Executive Director of Communications
NEW EQUITY STUDIES RESEARCH CENTER AT QUEENS COLLEGE
WILL ADDRESS INEQUALITIES IN “ACCESSING EDUCATION”
FLUSHING, NEW YORK, February 17, 2005—As a top-ranked public institution serving the most ethnically diverse county in the United States, Queens College has a long history of making education accessible to people who might never have attended a university. Now, with the development of a new, outreach-oriented campus think tank, the Equity Studies Research Center, the college is poised to address the gap in “accessing education” among women, minorities, immigrants, and other groups, such as inner-city residents.
“Not all students have access to the same services or receive the same quality education,” says Penny L. Hammrich, dean of Queens College’s division of education, who will direct the center. “Unfortunately, disparities that may begin early increase at every level of schooling.”
A national leader in the educational equity movement, Hammrich will be honored in Washington, D.C., on February 23, 2005, by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). The group will present Hammrich with its Gender Equity Award in Women’s Leadership for her role in the Sisters in Science Equity Reform Project, an initiative Hammrich launched in Philadelphia ten years earlier, when she was a Temple University professor.
Sponsored by AACTE’s Committee on Women’s Issues, the award “recognizes exemplary accomplishment in programs and innovations related to gender equity in education.” According to the organization, “The member institution or program selected to receive this award serves as a model for others in the profession, advancing the agenda for women and girls.”
Sisters in Science was founded to help overcome the well-known “achievement gap” for females in mathematics, science and technology, which typically begins in elementary school. From its pilot, which involved fourth and fifth-grade girls in after-school projects, Sisters expanded into a broad enrichment program of extracurricular activities, weekend classes, camps, and internships that encouraged girls of all ages (and more than a few boys) to consider careers in math and science.
But the Sisters program didn’t stop there. Funded by nearly $10 million in National Science Foundation grants over the years, the program ultimately reached out to teachers, as well as the inner-city community, to tackle gender issues in education.
Duplicated in New York City, Sisters in Science will become the core program of the Equity Studies Research Center based in Queens College’s Division of Education. Two additional core projects, both sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, will use science as a vehicle to increase overall literacy among all elementary school students. Other studies that are already being conducted at the college—covering topics ranging from leadership roles in the Asian-American community to gender gaps in math and science—will be brought under the umbrella of the center.
“This is very much a multidisciplinary effort, involving not only my colleagues in education, but other departments here including sociology, psychology, and economics,” says Hammrich. Results of the center’s work will be disseminated through newsletters, publications, and eventually, a book.
“The centerpiece of the research will be field-based, with practice driving theory,” explains Hammrich, a cognition learning theorist who joined the Queens College faculty in 2003. “In Philadelphia, we kept spinning Sisters to different venues and different levels of students. It’s based on more than 10 years of classroom experience and practical, grassroots programs. Here, we’re looking toward creating a federally funded center that focuses on urban issues and professional development.”
Queens College has long educated a large number of teachers and administrators who spend their professional lives in schools in New York City and the greater metropolitan area. “With the Equity Studies Research Center, Queens is ideally positioned to become a leader in urban education,” says Dr. James Muyskens, president of the college. “We are very proud of Dean Hammrich and the role she has played in helping establish this center, whose ultimate mission is an equitable education for all students. I can think of nothing more vital to our future as a city, state, or nation.”
Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY) is dedicated to the idea that a first-rate education should be accessible to talented individuals of all backgrounds and financial means. Founded in 1937, the college offers an exceptional liberal arts curriculum, with over 100 undergraduate and graduate programs and a variety of specialized honors programs.
Located on a beautiful 77-acre campus in Flushing, Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. In fact, the 2005 edition of The Princeton Review The Best 357 Colleges ranked Queens College #6 among America’s top-20 “Best Bargain Public Colleges.” Its nearly 17,000 students come from more than 140 nations and speak 66 languages, creating an extraordinarily diverse and welcoming environment. The college’s outstanding faculty members have received numerous fellowships, awards, and research grants, including two Guggenheim awards and Fulbright grants.