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Larémont named to Atlantic Council

By Eric Coker

Ricardo René Larémont's international expertise will likely take on even greater significance now that he has been appointed nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

"It's a place where people who do scholarship can have an impact on policy, especially foreign policy not only in the United States, but on the other side of the Atlantic," the professor of political science and sociology said of the nonpartisan think tank.

The Atlantic Council was established in 1961 to promote trans-Atlantic relations and help shape policy choices.

"Its primary focus is on enhancing, maintaining and improving relations between the United States and countries across the Atlantic," Larémont said. "It is a think tank that has had an enormous impact on foreign policy and public policy."

The Atlantic Council is led on an interim basis by Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel preceded Scowcroft as chairman. Past council members include former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and current National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

The council, which in recent years has expanded to include the Middle East and North Africa, features 10 programs and centers that work to advance the organization's mission. Larémont serves as one of five fellows on the Africa Center, established in 2009 to help transform U.S. and European policy approaches to the continent.

Larémont's work focuses on North Africa and the western Sahel, a section of the continent that covers Mali, Niger, Senegal, Mauritania and northern Nigeria. As a leading expert on political Islam and civil/military relations in the region, Larémont has served as a consultant to the U.S., British, French and Moroccan governments, the United States Special Operations Command and the European Union in Brussels. He testified before Congress in 2011 about Muslim extremist groups in North Africa and in 2013 wrote a book about the regional effects of the Arab Spring titled "Revolution, Revolt, and Reform in North Africa."

"I've lectured in all of these (areas), so the council decided that it was probably time for me to join them," he said.

As a fellow, Larémont receives a one-year appointment, subject to renewal. He will attend Atlantic Council meetings and policy discussions at its Washington, D.C., headquarters or connect with his colleagues via Skype. Larémont is also expected to write opinion pieces and be available to media.

"(The Atlantic Council) gives you access to key decision-makers on the questions of foreign policy," he said. "You are involved in high-level policy discussions. ... Obviously, big decisions are going to be made by the president and the National Security Council, but you are consulted in terms of policy formulation."

J. Peter Pham, who Larémont called "a high-level thinker on foreign policy," is the director of the Africa Center. Pham, who wrote the 2013 book "Somalia: Fixing Africa's Most Failed State," has appeared as a commentator on numerous TV news shows and print outlets.

Larémont also praised the work of fellow Gerard Prunier, an expert on the eastern Sahel. Larémont and Prunier both consulted with the European Union on a project to develop policies to improve living conditions in the Sahel.

"I suspect Peter thought that because I work in the western Sahel that I would complement what Gerard is doing," Larémont said. "There are few people who equal Gerard in terms of knowledge of the eastern Sahel."

Larémont will continue analyzing the effects of the Arab Spring. He has been asked by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to consult with its members on the issue and plans to visit Turkey in January 2014.

Another immediate challenge for the region, Larémont said, is a possible Syrian civil war in which the United States, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are lined up in support of Sunni insurgents, while Russia, Iran and Hezbollah back the government in power.

"That's a major conflict that all of us in the Atlantic Council are going to be involved with in terms of helping to resolve," he said.

For Larémont, the Atlantic Council appointment shows how Binghamton University can make a difference across oceans and borders.

"You want to have scholars who are making an impact both in the academic community and in the larger world of trying to solve problems," he said. "Ultimately, the University cannot just reside within the academy. The University must be in the business of trying to make a difference in the ways that people live.

"I believe the University wants some of its scholars playing a role in the larger public arena – bringing ideas to the solutions of real problems. Whether it's engineering, medicine, political science or artists, all of the members of the Binghamton community can talk about how to use their expertise and gifts to transform reality. I think it needs to be transformed and improved."

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MBA Case Competition reveals growth opportunities for established merchants

By Steve Seepersaud

Finalists in the school's MBA Case Competition, held at the end of fall semester, closely examined major retail chains with fairly strong sales and high brand-name recognition in order to suggest ways the operations could improve.

Yemi Adejumo, Yang Cao, Jeremy Grant, Jessica Kanes, Beth Malley and Scott McSweeney won the competition for their comprehensive analysis of office supply retailer Staples. They gave the company high marks for being the leader in its industry and for its environmentally responsible practices, such as adopting biogases and solar power.

On the downside, they said the industry as a whole has shrunk by nearly two percent over the past five years. The team suggested that Staples partner with VMware, a global leader in virtualization. Such a deal would enable the retail chain to profit from the increase in the amount of people working from home. Traditional offices, and their customary orders of supplies, have been trending downward. Team members also said Staples should use Google ads to target entrepreneurs and virtual workers.

