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Graduates Urged To Embrace Future at Commencement

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Sr. Catherine Howard, O.P., Ph.D., delivered the Commencement Address on May 22, 2016.

The Class of 2016 was given a challenge during Commencement Exercises at the Westchester County Center on May 22, 2016. President of the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt Sr. Catherine Howard, O.P., Ph.D., delivered the Commencement Address and told the graduates that their Dominican education began – rather than ended that day.

“You see we are lifelong learners, lifelong pursuers of truth, extending compassion, and always committed to service,” Sr. Catherine said.  The students were asked to embrace the future with enthusiasm, confidence, imagination, and innovation.  “The world needs you.  The world needs the Dominican difference.  This is your moment.  You stand at the beginning of a new era,” she added.

Sr. Catherine Howard was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities during the ceremony for her courageous and inspiring outlook and for her generous use of her talents on behalf of all who have looked to her for wise leadership and judgment. Sr. Catherine is the Founding Director of the Paradise Housing Program, the first short term residential program for HIV infected, addicted, and homeless persons in New York City. She also served as Director of the Ryan White Services, to support HIV affected familics. 

There were 560 graduates who earned their degrees – 126 doctorates, 96 masters, 337 bachelors and 1 associate. 

 

Senior Gift of Wall Mural Unveiled

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Members of the Senior Gift Committee unveiled the new wall mural in Granito Center on May 21, 2016.

On the eve of graduation, the Class of 2016 presented the College with a wall mural in the Granito Center depicting student life since the College was founded in 1952. The Senior  Gift has become an annual tradition at Dominican College and is a way for graduating seniors to show their appreciation to the College. 

 “With the mural, the buzz words are ‘our history, our life, our legacy.’  This gift is their legacy,” said Senior Advancement Officer Sal Pennino, who advised the 15 student members of the Senior Gift Committee.

The mural is on the second floor walkway of the Granito Center above the stairwell and foyer and includes photos of students at the college from the 1950’s until today. One of the first photos is of nuns ice skating at the college.  One of the last photos is of graduating students taking a selfie.

A short description of each of the photos is included in separate wall panels installed at eye level on the first floor of Granito Center,  near the entrance.

The unveiling of the Senior Gift takes place the day before graduation, after the Graduation Mass and before the Baccalaureate Awards. This year, the student committee lifted a drape covering the mural to reveal the wall mural for the first time.

The Senior Gift is funded partially through donations from graduating seniors and others interested in giving back to the school. To make a donation to the Senior Class Gift, please click here.

Past senior gifts include the Charlie the Charger statue, the Hennessy Center flag pole, and the Alumni Book of Remembrance. 

 

 

Communications Professor Receives 2016 Faculty Award

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Academic Dean Thomas Nowak presented AnnMarie DiSiena with the 2016 Dean’s Award for Faculty Service during a ceremony on May 18, 2016.

Coordinator of the Communication Studies Program AnnMarie DiSiena, Ed.D.,  received the 2016 Academic Dean’s Award for Faculty Service on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, during the annual Service Award Ceremony in the Granito Center.

In presenting the award, Academic Dean Thomas Nowak said students have described Dr. DiSiena’s teaching style as engaging, entertaining, and wonderfully stimulating. “On our evaluation forms, her courses are consistently rated excellent, averaging an extremely high 3.85 out of 4.  Students praise her for providing them with skills that are very helpful for future jobs and real life,” he said.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. DiSiena also has many administrative responsibilities. In addition to heading up the Communication Studies Program, she oversees special sessions – weekend and online courses. During the ceremony, it was announced that Dr. DiSiena is being promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor.

 

 

 

New Members Inducted into Alumni Hall of Achievement

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Edward Astorino, Melissa Lucido, and Clare Mc Clarnon Steward were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Achievement on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Three new members were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Achievement on Saturday, May 7, 2016, during the Annual Alumni Reunion. Melissa Lucido, ’95, Edward Astorino, ’98, and Clare McClarnon Steward, ’99, were honored for Excellence, Leadership and Service after a cocktail reception on the Granito Center patio.  All of the honorees were active in the Aquin Players, Dominican College’s theater group, when they were students at the College. 

Melissa Lucido, for Excellence

Lucido said she was honored to be chosen for the award for Excellence. “I thank Dominican College for always giving me the opportunity to develop my leadership, to step out of the box, to learn what it means to make a difference in the world,” she said. 

After deciding that she was better suited to a career in education, Lucido left her job in sales and marketing and went back to college to get her teaching certificate and later her Masters of Science in Education from Walden University. She now teaches kindergarten and first grade students at the Anne Blanche Smith School in Hillsdale, N.J.  Lucido was named 2016 Teacher of the Year in her school district and was nominated four times for the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year.  Since 2001, she has been coming back to Dominican College to serve as a co-director and choreographer of the College’s spring musical. 

