Harpur alumni teach Current Issues in Legal Practice course during winter session
This winter session, Harpur College offered a unique opportunity for its pre-law students. Nine successful lawyers, all alumni, spoke to students about their experiences as lawyers. The class, Current Issues in Legal Practice, took place over three nights, with each session lasting three-and-a-half hours. The class was hosted by Jon Plasse '72 at his firm’s offices of Labaton Sucharow & Rudoff LLP in downtown Manhattan, right across from Zucotti Park. This was the third year that the class has been offered. A few of the alumni speakers were participating for their second or third time.
Participating in the class were 19 Binghamton students with a variety of majors. While there were a few philosophy, politics and law students, a popular major for pre-law students at Binghamton, there were also students majoring in sociology, psychology, history, economics, Spanish, political science and accounting. This variety was mirrored in the diversity of the speakers. The nine lawyers all work in remarkably different fields, highlighting the breadth of law, which allowed the students to see how many different options there are when it comes to pursuing a legal career. Among the fields represented were securities litigation, criminal defense, intellectual property, civil litigation, medical malpractice, and labor and employment law. Each speaker had a different story about how he/she came to choose the legal profession and the path that led to law school.
The students were enthusiastic and inquisitive during the class. Sammy Ahmed, a philosophy, politics and law major, said he was attracted to the course because the speakers were prominent lawyers. He was excited to learn from individuals experienced and practicing in the field today. Megan Apper, a junior majoring in political science, agreed and said she appreciated learning from highly successful professionals. While she enjoys her classes and her professors at Binghamton, these alumni speakers are people with experience in practice, which offers a different learning opportunity. Many students attending the class knew that they were interested in law, but wanted to learn about different types of law so they could start thinking about what path they might choose once they enter law school.
"I find everything [the speakers are saying] more interesting than I expected," commented Carly Schiff, a double major in economics and philosophy, politics and law. "Fields I had never considered now seem manageable." This three-day course inspired a few of the students to look into different types of law than they had previously considered.
The speakers were just as enthusiastic about the experience as the students. The attorneys focused their presentations on describing their specific fields from their own perspectives, as well as reassuring students that their career path may not always go exactly as planned. Plasse said the course was a great opportunity for undergraduates because of the different types of law that were represented. Richard Greenburg '74 and Heidi Goldstein '81, two of the speakers, said they could not emphasize enough how much they enjoyed the enthusiasm of the students and the questions they asked. Greenburg passed on the advice that, if students are considering law school, they must think seriously about it. Money is not a good enough reason to go into this profession, he stressed. Prospective attorneys should have a good sense of what really attracts them to the profession. There is a lot of job dissatisfaction in the legal profession, Greenburg noted, and it is important that the students feel that their work is meaningful.
It is real-world advice like this that many of the students were looking for. Many of the speakers agreed that when they were undergraduates at Binghamton, they wished they had someone to tell them what the actual world of law is like. Frank Vellucci '94, another speaker, said that as an undergraduate he felt clueless about law school and he wished that he had had access to legal professionals when he was a student. He felt, and many other speakers agreed, this course would have benefited them when they were undergraduates, and they considered this when they were preparing their lectures.
Goldstein said that she focused her lecture on the professionalism required of lawyers. She emphasized that lawyers behaving appropriately in a professional manner is important for these future lawyers and the profession. She wanted to offer the students advice that was pertinent to working in the law field. This is the kind of information that the students heard all three nights, information that only current working lawyers could give them.
Shareema Abel '96, a labor and employment lawyer, wanted to give the students a taste of law school, to try and prepare them for their future academic experience. She used the Socratic Method in her lecture, which she experienced in her own law school classes. She also explained how important it was for these students to use this class as a resource. The course "gives the students a way to interact with alumni who are lawyers, even if they are not in their field. Exposure to as many attorneys as possible is important; you can ask them questions and get the real deal. This is [the students'] chance. This is not someone at law school who is going to give you fluff; you will get the real deal."
Plasse also focused on how the path to law school is not always a straight one. Many speakers tried to show the students that lawyers come from all kinds of backgrounds. Plasse majored in cinema at Harpur College, but has gone on to a successful law career in class action litigation. He emphasized to the students, "If you find something that moves you, hold on to it."