"The biggest threat facing Staples is virtualization, but that represents one of the biggest areas for Staples to gain revenue," Grant says. "Forty percent of all workers will be digital."

The finalist team with members Valentina Codrington, Anthony Fassett, Yining Feng, Peter Fiduccia and Jonathan Ganzarski analyzed Target. The retailer, which had enjoyed a reputation for offering affordable fashion-forward clothing, saw sales flatline in this sector. In addition, they said the Canadian stores drew disappointing numbers, in part because customers didn't seem to realize Target is a one-stop-shop that could be potentially visited every day, rather than once every two weeks.

Expansion of Target Clinic – which offers low-cost, walk-in healthcare – could be a lucrative maneuver, they said, especially with the Affordable Care Act resulting in 32 million newly insured people this year. Target Subscription, a Web-based delivery service that could compete with Amazon, was suggested as a viable entry point for Target into the online industry. The team also recommended building scaled-down stores in the cores of larger cities as well as within international airports.

"Airports are seeking operators with high revenue generation and high financial standing," Fiduccia says. "This also offers opportunities in data mining and information marketing. There are vast amounts of information taken in at airports."

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Sammakia named IEEE Fellow

By Rachel Coker

Binghamton University's vice president for research has been named an IEEE Fellow. Mechanical engineer Bahgat Sammakia was chosen in recognition of his contributions to thermal management applications in electronic systems.

Sammakia, a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering, is the founding director of the Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center, a New York State Center of Excellence. Editor of the ASME Journal of Electronic Packaging, he holds 19 U.S. patents and has published more than 200 peer-reviewed technical papers. He is also a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

"I am both delighted and humbled to receive this honor from the IEEE," Sammakia said. "My research has always been motivated by my desire to have an impact on society, to create technology that really makes people's lives better. This recognition is a sign that I am indeed contributing vital new knowledge to my field.

"It's also an important validation of the investments Binghamton University has made in small-scale systems research," he added. "I wouldn't be able to do the work that I do now without the students, colleagues and facilities that we have here at Binghamton."

Sammakia, a former IBM senior technical staff member, joined Binghamton's faculty in 1998. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Alexandria in Egypt and his master's and doctoral degrees from the University at Buffalo.

The IEEE is the world's leading professional association for advancing technology for humanity. The IEEE, which has 400,000 members in 160 countries, publishes 30 percent of the world's literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields. It has developed more than 900 active industry standards.

Fellow is the highest grade of membership conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors and is recognized by the technical community as an important career achievement.

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Turkish nursing students expand horizons at Decker
By Katie Ellis

Two nursing students in doctoral programs in Turkey—one from Istanbul University School of Nursing and the other from Koç University School of Nursing—spent the fall 2013 semester at Binghamton University, taking advantage of every opportunity they could while at the Decker School of Nursing.

Merdiye Sendir, dean of the school of nursing at Istanbul University, had spent a semester at Binghamton as a visiting professor and was interested in having some of her students do the same.

"When I decided to get an experience related to nursing education at an American University, I did comprehensive research," Sendir said. "I got information about programs between the State University of New York and several of Turkey's top universities. These dual-diploma programs were approved and recognized by the Higher Education Council of Turkey (YÖK)."

"Merdiye helped with some teaching, spent time in the simulation lab, sat in on classes, visited clinical sites and integrated herself into the faculty while she was here," Decker Dean Joyce Ferrario said. "We had just gotten simulation equipment and she was very interested in ours."

"I wanted to know more about simulation in nursing education and I also had opportunities to attend some undergraduate and graduate courses as well as clinical practices," Sendir said. "I had great experiences with nursing education at Binghamton University and I'm working to reflect these experiences on nursing education at my home university."

Enter Emine Atkas and Pelin Karaçay, two Turkish students who met Sendir's requirements: having good English language skills and TOEFL/IELTS exam scores, a GPA of 3.0 or higher, experience at the international level and a special interest in the Decker School's educational programs. Both are also educators in Turkey.

"They registered and took courses which they will be transferring to their schools," Ferrario said.

Both Karaçay and Atkas said they are grateful for the opportunity to build relationships with Decker faculty and staff, in particular Ferrario, Atav, Carolyn Pierce, Gale Spencer, Sharon Bryant, Malgosia Krasuska, Patti Reuther, Pamela Stewart Fahs and Patrick Leiby and to become part of the student community in the Decker School.

