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Leaders in Education
7 Scholars at CUNY Named Distinguished Professors

The City University of New York Board of Trustees has elevated seven world-renowned scholars in chemistry, anthropology, art, music, media criticism and the law to the rank of Distinguished Professor, Chancellor Matthew Goldstein announced recently.

The appointments were approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees.

“These outstanding professors bring extraordinary scholarship and a wealth of inspiring teaching experience to this great University,” Chancellor Goldstein said of the latest recipients of the University’s highest academic rank. Distinguished Professorships are reserved for faculty with records of exceptional performance by national and international standards of excellence in their profession, according to Executive Vice Chancellor Selma Botman, the University provost and chief academic officer. Successful candidates must demonstrate substantial evidence of outstanding performance, including significant quantities of high-quality work in areas of importance in their disciplines. In addition to superb scholarship, Distinguished Professors are expected to participate in appropriate teaching and service roles in their colleges, she said.

The ranking also functions as a tool to recruit new faculty or retain existing faculty whose appointments enrich the University, especially when candidates require special incentives to influence their decision to accept an offer or to remain with the University. These appointments are expected to contribute to CUNY’s commitment to recruit and retain an excellent faculty representing a rich diversity of gender and ethnicity.

The seven Distinguished Professors are:

Brooklyn College, Music

Ursula Oppens: An award-winning virtuoso pianist with a national and international reputation in standard repertory and contemporary music, Oppens has been a soloist with many of the most important orchestras in the United States, including the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony, and in Europe.

City College, Chemical Engineering

Sanjoy Banerjee: A leader in the field of nuclear engineering, Banerjee has been a key contributor to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s development of technology used for validating nuclear safety analysis computer models, and his work led to the development of current computer models used in reactor safety thermal-hydraulic analysis for licensing of Canadian nuclear power plants.

City College, Chemical Engineering

James Grotberg: A professor at the University of Michigan and director of its NASA Bioscience and Engineering Institute, Grotberg is one of the top bio-fluid mechanics researchers in the world. His research on the behavior of lungs in mammals has set the bar in the physiology community, and his work on high-frequency ventilation has led to breakthroughs in forced respiration techniques in anesthesiology.

The CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and Brooklyn College, English & Journalism

Eric Alterman: A respected media critic, Alterman has helped shape public opinion through his column “Liberal Media” in The Nation and as a Senior Fellow and “Think Again” columnist for the Center for American Progress. He is the author of several books: When Presidents Lie: A History of Official Deception and its Consequences, Sound and Fury; and What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News. Alterman teaches at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

The CUNY Graduate School and University Center, Anthropology

Leith Mullings: A presidential professor in the Ph.D. program in anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center, Mullings is among the most pre-eminent scholars in the critical study of race, class, gender and health, with special reference to urban America. The executive board of the Society for Anthropology of North America called her the “the most influential scholar in the field of North American anthropology.” Her highly praised book Therapy, Ideology and Social Change: Mental Healing in Urban Ghana, based on her fieldwork in Africa, is a landmark study of post-colonial West African society. Cities of the United States, which she edited, became a standard text in anthropology and urban studies departments at universities throughout the country and her work in this area won the Critical Anthropology of North America Achievement award. Among her awards and honors is the 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Anthropology of North America.

The CUNY School of Law,

Ruthann Robson: The first Distinguished Professor from the CUNY School of Law, Robson is a founder of lesbian legal theory, which weaves together concepts from traditional legal theory, postmodernism, feminist theory and queer theory, as well as her own experiences in the courtroom and classroom to describe the complexities of lesbian identity and the often detrimental ways in which legal scholarship and the law approach lesbianism.

Hunter College, Art

Emily Braun: Considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on Italian modernism (Italian art between World Wars I and II), Braun is known for her research and writing on the connection between visual art and its political, historical and cultural implications. She helped organize the exhibition Italian Art in the 20th Century and was editor of the catalogue, which is considered the standard English-language survey text. She revitalized scholarship on Modigliani with her critically acclaimed work The Faces of Modigliani: Identity Politics Under Fascism.#

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university. CUNY comprises 23 institutions: 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law at Queens College, the CUNY School of Professional Studies, and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. The University serves more than 226,000 degree-credit students and 230,000 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 280 high schools throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York. The University has launched an online baccalaureate degree through the School of Professional Studies, and a new Teacher Academy offering free tuition for highly motivated mathematics and science majors who seek teaching careers in the city.



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