All the speakers agreed that it was important to give back to the college, and its students. For the third year in a row, this winter course was a success and a great experience for both the students and speakers involved.
To view a slideshow of photographs of the course, visit the Harpur Perspective website.
25th Briloff Lecture to feature alumnus and distinguished former Wall Street executive
By Steve Seepersaud
Ronald J. Strauss '76, MS '77 will be the speaker for the 25th annual Abraham J. Briloff Lecture Series on Accountability and Society at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29, in the Anderson Center Chamber Hall. This event is free and open to the public.
Strauss is assistant professor of accounting at the School of Business at Montclair State University and has more than 25 years of global accounting and business experience, primarily in the financial services industry. During his career, he served in a variety of leadership positions, including as president and CEO of Merrill Lynch Japan, and COO of Merrill Lynch International, where he was responsible for joint venture and business expansion efforts in 10 countries.
His current academic research is focused on questions related to accounting ethics, such as ethical aspects of the global financial crisis and the role of executive compensation and governance. His lecture is titled "Ethics and the Global Financial Crisis – Values Nourish Sustainable Markets."
The annual lecture series is named in honor of Abraham J. Briloff, the Presidential Professor of Accounting and Ethics at Binghamton University and Emanuel Saxe Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Bernard Baruch College. Over his long and distinguished career, Briloff has been recognized as the ethical conscience of the accounting profession.
The School of Management sponsors the Briloff lecture series, which brings the accounting, business and campus communities together to contemplate topics of business ethics. For more information, contact Debbie Standard.
New ways to study biofilms
By Liz Joyce
Last summer, senior Mario Alexandre, a computer engineering major, was paired with a biology major through a $1.4 million, four-year grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The grant supports projects that solve problems in the life sciences; undergraduates work with faculty mentors on original research.
The biologists in Alexandre's group worked with flow cell systems for multiple bacteria species to model their behavior. A few hundred images were taken in a 3D space, and were then sliced into 2D images. Alexandre developed software to analyze these images for different properties and determine specific characteristics, such as density, of the bacteria in question.
The research, which could translate into increased effectiveness for medications and vaccinations, revealed that more bacteria were on the outside than the inside of the biofilms. "This means medicine can only penetrate halfway through and can only kill the first layer of cells," Alexandre said. "You'll only weaken the actual infection; you won't beat it."
He continues to work with the analysis generated during the summer with plans to pass the research back to the biologists. Alexandre is developing a user interface that will allow biologists to run tests with speedy results and view directories of all the images.
"The experience introduces Mario to an area of study that is not usually in the engineering curriculum," said Anna Tan-Wilson, a distinguished teaching professor and the HHMI program director. "He is doing research in the life sciences. This kind of interdisciplinary work is seeing a lot of growth within engineering research, and it expands Mario's career opportunities."
Alexandre said the project helped him to think differently about his own field. "Knowing that image processing, a component of both computer science and electrical engineering, can greatly aid the development of biology was amazing," he said. "I didn't know you could do that."
Decker to offer healthcare research luncheons
By Eric Coker
Weight-loss surgery and the war on cancer are among the topics that will be examined this spring at the Decker School of Nursing’s Kresge Center for Nursing Research “green bag luncheons.”
The research luncheons will take place on seven Mondays this semester from noon-1 p.m. in AB-347.
“As a research university, it seems appropriate for the Kresge Center to have research seminars, lunches and presentations,” said Ann Myers, interim director of the center. “[This semester], we have students, some of our faculty members, faculty from other departments and we have a former faculty member coming back.”
The Kresge Center for Nursing Research’s mission is to support the scientific inquiry and expansion of the knowledge base of nursing and healthcare. The lunch sessions started about five years ago, Myers said, as a way to back doctoral nursing students’ efforts by “immersing them in an atmosphere rich in research and scholarship.”
That atmosphere includes encouraging interdisciplinary research with faculty members, other universities and local healthcare agencies and facilities. While the target audience for the luncheons is doctoral nursing students, all faculty, students and community members are invited to attend, Myers said.
