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The Beyond the Boroughs National Scholarship Fund, a charity organization focused on providing college scholarships to deserving students who have unmet financial needs, announced their partnership with worldwide tennis megastar Serena Williams and her charitable organization The Serena Williams Fund. Serena, ranked six times as the number one women's singles player worldwide, has selected Beyond the Boroughs to administer her college scholarship program.

The Serena Williams Fund was established with two goals in mind: to provide assistance to youth whose families have been affected by violent crimes, as well as to assist college-bound youth from low income backgrounds in receiving the highest quality education possible. Beyond the Boroughs, being the perfect partner for the organization in terms of educational assistance, will work with Williams' organization to manage the application process, vetting and selecting the best of their applicant pool, and then provide the outstanding applicants to The Serena Williams Fund for final awardee selection. All Serena Williams Scholars will also be eligible for internships and service learning trips through Beyond the Boroughs. Students can apply online free of charge between January 15, 2015 and March 15, 2015.

"I know the value of creating strong partnerships with organizations that are experts in their field.  I am so proud of the scholars I have been able to assist in the past and look forward to making this process even more efficient and sustainable by partnering with Beyond the Boroughs". The reigning number one women's tennis player excitedly announced this partnership at the home of Marc Leder, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Sun Capital Partners, on Friday night, standing side by side with Beyond the Boroughs Founder, Tutan Reyes.

Beyond the Boroughs was created in 2007 by NFL Veteran Tutan Reyes and offers general scholarships for up to $5,000 per year as well as named scholarships under personal, family or business titles that can help pay for a student's semester starting as low as a $2,500 donation. In 2013 alone, Beyond the Boroughs selected 11 students to receive $24,500 in funds to assist them in the pursuance of their college careers.  Scholarship winners were from all over the country and in many cases, represented first generation college students in their families.

"We are honored to work with The Serena Williams Fund through our named scholarship partnership program and contribute our experience in selecting deserving scholarship recipients. Our goal is to support our youth and help them achieve their educational dreams and goals," states Beyond the Boroughs Founder and former NFL Offensive Lineman, Tutan Reyes. "Serena is a tremendous role model for our young people and we are grateful for the awareness that she brings to the mission and cause."#

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By Dominique M. Carson

Recently, President Barack Obama honored 19 individuals with the 2014 Medal of Freedom Award at the White House East Room. Some of the honorees were Alvin Ailey, Stevie Wonder, Isabel Allende, Ethel Kennedy, and Marlo Thomas.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian award that rewards those for their "meritorious service" in politics, world peace, entertainment, literature, and social justice.

Obama shared his fondest remarks about each recipient when he said, "From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world."

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was first launched in 1945 to recognize individuals who were prominent during the war.  18 years later, President John F. Kennedy reintroduced the award in 1963 to honor civilians during peacetime.

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The America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL) held its 2014 Partners for Democracy Award Dinner Monday night, December 1, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, honoring The Iron Dome.  The program opened with greetings from AIFL Chairman, Kenneth J. Bialkin.

"The AIFL is taking the extraordinary step of honoring not a person but a defense system.  The Iron Dome Missile Defense System successfully secured the skies of Israel against rockets and missiles launched by Hamas in the recent Gaza war.  Had not the Iron Dome achieved the success it did, Israeli's civilian population was at risk of immense casualties. "

The Iron Dome is an example of the successful combination of Israel's initiation and the U.S. support of financing and technical cooperation," said Bialkin."AIFL is honored that the NYSE recognizes Israel's accomplishments as a start-up-nation, not only in commerce, science and technology, but also in the creation of a society which advances the cause of freedom, liberty and human rights.  Israel stands as a partner with the United States in the common defense of the values we share," said Bialkin.

The League presented its Partners for Democracy Award to MK Peretz, former Israeli Minister of Defense who secured government support for the project; Dr. Daniel Gold, initiator and entrepreneur of the Iron Dome System and the Hon. Raymond W. Kelly, whom Ken Bialkin called "New York's Iron Dome" for his relentless fight against domestic terrorism.

Honorees also included RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems, Ltd., the prime contractor for the Iron Dome project/ President  & CEO Vice Admiral (Ret.) Yedidia Yaari; Israel Aerospace Industries, Ltd., developer and manufacturer of the Iron Dome's radar system/Nissim Hadas, IAI Executive Vice President & Elta President and mPrest, developer and manufacturer of the Iron Dome Command and Control System/President & CEO Col. (Ret.) Natan Barak.

