Professor Mandel Goes to Washington

Dyson Professor Ellen Mandel represented Pace University at the Jefferson Awards National Ceremonies and talks about what it took to get there and how you can help Pace make strides in the fight against cancer.

“It was an unbelievably wonderful experience and it was really fabulous to learn about what wonderful things people are doing all over the country,” says Dyson Professor Ellen Mandel, PhD, of her recent trip to the Jefferson Awards National Ceremonies in Washington DC. “It was very humbling because I was surprised to be in that group.”

That surprise however was not shared by other members of the Pace Community. This past spring, Pace’s Center for Community Action and Research (CCAR) was proud to announce that Mandel had been nominated by her Pace peers and had been chosen as one of six Jefferson Award Bronze Medal winners. In addition, Mandel had been selected to represent Pace at the Jefferson Award National Ceremonies where she would compete for the Gold Medal Award.

A little more than 20 years ago, Mandel worked with Rockland County Legislative Chair Harriet Cornell to bring Komen to the Rockland area by instituting the county’s first-ever Breast Cancer Awareness Day and offering mammograms to the underserved women in the community. Eventually they were able to bring mobile mammogram services into the various Hasidic communities within Rockland County. Mandel sat on the New York Chapter of Komen for several years until her own health kept her from attending the meetings.

“I stayed on as the Chairman for hospital teams in the tri-state area, and I founded the Pace team ‘Right Away,’ which has grown tremendously,” she says. “We now have more than 100 walkers and since the addition of the fabulous Sleeper category, people are giving their money and sleeping in instead of walking.”

Through the years, Mandel has dedicated her time and concentrated her efforts into giving back to those closest to her and to the community at large. From sharing a laugh and some kind words with colleague battling cancer to forming one of the largest university teams in the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Mandel is giving back on so many levels.

“I try to give back as much as I possibly can give back,” says Mandel, whose grandmother taught her at a young age that one must give without the expectation of recognition. “I’m not good at much—I’m an excellent teacher and I’m good at giving. That’s all.”

Want to be part of the Pace team on Sunday, September 9? Click here to register.


Promoting Partnership, Creating Curiosity

Maria T. Iacullo-Bird, PhD, executive director for the Center for Undergraduate Research Experiences discusses the importance of undergraduate research—for both students and professors.

The Center for Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE), within the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, is headed by Executive Director Maria T. Iacullo-Bird, PhD, who also teaches in the Dyson History Department. Iacullo-Bird is an intellectual and cultural historian of American history with specializations that include the organization of knowledge, the history of higher education, and public history.

Why are research experiences important for students?

Undergraduate research is one of the high impact practices outlined by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU). Undergraduate research experiences routinely require sustained and intensive faculty mentoring that increase undergraduate achievement and retention. Through research opportunities, students acquire strong analytic and reasoning abilities and advance their oral and written communication skills. Additionally, they are part of or develop projects that can work to clarify career goals, enhance their graduate or professional school applications, and contribute to their future areas of professional specialization.

How does collaborative research benefit faculty?

Faculty benefits for collaborative research with students include: enriched teaching experiences through the development of mentoring relationships and enhanced student outcomes; a deepened and expanded institutional culture of inquiry and research that benefits professional growth and development; opportunities for further funding that include support for undergraduate research for existing and future projects; and student assistants to work on research projects.

Can you tell me a bit about some of the partnerships CURE has with external organizations?

Through the Pace institutional membership, CURE has an ongoing membership in the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR), a national organization of over 900 colleges and universities whose mission is to “support and promote high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship.” CURE oversees several grant programs that provide experiential service-learning opportunities for Pace students. These grant programs include the Community and Volunteer Mobilization (CVM) AmeriCorps, Jumpstart, the Liberty Partnerships Program, and Upward Bound. External partners associated with these grants include the Chinatown Beacon YMCA, the Chinese-American Planning Council, Middle School 131, Hamilton-Madison House, Our Lady of Sorrows School, the High School for Leadership and Public Service, the High School of Economics and Finance, and the High School for Human Services and Health Professions. Brooklyn high school partners include Brooklyn High School for the Arts, Clara Barton High School, George Westinghouse High School, Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design, and Williamsburg Preparatory High School.

How many students/faculty members participate, on average?

At present, CURE’s grant programs and projects provide an average of sixty undergraduate students with work and service positions.  Several hundred disadvantaged youth who attend school in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn and range in age from preschool through high school are served by these existing grants. Faculty and staff can teach, mentor, and develop research projects within these existing grants and at any one time, two or three faculty are involved in CURE-housed grant programs.  However, CURE’s larger mandate within Dyson is to coordinate and foster undergraduate research by targeting funding sources for both faculty and students, offering support to faculty as they write and submit grant applications, advising the management of the post-grant award phase, and tracking all Dyson-funded applications. During the last academic year, approximately half a dozen Dyson faculty and staff consulted at CURE regarding funding sources and the grant application process. As a relatively new Center, CURE expects these numbers to gradually increase as it becomes better known throughout Dyson.

What are some of the teams working on now, or notable projects from the recent past?

As part of a Dyson public history course taught by myself, undergraduates conducted, recorded, and transcribed over 90 interviews of individuals from Pace and the larger New York City community who had witnessed the 9/11 tragedy. For the 2011 year, Thinkfinity, AmeriCorps, and Dyson College Undergraduate Summer Research funds are supporting a digital project phase as students assistants check and digitally convert audio tapes and printed transcriptions and upload the finalized versions into the Pace Digital Commons.

How do students/faculty get involved in research through CURE?

Students and faculty can get involved in research through large informational events or individual communications and meetings. For example, in September 2009 CURE participated in Dyson’s External Grants day, an event that was open to the entire University community to inform faculty about the grant-funding process. CURE continues to be involved with similar grant-awareness events for Dyson faculty targeting specific interdisciplinary collaborations. Additionally, students and faculty can participate in service-learning and teaching opportunities and develop research projects offered by the CURE-managed grant programs ranging from reading-readiness activities with preschool children to teaching writing and study skills to low-income, first-generation college bound high school students.

For more information about CURE and the research opportunities available for both faculty and students, click here.