Not Your Father’s War Stories: Listening to Veterans at Baruch

What challenges do women and LGBTQ individuals face in the military? What issues exist for Black veterans? How have Vietnam-era veterans coped with PTSD, and what lessons might their experience hold for a new generation of veterans?

These issues and others were discussed by three incredible featured speakers and two students at a powerful and moving Baruch-hosted pre-Veterans Day event: “Listening to Veterans,” Nov. 9, 2021.

Baruch College President S. David Wu offered introductory remarks and referenced his own national service in the Taiwanese Navy. The other speakers, all of them US military veterans from the CUNY community, brought expertise on a variety of issues related to the experience of serving in the military. You can watch a video of the hour-long event here:

flyer for Listening to veterans event nov 9 5:30 pm with headshots of speakers
Speakers for Listening to Veterans event, Nov 9

We were thrilled to have Tanya Domi, a US Army veteran and CUNY Graduate Center director of public relations, participating. She’s an expert and activist on women’s/LGBTQ issues in the military.

We were also incredibly honored to have the participation of Isiah James, US Army veteran, Baruch MPA alumnus, and senior policy director of Black Veterans Project. He spoke about a recent trip to lobby officials in Washington to provide funding to care for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We also heard from Professor Glenn Petersen, an anthropologist who teaches at Baruch Weissman and at the CUNY Graduate Center. He served in the US Navy in Vietnam and recently wrote a memoir reflecting on the trauma and mental and emotional repercussions of his service, called War and the Arc of Human Experience

We were thrilled to have two Baruch College seniors participating. Roy Quintuna and Jacob Michaels spoke about their experiences and the challenges and opportunities of military service, along with reflections on their education at Baruch.

Baruch students Roy Quintuna, who's in the ROTC, and Jacob Michaels, a Navy veteran
Baruch students Roy Quintuna, who’s in the ROTC, and Jacob Michaels, a Navy veteran

Roy shared his perspective as the child of immigrants (his parents are from Ecuador) and a first-generation college student. He is an officer candidate in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and is attending Baruch on an Air Force scholarship, majoring in Intercultural and International Communication with a minor in Spanish. He recalled telling his father when he was young that he wanted to be a pilot, and his dad saying, “I can’t help you.” The military, he says, offered him “a pathway forward.”

Jacob is majoring in political science and philosophy, and minoring in psychology and Japanese. He served in the US Navy from 2010 to 2019 as “an antiterrorism/force protection specialist as well as working within the nation’s intelligence community as a cryptologist and fusion analyst. All this just means I’m very skilled at standing in one place scanning the distance and I can make a solid PowerPoint.”

He said he’d wondered during his service what was the point of “all the suffering in Afghanistan … Was the Navy, as they say in their commercials, ‘a global force for good’ or did I devote my twenties to an organization that only helped to stoke the fires of imperialism?” At Baruch, “I got to ask my questions from brilliant professors like Claudia Halbac, Cory Evans, and David Lindsey. I learned terms like hegemony and grand strategy; about blowback and the close relationship between the Saudi royal family and the United States government. What I also learned was that I played a very tiny role in a very large machine … and that the moral failings and choices of the officers and politicians controlling the US military over the last two decades, both elected and unelected, that led us into ideological forever wars do not reflect and define my own choices to work with and for my fellow man.”

Climate Change: Artists Respond

Please join us on November 18 at 4 pm on Zoom for the next “We Are Climate Action” event, called “Climate Change: Artists Respond.” This panel brings together contemporary artists whose artwork contributes to a broader public understanding of the consequences of climate change for human and non-human existence, and the urgent need for action and mitigation. The seemingly overwhelming scale of the climate crisis is a recognized barrier to public participation in tackling the climate crisis. Art can overcome this resistance through a myriad of methods, from educating and raising awareness to modeling problem solving or giving voice and form to intangible forces. Xavier Cortada, Anina Gerchick, Mary Mattingly and Katherine Behar have created art that is both geographically specific and universally relevant, providing entry points around which people can coalesce.

Register here for the event.

four works of art are shown on a poster for Nov 18 event
Work by Katherine Behar, top left; Mary Mattingly, bottom left; Xavier Cortada, middle; Anina Gerchick, right.

Behar, a professor at Baruch and the CUNY Graduate Center, is the director of the New Media Artspace. Cortada, a professor at the University of Miami, is an NSF fellow and creator of UnderwaterHOA, which looks at rising sea levels in Florida. Gerchick, a landscape artist and City College graduate, is the creator of BirdLinkNY, a deployable sculptural habitat. And Mattingly is the creator of Swale, a floating edible landscape. The panel is being organized by and moderated by Reiss, an art historian and CUNY Graduate Center PhD alumna, and editor of “Art, Theory and Practice in the Anthropocene.” Behar is co-moderator.