Karaçay is in charge of the simulation laboratory at Koc University School of Nursing. While at Binghamton she focused on the fundamentals of nursing and simulation, spending time in the Innovative Practice Center which houses a family of human patient simulators from newborn to pediatric to adult, as well as birthing simulators.

"My goal was to learn from the program and build a knowledge base transferable to my career path," Karaçay said. "I discussed simulation styles with Patti Reuther and compared practices. It was a good opportunity to take quantitative and qualitative research courses from your faculty who are expert about research. I found an opportunity to improve my ability to do research and to critique the articles in a correct way. In addition, I acquired more information about research methodologies in nursing that I hope that I can put into practice in my workplace and in my thesis."

Karaçay took Advanced Health Systems and Public Policy, which she credits with giving her the ability to think with a broad perspective, not just from the nursing perspective about healthcare systems in various countries.

"I made many international friends who are very friendly and I hope that we will be in touch with them forever," Karaçay said. "I had heard and read about the quality of your education at the Decker School of Nursing and I lived this quality during the fall semester."

The positive experiences that Sendir had at Binghamton provided Atkas the encouragement she needed to apply to the Decker School, and she wasn't disappointed with her decision.

"The experience was better than what I had expected," Atkas said. "Participating in courses at the Decker School of Nursing provided an important contribution to my academic development related to public health nursing and matched exactly with what I would like to really learn about nursing."

Atkas took three courses while at Decker. "All of them were so helpful for me, especially the Advanced Quantitative and the Qualitative Methods for Nursing Research courses taught by experts about research because I learned nursing research methods and how to critique and write a research article. The information that I learned from the classes will be helpful for my academic career and I can easily give a shape to my PhD dissertation."

For her community health nursing course, Atkas had a chance to be a member of Binghamton University Healthy Campus Initiatives Committee. "I met many key people who have important roles around the campus," she said. "It was really good and a surprising experience for me. The idea of the committee is really impressive; it was an honor for me to be aware of the committee's activities and Binghamton University facilities."

Atkas is also a research assistant at Istanbul University Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing in its public health nursing department, so was interested in the teaching methods at the Decker School. "I was impressed with the academic staffs' teaching methods and learned many things during my classes," she said, noting that every class she took has made important contributions to her academic development. "I believe that my experience at Binghamton University will give insight to my colleagues and my future nursing students as I share the information and experiences with them."

"Emine also really wanted to go to the American Public Health Association Congress in Boston in early November, so I sent her," Ferrario said.

"As a public health nurse, I always wanted to attend to the APHA," Atkas said. "Attending was an amazing experience for my academic career. I met many public health professionals from around the world, and I learned about new developments related to public health issues."

"Their leave from their school paid for nine credits of coursework, but we allowed them to sit in on any course they wanted to and they did. They went to the learning center for help writing papers. They were very proactive and took advantage of everything here," Ferrario said.

"It's so good for our students to have students like that in class with them, to hear about the different healthcare and educational systems," Ferrario said. "You can't buy that."

What's next? "We're looking for exchange both ways," said Ferrario.     

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Bronstein: Collaboration key to CCPA success

By John Brhel

When new College of Community and Public Affairs Dean Laura Bronstein arrived at Binghamton University in 1999, she was thrilled at the opportunity to develop its social work program. Fast forward 15 years and the growth of the Department of Social Work, the establishment of CCPA and successful collaborations with numerous community partners, and her excitement for "starting new things" has not diminished.

"There's a lot we've done in our early states, and there's much more we can do, and I am honored to be in a position to lead the college through that," she said.

Bronstein served as chair of the Department of Social Work from 2006 until June 2013, and was then appointed interim dean of CCPA when Dean Patricia Ingraham retired. Bronstein officially took on the role of dean on Jan. 2.

A collaborative spirit enabled Bronstein to achieve objectives in the past, including providing leadership for SHARE − a multi-million dollar, federally funded collaboration among BOCES, Broome County schools, Lourdes Youth Services and Binghamton University designed to develop safe school environments and improve mental health services in schools − and she plans on reaching out to her peers to meet CCPA's goals in her new position as well.

"Running this college is not about my ideas," said Bronstein. "It's about leading and supporting the faculty, staff, students and community partners around their ideas and the directions they want to go."

