IDMH Director to Support 9/11 Survivors, Families at Memorial Museum Opening

SUNY New Paltz Faculty & Staff Portraits

Dr. James Halpern

Dr. James Halpern, director of SUNY New Paltz’s Institute for Disaster Mental Health (IDMH), will join a handful of Red Cross mental health volunteers to assist with providing emotional support for families, survivors, first responders, and visitors touring the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City from May 15-21.

“Considerable time has passed since 2001 and there has been much healing, but for those who lost loved ones or were injured on that day, attending the museum opening will likely be very difficult,” said Halpern. “It is an honor to be of some help to these survivors.”

Halpern was invited to volunteer due to his significant involvement with the Red Cross response to the 9/11  attacks. He led the first organized Red Cross disaster mental health team to Ground Zero; managed the Missing Persons Hotline, a major point of contact for weeks after the disaster; supported the visits of firefighter families to the site; and assisted residents in moving back to their neighborhoods. Halpern also supervised SUNY New Paltz disaster practicum students who supported 9/11 survivors at various memorials held at the World Trade Center site.

According to the Red Cross, mental health teams have been part of its Disaster Services dating back to the early 1990s. Then the goal was to provide support to volunteers on a disaster relief operation. The mission has expanded over the years to meet the types of needs seen during responses like the Oklahoma bombing, events of 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina. As knowledge has increased regarding the psychological impact of traumatic and disaster-related events, the contributions of disaster mental health volunteers have become increasingly important.

For more information about the museum visit

Penny Freel Named LA&S Teacher of the Year

Penny Freel

Penny Freel

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has named Penny Freel ’95g (English Literature) Teacher of the Year for 2013-2014.

Hired as a full-time lecturer in 2006, Freel has taught numerous sections of ESL/SWW Composition 1 and 2; she also teaches courses in literature.

Prior to coming to New Paltz, Freel taught at the University of the Sacred Heart, an all female Catholic college in Tokyo, Japan (1995-2003). Professor Freel was hired as a “native English speaker” and taught everything from Composition to Film Studies to Public Speaking.

Freel has presented papers at the Annual Convention on College Composition and Communication; the SUNY Council on Writing; and the Council on Basic Writing. She is a regular participant in the SUNY New Paltz Composition Program Retreat. Her published articles on composition pedagogy have appeared in print or online in the Journal of Basic Writing and Basic Writing E Journal.

In honor of her achievement, Freel’s name will be added to the Teacher of the Year plaque located in the Jacobson Faculty Tower lobby on the campus. She will also receive $1,000 to be used for professional development, and will present a talk or lead a workshop on pedagogy for interested faculty in the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Freel received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Marist College in 1992 and a master’s degree in English Literature from SUNY New Paltz in 1995.

Keep Your Voice Healthy! – Voice Clinic May 28 – June 18

woman speaking

Do your professional or personal obligations strain your voice? Have you wondered why, and if there is anything you can do about it? If so, then this 4-week voice clinic is for you.

Voice Maintenance Clinic: Keeping Your Voice Healthy is a group clinic that will focus on techniques and rationale for developing and maintaining the best voice for speaking or singing at any age. It will include a basic assessment, information on the mind/body/voice connection, practice activities, and maintenance plans.

Date: Wednesdays, May 28-June 18, 2014
Time: 10:30am – 12:00pm
Where: Speech-Language and Hearing Center, SUNY New Paltz, Humanities Building
Cost: $20 for all 4 sessions; free for SUNY New Paltz faculty, staff and students

Liz Hester

Liz Hester, CCC/SLP, PhD

The workshop is presented by Elizabeth Hester, CCC/SLP, PhD, a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist with experience in Somatic and Estill voice training, and staffed by graduate student clinicians.

To register, please contact Sandy DiStasi in the Department of Communication Disorders at (845) 257-3600. Questions? – contact Liz Hester at


Geography Department to Host Retirement Celebration for Dr. Jo Mano

Jo Mano

Dr. Jo Mano

Please join us in celebrating Jo Margaret Mano’s career as a geography professor and scholar, as she prepares to retire at the end of this semester after teaching in the Geography Department since 1980.

Dr. Mano has taught a number of our critical upper-division courses such as Cartography, Remote Sensing, Urban Planning, the Geography Internship Seminar and Geography for Teachers.  She has been an active and supportive mentor for many students, a leader in the Middle States Division of the Association of American Geographers, an active member of the Society for Values in Higher Education and a productive scholar in many research areas including the history of New York State cartography.

Join us in congratulating her at a reception in the Terrace Restaurant on Wednesday, May 14, from 4-6 p.m.


Students Host Workshops at Columbia Girls Facility

This spring semester, a group of approximately 15 undergraduate women from SUNY New Paltz came together to collaborate on a workshop for the young women at Columbia Girls Secure Facility in Claverack, New York.  Columbia Girls is a juvenile facility where young women between the ages of 13 and 15 who are accused of serious felonies and sentenced as adults are sent.  If they still have time left on their sentence by the time they they turn 21–and many of them do–they are transferred to the New York State Department of Corrections.  There are approximately eight young women in the facility now, although it has a capacity of 25 beds.

