaintances. Hence, John Jay made a fundamental difference in my life.”

Nazario is now making a fundamental difference in the lives of others — and being recognized for his work. His book on global poverty, Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor (Quantuck Lane Press, 2014), which has a foreword by the Dalai Lama, recently won the International Book Award for Narrative Non-Fiction Writing. The book is being made into a documentary that will be released this fall.

Pontell Is John Jay’s Newest Distinguished Professor

Professor Henry Pontell, chair of the Department of Sociology, has been named as a Distinguished Professor, following action by the City University Board of Trustees. Pontell becomes the eighth current John Jay faculty member to hold that title.

Pontell, a noted criminologist, joined the John Jay faculty last spring as a Presidential Scholar, professor and department chair. He had previously held a variety of faculty and administrative positions at the University of California, Irvine.

Pontell’s 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. He is currently conducting 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 global economic crises.

He has nine books and more than 100 articles and chapters to his credit, including the International Handbook of White-Collar and Corporate Crime (Springer) and Profit Without Honor: White-Collar Crime and the Looting of America (Pearson, Prentice-Hall). He is a past President of the Western Society of Criminology, a past Vice President of the American 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.

Among Pontell’s many academic and professional accolades are 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.


Search for New Ideas in Corrections Leads Group to Germany

John Jay President Jeremy Travis led a U.S. delegation that visited Germany in June as part of the International Sentencing and Corrections Exchange, a partnership between the College and the Vera Institute of Justice.

The delegation included President Nicholas Turner of the Vera Institute along with correctional officials, district attorneys, philanthropists, former prisoners, and bipartisan thought leaders. They toured prisons and met with European experts in order to build a cross-cultural learning community. The aim is to expose American policymakers to sentencing and correctional practices used internationally and support ways to translate ideas and innovations into concrete changes in policy and practice.

A Congressional briefing is planned in Washington, D.C., this fall for delegation members to share with lawmakers what they think German and European correction models can contribute to American policy and practice.

The study tour was widely covered in such outlets as The New York Times, the National Journal, Vice, and the websites of the Vera Institute and the Marshall Project.


John Jay Trustee Cited for Empowerment of the Disabled

JJC Trustee Charles Hammerman

John Jay College Foundation Trustee Charles D. Hammerman was honored by the College and the City University of New York on July 14 as part of a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The celebration, hosted by John Jay and CUNY, was called “ADA25 Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 Think Tank: Achieving Disability-Inclusive Diversity Through a ‘Brand’ New Lens.” Hammerman, the President and CEO of the Disability Opportunity Fund (DOF), was recognized for “leadership in empowering people with disabilities to tell their stories, in their authentic voices, across a range of media platforms.” He has been instrumental in making the case to media industries and others for greater representation of people with disabilities in front of and behind the camera, as well as on stage.

A former federal prosecutor, Hammerman has extensive experience in the financial-services sector as well as with initiatives for people with disabilities. As a senior executive with Merrill Lynch’s Global Private Client Group, Hammerman spearheaded the creation of its “Disability Awareness Professional Network.” As a result of his leadership, Merrill Lynch was recognized by Diversity Inc. magazine in 2005 and 2006 as the “number one company for employment of people with disabilities.”

Prior to the creation of the DOF, Hammerman founded the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, an organization to advance civic, economic and social participation of persons with disabilities in a global society. Hammerman’s uncle, Dr. Burton Blatt, was an advocate for integration of the disabled community and the inspiration for the DOF.


Class Notes

Matthew Cheng (B.S. ’05, M.S. ’15) is among the newest class of Woodrow Wilson New Jersey Teaching Fellows. The fellows receive $30,000 to complete a specially designed master’s degree program, in exchange for a three-year commitment to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in high-need secondary schools.

Gerald C. Clark (M.A. ’85) has co-authored a new book, A History of Heists: Bank Robbery in America, which was published in July by Rowman & Littlefield. His first book, Pizza Bomber: The Untold Story of America’s Most Shocking Bank Robbery, is currently in development for a film.

Lashaunda Robinson (B.A. ’12) is a seventh-grade history teacher at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy in Washington, D.C. Each teacher's classroom at the Chavez School is named and decorated with materials from his or her college alma mater, and John Jay is represented well in Lashaunda's room. (See photo.)

Donna Jones (M.P.A. ’86) is an NYPD deputy chief and the new deputy borough commander in Staten Island. She is the first woman to be the borough’s second-in-command.


In Memoriam
Darius Lord Vinson (B.S. ’12, B.A. ’15) drowned while swimming in the Delaware River on Aug. 18. A Far Rockaway resident, Vinson earned a certificate in Dispute Resolution in addition to his two John Jay bachelor’s degrees, and was described as a “charismatic and determined” young man who was passionate about criminal defense as well as amateur boxing. Jessica Bruno (B.A. ’06), a former fellow intern with the Center for Court Innovation, said of Vinson: “Darius and I felt that our course work in conflict resolution made us better, not only professionally, but better people. The world has lost a bright new mediator.”

A Smooth Transition

The two-day August event Flip the Switch: College Prep and Career Boot Camp, sponsored by JP Morgan Chase, was designed to guide veterans and military service members at John Jay through their prospective academic journey and help them maximize their college experience for a successful civilian career. The event included guided workshops, interactive exercises, women-centered intensive programming and other activities aimed at increasing understanding and raising awareness about benefits, support services, resources and skills needed for success in college and career.

Seen here are members of the event’s “Executive Presence Panel” (l.-r.): Saundra Thomas, VP for Community Relations, WABC; Michelle Martin, VP for Human Resources Specialty Services, CBS; Terri Bump, VP for University Relations/Student Development, American Campus Communities; Antoinette Hamilton, Assistant VP for Diversity and Inclusion, L’Oréal USA; Brandis DeSimone, Managing Director, NASDAQ; Nana Adae, Executive Director, JP Morgan Chase/Private Banking. Other corporate participants included Marsh & McLennan, Verizon, Citi, and Bloomberg LLP.


Did You Know?

The John Jay Athletics Hall of Fame includes the college’s only Olympian, kayaker Stephen Kelly (B.S. ’72). He competed in the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympic Games.