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Governor Andrew Cuomo Celebrates Earth Day with Historic Bill Signing at Long Island University

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to the stage at the Tilles Center to make his announcement on Earth Day that New York will ban single-use plastic bags. (Photo by Rita Langdon, LIU)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to the campus of Long Island University to celebrate the 49th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 when he signed historic legislation to ban single-use plastic bags. The law goes into effect next March.

More than 200 people attended the bill signing ceremony held at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post. On hand for this memorable occasion were LIU Chairman of the Board of Trustees Eric Krasnoff, LIU President Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, State Senators Jim Gaughran, John Brooks and Anna Kaplan, as well as dozens of students and faculty.

As reported in Newsday, Cuomo said that single-use plastic shopping bags litter our highways and waterways. He conceded that shoppers will have to remember to bring along reusable bags when they go shopping but he called it “a minor inconvenience” and added that “in the scope of life it’s such a trivial thing.”

But left unchecked, plastic bags add up to a big environmental problem. Experts predict that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic than fish, by weight, in the world’s oceans. Governor Cuomo noted that nationwide, Americans use an estimated 100 billion single-use plastic bags each year. An average American family typically discards 1,500 single-use plastic bags annually.

“The banning of plastic bags is something we have been talking about for years,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This bag issue is not in isolation. You would have to be blind not to see the impact of climate change. You would have to be blind not to see the impact of extreme weather everywhere. We are literally destroying the planet and we know it.”

The time for action was clear, the governor said.

“It’s about making a change and making a change fast,” he said. “New York has always been a leader when it comes to leading on the tough problems. We lead the way on the environment once again.”

He announced this new policy at LIU because it’s a demonstrated national leader in the area of sustainability. The University has also been named by The Princeton Review as one of America’s top Green Colleges.


LIU Brooklyn Student Gets Chance of a Lifetime to Attend a Leadership Conference at West Point

LIU Brooklyn student Sidra Shabbir recently went upstate to a leadership conference at West Point.

For political science major Sidra Shabbir (Brooklyn ’20, B.A.), getting to meet Denis McDonugh, President Barack Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, was the icing on the cake when she recently represented Long Island University at the 7th Annual McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character held at West Point, the U.S. Military Academy.

“I was freaking out! I had no idea he was going to be there,” said Shabbir, who grew up in Dyker Heights and graduated from New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn.

“I was on my own completely, miles away from home, so obviously I was really intimidated and also very scared,” Shabbir admitted. “But after the four-day weekend I made so many friends and made so many connections, and networked so much, I feel that I learned a lot of life lessons from this experience.”

Named after Robert A. McDonald, the former chief executive officer of Procter & Gamble, the leadership conference brings together “top undergraduate student leaders from diverse backgrounds to participate in a team-based, experimental and analytical exercise,” as the mission statement says, “that bolsters leadership skills, fosters critical thinking and collaboration, and develops potential strategies for addressing pressing global issues.”

“Sidra’s an extraordinary young woman and a phenomenal student,” said Scott Krawczyk, Ph.D., Dean of the LIU Brooklyn Richard L. Conolly College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. After applying to the program in the fall, he learned in February that the University had been offered to send one exceptional student to the leadership conference with all expenses paid.

“This was a remarkable opportunity for one lucky LIU student,” he said. “It helped to shine a bright light on LIU within an array of highly distinguished students from some of the finest academic institutions in the world.”

After Dean Krawczyk consulted with Dr. Nathaniel Bowditch, Dean of the LIU Post College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, he said that “Sidra was the clear top choice.”

And so in late March, Shabbir was one of 60 students gathered on the banks of the Hudson River from across the country and around the world. Among the speakers at the four-day conference on the theme of leadership and technology was Jack Ma, co-founder and current chairman of Alibaba Group, a Chinese multinational conglomerate specializing in e-commerce, retail, Internet and technology. A former school teacher in eastern China, he started Alibaba out of his apartment and became one of the world’s richest entrepreneurs.

“He was so down to earth,” she said. “I was not expecting that!”

Each day of the conference was filled with panel discussions and special speakers. “There were a lot of Type A personalities up there,” Shabbir said, with a laugh, adding that sometimes the debate could get “a little heated,” but she took it upon herself to play a mediating role, which she found very rewarding.

When Denis McDonough was seated on a panel, she brought up the issue of drones. “So I decided to ask that in light of technology and innovation, do you believe that the ethical boundaries have become blurred, and if so, how do we make them clearer?” He took the mic, applauded the question, and responded energetically. Afterwards, she mustered the confidence to introduce herself.

“He told me, ‘We need more minds like yours in the White House!’ Wow, I was floored! He was so nice!”

Following McDonough’s footsteps to the West Wing is not in Shabbir’s current plans, however. After she graduates, she wants to go to law school and specialize in immigration and civil rights. She had nothing but praise for the preparation she’s gained at LIU Brooklyn. Out of high school she spent her freshman year at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York, in mid-town Manhattan.

“The faculty really didn’t care about the students,” she said. “I didn’t like the community there.” Her older sister, Iqra, a first-year student at LIU Pharma, recommended that she transfer to LIU Brooklyn because the classes were smaller and the faculty more engaged.

“At Hunter there were these huge lecture halls, sometimes with 500 kids,” Shabbir said. “It wasn’t for me.”

Her time at LIU has been very rewarding. In fact, she was elected sophomore governor of her class.
Now that she’s been to the conference at West Point, she enthused, “I want to go to more conferences! That was the best experience. I made so many friends! I feel I’m going to keep these connections for a very long time!”