The importance of collaboration

When Bronstein speaks about the power of collaboration, she does so with authority. Her 2003 article, "A Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration," published in the journal Social Work, is the eighth-most cited work in professional social work literature in the past decade.

Calling herself "innately collaborative," Bronstein believes that products are better when there is collaboration and input from different people. "I do have an interdisciplinary perspective, and I feel that it's a critical way to approach issues," she said. "There are unique things that different disciplines offer, and we should take advantage of them. We should also look at where we come together."

Whether it's new international programs or fundraising opportunities (initiatives in which Bronstein is especially interested) she wants to pursue projects that make sense for CCPA and that are in line with the needs of its students, faculty, staff and community partners.

"What are our priorities?" said Bronstein. "'What are our goals? What do we want to do with and for our students, and how does that shape where we go next and what projects we pursue? That's sort of my take for developing new things in general—to get a lot of input from all of our constituents and then figure out what makes sense in order for us to move forward."

A sound strategy is key to CCPA's success, Bronstein said. There are so many great ideas being proposed, that she worries some of the great ones will be buried without a strategic approach in place.

"A major thing I want to do early on is look at the balance of priorities," she said. "There are a lot of ideas with a lot of energy and a lot of things going on, but we don't want to burn out and we also don't want, for some haphazard reason, one idea to get out in front when another idea is better. That's why I want to work with the faculty, staff, students and community partners − to think about what should be first, second, third, etc."

Relationships with other schools

When Bronstein became interim dean in June 2013, she found reassurance from other academic deans. "They're a really terrific group," she said. "That's one of the things that makes me feel as if 'OK, I can do this job.' There's a great support group among the academic deans. We meet and talk and support each other as we face similar challenges."

According to Bronstein, the opportunities for CCPA to work with other colleges at Binghamton are "limitless." She believes the University's Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence (TAEs) are creating more opportunities to work across departments, schools and colleges, and notes that many CCPA faculty align with two or three of the TAEs.

"I think having our faculty involved in at least three of the TAEs is an opportunity for them to become more familiar with other faculty across campus and vice-versa," she said. "We're a new college, and so we want people to get to know our faculty, how wonderful they are and their research expertise. I think the TAEs support that."

Bronstein believes that CCPA has a unique set of core values – social justice, community engagement, interdisciplinary work – and that these are areas in which the school can lead the rest of the University. "I want people to take advantage of our expertise in those areas," she said.

The community-college partnership

Aligning with community interests is crucial to the success of CCPA and the greater community, said Bronstein.

"We want people in the community to see us as a resource and a partner," she said. "We can figure out here at CCPA what interests us in the community, but that won't do us any good if the city, the county and people in the community are going in other directions. Where do our interests align and then how can we move forward together?"

Part of meeting the needs of the community will come about through vigorous research, said Bronstein, whose focus is on applied research. She noted CCPA's ability to use research to address one of the area's biggest challenges: economic development.

"We have people on our faculty who are doing cutting-edge scholarship and developing new models in a range of areas and programs," she said. "The more we can take the knowledge that faculty are generating and bring that to bear in this community, the more this community will be a place that people are attracted to for work, because innovative things are going on.

Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Donald Nieman believes that Bronstein, as she has demonstrated in the past, will make headway in the community in her new position.

"Laura has distinguished herself as a high-profile scholar who is successful in working closely with community partners on projects that address critical community needs," Nieman said. "Her success as a scholar, collaborative approach to leadership and commitment to the community will make her an outstanding dean."

And working with the community isn't just good for the community, said Bronstein − it's good for the University. She believes that, in order to make the University a more diverse place, we also need to support ways to make the community more diverse. "The more we can make this a place that people who don't have access to power can really thrive, the more diverse our community is going to be, and I think that's going to have an impact on the University as a whole."

'Use us'

If Bronstein had an opportunity to talk to all incoming students, she'd first let them know "how smart they are for coming to CCPA." Wanting students to get answers to pressing questions and solve problems before they blow up into bigger issues, she'd next urge them to take advantage of CCPA's highly supportive faculty and staff.

"People in this college are really motivated to help students have as excellent an experience as possible," said Bronstein. "Use us," she implores incoming and current students.

Bronstein encourages everyone – students, faculty, staff and community partners – to approach CCPA from a new perspective.

"People should take a fresh and serious look at CCPA, not what our image might be or what they might have felt we contributed in the past, but who we are today."

