New Paltz Alumna Brought Enthusiasm for Evolutionary Psychology to EvoS Program

Briana Tauber

Briana Tauber

By Despina Williams Parker

Recent graduate Briana Tauber (Psychology, ‘14g) was a very visible and active contributor to New Paltz’s Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program.

The interdisciplinary program introduces students from a variety of disciplines to the core ideas of evolutionary theory. EvoS offerings include courses in anthropology, art history, biology, black studies, communication disorders, English, geology, history, physics and psychology.

Tauber said she was drawn to the EvoS program after taking Psychology Professor Glenn Geher’s Evolutionary Studies course her junior year. Rooted in evolutionary psychology, the course examined the evolutionary origins of human behaviors. “I really loved the material and I wanted to get involved,” said Tauber.

As an undergraduate, Tauber worked as a research assistant in Geher’s Evolutionary Studies lab. During her graduate studies, she continued to contribute to the EvoS program, both as a teaching assistant and president of the campus EvoS Club.

This spring, Tauber took a lead role in organizing the ninth annual Northeastern Evolutionary Psychology Society (NEEPS) conference, held at New Paltz from April 10-13. Tauber organized student volunteers, tracked registrations and juggled a variety of conference tasks. The approximately 200 participants came from five continents, and participated in a variety of lectures, book signings and other events at the Terrace and Lecture Center.

EP lab at NEEPS 2014

Tauber (second row from back, second from right), joins Psychology Professor Glenn Geher (front row, left), and fellow EvoS enthusiasts at the Northeastern Evolutionary Psychology Society conference in April.

Tauber’s work as the EvoS Club president also garnered the attention of the campus’s Student Association. Tauber accepted the club’s Outstanding Scholarship Award during a ceremony on April 30 in the Student Union Building. The award recognized the club’s efforts in connecting students to distinguished, evolutionary studies speakers.

Tauber’s work in evolutionary psychology culminated with a master’s thesis on the subject of deception detection and trust in mating behaviors. Tauber drew from Geher’s book, Mating Intelligence Unleashed, which she helped edit, in developing her research. Tauber was intrigued by the gaps in the scholarship on how people choose mates, and particularly, their ability to spot the liars from the earnest suitors.

“It’s really relevant now because you have all of this online dating,” Tauber noted. “People fall in love online and they’ve never met this person face to face, and it’s not the person they thought it was.”

Tauber used the online survey generator Survey Monkey to poll over 300 participants on their romantic experiences. Her research revealed several interesting findings. Extroverts proved better at detecting deception than introverts, which Tauber believes speaks to extroverts’ greater experience interacting with people in general, (and presumably, with a greater number of liars.) Women who were more promiscuous were also less trusting of their mates.

Though Tauber graduated this May, she maintains close ties to her psychology mentors. She is slated to co-edit, with Geher and other scholars, a book tentatively titled The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Studies. The book will examine the interdisciplinary nature of evolutionary studies and explore its future in higher education.

Tauber said the opportunities for student/faculty collaborations were among the highlights of her time at New Paltz. She will miss the daily interaction with her psychology professors and peers.

“I’ve spent a quarter of my life here. It’s sad to leave,” she said.

Head of Her Class


Arielle Rubinstein

By Despina Williams Parker

For the second year in a row, a graduate of the Communication Disorders Department has been named class valedictorian. Arielle Rubinstein, who double majored in linguistics and maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA, delivered the class of 2014 commencement address on Sunday, May 18, at the Old Main Quadrangle.

At New Paltz, Rubinstein distinguished herself as excellent student and leader. She served as president of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA), which advocates for communication disorders organizations. Through her work with the association, she organized fundraisers for the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders and invited experts in the field to campus to deliver lectures.


Rubinstein (second from right), served as president of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association at New Paltz. She is shown with fellow association members Alexandra Lavrentieva, Catherine Schembri and Victoria Guido.

As a student, she interned at a special services elementary school in her hometown of Robbinsville, N.J., where she learned valuable skills that she will apply in her chosen career as a speech language pathologist. “It gave me a good foundation of what it means to be speech pathologist, especially working with a population that’s so impaired,” she said. “It was more meaningful because you were helping students really communicate.”

In her senior year, she worked in the Communication Disorders Department’s Early Intervention Clinic, conducting therapy with both a client and parent. “The point is to make the parent the therapist,” Rubinstein noted. “You’re working with children with language disorders and delays and showing parents how to model language with the child and engage the child in play to produce language. You are showing parents how to create an optimal environment for the child to communicate.”

Rubinstein said her client, a two-year-old girl, made significant progress during their time together. “By the end, she was initiating her own play, using three- and four-letter words to express what she wanted, and had more consideration of other people within her play situations,” she said.

Rubinstein has been accepted into New Paltz’s Master of Science in Communication Disorders program. Though she was accepted at other schools, Rubinstein said she liked the “sense of community” at New Paltz.

“I know all the professors really well. I was one of those people who always went to office hours to get help, and I felt like they were always there for me when I had a problem. They want you to do well. They’re really encouraging and supportive,” Rubinstein said.

Rubinstein noted the importance of developing relationships with professors and getting involved in campus life. The class valedictorian advised her New Paltz peers to take an active role in their education.

“Things aren’t always going to come to you. You have to go out and work for them,” she said.

Watch Rubinstein’s valedictory address here.


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.

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.