LIU Brooklyn to Host MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Winner John Keene at This Years’ Paumanok Lecture

John Keene, celebrated author and upcoming Paumanok Lecture speaker

Acclaimed fiction writer and 2018 MacArthur Fellow John Keene will deliver this year’s prestigious “Starting from Paumanok” lecture at the LIU Brooklyn’s Kumble Theater on April 10, starting at 7 p.m.

This year’s annual event, which takes its name from a poem by Walt Whitman, comes a month before the 200thanniversary of his birth on May 31, 1819. The lecture’s title invokes the Native American word for Long Island and acknowledges the University’s geographic and cultural connection to one of Brooklyn’s—and Long Island’s—foremost literary figures. Among those who’ve previously appeared here are the novelists Sandra Cisneros, Gary Shteyngart and Edwidge Danticat; the poets Claudia Rankine and Tracy K. Smith; and the playwright Lynn Nottage.

Winner of the American Book Award and the Windham Campbell Prize in Fiction, John Keene received an A.B. from Harvard University and an M.F.A. from New York University. Currently he is a professor and chair of the Department of African American and African Studies and a professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University-Newark.

Keene was a member of the Dark Room Collective and a graduate fellow of Cave Canem. He is the author of the novel “Annotations”; the poetry collection “Seismosis,” an art-text collaboration with artist Christopher Stackhouse; and the short-fiction collection, “Counternarratives.” His writing has appeared in TriQuarterly, the Kenyon Reviewand Ploughshares, among other journals. He translated Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel, “Letters from a Seducer,” from Portuguese.

Following the talk by John Keene, Parsons Family University Professor of Creative Writing Erica Hunt will join him on stage for a short interview before taking questions from the audience. Afterwards, he will sign books in the Kumble Theater lobby, thanks to a partnership with Greenlight Books in Brooklyn. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“John Keene just got a MacArthur as well as the Windham Campbell award—these are the two big prizes in literature outside of the Nobel. It’s really quite something,” said Professor Hunt, who knows Keene well. “He’s a modest guy. But this is the chance to see an individual whose mark on literature is at the level of a Toni Morrison, a James Baldwin or a William Styron.”

She sung his praises for his latest book, “Counternarratives.”

“If history is written by the victors, what he’s done is re-center the story and question whether the victors really had command over the story,” she explained. “He helps us see old stories anew. In a way, he has transformed what is possible in literature. We get a sense of the lives that were lived and perhaps lost, but he has recovered them for us. We see them fresh and bracing, and in them, he provides a script for ourselves about how we might depart from the dead end of the present time.”

The Paumanok Lecture is presented by the Department of English, Philosophy and Languages at LIU Brooklyn, with ongoing support from the Mellon Foundation Fund and LIU’s John P. McGrath Fund.

“Walt Whitman set out to be a poet of American democracy, and insisted in all of his works on the goodness of Americans and our nation’s capacity to embrace people of all walks of life,”said Leah Dilworth, Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English, Philosophy, and Languages at LIU Brooklyn. “He saw himself as almost literally embodying every aspect of American life and as a medium who sang the ‘varied carols’ of all Americans. Now, more than ever, we need a voice like Whitman’s, and I for one am comforted by his words to future Americans at the end of his epic poem ‘Song of Myself’: ‘Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,/ Missing me one place search another,/ I stop somewhere waiting for you.’

“In this spirit,” Dilworth continued, “every year the Paumanok Lecture celebrates poets and writers and thinkers who, like Whitman, sing America.”

Time: 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Place: Kumble Theater, LIU Brooklyn,  1 University Plaza, Brooklyn

For more information on the Paumanok lecture series, contact Leah Dilworth, Professor of English and Chair of the Department of English, Philosophy, and Languages at LIU Brooklyn, 718-488-1050; Leah.Dilworth@liu.edu

For more information on Paumanok Lecture speakers, click here.  (with bios and dates of lecture)



LIU Announces Winners of 70th Annual George Polk Awards in Journalism

Long Island University’s announcement of the George Polk Awards was broadcast live on C-SPAN from the National Press Club followed by a panel discussion, with (from left to right) Sarah Gonzalez, Planet Money; Bill Siemering, radio pioneer and founding board member of NPR; Madeleine Baran, reporter for In the Dark: Season Two; and Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post.

Washington, D.C. — Elevating one of the most prestigious awards in journalism, Long Island University (LIU) held a nationally televised event in the First Amendment Lounge at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to announce the winners of the 70th Annual George Polk Awards.  The ceremony, which was broadcast live on C-SPAN2, cited reporting that exposed miscarriages of justice and wrongful dealings in politics and business at home, and the massacre and starvation of innocent civilians abroad.

Among the journalists honored for their work in 2018 were two Reuters correspondents imprisoned in Myanmar after uncovering the slaughter of Rohingya villagers, a writer who risked his life in Iraq to document revenge heaped upon questionable ISIS collaborators, and two of Jamal Khashoggi’s Washington Post colleagues who sought to hold Saudi Arabian authorities accountable for his murder. To see highlights of the awards ceremony, click here.

The event included opening remarks by LIU President Dr. Kimberly R. Cline and a special panel discussion on the role of the press moderated by Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan.

“I am immensely proud of how this award has remained relevant despite an ever-changing journalistic landscape,” said Dr. Cline. “It is for this reason and the integrity and thoughtfulness of the men and women who painstakingly judge the hundreds of submissions that the George Polk Award has become one of the most highly regarded journalism honors in the country.”

The George Polk Awards are conferred annually to honor special achievement in journalism. The awards place a premium on investigative and enterprising reporting that gains attention and achieves results. They were established in 1949 by LIU to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war.

Reporters won in 16 categories. One revealed how a federal prosecutor now in President Donald Trump’s cabinet helped a wealthy sexual predator avoid a lengthy prison sentence in Florida. Another amassed evidence of ballot fraud in a disputed North Carolina Congressional election.  A third trekked to the far reaches of war-torn Yemen to provide visual proof of rampant famine and death.