Poster for event with headshots of speakers
Participants in November 18 Climate Change: Artists Respond event

Check out videos of our two most recent “We Are Climate Action” events on the Weissman YouTube channel: Climate Change and Preparation for NYC Resiliency and Climate Change and Public Health. If you know any students, researchers, or journalists who are looking for comprehensive resources for papers, research, or stories about climate change, both of these events offer a wealth of data, information, analysis, and quotes from nationally recognized experts.

Professor Stefan Bathe’s Role in Taking Steps to Understand the Early Universe

Professor Stefan Bathe (Natural Sciences) is celebrating a milestone in his research group’s work at Brookhaven National Laboratory: the installation of a massive superconducting magnet. The magnet is a key piece of sPHENIX, a detector that will begin collecting data in 2023 to help scientists understand matter as it existed in the early universe.

A time-lapsed video of the magnet’s installation (shown above) shows the scale of the project. The sPHENIX detector will track particles streaming from RHIC (relativistic heavy ion collider) collisions with what Brookhaven described as “unprecedented precision.” Bathe has been leading the assembly, testing, and calibration of a hadronic calorimeter (the blue circular structure pictured below the magnet), which measures particle energy.

Nine members of Professor Stefan Bathe's research team are shown wearing masks
Professor Stefan Bathe, front row center, and some of his research team members

Bathe supervises a team of some 40 students and postdocs from around the US, including students Daniel Richford and Zhiyan Wang from the CUNY Graduate Center, where Bathe is on the faculty. Richford won this year’s RHIC and AGS  (Alternating Gradient Synchrotron) Merit Award “for his tireless leadership ensuring the safe and timely assembly and testing of the sPHENIX hadronic calorimeter during a global pandemic.”

Now that the magnet is in place, “we are working on the next layer of calorimeter detectors, to be installed inside the magnet early next year,” Bathe said. “Once the installation of this equipment is complete, we’ll be able to more carefully examine the particle soup that remains floating out there in the universe from the Big Bang.”

You can read more about the research and the students’ contributions in this story from the CUNY Graduate Center.

Why It Matters That Journalists Won the Nobel Peace Prize

The Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions applauds the news that the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to two journalists, Maria Ressa in the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov in Russia. At a time when attacks on reporters are on the rise, this recognition of Ressa and Muratov for standing up for press freedom in the face of repression is significant. It serves as a powerful statement to the world that journalists are vital to upholding democracy and that disinformation undermines peace.

Previous journalists to win the Nobel Peace Prize were Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni journalist and co-founder of Women Journalists Without Chains, in 2011, and Carl von Ossietzky in 1935. Ossietzky’s critical reporting of the Nazi party landed him in prison, where he died.


Don’t Miss Healthcare Activist Ady Barkan, Nov. 1

Attorney-activist Ady Barkan, who has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and is a fierce advocate for healthcare rights, will speak at a free Zoom event, Nov. 1, 5:30 pm. The event is organized by Baruch’s Sandra K. Wasserman Jewish Studies Center.

Photo of activist Ady Barkan wearing a Be a Hero T-shirt
Ady Barkan

Barkan works for the Center for Popular Democracy and is co-founder of Be A Hero. He’s the author of a memoir, “Eyes to the Wind,” and his story is told in a new documentary widely available online called “Not Going Quietly.” Politico called him “the most powerful activist in America” and Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of 2020. The New York Times profiled him in a story called “Ady Barkan Won’t Let Dying Stop His Activism.”

Barkan will be in conversation with Baruch Marxe Professor Jonathan Engel. Register here for the Nov. 1 event.

Meet Stephanie Govan: Weissman Couldn’t Function Without Her

Students and faculty are the most visible members of the Baruch Weissman community. But behind the scenes, it’s people like Stephanie Govan who keep things running. Ms. Govan works in the Dean’s Office as director of scheduling, registration, and enrollment data management. She was kind enough to share a little bit about her background, her work, and the changes she’s seen at Baruch.

portrait of Stephanie Govan
Stephanie Govan

Ms. Govan is a two-time CUNY alumna, with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Lehman College in the Bronx and a master’s degree in public administration from Baruch. She started at Baruch as an office assistant. Today she’s an administrator in charge of creating the block programs for entering freshmen, and she also serves as the liaison between Weissman departments and the registrar’s office.

It’s a huge and critical task. First-year students don’t get to choose their classes; Ms. Govan creates programs for them, coordinating with Weissman departments to make sure the schedules work. She also collects data on enrollment in majors and works with departments to process new adjunct appointments. 