Prior to the award presentations, Pulitzer Prize winning foreign affairs columnist for The Wall Street Journal Bret Stephens moderated an Iron Dome discussion with Ambassador Ron Prosor, Dr. Daniel Gold, Ambassador Dan Gillerman and Eric Cantor.

The gala dinner at the Plaza was attended by leading members of the American and Israeli business, technology and philanthropic communities as well as government and diplomatic missions. 

Earlier in the day, The America-Israel Friendship League celebrated Israel Day at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Since 2007, the New York Stock Exchange has designated the day of the AIFL Partners for Democracy Award Dinner as Israel Day at NYSE.  The Exchange hosts meeting and conferences organized by the League relating to Israel's remarkable economic growth and development.  The day also highlights business innovation that can establish new partnerships and mutual investments, creating new employment opportunities in the U.S. and Israel.

 

 

 




 

 

 

By:  Dr. Allen Frances
Dostoevsky's "Brother's Karamazov" cleverly spoofs the careless inexpertness of what often passes for expert legal testimony.

Three medical experts are called to testify whether Dmitri Karamazov was sane or insane when committing the alleged murder of his father. Naturally, the experts all disagree, with each completely convinced of the incontrovertible truth of his own opinion. Expert 1 finds Dmitri insane because he looked to the left as he entered the courtroom. Expert 2 also finds Dmitri insane, but instead because he looked to the right. Expert 3 correctly finds Dmitri sane, but for the wrong reason that he stared straight ahead. And all three are absolutely sure Dimitri did commit the murder-which in fact he did not. Three blind mice.

Dostoevsky was recognized by Freud as the master of psychological thinking, but his love of psychology did not stop him from poking huge holes in its reliability. "One can draw from psychology whatever conclusions one likes. It all depends on whose hands it is in. I am speaking of excessive psychology, of a certain abuse of it."

He then demonstrates vividly just how the this abuse of psychology plays out in courtroom situations. The prosecutor on the case presents a brilliant, completely plausible psychological profile of Dmitri that proves beyond any shadow of doubt that he must have committed the crime. Then, based on the very same traits and facts, the defense attorney presents an equally brilliant, but completely opposite, psychological profile that proves beyond any shadow of doubt that Dmitri could not possibly have committed the crime. There is no gold standard that allows a jury to choose between the opposing speculations.

Dostoevsky uses a Russian proverb to explain this situation- that psychology is a stick with two ends (equivalent to our sword that cuts both ways). He knew better than anyone that speculative psychological theorizing can be just as easily used to disguise the truth as to reveal it. A theory that seems completely plausible can be completely wrong.

Dostoevsky wrote 135 years ago, but his critique of forensic psychiatry and forensic psychology stands the test of time. The abuses he described still occur often today in just the way he described them. My experience as expert witness in hundreds of legal cases does not inspire much confidence in the way our legal system uses (and more often abuses) expert testimony.

Many factors contribute to experts generating heat, not light.

First off, many alleged experts are simply not really all that expert and say things that are just dead wrong. The filters meant to eliminate errant opinion and junk 'science' don't work.

Second, the adversarial system cultivates expert allegiance bias. Consciously or unconsciously, expert opinions are strongly influenced by who is paying the bill. Third, juries often have to decide questions that are far beyond their competence. Which of the dueling experts to believe is more often determined by presentation skills and likability than the technical accuracy of the testimony.

Finally, the adversarial quality of the legal system demands that experts give black-and-white, yes-or-no answers to questions that often require a shades-of-gray, nuanced response. Even wise and unbiased experts mislead when they are forced to choose a yes or no when the best answer would be maybe or a little bit of both. As it stands now, the expert testimony in many trials is pretty worthless. Each side presents an extreme set of opinions that in opposite ways distort the complex reality. The jury cancels them out or makes a pretty blind choice between them.

The system may be too embedded to reform, but a few simple changes would make a world of difference. To achieve neutrality and preserve nuance, experts should whenever possible be appointed by the court, not the warring sides. There should be a more rigorous way of establishing that they are indeed experts and are using methods of assessment that are reasonably reliable and well validated. Reports should document how the existing literature pertains to the facts of this case and the degree of confidence with which each opinion is rendered and why. Experts should be instructed to be cautious in their judgments, staying close to the facts and to the literature. I don't know is the most appropriate answer to many questions. Purely idiosyncratic speculation should be identified and treated as unreliable and essentially worthless.