A team of reporters in Louisiana showed that convictions from split juries disproportionately impacted non-white defendants. Another team in Arizona combed records to reveal false claims and insider deals in the charter school industry. A third converged on the southern border and then spread across the country to show the traumatic effects of separating children from parents and other relatives under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of immigration.

Reporters analyzed a voluminous trove of documents to trace President Trump’s personal wealth to gifts from his father rather than to his own business acumen. Others documented how the social media giants of Silicon Valley misled regulators and the public, and empowered hucksters and propagandists as they followed the quest for ever larger growth. In medical news, winners demonstrated that widely marketed medical devices subject to lax federal oversight endangered patients. In local news, two reporters forced changes at a prestigious Florida hospital after reporting the deaths of 11 young heart patients in 18 months, three in one week.

For the first time, the twelve Polk judges awarded a prize for a podcast. It went to “In the Dark, Season Two,” which cast grave doubts on the guilt of an African-American currently on Mississippi’s death row who was tried six times for the same crime.

“The Polk Awards recognize the changing landscape of news,” said John Darnton, curator of the awards and recipient of two Polk Awards and a Pulitzer for his work with The New York Times. “The story of a person who in all likelihood is wrongly convicted is tried and true. But the podcast, as a delivery vehicle spread over multiple episodes that makes listeners feel it is unfolding in real time right before their ears, is a new and exciting reincarnation.”

Darnton noted that the judges had reviewed 554 submissions, a record number since the Polk Awards began. “Few years have been as fruitful as this one,” he added. “These winners tell us that the best of our journalists remain resilient, courageous, dedicated and undeterred by attacks on their ability and integrity.”

Bill Siemering, 84 years old, a pioneering force in public radio who wrote the initial mission statement for National Public Radio and was instrumental in launching such enduring programs as “All Things Considered” and “Fresh Air,” will be the 37th recipient of the George Polk Career Award.

Below are the winners of the 2018 George Polk Awards:

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of Reuters receive the award for Foreign Reporting for “Massacre in Myanmar,” establishing that paramilitary police executed 10 Rohingya Muslims in the village of Inn Din. They located a mass grave filled with bones sticking out of the ground and found photos of the execution. Faced with such evidence, Myanmar authorities announced that seven soldiers had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for their role in the massacre, to this date the only government admission of wrongdoing against the Rohingya minority. The reporters, members of the Buddhist majority, were convicted of violating their nation’s official secrets act and are serving seven years in prison despite global efforts to free them.

The award for National Reporting goes to the staff of The New York Times for a series of investigative reports focusing on how social media titans like Facebook maximized profits and misled regulators as well as the public with little regard for the consequences of failing to monitor misuse that included the widespread dissemination of hate-mongering, invasion of privacy and filing false reports. The Times’ stories prodded governmental action across the globe and caused millions of consumers to rethink their use of the Internet.

Jeff Adelson, Jim MustianGordon Russell, John Simerman and the staff of The Advocate of New Orleans receive the award for State Reporting for a data-driven investigation of the roots and impact of a Louisiana law allowing 10-2 jury verdicts instead of the unanimity required in 48 states. Reporters found that 40% of that state’s felony trial convictions were by split verdict contributing to a staggering imprisonment rate, especially for blacks who comprise a third of Louisiana’s population but two-thirds of its inmates. Seizing on the findings, legislators and then voters amended the state constitution to change the law.

The award for Local Reporting is awarded to Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times for “Heartbroken,” an investigative series revealing that 11 patients at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Fla., had died during and after heart surgery in an 18-month span, three in one week. They traced some deaths to such shoddy work as burst sutures and failed patches despite futile pleas by frontline medical staffers that the hospital was risking young lives. After the series was published, six administrators lost their jobs and the hospital’s Baltimore-based parent institution ceased such surgery in the Florida hospital pending an independent investigator’s report.

David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner of The New York Times are honored for PoliticalReporting for an 18-month study of President Trump’s financial history revealing that, far from the product of his business acumen, Trump’s personal wealth derives from his inherited fortune and what the paper called “dubious tax schemes.” Starting with three pages from a 20-year-old tax return, the reporters produced a 13,000-word account demonstrating the mythology of Trump’s persona as a self-made business leader who turned a $1 million loan from his father into a fortune. In fact, the paper reported, starting when he was just three years old, Donald Trump inherited at least $413 million.

The award for Medical Reporting goes to Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering and Amy Herdy for “The Bleeding Edge,” a documentary aired by Netflix that delved into the failure of risk-prone medical devices brought to the market without clinical trials and implanted in patients by physicians who can lack appropriate training for the surgical procedures involved. This documentary, which attributed numerous deaths and injuries to corporate greed as well as lax government regulation, was especially critical of the birth-control device Essure, which was developed with funding from a former FDA commissioner. The Bayer Corporation pulled Essure from the market days before “The Bleeding Edge” first aired.

Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald is honored in the Justice Reporting category for “Perversion of Justice,” a series that solved an old mystery: How did Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy hedge fund manager who sexually abused under-age girls as young as 14 and lured them into prostitution, wangle a plea deal allowing him to serve 13 months on local work release rather than serious federal prison time? Brown traced the deal to a secret meeting between Alexander Acosta, then a federal prosecutor, and a former colleague of Acosta’s in a prestigious Washington law firm. Following the meeting, Brown reported, Acosta initiated a non-prosecution agreement for Epstein that played down the nature of his crimes and essentially shut down a pending FBI investigation. Brown identified 80 victims, tracked down 60 of them and persuaded eight to go on the record.The Herald’s series evoked a huge outcry that cost Acosta, now U.S. Secretary of Labor, any chance of attaining his next career goal as President Trump’s Attorney General.

The staff of ProPublica wins the award for Immigration Reporting for “Zero Tolerance,” a series of reports that dramatically altered the conversation about the Trump Administration’s strategy of separating children from adults accused of entering the U.S. illegally along the southern border in a thinly veiled deterrence effort. By June, some 2,300 of them had been separated in two months when a ProPublica reporter obtained an audio recording of the cries of 10 Central American children screaming for their parents while a Border Patrol agent joked, “We have an orchestra here. What’s missing is a conductor.” Subsequent stories revealed intolerable conditions at federal shelters, including hundreds of allegations of sex abuse that, abetted by reporting from other news organizations, forced the end of family separations as part of the “zero tolerance” policy.

The award for Education Reporting goes to Craig Harris, Anne Ryman, Alden Woods and Justin Price of The Arizona Republic for initially disclosing insider deals, no-bid contracts and political chicanery that provided windfall profits for investors in a number of prominent Arizona charter schools, often at the expense of underfunded public schools that educate all but 30,000 of Arizona’s 1.1 million students. Subsequent reports revealed that the state’s charter schools had evolved from locally supported alternatives to large chains, including two with business ties to Gov. Doug Ducey that received inordinate state support. The reporters found that charter schools used up nearly two-thirds of $143 million in low-interest state construction loans established for all schools, spent more on administration and less on classroom teaching than public schools did, and failed to outperform neighboring public schools. Legislative reform is on the horizon; even Ducey, a strong charter school advocate, has called for change.

Photojournalist Larry C. Price along with contributing reporters for Undark Magazine, a non-profit online publication, is honored with the award for Environmental Reporting for “Breathtaking,” a series of reports from seven countries on five continents illustrating the sources and effects of deadly particulate pollutants. Price’s striking photos and videos were accompanied by text from authors in India, Bangladesh, China, Chile, Nigeria, Macedonia and the U.S. (from California’s San Joaquin Valley, where fine airborne particles are byproducts of farm practices by agribusinesses that produce a quarter of America’s food supply). Undark, which made the reports available to major publications across the globe at no cost, received support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for the project.

The award for Magazine Reporting goes to Ben Taub of The New Yorker for “Iraq’s Post-ISIS Campaign of Revenge,” a firsthand account of the detention of more than 100,000 Iraqis and summary execution of hundreds, mostly members of the country’s Sunni minority, found to have collaborated with ousted ISIS occupation forces by vengeful Shiites in sham trials featuring confessions extracted by torture. In one stunning example, after a man made a persuasive case that he was a victim of mistaken identity, it took nine minutes for a Shiite tribunal to convict him anyway. Repeatedly threatened and detained by militias during his three weeks in Iraq, Taub pressed on to document an important story largely ignored in the West. Taub was also honored last year for his account of the devastating effects of Lake Chad’s shrinkage, making him the eighth back-to-back Polk laureate and the first in 20 years.

PBS NewsHour special correspondent Jane Ferguson wins the award for Foreign Television Reporting for her graphic reports portraying victims of the humanitarian disaster resulting from the proxy war fought between forces allied with Saudi Arabia and Iran in Houthi-controlled northern Yemen. Ferguson flew into southern Yemen and slipped away from Saudi authorities who had barred reporters from going north. Garbed in Yemeni woman’s attire to avoid detection, she crossed areas dominated by Al Qaeda fighters to reach places where famine and disease were taking their highest toll in what she characterized as the weaponization of hunger as a tool of war in her PBS dispatches as well as a New Yorker Magazine essay.

The award for Local Television Reporting goes to Joe Bruno of WSOC-TV in Charlotte, N.C., for stories that helped establish with certainty that McCrae Dowless, a Republican political consultant, orchestrated a plot to destroy some properly cast absentee ballots and fraudulently include others in a rural North Carolina Congressional race that the GOP candidate led by 905 votes. His interest piqued by a state election board’s initial refusal to certify the results, Bruno and his crew travelled well out of the station’s normal coverage area to locate unsuspecting victims who had handed their ballots to Dowless’s operatives and subsequently found two women who confessed to the election fraud in interviews aired across the nation and online. Well into 2019, the election result was still unsettled.

Reporter Madeleine Baran and senior producer Samara Freemark of Minnesota-based APM Reports are honored for “In the Dark: Season Two.” Baran and Freemark’s work make a detailed and compelling case for the innocence of death-row inmate Curtis Flowers who has been tried and convicted a sixth time (following five successful appeals) for the 1996 murder of four people in a furniture store in the tiny Mississippi town of Winona, a crime he swears he did not commit. Buoyed by evidence the AMP reporters had uncovered that includes a key witness recantation, Flowers’ lawyers gained a rare writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear his appeal this spring.

A Special Award is presented to columnist David Ignatius and Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah of The Washington Post for their eloquence and resolve in demanding accountability from the Saudi Arabian government and candor from the Trump Administration in the wake of the gruesome murder of their colleague and friend, Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. In column after column, nine in all, Ignatius hammered home the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s likely role in Khashoggi’s death and dismemberment, a connection U.S. intelligence agencies established despite President Trump’s equivocation, and Attiah, who had recruited Khashoggi as a Post contributor and hired him as a columnist, came out from behind her editor’s desk to wage a public campaign on behalf of the truth.

Bill Siemering, the Career laureate, began broadcasting at the University of Wisconsin student station, WHA. He then spent eight years as general manager of WBFO on the SUNY Buffalo campus, transforming it into a reliable chronicler of Vietnam-era dissent and a valued forum for dialogue and debate. After passage of Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, Siemering joined the founding board of NPR and became its first director of programming. In later years he fostered the establishment of independent radio in nations across Africa.

Winners of the 2018 awards will be honored at a luncheon ceremony at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan on Friday, April 5. The journalist and author Charlayne Hunter-Gault will read the award citations and will also moderate this year’s David J. Steinberg Seminar of the George Polk Awards, “After 70 Years, Still Honoring Reporters Who Seek to Right Wrongs,” on Thursday evening, April 4, at LIU Brooklyn’s Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts. Several of this year’s award winners are expected to take part in the seminar, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

LIU Post Psychology Professor Eva Feindler Hopes to Launch ‘Tanzania Project’ in the Coming Years

Dr. Eva Feindler in her office at LIU Post

Dr. Eva Feindler, Ph.D., former director of the doctoral psychology program at LIU Post, recently returned from an inspiring 10-day trip to Tanzania with a delegation from the American Psychology Association’s Office of International Affairs. They were invited to come to this east African nation last month to gain insights into the country’s current applications of psychology and lay the groundwork for developing long-lasting professional connections with new colleagues in the years ahead.

“In Tanzania, there are some 42 million people but only a handful of psychologists,” explained Dr. Feindler. She returned home thinking about how LIU might link up with universities in Tanzania to grow their psychology programs. “There’s a growing awareness that it is an issue.”

They met with government leaders and faculty at several universities in Tanzania and Zanzibar, an island-state off the mainland. They also visited clinics, health service agencies and orphanages, and participated in a range of social and cultural activities.

Dr. Feindler said she went to Tanzania both as a veteran member of the APA, a prestigious 126-year-old organization with a membership of more than 200,000 psychologists, and as a representative of LIU.

“My hope is that we’ll create some collaborative projects,” she said, adding that perhaps LIU could sponsor some Tanzanian students to study psychology over here. “What we ultimately want to do is establish something that has long-standing impact, such as creating programs so that they can train their own folks.”

Admittedly, she’s still in the early stages of what she’s calling the “Tanzania Project.”

“I would love to make it inter-disciplinary, too,” she said, adding that she could foresee opportunities for students and faculty in our social work and education departments to become further engaged.

This trip marked the first time that the APA has brought a group to Tanzania.

“The moment in the country is right, it seems,” said Dr. Amanda Clinton, ME.d., Ph.D., the senior director of APA’s Office of International Affairs, who led the delegation. “We were asked to come because our presence in some ways would be seen as recognition of the importance of mental health service, psychology training in particular. At this moment, the country has taken really strong steps to develop training and regulatory processes but they’re eager to learn from others so they can do it well the first time.”


LIU’s Veterinary Tech Director Robin Sturtz Talks About the Bond Between Humans and Animals at Special Hutton House Lecture Series

Dr. Robin Sturtz holds a pair of male Tonkinese cats at her Long Island veterinary office.

The unique bond between humans and animals is the focus of a special two-part Hutton House lecture featuring the insight of Dr. Robin Sturtz, Director of the Veterinary Technology Program at the School of Health Professions and Nursing at LIU Post.

“Humans and animals have been an important part of each other’s lives for millennia,” said Dr. Sturtz, a feline veterinarian. “Animals have been worshipped as gods, taken in as family members, and sometimes have suffered for their association with us.”

In the first lecture, held on Jan. 30, Dr. Sturtz discussed how humans have used other animals for work, sustenance and companionship, and how the human-animal connection benefits both human and animal health. She also addressed the “dark” aspects of the relationship, in particular the association between domestic violence and animal abuse. The second lecture, which will take place on Feb. 13that 1 p.m. in the Krasnoff Theatre at Hillwood Commons, will focus on service animals, featuring a presentation by Grete Eide, chief canine care officer of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.

“We will talk about how we train animals to assist humans with special needs, how this benefits both the animal and the human, and the wide range of physical, intellectual and psychological challenges we can help to lighten,” explained Dr. Sturtz, adding that this lecture will mention primates, birds and other animals besides dogs.

“For those of us who are stressed—which is probably most of us—the good thing about companion animals is that they are generally non-judgmental,” Dr. Sturtz told her avid audience at Hutton House. “If you’re happy, sad or angry, your animal is just going to be happy to see you. They don’t really care, and they’ll do their best to lighten things up.”

But she cautioned her listeners not to ascribe human thought processes to other animals.

“Cats and dogs do not seek revenge,” she said. “It’s not like an animal sits there and says, ‘You know, I’m really annoyed that I didn’t get my dinner on time! I’m going to urinate on the couch!’ It doesn’t work that way.” She added that urinary tract infections are the number one cause of cats’ going outside their litter box.

When she was asked to pick the smartest dog breed, this vet demurred.

“Intelligence in an animal consists of being sensitive to what’s going on around it, knowing what’s expected, and anticipating what will be expected,” Dr. Sturtz said. “I don’t know if I would call it breed specific because it really depends on the animal…on what information they’ve been given throughout their lives.”

Some guide dogs have learned how to understand sign language, she pointed out, enhancing their communication ability. Generally speaking, animals’ responses to human body language can vary tremendously.

“Some behaviors that you would think are very inviting actually can be very threatening,” said Dr. Sturtz. “The last thing you want to do if you’re with a dog or a cat that doesn’t know you is reach down to pat their head! Why? Because all they see is a big human hand!”

She cited two other examples of “counter-intuitive behavior” to watch out for: “If a cat is wagging its tail, is it happy?” Dr. Sturtz asked rhetorically. “No! That’s a cat who’s either fascinated, because sometimes that happens, but usually it means: ‘Get out of my way before I’ll bite you.’ If a dog shows its teeth, it’s not usually showing off its last dental cleaning! It’s probably telling you that it’s not in the mood.”

Pit bulls, she wanted to reiterate, are not inherently aggressive. “We breed that into them,” she said. “It’s environmental, rather than hereditary.”