“Stephanie was the first person I met in the dean’s office as a new faculty member,” said Weissman Interim Dean Jessica Lang. “I was being trained to take over the First-Year Writing Program and my colleague training me told me there was one person who would be able to answer all of my questions about section numbers and scheduling–Stephanie. He was right! Stephanie has a depth of knowledge about enrollment numbers, student placement, and section availability that is extraordinary. It touches on the professional lives of all faculty and students. Many might not know that Stephanie has worked on their behalf–she has a light touch–but we couldn’t function without her.” 

The job has grown tremendously since Ms. Govan started at Baruch, going from 1,500 to 1,800 first-year students each fall, to 2,600 students or more, with another 100 or so in the spring. She’s also noticed more students taking college classes in high school, which makes setting up their class schedules a little more complicated. Working from home during the pandemic was challenging as well: “In the office, I have two beautiful big screens,” she said. “At home, I’m on my laptop.” 

One thing she loves about working at Baruch is seeing how involved students are in both on-campus activities and the outside world. At a recent recruitment event for high school students, she heard “students and graduates talking about their experience. It was great to hear how students take advantage of internships and opportunities to mentor other students, and just good to hear about our students getting out and about.”

New PBS Film ‘Becoming Helen Keller’ Includes Work by Two Baruch Professors

A new PBS American Masters documentary Becoming Helen Keller about Keller’s humanitarian work features contributions from two Baruch faculty members. The program premieres nationally on October 19. (In the New York City area, the film screens at 9 pm ET on Channel 13-WNET.)

Helen Keller in a white blouse smelling a flower
Helen Keller

Vincent DiGirolamo, an associate professor in Baruch Weissman’s Department of History, served as an academic advisor on the film. The late Peter Dobkin Hall, a professor of History and Theory in Baruch’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs until his death in 2015, appears as a talking head in the 90-minute film exploring Keller’s extraordinary life.

Headshot of Professor Vincent DiGirolamo and photo of the late Peter Dobkin Hall in a white suit standing on a balcony
Professor Vincent DiGirolamo and the late Professor Peter Dobkin Hall

Keller was deaf and blind but learned to communicate as a child under the tutelage of Anne Sullivan. The story of her language breakthrough has been widely told on stage, in print, and in film, including the famed 1962 movie The Miracle Worker for which a young Patty Duke won an Oscar.

The documentary focuses on lesser-known aspects of Keller’s life, including her advocacy for poor people, people with disabilities, and women, and her commitment to women’s suffrage, the NAACP, workers’ rights, and other social justice issues. The film also looks at her controversial positions in medical ethics debates and her personal life with Sullivan.

DiGirolamo worked closely with producers Laurie Block and John Crowley, who launched the project under their Massachusetts-based Straight Ahead Pictures production company and Disability History Museum.

“I met Laurie at a now legendary disability history conference at San Francisco State University in 2008,” DiGirolamo said. “I was impressed by her knowledge and nerve in getting this project funded and backed by WGBH in Boston. I read scripts and critiqued rough cuts over the years, and offered Baruch facilities for production meetings and screenings when needed. It was a long haul for these independent producers and I’m happy to see the movie finished. Peter Hall would be equally pleased.”

To prepare for the documentary premiere, a number of PBS stations upgraded their websites’ accessibility, created regional programming, and included people with disabilities and community groups in planning. An online curriculum for grades 6 to 12 using film clips is being developed.

Becoming Helen Keller is narrated by Rebecca Alexander, who is blind and deaf. Actor Cherry Jones performs Keller’s written words, while actor and dancer Alexandria Wailes and writer-rapper Warren ‘WAWA’ Snipe provide sign-language interpretation.  The program will be audio-described and closed-captioned.

Read more about the program here.

New Media Artspace’s Visiting Artist: Introducing kate-hers RHEE

Baruch Weissman’s New Media Artspace is hosting a new online exhibition called “Inventing Genealogies” featuring work by kate-hers RHEE, a transnational feminist and interdisciplinary visual, performance and social practice artist. RHEE is NMA’s visiting artist for Fall Semester 2021.

black and white photo of kate-hers RHEE in turban and collared jacket
kate-hers RHEE

RHEE, a transracial adopted Korean person, says her family tree was fabricated by the South Korean government to falsely construe her as an orphan and expedite her expatriation to the U.S. To claim her own identity and rights without benefit of a conventional or factual family tree, RHEE embarks on inventing genealogies. The exhibition offers a choose-your-own adventure-style narrative inspired by family trees and DNA. Viewers tunnel through bureaucratic paperwork as they choose a path linking different artworks.

promotion for kate-hers RHEE Inventing Genealogies online exhibition at New Media Artspace
kate-hers RHEE, Transkoreaning, bureaucratic documents, 2016–2017

Read about RHEE’s work here and click through to the exhibition.  RHEE will also be giving a lecture October 26 which will be livestreamed on YouTube, 6-7:30 pm.