“There’s always been a wonderful array of faculty from other departments,” Myers said of the presenters. “And some outside speakers can offer a topic that we may not be able to provide locally. You’ll see quite a variety of topics on our schedule.”
The spring schedule is:
• March 12: Dr. William A Graber, MD, FACS, PC, Faston-St. Lukes Health Care, Utica, presents “Weight Loss Surgery.”
“Bariatric surgery is relevant to all of us because of the health epidemic of obesity in this country,” Myers said. “We’re not saying this is the technique to use, but we want to explore it and look at some of the effects and raise some questions with him.”
• March 26: Olympia Berger, doctoral student in the Decker School of Nursing, presents “The relationship between blood pressure and wandering in patients with dementia.”
• April 16: Gerald Kutcher, history professor at Binghamton University and 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, presents “U.S. War on Cancer.”
• April 30: Margaret Wells, assistant professor in the College of Nursing at SUNY Upstate Medical University, presents “Resilience in older adults living in rural, suburban, and urban areas.”
• May 7: Linda L. Buettner, professor of therapeutic recreation/gerontology in the Department of Community and Therapeutic Recreation at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a former Binghamton University faculty member, presents “The emerging science of recreational therapy in collaboration with nursing in long term care (LTC).”
Invitations to Buettner’s talk will likely be extended to local nursing-home directors and personnel, Myers said.
Each luncheon features a PowerPoint presentation with time at the end of the session for a Q&A and discussion, Myers said. Light refreshments are also served.
“It’s ‘green bag’ because we are trying to go green and one of the colors at Binghamton University is green,” she said. “So we put out some green lunch bags for people to bring their lunches in.”
Myers said she hopes that the luncheons help students and faculty generate ideas for further research while discovering a “broad spectrum” of topics.
“We are fortunate to have these opportunities for sharing among faculty and students on the campus,” she said. “Just come, have lunch with us, raise questions and find out what’s going on in certain fields. I think each of the speakers will be very exciting.”
Grad student recognized with state-level award
From staff reports
Paige Walker, graduate student and vice president for the master of social work (MSW) Graduate Student Organization, has been awarded the 2012 Student of the Year Award from the National Association of Social Work of New York State (NASW-NYS). Walker is a resident of Binghamton.
Each year, the NASW presents the Student of the Year award to one master’s- or baccalaureate-level social work scholar who has demonstrated academic excellence and who personifies the values of the social work profession.
Walker has worked with organizations such as the Rural Health Network of South Central New York and the SHARE Project in Whitney Point and was recognized as being a notable volunteer during the flood of 2011. She was also instrumental in the planning of a Red Cross disaster mental health training course which was developed to help flood volunteers.
Walker’s most distinguished leadership skills have been demonstrated through her work as a student representative for Binghamton University’s College of Community and Public Affairs Student Advisory Committee and the Department of Social Work’s field instruction committee.
NASW is a membership organization of professional social workers and its New York Chapter is one of the largest in the United States. With more than 10,000 members, NASW-NYS works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.
Walker will receive her award in March at the NASW-NYS Spirit of Social Work Awards Luncheon – part of the Annual Power of Social Work Conference.
Bromley receives 2011 Article of the Year award
From staff reports
The Journal of College Reading and Learning (JCRL) named Karen Bromley, a SUNY distinguished teaching professor in the Graduate School of Education, the recipient of the 2011 Article of the Year award.
JCRL, published in fall and spring, is a national, peer-reviewed forum for the theory, research and policy related to reading improvement and learning assistance at the two-and four-year college level. It publishes reports of original research and articles linking theory, research or policy to practice.
Bromley earned her award for her article, "Picture a World Without Pens, Pencils, and Paper: The Unanticipated Future of Reading and Writing," published in late 2011. The article includes a brief history of reading and writing, and explores how digital text has quietly evolved and threatens to take over traditional notions of literacy. It goes on to suggest that speech will ultimately emerge as a dominant way of communicating.
Bromley is a noted expert in the fields of reading and literacy. She earned a master's in education from SUNY Potsdam and a doctorate in early childhood/elementary education and reading from the University of Maryland. Her current research focuses on the relationship between reading and writing, and classroom literacy assessment and instruction.
Bromley holds a New York State Reading Association's Reading Educator Award and the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching.