Photos: Andy Poon
September 29, 2022, Flushing, NY—In a celebratory return to campus that marks its 85th anniversary year, Queens College has announced the appointment of 27 new tenure-track faculty, 21 new lecturers, and five administrators of student services. In addition, it has introduced many new courses and degree options, and is rolling out state-funded tuition assistance for part-time students.
“Queens College is an absolutely essential institution for New Yorkers, and we want to ensure that it stays relevant and viable going forward,” says President Frank H. Wu. “Despite this challenging economic environment, we are proud that we are responding to students’ changing needs, supporting innovative scholarship, and adding exciting new student and faculty voices to our campus. We are committed to building the foundations for future success of our college and graduates.”
Due to an unprecedented expansion of New York State’s Part-time Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) in the 2022-23 budget proposed by the governor and approved by the State Legislature, Queens College is launching an ambitious effort to help its part-time students secure much-needed grants. Such funds do not have to be repaid and are especially helpful to working students with families, who may not be able to attend college full time. Students taking only 6–11 credits per semester may apply so long as they meet TAP’s income and residency requirements.
Nearly 50 new faculty members have been hired across the college: 16 in the social sciences, 15 in math and natural sciences, 13 in arts and humanities, and 4 in education. They bring a wide array of backgrounds and research interests to the campus community. In the social sciences, Maggie Dickinson (Urban Studies) conducts research on urban food systems, hunger, and inequality—subjects vital to planners, schools, hospitals, and service providers in the metropolitan area. S. E. Hackney (Library and Information Studies) has delved deeply into past and present uses of digital texts, notably the history of the emojis that have entered everyday communications at all levels. Mona Kleinberg (Political Science) is an accomplished researcher who has written extensively on how technology and new media affect political behavior.
In the humanities, the English Department has appointed new faculty with expertise in understanding literature from diverse perspectives. Sawyer Kemp is a Shakespeare scholar who examines the plays’ performance through feminist and queer critiques, exploring outreach to trans and gender-nonconforming people, sexual assault survivors, and people with disabilities; further research studies gender-nonconforming figures in early modern texts. Chamara Moore analyzes texts and media through the lens of Black Feminist Cultural Studies, with special attention to notions of Black womanhood in works of speculative fiction by such authors as Octavia Butler, Colson Whitehead, and N. K. Jemisin. Crystal Hana Kim is a novelist (author of If You Leave Me and the forthcoming The Stone Home), whose work explores the importance of storytelling for notions of lineage, especially concerning Korea with its history of war, occupation, and division.
Similarly, new faculty are introducing cutting-edge courses in the other divisions. In education, Salvatore Garofalo, co-author of Spatial Intelligence: Why It Matters from Birth through the Lifespan, studies links between cognition and technology, including how the use of technology affects science instruction and comprehension. In math and natural science, Keaton Bell (Physics) conducts pathbreaking astronomical research; he is searching for new planets around white dwarfs so as to see into the future for our own solar system and, through analysis of vibrations of stars, he hopes to understand their deep interiors. Jonathan Gryak (Computer Science) addresses current problems in biomedical informatics and computer science by developing novel artificial intelligence and/or machine-learning methods.
Besides new faculty, the college has approved new majors, minors and courses, expanding students’ paths to graduate school and careers. The new BA degree in Fashion and Design prepares students for jobs and advanced degrees in fashion through fashion design studies, museum and archive training, and a fashion and costume design practicum. Students will gain hands-on experience working with historic garments and accessories from the Queens College Fashion and Textiles collection, which houses objects from the 19th to 21st century. The major can also be paired with a new minor in fashion design for an even more focused, comprehensive course of study in the field of fashion.
Among the other degree changes are new minors offered in anthropology—useful either as specializations for anthropology majors or in combination with other majors in the humanities, social sciences, STEM fields, or education. The minor in health and culture—which has much to offer students in the health sciences and social work—shines an anthropological lens on the social and biological underpinnings of health, beliefs about disease and the body, and the roots of health disparities. The minor in human ecology, which addresses urgent questions of how humans relate to the environment, should appeal to students in many areas of science, policy, law, and health. The minor in power and inequality is a perfect fit for students intending to pursue law, policy, data analysis, or social activism. The minor in cultural heritage and memory addresses relationships between history, identity, and preservation; it is designed for students going into fields ranging from law and policy to museum and library studies.
New courses keep the college curriculum fresh and up to date. Computer Science 381/780, Applied Data Science, offers students the chance to learn advanced data science techniques using real-world data; organized as a practicum, it helps students become independent researchers and analysts of complex data on real-world problems.
Alongside academics, Queens College administers programs aimed at helping vulnerable students complete and thrive in college. This year it has appointed a number of new administrators to the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management headed by Vice President Jennifer Jarvis. This division provides crucial economic, safety net, and health services—such as grant-funded programs for low-income and disabled students, the Child Development Center, the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center, and many others. Sean Pierce has been chosen to serve as interim assistant vice president for student affairs. Dwayne Jones is the new interim dean of students. Kristen Berkley is the assistant director of student development and leadership. Tim Chin is the new director of housing and residence life. Ethan Jenkins serves as coordinator of immigrant student support.
Finally, as part of the 2021–2026 Strategic Plan, Queens College has made a number of institutional changes aimed at holding its edge academically and professionally. In March, it launched a School of Business that consolidates its strengths in accounting, finance, economics, actuarial studies, international business, and risk management; the school is expected to help graduates compete within an expected growth in workforce demand for business professionals. Similarly, in May, the college introduced its School of Arts, the most comprehensive of its kind in the CUNY system. Again, it builds on the college’s longtime strengths in music, drama, theatre, dance, the fine arts, and media studies; its extensive museum, exhibition, and performance spaces; and its close ties with community partners like Flushing Town Hall, the Queens Museum, and the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.
“We have all gone through some difficult times with the pandemic,” says Wu, “and many of our students come from especially hard-hit communities. We are very happy to be able to grow and innovate in ways that we believe are going to keep Queens College a vibrant source of quality education and upward mobility for a long time.”