Doing it right would much reduce the role of expert testimony in the legal system- probably a very good thing. 

By Emilie Schwarz

Bank Street 2- HR.jpgRecently, Bank Street College of Education and Teach for America hosted a panel discussion that explored the findings of featured speaker, Elizabeth Green's, new book: Building a Better Teacher, which was published this past August. President of Bank Street College, Shael Polakow-Suransky, gave a welcome speech to a large, excited audience, followed by an introduction to the panelists presented by Charissa Fernandez, the Executive Director of Teach for America, New York. Prior to the panel discussion, Green gave a brief presentation to the audience on some of the revelations she learned and informative data she gained during the course of her research. The enthusiasm for the topic was palpable, with audience members sitting throughout the raised rows of the auditorium busily scribbling notes from the presentation.

Elizabeth Green is the co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat, a non-profit news organization that focuses on education policy, education-based effort and improvement in communities. The organization, formerly known as Gotham Schools, has just recently begun to expand its focus beyond the New York City area. Green, who "has been obsessively researching and writing about education since she was 17 years old," came up with the idea for the book after receiving an assignment from the New York Times; she was asked to write an article on teacher quality, which she describes as a "very buzzy topic at the time."

She ultimately wrote the book because she realized that there was a "great disconnect in our national dialogue on how to improve education" and that "a lot of it boils down to a misunderstanding of teaching." In a fashion appropriate for a room full of educators, Green began her talk by conducting an exercise with the audience that walked them through some of the surprising facts that she discovered through her research. The exercise involved a series of three questions, which served to show the audience her two major takeaway points: first, that teaching requires specialized knowledge and skill and second, that education has not been treated this way in the United States. In reflecting on her own attempt at teaching a group of students (as part of her research for her final chapter), Green discovered that she "actually needed some skills that [she didn't] have." According to her anecdote, she "utterly failed" at facilitating a discussion, due to the fact that "[she] just could not keep track of what each student was even saying; [she] was so focused on trying to do all the things at once that [she] knew were important, that [she] had seen experts do, that [she] couldn't even do the fundamental basic thing of hearing what everyone was saying."

Throughout the course of her opening remarks, Green enlightened the audience on key interviews or moments from her book, often siting specific examples that highlight some of her key findings. While most of her takeaway remarks appear to be on the pessimistic side, Green gave the audience and panelists reason to be optimistic. Most notably, she remarked on two final revelations that provide room for growth and improvement in the education system. Using an example she gleaned from research conducted on street children in Brazil, Green discovered that the problem with the disparity in test scores does not stem from the children, but with the school itself. She discovered that the researchers have found that kids who can get the right answer to a problem presented to them in the "language of the street," can get the same problem wrong on paper, presented in the language of schooling. However, this brings her to the more hopeful aspect of her research: children repeat the same mistakes "over and over again;" Green noted that the child from Brazil was making the same type of mathematical error that a student in the United States has made.

Valentine Burr, who works for Bank Street College of Education as both an adviser and an instructor of special education programs, noted many parallels in Green's research to incidences she has seen in reality, stated that teachers need to feel "that they have a voice [...] to advocate for what they think is right for their kids."

As Green put it: "the reality is that there is not an infinite number of mistakes that kids can make. It is actually a pretty discrete number, and we have it in our power to predict those mistakes," concluding that "a boy in Brazil will make the same mistake as a boy in Michigan [...] so we can prepare teachers to anticipate those errors."

Following Green's presentation, a panel discussion commenced, which was hosted by a professor of Teaching and Learning at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University, Joe McDonald. One of the panelists was Rousseau Mieze, a middle school history teacher at Achievement First Bushwick Middle School. He recently completed his degree at Relay School of Education. Apparently, Green referenced him fifteen times in the book, an experience which Mieze claimed "forced [him] to reflect on [his] experiences" as a teacher. Mieze spoke about the necessity for having a vision as a teacher, saying: "whether [teachers] want to accept it or not, a teacher [is a] leader, and like any leadership position, it requires vision." When asked what his idea of leadership encompassed, Mieze said that it was a combination of "courage and lots of humility."