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Meet Associate Professor Marla Mallette
From staff reports

The Graduate School of Education recently welcomed Associate Professor Marla Mallette to its faculty. Mallette is a literacy specialist who taught at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she received a bachelor's degree in elementary and early childhood education. She has a master's degree in literacy and a doctorate in literacy education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 

Why did you choose to join Binghamton University in general and the Graduate School of Education in particular?

As my daughter was applying to colleges in the east. I felt like it was a good time for me to make a career move — new opportunities and experiences. When I saw Binghamton's position announcement in literacy, it felt like a perfect match with my interests, experiences and expertise.

Did the school's graduate-only program affect your decision?

For the past five years, I taught only graduate classes at Southern Illinois University Carbondale [SIUC], so that felt familiar. Yet, unlike SIUC, Binghamton University has graduate programs that lead to certification. Thus, it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to work with pre-service and in-service teachers.

Did anything strike you about Binghamton University when you first came here?

Yes! At the new faculty orientation it was so refreshing to hear about growth — plans for increasing enrollment and faculty — and to see the growth on campus with the new residence halls and buildings. I am just thrilled to be here!

What do you hope to accomplish at Binghamton?

I really value balance — I see my work as scholarship, teaching and service. I value all three and hope to excel in all three areas. I feel greatly supported here in these goals. That is, I feel that my teaching load allows me to truly focus on the courses I am teaching while affording me time to pursue my scholarship and service.

What courses are you teaching?

I am teaching two courses in literacy and language arts theory, research and pedagogy. I hope to continue with these courses, and I look forward to teaching doctoral courses. I am hoping to teach a doctoral seminar in mixed-methods research next year.

Tell us a little more about that and the other research you're focusing on.

I am interested in mixed-methods research, which is the complimentary use of quantitative and qualitative methodologies, because I value both. The research is often grounded in pragmatism and when thoughtfully "mixed," this type of research enhances single methodologies. So I am interested in mixed methods both in my work and as an area of scholarship. I have always been interested in early literacy, for example, understanding the struggles of early literacy learners. I am also interested in literacy assessment.

In my most current work, I co-authored a book chapter that focused on the importance of the learner's perspective in literacy — children's perceptions of themselves and their instruction. I am collaborating with former grad students and colleagues on examining the relationship among various literacy assessments — ultimately questioning "what are we really assessing?" I am also working on a collaborative research project in which we are investigating children's learning in a summer camp literacy program. In addition to my own research, I am also currently the co-editor (with Diane Barone from the University of Nevada, Reno) of The Reading Teacher, a publication of the International Reading Association.

Do you intend to continue that research at Binghamton?

Yes, I hope to continue to pursue all of my research interests. I value collaboration and look forward to collaborating with my colleagues and students here at Binghamton. I also look forward to working with schools in this area — continuing to conduct research in classrooms — research that is meaningful and beneficial to the participants.

Why did you choose teaching as a profession?

I have always wished that I could answer this question by saying, "I wanted to be a teacher since I was 7 years old." Honestly, when I was in college, I was taking various classes trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. It was an education class that captured my interest. I found myself to be an engaged and passionate learner. And I knew at that point I wanted to be an early childhood teacher. Prior to entering graduate studies, I taught first grade in Las Vegas.

What prompted the change from elementary education to college-level teaching?

Oddly enough, I left teaching for a few years to embark on a business opportunity — co-owning and operating a restaurant in Henderson, Nev. I returned to graduate school to renew my teaching certification and I knew I wanted to pursue a career in higher education.

What do think are the greatest challenges facing new teachers today?

Pressure from high-stakes testing leads to testing that drives instruction and results in disempowered teachers.

How do you address this with your students?

I hope to help them understand the importance of balance ... that is, balancing the pressure of high-stakes testing with their knowledge and beliefs of evidence-based best practices. I think that it is fairly common for teacher-education courses to be characterized as lofty, unrealistic, theoretical and "ivory towerish," whereas fieldwork is characterized as "the real world." As much as there are things I would like to change about public schools, I am a pragmatist. I think it is essential that teacher education coursework reflects and prepares teachers for that real world — of course with realistic — and balanced — pedagogical approaches to improve literacy instruction.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

At SIUC, I was director of the Saluki Kids' Academy, a community-based summer program for children in grades 1-6. The Saluki Kids' Academy is an outreach program, funded by grants and gifts, which uses university resources to provide academic, recreational and enrichment experiences for children who have not otherwise had access to those opportunities. I would love to find a way to start something like that in this area.

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Last Updated: 9/26/16