‘Identify the Signs’ Campaign Promotes Awareness of Communication Disorders

hearing and speech month

With 8-9 percent of young children suffering from speech disorders, May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month is the perfect time for parents to learn how to recognize the early signs of these disorders. The Speech, Language, Hearing Center at the State University of New York at New Paltz is encouraging parents to educate themselves through the Identify the Signs campaign, a national effort of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The campaign is designed to combat an overall lack of awareness about communication disorders—a major barrier to treatment for the more than 40 million total Americans who are affected.

Speech, language, and hearing disorders are among the most common disabilities in the United States. However, unlike many other disabilities, these disorders often are reversible and even preventable with early intervention. Unfortunately, many parents do not recognize the first signs of these disorders. In young children, early treatment can help prevent them from falling behind academically, socially, and in other key areas at a critical time in their development.

Certified speech-language pathologists see the benefits of early intervention every day. Unfortunately, the consequences of waiting too long to seek treatment are also seen and this is one of the reasons that education and early identification are being promoted. This is the idea behind the American Speech and Hearing Association’s Identify the Signs campaign.

While it is certainly never too late to seek help, treatment is most successful, less expensive, and most effective when a parent or loved one is able to recognize the earliest signs of these disorders. MAY IS BETTER HEARING AND SPEECH MONTH, and this is the perfect time for caregivers to familiarize themselves with these signs at ASHA’s website. Caregivers should also seek information or an assessment from a certified speech-language pathologist if they have any questions

Identify the Signs of Communication Disorders

In children, parents should watch for the following signs of speech, language and hearing disorders:

Does not interact socially (infancy and older)

  • Does not follow or understand what you say (starting at 1 year)
  • Says only a few sounds or words or makes only a few gestures (18 months to 2 years)
  • Says words that are not easily understood (18 months to 2 years)
  • Does not combine words (starting at 2 years)
  • Struggles to say sounds or words (3 to 4 years)
  • Does not seem to hear what you are saying
  • Frequently asks “what”?

In adults, signs of speech and language disorders include:

  • Struggles to say sounds or words (stuttering)
  • Repeats words or parts of words (stuttering)
  • Says words in the wrong order (expressive aphasia)
  • Struggles with using words and understanding others (global aphasia)
  • Has difficulty imitating speech sounds (apraxia)
  • Speaks at a slow rate (apraxia)
  • Produces slurred speech (dysarthria)

For more signs, treatment information, and other resources, visit

For more information regarding speech and hearing, please contact Department of Communication Disorders Chair Wendy Bower  ( To schedule an appointment for a speech or hearing assessment, please contact the department secretary at (845) 257-3600.

Media and Journalism Week Kicks off April 23

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences hosts its annual Media and Journalism Week, featuring a keynote presentation by a television studio executive, alumni panel, screenings of two films and a launch party for The Little Rebellion, a student-produced multimedia news publication.  All events are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served at most events.

Schedule of Events

KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: 4/23 6 p.m. Honor’s Center 
Things kick off with a keynote presentation on Wednesday April 23rd at 6 p.m. at the Honor’s Center in College Hall. Barry Katz is the Senior VP/ General Manager NEP Studios New York. At NEP Studios, Barry is responsible for the overall management and operation of nine independent television studios in New York City, playing a key role in sales, client management, staff development, and studio design and build. Barry has led the way in HD studio development – opening six HD studios since becoming General Manager. Studios include spaces for The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Al Jazeera America, and Glen Beck. Learn about his career and opportunities in the broadcast industry for all majors.

FIRST SCREENING: 4/24 6:30 p.m. LC102
Thursday, April 24th kicks off the first of two film screenings. Join New Paltz Professor Tom Cznarty for the film ‘Uneasy Sisters: Voodoo and Christianity In New Orleans.’ Professor Cznarty co-directed the film. It was be screened at LC 102 at 6:30 pm April 24th. Ava Kay Jones will be presenting a Q&A after the documentary.

ALUMNI CAREER PANEL: 4/28 11 a.m. in SUB 62/63

Our alumni career panel will be on Monday, April 28.  Panelists include Erin Brady (05’, Producer Nightline) Claudia Gallo (13’ Assistant Editor WWE), Kaleigh Griffin (13’ Independent Producer), Kim Mas (Assistant Graphics and Video Editor at Hearst Digital), and Sarah Miller (Writer/Producer for NBC’s TodayShow).

Lorna Tychostup

Lorna Tychostup’s Film “Bordering on Treason” will be screened Tuesday, April 29.

SECOND SCREENING: 4/29 6 p.m. LC102
Our second screening will take place on Tuesday, April 29 at 6 p.m. in LC102. The film ‘Bordering on Treason’ is a documentary that focuses on photo journalist and journalism professor Lorna Tychostup’s visits to Iraq shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2003. Her work, deemed ‘bordering on treason’ by Fox News, takes a human look at the Iraqi people during the war.

THE LITTLE REBELLION LAUNCH: 5/1 6p.m. College Terrace
Finally, join the Media and Journalism Society for The Little Rebellion Launch Party at the College Terrace on Thursday, May 1 at 6 p.m. Come celebrate our multi-medianews publication created by students in the journalism program and advanced editing class. There will be games, prizes, and lots of food.

Let’s celebrate an excellent year together in style!
Media and Journalism Week is presented by the Media and Journalism Society (a Broadcast Education Association Student Club) and The Department of Communication and Media. Special thanks to Campus Auxiliary Services and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.