President Jeremy Travis, John Jay College Speaks at the Women’s City Club
Ruth Acker, President of the venerable Women’s City Club, founded in 1915, whose roster of members included Eleanor Roosevelt, recently invited President Jeremy Travis of John Jay College, CUNY as part of a series on changing public policy issues.
Founded as a police academy in 1964, President Travis explained that almost all the students at John Jay College were white men. Today, the diverse population includes 43 percent African Americans, 25 percent Hispanics and 60 percent women. “Our college is not the standard ivory tower,” stated Travis. “We’re public policy activists. In reflecting on September 11, we lost 68 members including alumni, faculty and students. We are scholars and researchers of bioterrorism, with a new faculty book coming out about the trauma of those involved.” Additional research undertaken at John Jay includes means of egress in an emergency (John Jay will listen to the tapes of people who called 911 on 9-11); Hurricane Katrina and what we can learn from the catastrophe. The Center for Human Rights will examine the balance of human rights with national security. Other programs include 500 police officers who are studying to become more effective leaders; a new interdisciplinary program on terrorism; the Justice Scholars program, a $250,000 gift from Princeton University to examine the issues of 9-11.
The most popular majors are forensic science and criminal justice. New majors in English and philosophy are being created with a staggering 1000 students having access to more degrees. A new initiative is enabling students to get associate degrees in forensic science and psychology.
Travis, an engaging and erudite speaker, awakened riveting questions in his audience; what can we do about the fact that we incarcerate more people than any other country in the world? His response: We can change parole policy or the length of sentences. According to Travis, other dialogues to be considered are the Rockefeller drug laws and the waning respect for the law in communities of color.
John Jay College is no longer the police academy it was years ago. With seven masters programs and two doctoral programs, it has transitioned to a liberal arts institution interested in preparing students for law school and beyond.#