Veolia Funds New STEM Program for High School Students

Bill Madden, left , of Veolia presents a check on campus to Regina Alvarez, Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien, and Joseph Valenti.

Thanks to Veolia, Dominican University New York is partnering with Spring Valley High School on a new STEM program.  The company donated $10,000 to fund the program in which students will research the water quality at the Spring Valley Memorial Park pond and other sites. 

Regina Alvarez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, said the students will work at Dominican University, Spring Valley High School, and out in the field.  “They are going to learn how to do environmental testing and sampling of water and it’s going to involve several different things.  We have chemistry kits.  We are going to do DNA sequencing.  We are going to do microscope work.,” she said. 
“We are going to do very frequent samples to get a good picture of the health of the water body.”

The Veolia donation will be used to purchase equipment including bacterial analysis kits, microscopes, slides, filters, and DNA sequencing.  Chris Graziano, Vice President/General Manager of Veolia Water Operations in New York said, “We are committed to contributing to our local communities with the same dedication with which we service and protect their environment and economy.”

The program will expose students to STEM fields, let students do authentic research, and examine the state of a much-used pond as a service to the community. 

Pocket Book Bingo 2022

University Celebrates Its 70th Anniversary

President Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien and Chancellor Sr. Kathleen Sullivan at Dominican University New York’s 70th Anniversary celebration.

Just months after being elevated to the status of a university, Dominican University New York reached another important milestone – its 70th anniversary.  Administrators, faculty, staff, and friends of the university gathered in the Lawrence Room of Rosary Hall on October 1, 2022, for an event “Celebrating Our First 70 Years of Excellence.”

One of the highlights of the event was a video presentation that reviewed the last 70 years of the University’s history beginning with the founding of the institution by the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt in 1952 as a two-year college for religious women to become educators.  Over the years, the campus expanded to accommodate a growing enrollment and to welcome resident students. 

Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien O.P., Ph.D., President, Dominican University New York, said, “The first 70 years have been most productive.  We look forward to the next 70 and beyond.” 

Among the guests at the anniversary celebration was New York State Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, who presented Sr. Mary Eileen with a proclamation honoring the University on 70 years of outstanding educational services in the community. “To see a county, a state, and really a world full of people that have gone through this special place – who have gotten their educational foundation, their religious foundation, and set them up for a life of success,” he said.

New Fundraising Campaign Launched

Steven Sabatini, Chair, Dominican University New York Board of Trustees, said the University had a lot to be proud of, having educated more than 15,000 alumni and encouraged education, leadership, respect for the individual, and service to the community.

During the event, Sabatini announced the launch of a new fundraising campaign.  “’Charging Forward With U’ is our current initiative focused on raising support from our alumni and friends so that we can ensure that both the current and future generations of Chargers are supported with the resources they need in order to prepare for success.”  He said any donation – large or small – makes a difference and moves the University closer to this year’s fundraising goal of $1.35 million.  Sabatini announced that he and his wife are kicking off the contributions with a $25,000 commitment on top of a previous gift to the turf field and a provision in his will to Dominican University. 

Because of the urgency and importance of the fundraising effort, Sabatini said he hoped others would support the campaign, “Together we can continue to make a difference in the lives of the thousands of individuals who have and will be impacted by Dominican University.” Those wishing to contribute to the campaign can donate here.

University’s Four Stages of Development

Sr. Mary Eileen told attendees that she has often thought of the University’s history in four stages of development.  During the first 15 years, the institution transitioned from a Junior College for the Dominican Sisters to a four-year independent liberal arts college for both men and women.  The second phase, which lasted 20 years, saw the broadening of undergraduate offerings, especially in business, health-related programs, and social work.  The institution began outreach to non-traditional students with the establishment of the Weekend College.  A partnership with the South Orangetown Central School District allowed for the use of Cooke Hall and Casey Hall for classrooms and administrative offices. 

Between 1987 and 2007, or the third phase, the campus expanded with the construction of new buildings and evolved from a commuter college to a campus for residents and commuters.  In 1994, a new athletic facility, the Hennessy Center, was opened.  The next priority was to provide on-campus housing and to construct a dining hall and student center for the new residents.  In 1996, Hertel Hall, a 290-bed residence hall, and Granito Center, a student center and dining hall opened. 

In 2005, the Prusmack Center for Health and Science Education was completed, offering updated classrooms, laboratories, and a lecture hall.  Enrollment continued to grow throughout this period and in 2007 Guzman Hall, a 200-bed student residence, was constructed. Sullivan Library also opened in its new location in Rosary Hall in 2007.  The third phase also is when Dominican established graduate programs in Teacher Education, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and an MBA. 

Sr. Mary Eileen said that we are now 15 years into the development of a fourth phase of development in which technology has grown, the lease/purchase of an additional 17 acres of land from the Sisters of Blauvelt was completed, and a Master Plan for the use of this property was developed.  During this most recent phase, there has been a focus on career development and fostering internships.  Faculty are developing new general education curriculum and the University is exploring alternative sources of income.  The crowning achievement during the current phase, has been the name change from Dominican College to Dominican University, New York. 

Founders Week Keynote Focuses on Friendships Among Saints

Sr. Jenn Shaaf delivered the keynote address for Founders Week 2022. She is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt and the Assistant Chaplain of St. Thomas More Chapel & Center at Yale University in New Haven, CT.

The deep friendships among Dominican saints throughout history were the focus of the keynote address for Founders Week 2022.   Sr. Jenn Shaaf, O.P., D.Min., spoke about “Holy Friendships and Academic Mentors” as Founders Week got underway on Monday, September 19, 2022, in the Lawrence Room of Rosary Hall.   Sr. Jenn paused throughout her presentation to give students in the audience time to discuss parallel relationships in their lives and to reflect on how the historical examples could lead them to look at contemporary issues in a new light. 