Animal abuse is often associated with human abuse, according to Dr. Sturtz. “In homes where there’s domestic violence and there’s a companion animal, the animal will often serve as a locus for the abuser’s attention,” she said. “The abuser will threaten to lock up all the food and not allow the family to feed the dog unless the abuser gets what he or she wants—and frankly that’s the most mild of the stories.”

In the veterinary profession, the development of hospice and palliative care as well as euthanasia also springs from the bonds humans have forged with their animals.

“What we do is provide for a humane passing for an animal who is suffering and whom we cannot help medically,” said Dr. Sturtz. “I’ve been a veterinarian for 15 years, and it’s upsetting every time. You don’t show it, because that does not help the family, so you wait until they leave and then you go in the back. By the same token, euthanasia is a blessing because at least there’s something we can do for them and for the family.”

Dr. Sturtz reminded her listeners that “consistent, positive interaction is what builds the human-animal bond. All you need is love—it’s really true.”

To view Hutton House Lecture’s winter catalog, visit the website at webapps.liu.edu/HuttonHouse

Northwell Health’s Senior VP Winifred Mack Joins LIU Board of Trustees

Winifred B. Mack, RN, is senior vice president of health system operations at Northwell Health.

Winifred B. Mack, RN, senior vice president of health system operations at Northwell Health, is the newest member of Long Island University’s Board of Trustees. As the governing body of LIU, the Board of Trustees is responsible for upholding the educational mission and fiscal policies of the University.

“We welcome Winnie Mack to the Board. She brings a wealth of knowledge, vision and passion that will enable us to continue to propel the University into the top ranks of nationally recognized academic institutions,” said Eric Krasnoff, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “We know she will serve as a role model for our students given her own inspiring professional career.”

Ms. Mack earned a B.S. in Nursing (’76) and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (’85) from LIU Post. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was presented with LIU Post’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013. She officially joined the Board at its Jan. 22, 2019 meeting.

“LIU is honored that someone with such a distinguished record is joining our Board of Trustees,” said Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, president of LIU. “Her experience will be an invaluable addition as we continue to achieve our goals for the future of the University.”

Ms. Mack has more than 40 years of health-care experience as a nurse and an administrator. When she was promoted to become the executive director at Southside Hospital in 2006, she became the second nurse to lead a Northwell hospital.

As Northwell’s senior vice president, she is responsible for overseeing and implementing policies, evaluating perioperative protocols, providing counsel for emergency management services and working on issues related to labor management, strategic planning, special projects, community relations and management consulting.

Prior to her current position, she served as regional executive director of Northwell’s Eastern Region, which includes Glen Cove, Huntington, Plainview, Southside, South Oaks and Syosset Hospitals as well as Peconic Bay Medical Center. In that role, she coordinated activities within the region that forged strong physician partnerships and found new opportunities for growth and investment.

Before entering the executive ranks of Northwell in 2002, Ms. Mack held high-level administrative and nursing positions at Continuum Health Partners’ Beth Israel-St. Luke’s Roosevelt Health System, Winthrop-University Hospital, Nassau University Medical Center and Stony Brook University Hospital.

She is the founding member of both the North American Transplant Coordinators Organization and the New York Transplantation Society. She is a Board member of the YMCA of Long Island, the LIU School of Health Professions and Nursing Advisory Board, and serves as a Long Island Trustee for the Energeia Partnership at Molloy College. She has also been a Board Member of Nassau Community Colleges’ Clinical Technology Program. In December, 2018, Ms. Mack was named a member of the Hofstra Northwell Hagedorn Honor Society.

In 2018, Ms. Mack was an Irish Americans in Government Honoree and a November 2018 YMCA of Long Island Honoree. She was honored by Long Island Business News with their Top 50 Women Award in 2016, and was the recipient in 2014 of the National Association of Professional Women’s Women of the Year Award. In 2012, the Islip Breast Cancer Coalition made her the honoree of their “Evening in Pink” and the YMCA Boulton Center bestowed their Ambassador of the Arts Award upon her in 2011.

LIU Alumnus Steven Bandrowczak Took What He Learned at Post to the Corporate Suite at Xerox

LIU Post alumnus Steven Bandrowczak shares his business acumen with interested students at the LIU Post College of Management.

Looking back, Steven Bandrowczak (Post ’88, BS in Computer Science) admits he’s taken a rather unconventional route to reach the C-suite at Xerox, where he’s currently the company’s president and chief operations officer.

“I am one of the most unlikely people to be sitting in this office,” he exclaimed.

Born on Long Island, he grew up in Copiague—“an environment that is not the CEO capital of the world,” as he put it and chuckled. He spent his last two years in high school working weekends slicing cold cuts in the meat department of a local deli and clamming in the Great South Bay to support himself while taking AP courses and staying on the honors roll.

“It wasn’t about going to college at that point,” he said. “I never even applied because I had no money. It wasn’t even on my radar scope.”

After he graduated, he did heavy construction for the Long Island Rail Road as a union member of Laborers’ Local 1298, spiking rails, digging holes and pouring concrete. Now he hasn’t picked up a welding torch in decades, let alone driven a bulldozer or a backhoe loader.

Since his appointment to this iconic Fortune 500 company in June 2018, he’s had far different things on his mind.

“Over the last couple of months, I’ve been focusing on how do we take Xerox to a new level,” Bandrowczak said. “How do we redefine the future of the company?” The challenge, he explains, is responding to the ever-changing demands of technology and staying competitive in this digital world.

Along the way he’s lived in five states and had offices in some 30 locations around the world, racking up 5 million frequent flyer miles—“too many!” he said.

