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.

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.


Intern, In Turn


Megan McCarthy, a former City University all-star runner, has yet to encounter a challenge she can’t handle or a finish line she can’t cross. Now, as a senior majoring in International Criminal Justice, and soon to be facing the next chapter in her life, she’s making sure that she’s well prepared for yet another hurdle.

A member of the John Jay cross-country team in 2012 and 2013, McCarthy recently concluded her third major internship — with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor — and is about to begin a fourth. During the fall semester, she’ll be putting her energy and acumen to use with the nonprofit organization Human Rights Watch.

She has previously interned in the Long Island office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and, through the CUNY Service Corps, with the Urban Justice Center’s Veteran Advocacy Project.
Impressively, the Honors Program student learned of, applied for and obtained all of the internships on her own. And, as she would discover, each of the internships has been beneficial in its own way. “The Veteran Advocacy Project was the most hands-on, and allowed me to work directly with clients on housing, health care and other issues,” McCarthy said. “And it was the most life-changing.”

It could have been more than that. McCarthy noted that the Veteran Advocacy Project, where she interned through April 2015, “would’ve hired me right then and there if I’d been graduating in May.”

The State Department appointment, which she secured through CUNY’s Edward T. Rogowsky Washington, D.C., Internship Program, was valuable in practical terms, she said. “It helped me figure out what I want to do — work for human rights and social justice.” It wasn’t her first engagement with the State Department. In January of this year she was part of the State-sponsored Diplomacy Lab research project, through a research-methods course taught by Professor Gohar Petrossian.

McCarthy, a Levittown, N.Y., resident said she chose to come to John Jay for its International Criminal Justice major — “there’s no other undergraduate major like it,” she noted. And now that the finish line — Commencement — is fast approaching, she is more than satisfied with her decision. “I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would or could,” she said.

What lies ahead after graduation for McCarthy? She plans to work for a few years before picking a graduate program or law school, so she can make sure she’s picking the right path and, as important, build up a nest egg.  In a nutshell, she said, “I plan to chill, regroup, then go full-steam ahead.”


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.


Faculty/Staff Notes

On Board
Susanne Halling (Marketing and Development) is John Jay’s new Corporations and Sponsorships Manager. Her background in corporate relations, account management and nonprofit-sector training includes several years with the United Way. Steve Dercole also joined the Marketing and Development team this summer, as Donor Relations and Leadership Gifts Manager. He most recently worked with the 92nd Street Y, managing direct mail and online giving programs.

Danny Chen and Brian Keill (Athletics) are John Jay’s newest head coaches, taking the helm of the women’s tennis and softball teams, respectively. Chen, a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, has been head coach at Convent of the Sacred Heart high school in Manhattan since 2013. He is also a professional actor with more than 50 film, TV and stage credits to his name. Keill, who holds an M.P.A. degree from New York University, is a veteran coach at the high school and travel team levels, who said he believes in “getting the most out of my student-athletes, both as softball players and as role models for the people around them."

Presenting. . .

Ann A. Huse (English) delivered a talk in June on "The Home-schooling of a New England Slave: Lucy Terry Prince, Literacy, and the Letter Manual" at the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife in Deerfield, Mass. The theme of the conference, sponsored by Historic Deerfield, was "Schooldays in New England, 1650-1900." Prince was the first African-American poet, on the basis of her one surviving poem, "Bars Fight" (1746).

The Printed Page

Baz Dreisinger (English) had her review of the new novel Loving Day, by Mat Johnson, published in The New York Times Sunday Book Review on June 1.
Michelle D. Miranda (Sciences) has had her first book published by CRC Press. Forensic Analysis of Tattoos and Tattoo Inks is based on her doctoral dissertation research.

Steven Penrod (Psychology) recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Association of Psychology and Law for his many contributions to our understanding of eyewitness behavior and legal decision-making.

Dante Tawfeeq (Mathematics and Computer Science) recently won a Fulbright Specialist award that allowed him to work at Polytechnic of Namibia, analyzing gaps in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. Working at the Polytechnic’s School of Engineering, Tawfeeq evaluated the curriculum of its Introduction to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program, and aided in the development of a multimodal student academic support system for at-risk students. Also this summer, Tawfeeq was selected as a 2014-2016 Massachusetts Institute for College and Career Readiness Senior Research Fellow. He will work with Brockton public school officials on the design, implementation and evaluation of programming to support college and career readiness pathways.

Dr. Jane KatzJane Katz (Health and Physical Education) won six medals in swimming events at the National Senior Games held in Minneapolis in July. Katz won gold medals in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard backstroke, and the 200- and 500-yard freestyle, as well as silver in the 100-yard freestyle. In June, in the spirit of Father's Day, she wrote a reflection on her late father, titled "A Final Father's Day Card to My Dad,” that was published in the TOI (Times of Israel) blog.

Javier Osorio (Political Science) was recently awarded top prize by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in its International Thesis Competition on Victimization, Crime and Justice in Latin America. Osorio’s doctoral dissertation, “Hobbes on Drugs: Understanding drug violence in Mexico,” was chosen over 200 submissions from 15 different countries.

Monica Varsanyi (Political Science) has been appointed to the Research Advisory Board of the Vera Institute. In this capacity, Varsanyi will be asked to provide feedback on new and ongoing studies, highlight areas where further research is needed, advise on methods and dissemination strategies, and identify opportunities to partner with other researchers, practitioners and community members.


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.