Welcome back to Queens College, and a special welcome to the class of 2011 and everyone who is new to our community as we celebrate our seventieth anniversary. And do we have something to celebrate!
I am delighted to say that the college was just named one of the nation’s 25 “hottest” and “most interesting colleges” by the 2008 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get into College Guide. To quote the guide, “The school’s biggest claim to fame is the several generations of lawyers, doctors and other professionals who could not afford the Ivies and say Queens changed their lives.” In a nutshell, they are saying we have a long tradition of excellent students and excellent teachers at Queens College.
There are many reasons why Queens College is hot, not the least of which is that every year we hire outstanding new faculty. Among the extraordinary group of 51 scholars and teachers joining us this year are Veronica Schanoes, winner of the William Carlos Williams Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets; biologist John Dennehy, whose research addresses open questions in ecological and evolutionary theory; art professor Vasileios Marinis, a specialist in Byzantine art and history who holds degrees from five different universities; and early education professor Ted Kesler, a former New York City teacher whose third grade class was featured in an excellent series of articles in the New York Times. I invite you to meet them and all of our new professors at the Faculty Staff Assembly on Wednesday, October 17 in LeFrak Concert Hall.
Our current faculty has been busy this summer. Biologist John Waldman and one of his graduate students were in New York Harbor studying the diets of cormorants, a project that received major coverage in the media. Environmentalist Yan Zheng and students investigated the presence of arsenic in the groundwater in Maine and New Hampshire, and chemistry professor Cherice Evans and a group of her students studied supercritical fluids at the University of Wisconsin’s Synchrotron Radiation Center. Geologist Stephen Pekar may soon be thinking wistfully of the hot campus he left behind when, thanks to a grant he just received from the National Science Foundation, he leads an expedition to Antarctica in 2008. And you no doubt saw two of our Distinguished Professors around town—poet Kimiko Hahn and biologist Corinne Michels—who appeared in subways and buses throughout the five boroughs as part of the City University’s latest advertising campaign.
There have been a number of exciting changes to the campus this summer. We continue to improve our advising services following last semester’s reorganization that clarified the roles of our personal counseling and academic advising services. Indeed, we just hired four new advisors and expanded the space of the Academic Advising Center in Kiely Hall. The Dining Hall has received a much-needed face-lift with the creation of a new multipurpose room, information center, and recreation center/game room. The Student Union boasts a new dining room, game lounge, and TV room as well as a new faculty/staff dining room on the first floor. My hat is off to the Student Association and Student Union, whose unwavering support helped to make these projects a reality. Thanks to their efforts, I believe you will find that the campus now truly has a home-away-from-home feeling.
I wish you all the best in the coming year and look forward to meeting and talking with you on campus.