Sr. Jenn stressed that the Dominican pillars of study, prayer, and service were lived out by these saints.  “Possibly, most importantly, we see that they are able to live out their calling through their community — the support of mentors, the leaning on each other and recognizing that gift of friendship, the humble calling for justice, the dreamers and the artists who are encouraged by their communities, and the leaders who are called forth,“ she said.

Sr. Jenn is the Assistant Chaplain of St. Thomas More Chapel & Center at Yale University in New Haven, CT, and a member of the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt.   Founders Week is the annual celebration of Dominican University New York’s heritage and the Dominican Sisters who established it.  Activities include guest lectures, a preaching in action project, and the presentation of the Spirit of the Founders Award to two deserving students. 

Students Volunteer With Habitat for Humanity During Spring Break

Dominican College students and chaperones traveled to Lexington, VA, and Loveland, CO, to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity during Spring Break.

More than 20 Dominican College students volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, building and renovating homes, during Spring Break. One group of students and chaperones traveled to Lexington, VA, and the others went to Loveland, CO, as part of the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program.   

Dana McStowe, Director of Community Engagement & Leadership Development, said service is a great way for students to continue to grow and develop as a person. “I feel it is important for students to spend Spring Break doing service as way to give back and learn about the world outside of the classroom,” she said. “Students who go on ASB will get to learn more about a new area and the people who live there. One of the best parts about college is challenging yourself to do new things and I think students who are attending the ASB trips are going to challenge themselves in the best ways possible.”

Students were excited to resume the ASB trip, beginning March 12, 2022, after last year’s trip was cancelled due to COVID.  In all, 21 Dominican College students participated in Alternative Spring Break and four staff members accompanied them. 

True Black History Museum Comes to Dominican College

Students visited the traveling True Black History Museum in the Granito Center extension in celebration of Black History Month.

The True Black History Museum, which shows visitors a snapshot of the history of African-Americans through photos, videos, and artifacts, came to Dominican College on February 16, 2022.    

Janay Craft, Director of Operations for the museum, said that the idea of the traveling museum is to bring the museum to the people.  “The goals are two things:  to preserve the history of black people and to show that African Americans do have value.  Those are the two main principles.”

Craft said she received a lot of positive feedback from the Dominican College students who visited the museum set up in the Granito Center extension.  Dominican College sponsored the True Black History Museum visit in celebration of Black History Month.    

Outlook on the Economy Delivers Mixed News

Jason Bram delivered the annual Outlook on the Economy on
January 20, 2022 via Zoom.

During Dominican College’s annual Outlook on the Economy forum, community members heard how the pandemic’s effect on the economy was much different than the typical recession.  

Jason Bram, a Research Officer with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, spoke via Zoom during the January 20, 2022 forum.  “When things plunged in March and April 2020, I think a lot of economists thought that it would look like a recession, that is that you would have this drop off, and then have this very, very gradual recovery like you had in 2009-2010 up until now,” he said. “But what in fact you saw, was a very, very quick snap back. “

Bram said employment has continued to rebound briskly across the metro region, housing markets have been exceptionally strong, and office markets have been exceptionally weak.  In addition, he said businesses reported widespread price escalation amidst supply disruptions and labor shortages, but remain optimistic about the outlook.

Bram’s research focuses on the U.S. economy, with a primary emphasis on the Federal Reserve’s Second District, which includes New York State, northern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Penn State Researcher Discusses Crisis Informatics at Dominican College

AnnMarie DelliPizzi-Citardi, Blair Hoplight, Andrea Tapia, and Chris Libertini prior to Tapia’s presentation about crisis informatics.

Students heard a fascinating description of how social media is changing emergency response from Penn State University researcher Andrea Tapia, Ph.D., on November 8, 2021.  Tapia is an Associate Dean for Research at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology.  She is also a Fulbright scholar, has worked with the United Nations and NASA, and is the sister of Dominican College Psychology Professor Blair Hoplight, Ph.D.

Tapia described how as a scholar of crisis informatics she and her team are working to build a system to help emergency responders gather information from social media.  “We are not trying to get rid of the 9-1-1 operators,” she explained.  “We are trying to make sure that they have the best information possible at any moment.”

Using a number of real-life examples, Tapia illustrated how bystanders to an emergency sometimes post videos or photos to social media instead of calling 9-1-1.  The system she is working on will gather that information for emergency responders.  Two hurdles she must overcome – identifying which social media posts come from bystanders and determining which ones are trustworthy.  Her advice to those who want to help in an emergency is  to call 9-1-1 first and  then turn on your geo-locator and use hashtags so your social media posts about the emergency can more easily be tracked.

Tapia’s presentation in the Fury Lecture Hall was part of the Sr. Michelle Nugent Lecture Series and was presented by the Dominican College Division of Social Sciences.


County Executives Upbeat During Palisades Institute Forum.

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and Rockland County Executive Ed Day (shown here during a 2018 forum) both took part in the 2021 County Executive Forum via Zoom.

After facing enormous leadership challenges over the past year because of COVID, regional leaders said they finally see the light at the end of the tunnel during the annual County Executive Forum on June 2, 2021.   The forum was held via Zoom and featured Rockland County Executive Ed Day and Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus.  Both Neuhaus and Day were very upbeat with COVID cases down, vaccinations rising, the economy bouncing back, and a strong housing market.

Day said Rockland is looking beyond clinics to increase vaccinations, “The challenge now is to get ourselves out to communities to make sure that we get vaccinations to as many people as possible in whatever way is feasible.”

The County Executive Forum is a long-standing tradition of the Palisades Institute and has been held annually since 2005.