Meghan Dunn, who has been teaching for over seven years and now serves as the Founding Principal of Riverdale Avenue Community School located in Brooklyn, stated that one of the main foundations of good teaching is the ability "to build trust first." Mieze reflected Dunn's notion of support, stating that it is important to have great people who can both recognize what one does well in the classroom, and also where one needs to improve.

Dunn, who served as New York City Teach for America Corps Member in 2005, prior to earning a master's degree from Bank Street College, stated "if you don't start building that trust, it really doesn't matter what your scheduling looks like or how you use your budget, or what kind of people you have in the building."

Phil Weinberg, another panelist, works for the New York City Department of Education, where he was appointed to the position of Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning. Before entering this new position, Weinberg worked in the field of education for 27 years as a teacher and principal, primarily based in Brooklyn. For him, "we have to embrace the fact that the only thing we can do is collaborate with each other," noting that all of his successes in his 29 years of education were a result of collaboration.

Valentine Burr, who spent years teaching primary and middle school children with emotional and behavioral disabilities prior to stepping into her new role, weighed in on the discussion. In response to what she contributes to the discipline of teaching is that she hopes that part of the work that she does, "what good teacher preparation programs do" is it to help "teachers see their work as a puzzle, a puzzle they need to figure out."#

By Jenny Sihua Wang

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On November 6th, leading child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Harold Koplewicz interviewed actress Lorraine Bracco at the Child Mind Institute's 12th annual Adam Jeffrey Katz Memorial Lecture.

Ms. Bracco is best known for her roles as Dr. Melfi in the TV series The Sopranos and as Karen Hill in Goodfellas. What many do not know about her, however, is that she struggled throughout her life with dyslexia and depression. Both her environment and her personality helped her overcome these challenges, and to lead successful modeling and acting careers.

As a child, Ms. Bracco felt a great sense of anxiety when asked to read aloud during class. She would often be unable to read the words on the page smoothly, and as a result, she felt like an idiot. In reality, she was not dull; rather, she had dyslexia, a disorder that affects approximately 10% of the population. Yet because her parents never considered a connection between her poor performance in English class and dyslexia, she was not diagnosed as a child. Ms. Bracco was nevertheless able to survive in school by developing a sense of humor, and by keeping positive about her situation.

Dr. Kopelwicz noted that many successful individuals had an adult in their lives that told them that they were bright, and asked whether Ms. Bracco had one. She responded in the affirmative: Mr. Horowitz, her seventh grade English teacher, took an interest in her future and asked her what career she wanted to pursue. At first, she responded that she did not know. He continued asking her periodically, and in 10th grade, she told him that she wanted to become a model. He advised her to tell her parents, and helped her set up some appointments with modeling agencies.

The appointments paid off immediately: she signed a contract with the first modeling agency she met with. Soon, she was working, and when she was nineteen, she went to Paris to continue her modeling career. She remained in Paris for over a decade, eventually transitioning from modeling to producing a television show there. During her time as a producer, she met actor Harvey Keitel, with whom she eventually had a daughter. Their relationship drove her to return to the United States.

Her first job when she returned to the States was as a production assistant. Soon, she felt unhappy with the menial tasks the job required, and decided to try her hand at acting. Because of her dyslexia, she could not do cold readings of scripts, and had to ask for scripts beforehand to rehearse. Nevertheless, she began to get roles and to develop a career.

Her progress came to a jarring halt when she split from Mr. Keitel. Their ensuing custody battle over their daughter left her both emotionally and financially drained. Her acting career began to dry up, for casting directors did not want to take a risk on somebody undergoing a custody battle.

What followed was a period of deep depression. Ms. Bracco attributed her negative emotions to the ongoing custody battle, and believed that her condition was a temporary one. However, after the custody battle had been resolved, and she had been cast in and lauded for her role in The Sopranos, Ms. Bracco realized there was something wrong. Her life was on the upswing, yet she was still depressed.

After consulting with her psychiatrist, Ms. Bracco decided to take medication. Dr. Kopelwicz asked her how easy it was to make the decision to do so. She replied that it was a difficult choice, and that it took a particularly awful year before she admitted to herself she needed it. In the interview, she recounted the thoughts that ran through her mind at the time: "I'm an actor. Is this going to take away my feelings, my emotions, is this going to dull me?" She only agreed to get a prescription when her psychiatrist assured her that would not be the case.