Edward Astorino,  for Leadership

At Dominican College, Astorino served as Class President, president of the Student Government Association, and president of the Aquin Players. He was the recipient of four Leadership Awards as well.  Upon graduation, Astorino used those leadership skills to rise in business from a help desk support representative to an ITT Project Manager, running projects worth millions of dollars. 

Astorino has never forgotten his friends at Dominican College. “I’ve always been coming back.  Years have gone by where I haven’t been able to come back because of travel,” he said.  “But I know that I could always walk through that door and feel like I never left.” Recently, Astorino has been helping out as a production assistant with the Dominican College spring musical. 

Clare McClarnon Steward, for Service

Steward often volunteers her time playing the bagpipes, including at Dominican College’s graduation ceremony. She is an active member of two bagpipe bands, serves as a Cub Scout Den Leader and is involved in the choir and the religious education program at St. Margaret’s Church in Pearl River.  She is a past recipient of the Veritas Medal at Dominican College and has been honored by the Rockland County Ancient Order of the Hibernians and received a certificate of recognition from the Marine Corps League.  Steward said she is very humbled and honored by her induction into the Alumni Hall of Achievement.

“I’m not looking for an honor or a recognition of what I do. I just do what I do because it’s who I am.  It’s who Dominican has taught me to be,” she said.

A photo of the honorees will be placed in the Alumni Hall of Achievement in the lobby of Prusmack Center.

 

Dominican College Named a Top Workplace by The Journal News

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Shown here are some of our employees recognized in 2015 for their years of service to the College.

Dominican College has been selected as a Journal News Top Workplace in the Lower Hudson Valley for 2016. The honorees were chosen based upon the results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement.

 “We are so pleased to have received this award, “ said College President Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien, O.P., Ph.D.,  “Our mission stresses that we promote educational excellence, leadership, and service in an environment characterized by respect for the individual and concern for the community and its needs.  I believe that our respect for every employee is what makes Dominican College such a unique and rewarding place to work. Our employees often say that the Dominican College community is like family to them.  We help each other through difficult times and celebrate each other’s good news.  This is a particularly meaningful award to me, because it is based upon surveys completed by our employees.”

 Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics said, “The Top Workplaces award is not a popularity contest. And oftentimes, people assume it’s all about fancy perks and benefits. But to be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day—the employees. Time and time again, our research has proven that what’s most important to them is a strong belief in where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and the feeling that everyone is in it together. Claffey adds, “Without this sense of connection, an organization doesn’t have a shot at being named a Top Workplace.”

According to a May 1, 2016, article in The Journal News, Dominican College employees surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs because of great co-workers and managers, along with the ability to grow personally and professionally. 

WorkplaceDynamics is headquartered in Exton, PA.  This year alone, more than two million employees in over 6,000 organizations will participate in the Top Workplaces campaign — a program it conducts in partnership with more than 40 media partners across the United States.  Workplace Dynamics also provides consulting services to improve employee engagement and organizational health.

 

Liberal Arts Students Present Their Senior Research Projects

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Students, faculty, and administrators stopped by Lawrence Hall on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, to speak to seniors in the Liberal Arts program about their research projects.

More than 40 Liberal Arts students presented their Senior Research Projects on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in the Lawrence Room of Rosary Hall. The projects covered a wide variety of disciplines — including biology, communication studies, psychology and the social sciences.

The presentations come as seniors are wrapping up their capstone and senior seminar courses.  “Seniors who have been working on a particular research topic and subject have an opportunity to explain their research and their findings to the rest of the Dominican College community,” said Dr. Mark Meachem, Director of the Division of Arts and Sciences. 

This is the second year that all Liberal Arts students have presented their projects on the same day.  It’s a way to highlight Dominican College’s emphasis on the value of a Liberal Arts education, which provides students with a strong foundation in skills related to speaking, reading, writing, problem solving, analyzing, and interpreting information. 

 

College Unveils Chemistry Lab With Equipment Donated from Pfizer, Inc.

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Dominican College President Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien, O.P., Ph.D. with Pfizer Pearl River Site Leader Kerrin Mahaffey in the newly renovated chemistry laboratory in Forkel Hall.

Dominican College unveiled a newly-renovated chemistry laboratory in Forkel Hall on April 14, 2016.  The updated lab was made possible by the generous donation of about $500,000 worth of furniture and equipment from Pfizer, Inc. 

“We are delighted to be able to open this classroom and research laboratory for our students to begin using in fall,” said College President Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien, O.P., Ph.D. “This additional lab shows our commitment to the sciences, which provide such an important foundation for many of the top fields of study at Dominican College – including nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and athletic training.”