Before joining Xerox, Bandrowczak was chief operating officer and chief information officer for Alight Solutions, based in Illinois. He handled the company’s global supply chain, shared services, product development, I/T strategy and operations, enterprise risk management and real estate. Previously he was the president of Telecommunication Media and Technology at Sutherland Global Services and senior vice president for Global Business Services at Hewlett-Packard Enterprises, transforming the organization with a focus on automation, business intelligence and labor optimization. During his career he’s held senior leadership positions for several multi-billion-dollar global companies, including Avaya, Nortel, Lenovo, DHL and Avnet, where he oversaw 40 acquisitions during his decade as CIO.

The first significant step on his career path began when he completed a six-month program in computer operations, after his future father-in-law, Sal Guigliano, told him in no uncertain terms that he had to return to school because he had the potential to go much further. It helped matters that Guigliano had also been his mentor and his boss.

With his certificate in hand, Bandrowczak started working the graveyard shift at Schweber Electronics and going to school full-time during the day.

“Oh, sleep was so overrated back then!” he said with a laugh. “I think I’m still there—I still get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and work crazy hours!”

That introductory level job eventually led him to Unisys, which not only put him through Nassau County Community College, it also helped him get his BS from LIU, starting in 1987.

“I could take multiple classes on the weekends, and it worked out very well for me,” he recalled. “The computer science classes were awesome. The accounting side gave me a great background and a tremendous leap into the business world.”

He credits his blue collar background with instilling the work ethic he has today.

“It gave me an appreciation for every level of success I’ve had—and how hard it is to get there,” he added. He and his wife Donna, now married 39 years, were childhood sweethearts. “We literally grew up a block from each other,” he said. “Without a doubt she is my rock.” Now living in Greenwich, Conn., they have a daughter, Maree, now 27, who was born in New York but grew up in Arizona when dad moved the family there to be closer to his new job.

His advice for students is to not shy away from taking the hardest path.

“I have never been afraid of taking chances,” Bandrowczak said, adding that he’s run the New York City marathon once, the Long Island marathon twice, and completed six half-marathons.  “It’s always about believing in yourself, taking a chance and working hard. I approach every day as a learning opportunity.”

LIU Music Professor Harris Becker Hits All the Right Notes as the Long Island Guitar Festival Enters Its 27th Year

LIU Post's Director of Guitar Studies, Harris Becker, now in his 27th year running the Long Island Guitar Festival

Harris Becker, Director of Guitar Studies at LIU Post, not only remembers the first guitar he ever got—he still has it. He was nine when his parents bought him a Goya guitar with “a beautiful neck and steel strings.

“A great guitar,” he said proudly. “It was easy to play. I learned how to read music and basic chords. Then the Beatles came along and I learned their tunes.”

He’s come a long way from Elmont Memorial High School, where he and a pal won a battle of the bands as a jazz improv duo. Becker enrolled as a music major at LIU Post, and later joined the faculty as an adjunct in 1976. Seven years later, he had his New York solo debut at Carnegie Recital Hall, an “elegant and intimate” space, he recalled, now known as Weill Recital Hall.

Becker founded the first Long Island Guitar Festival in 1993 and has been its director ever since.

“I was thinking of a way to bring these world-class artists to our music department,” he recalled. “It was also about bringing the process of making music to the general public so they could get deeper insight into how the artists do it.”

Since its humble inception, Becker’s musical celebration has taken off from a one-day gig to a six-day affair, which will run April 9-14 this year at LIU Post. Judging from its longevity and creative vitality, the Festival has gained a supportive audience and earned wide respect among musicians.

“This Festival’s reputation in the guitar world has put this music department on the map,” Becker said. “There are people from all over the world trying to play in this Festival.”

Besides featuring top-notch artists with international reputations, the Festival has also presented more than 40 world premieres—and that’s not all.

“The 2019 Festival is honored to be featuring the U.S. debut of acclaimed guitarist Laura Snowden, who was selected by Julian Bream to give the Julian Bream Trust concerts at Wigmore Hall,” noted Becker, adding that she also performed at the Royal Albert Hall and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre at the invitation of classical guitarist John Williams. “Laura was the first guitarist to graduate from the world-renowned Yehudi Menuhin School in London, where classical guitar tuition was funded by a generous gift from the Rolling Stones.”

Part of the Festival’s appeal is that students and amateurs can take master classes and workshops, which, Becker explains, “helps them grow as musicians and flourish artistically.”

“Education is an integral part of Becker’s vision for the Festival,” Amy Tuttle wrote in Classical Guitar Magazinein 2013, “and student ensembles are prominently featured, giving young high school- and college-aged musicians an important venue in which to perform.”

“I’m always looking for young artists and people playing new music,” Becker said. He loves the magic of making discoveries—and his enthusiasm has never waned. “When I see new artists today, I’m just the way I was when I was a little kid.”

Sponsored by the Department of Music of the School of Performing Arts at LIU Post with support from the D’Addario Foundation for the Performing Arts, the Augustine Foundation, Savarez, Murphy’s Music, and LIU’s John P. McGrath Fund, the Festival has a special vibe.

“It’s not a trade show! We’re focused on the music—and that, to me, is where I want to keep it,” he said. Helping him run the Festival are John Meschi, Director of Music Technology at LIU, who serves as advisor and website manager, and former LIU student and Assistant Festival Director James Erickson, a talented instrumentalist who’s a member of the Artesian Guitar Quartet, which also includes Becker.

Becker’s own musical tastes run the gamut, from classical to pop, jazz and new music. A key early influence in his musical journey was his close friend’s vast record collection where Becker first heard jazz guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt.

“I realized you could improvise,” he says fondly. “I didn’t really get that before!”