She was on the medication for three months, during which she experienced a dramatic change in her outlook. Today, she maintains that taking medication was the smartest thing that she ever did for herself. Since then, she has undergone negative periods in her life, but she has never been too quick to get a prescription, for depression medication can be an invaluable tool, but should be overused. One such negative event was the death of both her parents and her dog, which occurred within nine days of one another. She was extremely upset at the time, but decided to give herself time to grieve before deciding to take medication. After several months, she knew that she could get by without it.

By carefully keeping track of her emotional status, Ms. Bracco has been able to combat her depression and to lead a fulfilling life. Dr. Koplewicz asked whether she applied the same sort of vigilance to her children. She responded that she takes careful note of the statuses of her two daughters, for her dyslexia gave her first-hand experience with the fact that parents often do not see or acknowledge their children's mental states. This lack of acknowledgement can have fatal results: Dr. Koplewicz said that 5000 individuals between the ages of 10 and 24 commit suicide every year. Early diagnosis and treatment can play a large role in preventing such tragedies.

Conditions such as depression are heavily stigmatized in our society, and are often looked upon less seriously than physical ailments. As a result, they are often left untreated. This stigmatization is highly detrimental, for disorders can be debilitating and sometimes even fatal if left untreated. Ms. Bracco is living proof that depression is surmountable, and that when necessary, medication can greatly improve one's quality of life.

 The Child Mind Institute is an organization dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, and research of childhood psychiatric disorders. For more information, visit childmind.org.

By Lydia Liebman

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Tondra Lynford and two other mothers of autistic children founded Resources for Children with Special Needs (RCSN) in 1983. According to Lynford, the need for an advocacy organization was incredibly apparent in the early 80's- a time when learning and behavioral disabilities were widely dismissed as a result of bad parenting and highly stigmatized. "There were so many parents who were struggling just to find a program that would accept their child," said Lynford, "having a child with special needs was a very painful experience in those days. When you're the mother of a handicapped child, it is all consuming and when you can't do anything about it, it just eats you up."

The idea of forming a central information center came together in Lynford's kitchen and had a beginning that could only be described as grass roots. The three women started by sifting through the phone book and sent mailers. They wrote to organizations and agencies. They formed a board, harnessed an impressive number of volunteers and made went to every place they could to spread the word. Soon enough, they were flooded with responses. To paraphrase Lynford, the organization took off overnight.

RCSN provides a variety of services to those with special needs and their families. As of this year, the organization has helped over 300,000 families. With a regular staff of about 25 people, RCSN provides workshops all across the city and through the boroughs for parents ranging in topics from how to potty train a child with cerebral palsy to how to handle bullying. The organization also holds an annual camp fair that connects parents to over 100 programs. "Our goal is to connect families to the resources that are out there," said Lynford, "we want to develop their knowledge, skills and confidence." Lynford explained that the particularly grueling process of applying to appropriate schools is one that RCSN spends a lot of time and resources on. This program, aptly titled the Match Program, has in practice for two years and served over 2000 children.

The landscape of autism awareness has changed since the inception of RCSN, much to the delight of Lynford. She credits organizations like hers for bringing awareness to autism and speaks particularly highly of the advocacy organization Autism Speaks for bringing the disorder to the public sphere. "I really believe that in New York City we began to create that sense of awareness for families that they weren't alone and that they could do things for their children," said Lynford. She highlighted an experience she had when her daughter was a teenager as evidence of the change that was emerging. "I remember we were sitting in a restaurant and she had said something inappropriate," described Lynford, "and our waiter came over and said 'oh, she has autism! I know what to do' and the rest of the meal was perfect because he knew how to deal with her. When she was younger that never would have happened. People would look at her as if she was weird or something was wrong with her. They didn't understand."

Lynford's daughter, now in her 30's, lives in an adult program supervised by the Anderson Center of Autism in New Paltz, NY. She describes the lifelong learning component of the program as being very helpful in carving out a rich life for her daughter full of volunteer opportunities and community activities. Lynford has seen what the right environment can do for an autistic child. "One of our founders has a son named Andrew who is now in his 40's and practicing law in Nevada," said Lynford; "those of prior generations never had the lifestyle that my daughter and Andrew have now with community involvement and a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. They would have been institutionalized."