The furniture and equipment donated by Pfizer, Inc. include a chemical fume hood, four lab work benches, two equipment benches, glassware, solvent cabinets, and instruments. These additions will enhance the use of the renovated room for instruction and lab work.

Pfizer Pearl River Site Leader Kerrin Mahaffey said, “The Pearl River site has been committed to the Rockland community for over 110 years. Not only with advancing medicine and global health but in supporting our neighbors, non-profits and schools.”

She added, “We are so glad that we were able to provide the equipment for the chemistry and biology research labs. It is our hope that this will make it possible for future scientists to continue in the tradition of Pfizer and the Pearl River colleagues.  We expect great things from them.”          

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Colleen Evans, is pleased that the chemistry lab is located next to the biology lab. “That’s the future of chemistry majors to be able to have multi or interdisciplinary work.  I’m going to be working with faculty to develop programs that we can use for both chemistry and biology,” she said. “I think the new lab is really a catalyst that will hopefully help us grow the program to attract students to the field of chemistry.”

In November 2014, Dominican College dedicated a biology lab in Forkel Hall that also contained equipment donated by Pfizer, Inc. In addition to the laboratories in Forkel Hall, Dominican College has three biology labs, a physics lab, and a chemistry lab in Prusmack Center.

 

 

 

College Holds Interfaith Discussion on Pope’s Encyclical on the Environment

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Representatives of several different religions participated in a panel discussion on Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si.”

The Pope’s encyclical on the environment was widely praised by representatives of several different world religions during a panel discussion at Dominican College on April 12, 2016.   Representatives of Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam took part in the discussion of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ in the Lawrence Room.

Rabbi Lawrence Troster said he was struck by the fact that the Pope said he was writing the encyclical for all people – not just Catholics. “And he’s not trying to prescribe for us what we’re supposed to do,” he said. “The Pope wants to start a conversation between everybody – no matter what you do or who you are, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here.  That in itself is a major achievement,”

The panel members stressed that there was an interconnectedness and oneness among all humanity when it comes to caring for the environment. The Reverend Monsignor Ed Ciuba said that everyone has a responsibility to the world and the planet, which is our common home. “We are all different. We all sing a different tune, but we have been made to sing in harmony and we are not singing in harmony.”

While the panelists all agreed there is much work to be done in caring for the environment, they also all had a message of hope. In speaking about the Pope, Islamic scholar Ibrahim Abdul-Matin said, “As human beings I think it’s pretty awesome that we have a spiritual leader who looks beyond the present and looks past the past that we acknowledge.”

Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Bodhi and Adam Hinge of Columbia University also took part in the discussion, which was sponsored by the Humanities Council.

 

Dominican College Alumna Appointed Bankruptcy Judge

Mary Kay Vyscocil

Mary Kay Vyscocil, ’80, has been appointed to serve as a bankruptcy judge in the Southern District of New York.

Mary Kay Vyskocil, ’80, has been sworn in as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of New York. Vyskocil, who was a partner in the New York law firm of Simpson, Thacher& Bartlett LLP, was appointed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

“Mary Kay is a widely respected trial lawyer who has been a valued colleague and a leader of our Insurance Litigation Practice,” said Bill Dougherty.  Chairman of Simpson Thacher’s Executive Committee.  “We are proud of all that she has achieved and congratulate her on this distinguished appointment.”

During her 33-year career at Simpson Thacher, Vyskocil litigated some of the most significant insurance and reinsurance cases, representing major domestic and foreign insurers in numerous arbitrations, jury trials and appellate arguments. She represented Swiss RE Ltd. In litigation arising from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and has also represented JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Travelers Cos. Inc.

Second Circuit Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann said , “ With her substantial experience in complex and sophisticated commercial litigation matters, Mary Kay Vyskocil joins a distinguished Southern District bankruptcy bench.”

Vyscocil graduated summa cum laude from Dominican College and was Valedictorian. She attended St. John’s University Law School. She has stayed active at Dominican College, serving on the College Board of Trustees for more than 25 years.   

College Offers Broadcast Journalism for TV Class

Students produce TV newscasts in a new studio on the upper floor of the Granito Center.

Students produce TV newscasts in a new studio on the upper floor of the Granito Center.

For the first time ever, Dominican College is offering a course this spring semester called Broadcast Journalism for TV.  The class is taught in the new TV studio on the upper floor of the Granito Center. 

Andrew Burns, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, said the 20 students who take the class are getting exposed to different fields of communications by producing a newscast and finding out what jobs suit them best. “Everybody rotates so they get experience in every position – director, producer, anchor, writer, editor, camera person,” said Burns.  “I think everybody has been able to get the feel for the communications field a bit more and where they want to try to find work later on.”

Burns said the students write the newscast which covers campus news, record it digitally, edit it, and upload it  to the College server.  During the next school year, it is hoped that the newscast will run on the TV monitors located throughout the College. 

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