He might have been 13 when he first heard a recording by Spanish classical guitarist Andrés Segovia. “I remember sitting and listening with my mother and just thinking to myself, ‘Now this is something!’” What resonated with him was the polyphony. “When I heard these two different lines going in two different directions, it changed my life.”

True to his times, in seventh grade, he played electric guitar in a rock band.

“I was not that interested in copying Jimi Hendrix,” he said with a smile. “I was more interested in writing my own music.”

As his work has repeatedly shown, his keen interest has never wavered. But how many classical guitarists can say they ever took “a master class in songwriting from John Lennon”?

That’s how Becker’s friend at the Yale School of Music, Benjamin Verdery, described the encounter after he’d heard the tale. Becker was 17 and rather cocky, when he called up Lennon, who was being interviewed on WPLJ, a New York City FM station, and asked the rock star if he could read him some lyrics he’d written. Lennon, somewhat taken aback, said, “You mean right now?”

Yes, he did. After listening to Becker recite two verses, Lennon replied, “Off hand, I just like the first verse. That will do. There’s no point in repeating it.” Pressed for career advice, Lennon said simply, “You really have to just keep pushing and hope for the best, you know.”

Which is advice that Becker took to heart. Besides running the Long Island Guitar Festival at LIU Post, Becker is the co-founder and artistic director of the summer music festival in rural Quebec, “Songe d’été en musique.”

In person, Becker exudes a low-key warmth with a glint of wry amusement in his eye—when he’s not playing. If you really want to get him riled, just ask him if classical music is stuck in the past like some petrified fossil.

“That’s what we’re trying to show people—it’s not frozen in time!” he said adamantly. As he put it, if two great guitarists like Julian Bream and John Williams each tackle the same Bach composition, they’ll play the piece differently so it sounds fresh and unique.

“It’s like an actor reading a play,” Becker explained. “It’s the artist who makes it come alive.”

And the guitarists who come to Brookville in April will prove that point again and again and again.

Festival performers, concert schedules, and ticket information are available at www.liu.edu/gfest

LIU Professor Dr. Anait S. Levenson Aims to Make Breakthroughs in Cancer Research

One of the preeminent cancer researchers in her field, Dr. Anait “Ana” Levenson is the first faculty member at LIU to receive the prestigious R15 AREA grant (Academic Research Enhancement Award) from the National Institutes of Health, which is given out to strengthen the research environment of schools that have not been major recipients of NIH support.

At present, she is studying strategies for curing prostate cancer. Previously, she did extensive research on breast cancer. The connection is logical to her because both cancers are hormone-dependent: estrogen for breast cancer, androgen for prostate cancer.

As a full professor at the new College of Veterinary Medicine at LIU Post, pending its accreditation, she’ll continue her work without a hitch because humans aren’t the only species to succumb to that disease. As she knows well, animal models are very important for understanding the mechanisms of cancer progression. At her lab at LIU, she’ll use mouse models to study how to prevent and treat prostate cancer. Her focus has been on targeting the MTA1 protein in cancer bone metastasis after she discovered that natural bioactive compounds found in grapes and blueberries such as resveratrol and pterostilbene could potentially inhibit its spread.

Born in Armenia, Dr. Levenson moved to Russia, where she received her MD and PhD degrees in Moscow. When she came to the United States more than two decades ago, she completed her postdoctoral training in Chicago at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Her postdoc mentor in the Breast Cancer Program was Dr. V. Craig Jordan, a pioneering scientist known as the “Father of Tamoxifen,” because he helped develop the drug that gave hope to thousands of women.

“With Craig Jordan, we knew we were participating every day in cancer research that could save people’s lives,” she said. Later she became one of his research faculty in the Breast Cancer Program and found the experience truly inspiring. She credited Dr. Jordan for encouraging her to write and publish papers—she’s now the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, five book chapters and over 90 abstracts—as well as present results of her studies at national and international conferences. He also introduced her to other leading figures in her field.

In 2002, she became an associate professor at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery in Northwestern University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center at the medical school. One of her lab partners was Dr. Robert Satcher Jr., an assistant professor, who became the “first orthopedic surgeon in space” as a NASA astronaut aboard the space shuttle Atlantis.

“It was very exciting,” she recalled watching her former colleague orbit the Earth.

Before coming to LIU Pharmacy in 2016 and becoming an Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, she was an associate professor and then a full professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., where she studied prostate cancer with a grant from the Department of Defense. In addition to mice models, she had human tissue samples for her investigation. She was honored for her work with an Excellence in Research Award.

Looking at the trajectory of her academic life, she knows that maintaining a serious level of research is a tough row to hoe, but the rewards are worth it.

LIU Professor Dr. Anait “Ana” Levenson is studying strategies for curing prostate cancer.

“You don’t get grants if you don’t have publications,” she said. “You don’t have publications if you don’t have data. And you don’t have data if you don’t put it all together.” Dr. Levenson has been continuously funded throughout her career, and is currently supported by the DOD, NIH and California Table Grape Commission.

In recognition of her expertise, she now serves as a scientific reviewer on several panels for the NIH and DOD, reviewing grant submissions herself and, she admits, drinking “a lot of coffee” with her fellow panelists gathered in Washington, D.C., for two and a half days of intense work. Dr. Levenson is an active reviewer for many journals and serves on several editorial boards. She also belongs to professional societies. She is a former vice president of the American Council for Medicinally Active Plants (ACMAP) and continues to be an active member of its Board of Directors.

Her advice to students is to be resilient and stay determined. “You have to love what you’re doing—you have to be passionate about it—otherwise you’re not going to thrive,” Dr. Levenson said. “If you want to survive in this business, you have to learn how to write, you have to learn how to present, and you have to learn how to publish.”

As Dr. Levenson has demonstrated, she’s mastered all three skills—and she’ll impart her knowledge to the next generation of students at LIU.

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