Lynford applauds the public school programs of today due to the excellent programs for special needs kids they provide, adding that the secret is just finding the right one that fits the specific child. She also speaks highly of The Churchill School and Winston Prep. She encourages parents to enroll their children in school, if they are able, as opposed to keeping them at home.

After over 30 years, Lynford is immensely proud of what RCSN has, and continues to accomplish. "Young women come up to me at conferences that I've never met before and they thank me for starting this organization," Lynford said proudly, "it makes very happy to see these women have such a better life." #

By Joan Baum, Ph.D.

With a summa cum laude B.A. in philosophy and graduate work in religious studies, perhaps it was inevitable that Timothy L. Hall, the 12th president for the last six months of Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry NY, would invoke the words of the prominent Anglican scholar John Henry (Cardinal) Newman, to describe the philosophy behind his own Idea of a University as "an Alma Mater, knowing her children one by one, not a foundry, or a mint, or a treadmill." He brings to his new position, however, not just philosophical ideas but broad and deep practical experience in the academic world as a chief administrator, not to mention significant expertise as a legal scholar. Factor in as well affability and a sense of humor: "How can one not be a lawyer these days!" During his tenure as president of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN, where he noticeably increased enrollment and funding, he attracted national attention for his innovations in effecting student success. Indeed, one accomplishment, the institution of a "degree-compass program" designed by a colleague at Peay called Desire to Learn, will be marketed in the spring, though it has already been the subject of major articles and notice by the U.S. Department of Education. Using technology creatively, the performance-based program advises students in a way the president analogizes to how Netflix chooses movies, Pandora, music and Amazon books; i.e., looking at a wealth of data and suggesting what students might choose as coursework. Among personal and comparative considerations are the success rates of other students, SAT scores, overall academic background and other indicators. The program, President Hall says, has a "high degree of accuracy" but should not be viewed as prescriptive. It's designed to give students suggestions about what to study that will lead to success.

"Success," of course, is a fluid term, subject to and reflecting local and national conditions. The years 2002-2011, the president notes, were growth years in enrollment (a 32 percent increase) but that since then, due to financial pressures and smaller high school graduation, there's been a turndown. He's undeterred, nonetheless, in going for both access and excellence. "We're in a fight against tuition increases," he says, pointing to the fact that Mercy has been cited recently as one of the most affordable private colleges in the country, with an average cost of $17,000 a year. But the breakdown for Pell eligible students who come from New York State (the majority of Mercy enrollees) is even more impressive. Between federal aid and what Mercy itself provides to low-income students, often the first in their family to go to college, the gap for the student is $1100.

Such assistance may well help improve retention and graduation rates, a continuing problem for many colleges across the country. Success in these areas, however, should take into account demographics, of "tremendous importance" in assessing how students do and what success rates mean. Approximately 70percent of Mercy freshmen are Pell eligible, and the graduation rate, typically six years, hovers at 36 percent.  He feels confident, however, that Desire to Learn and PACT (Personal Achievement Contract) will make the difference, the latter a tailor-made, individual advisement program that covers all manner of counseling - academic, financial, psychological, career. He's also "obsessive" about good teaching, hiring and retaining faculty "who can personally connect with their students."

Like many institutions of higher education, Mercy is recruiting students from other countries (20 this year from Scandinavia and opening up in China,) thus diversifying the campus with international presence. The president is also pleased to note that most graduates tend to stay in the area, contributing their learning to the community, especially in the more popular disciplines of health sciences, education and business. In that regard, President Hall hopes for even more success, with students being "great students and great citizens." #

By Lydia Liebman

On November 7, 2014, Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology appointed Dr. Sharon DeVivo as the college's seventh and first female president. Formally Senior Vice President of Vaughn College, DeVivo has worked at the college for nearly twenty years. Previously she worked in public relations at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University as well as the director of communications at Fordham University.

The installation ceremony featured words of praise for Dr. Devivo from a plethora of Vaughn College dignitaries. "Sharon knows absolutely everything," said Mr. Thomas Broschart, President of the Faculty Senate, "she helped move us to the point that we're at now and she has visions for the future. I know that she will continue to work tirelessly and I hope that she stays with us as president for many, many years to come."