The women of New Paltz who devised the workshops brought a variety of different perspectives to the table.  The women represent a range of majors, from Black Studies, to Sociology, Political Science, Art, and Communication and Media.  They are members of a wide number of student organizations–from Urban Lyrics, to the African Women’s Alliance, Fahari Libertad, the Black Studies Student Association, to Chi Upsilon Sigma, and the Student Association.  The first workshop centered around the idea of the higher self, which included presentations by New Paltz students on women who had been incarcerated as well as a poetry workshop.  The second workshop, building on the first, centered around the theme of Sankofa, or the need to reach back to the past to comprehend one’s present.

“The Columbia Girls workshops were not only an opportunity for students to share what they have learned in the classroom with the young women at the facility, but it was also an opportunity for the students and for me as a faculty member to see the possibilities of dialogue between those on the ‘inside’ and those on the ‘outside’ as a means of facilitating an understanding of the dignity and humanity of those behind bars,” said Assistant Professor of Sociology Alexandra Cox.  “This galvanized me and the students: one student took the initiative to plan an on-campus event on the effects of incarceration on women, which took place on Friday May 2nd, and convinced her sorority to take on the issue of women’s incarceration as the cause that their sorority would work on in the coming year.” The students and Cox plan to continue these visits on a regular basis starting in the fall.

Since she began teaching at New Paltz, Cox has taken her students each semester to a secure boy’s facility called Brookwood to engage in joint college classes. “These trips have helped to inform my students’ understandings of incarceration and have opened their eyes about the experiences of young people behind bars,” noted Cox. “The trips to Columbia, however, were an opportunity for me to sit back and learn from our students about the ways they were able to infuse their curriculum with both their intellectual and personal understandings about the role of identity in shaping our social sympathies.”

LA&S Secretaries Honored


Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program Coordinator Kathleen Dowley and Secretary Cookie Chandler


English Department Chair Nancy Johnson with Secretary Ethel Wesdorp


Black Studies Department Chair Major Coleman with Secretary Doris Butterfield

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences honored the outstanding dedication and service of its secretaries at its annual Secretary Recognition Reception, held May 8 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at The Terrace.

Honorees included Nancy Riley and Jannette Carcich (Dean’s Office), Cookie Chandler (Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies), Margaret Betaudier (Sociology), Jane Lehman (Psychology), Myriam Long (Geography), Meredith Van Etten (Languages, Literatures and Cultures; Latin American Studies), Ethel Wesdorp (English), Pat Stewart (Economics, Political Science and International Relations), Deanna Lorenzo (Communication and Media), Sandra Schoonmaker (Communication Disorders), Doris Butterfield (Black Studies), Laura Tozzi (Philosophy, History, Asian Studies) and Susan Buckbee (Anthropology, Psychology).

LA&S chairs, coordinators and directors delivered heartfelt remarks on the special qualities and skills of the secretaries, who were frequently described as the hearts and souls of their departments and programs.

Stewart and Tozzi, who are retiring this summer after many years of devoted service, received special praise and heartfelt farewells from their colleagues. Economics Chair Hamid Azari-Rad described Stewart as “a calm presence” and “very professional and effective.” History Chair Andy Evans called Tozzi “uber organized” with a “wonderful sense of humor.” All the secretaries received potted Gerber daisies as gifts at the end of the reception.

The secretaries presented Interim Dean Stella Deen with a potted plant and card, and thanked her for her service to LA&S over the past year.

Barrett Appointed New Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Laura Barrett

Laura Barrett

Provost Philip Mauceri has announced the appointment of Laura Barrett as the College’s new dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Barrett is currently the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a professor in the English Department at Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU) in Savannah, Ga. Her appointment is effective August 1.

Barrett brings broad experience in interdisciplinary studies, curriculum development, teaching, and research to New Paltz. Prior to her tenure at AASU, she served as the chair of fine arts, humanities, and social sciences at Wilkes Honors College, a branch of Florida Atlantic University. There, she worked with colleagues to create curriculum, centered on interdisciplinary efforts, worked on the development of the writing program, and developed majors and minors, mentored junior colleagues, sponsored student organizations, and served on various standing committees. She also served as assistant/associate director of the Honors Program at the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University, where she developed and taught interdisciplinary classes, interviewed and selected Honors students, counseled undergraduate students, coordinated special events and co-directed an annual campus conference, and served as an adjunct professor.

Laura holds a Ph.D. in English from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, a master’s degree in English literature from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in English, summa cum laude, from Long Island University (LIU), Brooklyn Campus.

“I am confident that Laura’s impressive combination of notable faculty and administrative achievements will continue to advance the exceptional work already being done by our talented students and faculty in the liberal arts,” said Mauceri.