Jade Kukula, a 2007 graduate of Vaughn College who currently works in the defense and intelligence community at Aerospace Data Facility East, Lockhead Martin, spoke highly of the college and of Dr. DeVivo. "We have a saying where I work: supra et ultra. It means to go above and beyond," said Kukula, "and if ever there were a place where that's going to happen its here at Vaughn College with Sharon DeVivo." Kukula expressed that Vaughn College "gave her literally everything" and that the education she received has "kept the fire burning" since she graduated nearly eight years ago. "The staff and faculty instill a fire in us and we need more of that in the STEM world," she said.

The president of the Student Government Association, David Cepeda, also shared positive remarks about DeVivo and the college. "Devivo has hit the ground running. She has been the vigor behind many of our events that have occurred this year and has cooperated with the students to bring forth many accomplishments," said Cepeda, "Dr. DeVivo has been the epitome of communication and integration." Cepeda went on to praise DeVivo for facilitating and organizing a recent meeting at the college with Vice President Joe Biden, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the student ambassadors to discuss the future modernization of local airports.

After Cepeda's comments, DeVivo was formally installed by Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Thomas J. McKee to thunderous applause. "I am so touched," began Devivo, "This ceremony is not about me but about this campus and this community. It's about taking time to mark the significant achievements of this institution."

DeVivo spoke on her last nineteen years at Vaughn with pride. Notably, she discussed how when she started at the college, 90% of the students were tied to one industry that, at the time, was struggling. Then, in 1996, Vaughn received approval for a Bachelor of Science degree. In 1997, the inauguration of President John Fitzpatrick brought about a series of significant changes that included several new degrees including flight, management, engineering, graduate degrees, a residence hall and fundraising efforts, among others. She spoke at length about the importance of community at Vaughn College, noting that it is a priority of hers for all to feel welcome, respected and valued.

DeVivo also addressed the challenges facing Vaughn College and higher education in general, citing the shrinking number of high school graduates, the high cost of college tuition and the need for higher education to be simultaneously innovative and rigorous. "Our response to these challenges must include voices from inside and out," said DeVivo, "it will only be through a transparent, inclusive process of developing new degrees, finding new teaching methods and providing complimentary services that we will meet the needs of 21st century learning. DeVivo referred to a famous quote from William Butler Yeats, "education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire", as one of her favorites and encouraged others to take it to heart. "As educators [lighting a fire] has to be our goal. In the short term it is to provide the knowledge and the skills necessary to write a paper or solve a problem but the long term goal is to inspire a generation who are curious about the world," said DeVivo, "the challenge is to inspire lifelong learning."

In 2013, Vaughn College enrolled 1742 students. Currently, the institution offers Master's, bachelor's and associate degree programs in engineering, technology, management and aviation as well as certificate programs in air traffic control, aircraft maintenance and aircraft dispatch.

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) opened its doors to its new exhibit Nature's Fury, dedicated to the science of natural disasters.

President of AMNH Ellen Futter said the new exhibit sheds light on historic and recent natural disasters, and the science it takes to predict and lessen the risk of future catastrophes.

"While these events often instill fear, understanding the science behind them helps us better predict, prepare for, and cope with them," said Futter. "This exhibition is part of the Museum's longstanding effort to explore the interactions between humans and the natural world. And as our climate warms and our environment changes, understanding the impact of these phenomena is more important than ever."

Senior Vice President Michael Novacek said the exhibit illustrates how dynamic the planet is.

"Natural disasters are part of the human experience," said Novacek. "They're phenomena that are tremendous in terms of our daily lives."

Curator of Nature's Fury Edmond Mathez said science is bringing us an understanding of how natural disasters work and how we can lower the risk that are the result.

"Science is allowing us to be more probabilistic about these natural disasters," said Mathez.  "In the last several years we have seen extreme weather events, we will be able to better prepare for the ones in the future."

Other speakers included assistant curator for the division of anthropology Jennifer Newell, and James Webster curator for the department of earth and planetary sciences. Each speaker noted the importance of studying and researching disasters and highlighted that their research will allow mitigation that will help save more people when nature strikes again.

The museum features hands on exhibits including a seismometer that measures magnitude as you make a stomp with your feet; an interactive table that shows the timeline of Hurricane Sandy, and the effects it had on the island; and a stimulator that allows the visitor to see the inside and approach of a tornado. It also features historic tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes showing the progression in technology and predictability between the events.

The exhibit is open to the public starting November 15th until August 9th. 

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