May 3,  2000
Update Archives







UAlbany Celebrates 156th Commencement Sunday, May 21
By Lisa James Goldsberry

    University at Albany Professor John Delano, a nationally known geochemist who is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to investigate the origins of life, will be the featured speaker at UAlbany’s 156th undergraduate commencement ceremony. The event will be Sunday, May 21, at 10 a.m., at the Pepsi Arena in downtown Albany.
    This year, the University will award 2,472 undergraduate degrees, 1,361 master’s degrees and 219 doctoral degrees. The Senior Class Gift is the establishment of a scholarship fund, for which more than $18,000 has been collected, to be presented during the ceremony by Senior Class President David Bender.
     Shirley Downey, director of the Career Development Center, said, “The growing economy and low unemployment rate make it an incredible year for students entering the workforce. Overall the college labor market will expand by 11-15 percent from last year, which was a very good year. Many University at Albany students had secured jobs by the end of the fall semester. The toughest choice for some students was trying to decide between the multiple job offers they received.”
    One of a handful of scientists leading the nation in trying to answer some of the most basic questions about the universe, Delano has worked with NASA in various capacities since 1979. He is currently associate director of its Center for Studies on the Origins of Life as well as principal investigator of the Exobiology Program. His commencement address will be highlighted by a slide show.
    Delano has been a faculty member at UAlbany since 1982. He served as chair of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from 1996-99. Among his many honors, he received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Prior to coming to Albany, Delano had positions at SUNY Stony Brook, Australian National University, and he served as a co-investigator for the Planetary Materials and Geochemistry Program for NASA.
    Delano received his Ph.D. in geochemistry from SUNY Stony Brook.
    The University’s graduate commencement will begin at 2:30 p.m. May 21 at the Recreation and Convocation Center on the main campus. Julian Zelizer, an associate professor of both history and public policy, will be the keynote speaker. He has been on the faculty at UAlbany since 1996. An expert on American history, he is author of the well-received book, Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress and the State, 1945-1975. He has recently won a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend Award for his book project, Making Democracy Work? Congressional Reform, 1945-2000. He earned both his master’s and doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins University.


Ballard and Bernstein Receive Collins Fellows Award 2000
By Lisa James Goldsberry

    Allen Ballard, a professor of history, political science, and Africana studies, and Roberta Bernstein of the Departments of Art and Women’s Studies, will be presented with Collins Fellows Awards for 2000. The annual award, given to faculty members who have exhibited extraordinary devotion to the University and the people in it over a sustained period, will be presented at the Graduate Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 21, in the Recreation and Convocation Center, beginning at 2:30 p.m.
     Ballard joined the University community in 1986 and since then has assumed numerous roles. He served as chair of the Department of Africana Studies from 1986-88. He teaches several courses each semester, including Introduction to African American History and a course on Russian History.
Ballard’s research in African American affairs has produced a number of books and articles, including his latest upcoming book, Where I’m Bound, a novel on African-American soldiers in the Civil War. His articles have appeared in publications ranging from the New York Times to the Philadelphia Tribune. 
      Last year Ballard’s graduate students researched the Civil War and the role of Normal School Company, known as New Company E of the 44th New York Volunteers, which included students, graduates and faculty from UAlbany’s predecessor, the State Normal School.
      Prior to joining the Albany faculty, Ballard was a professor in the City University of New York system. While there, he was responsible for conceptualizing the first economically and educational disadvantaged program in the country at the City College of New York. Ballard earned his Ph.D. in government studies from Harvard University.
     In addition to his professional pursuits, Ballard is a trustee and active team member of the Saturday Soup Kitchen Program, which provides meals to economically disadvantaged people on the South Side of Albany. He also is active in the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Albany.

     Roberta Bernstein is both an active scholar and an exceptional teacher, earning the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1992. She joined the University in 1980 and has been chair of the Art Department since 1994. She has served as a member of the University’s Strategic Planning Committee and the Middle States Accreditation Committee.
     Bernstein’s research interests include contemporary art, and modern European and American painting and sculpture. She has worked as a cataloguer for artist Jasper Johns and as a studio assistant for Andy Warhol. Her work resulted in the book, Jasper Johns’ Paintings and Sculptures 1954-1974: The Changing Focus of the Eye.
     She often gives professional presentations and public lectures across the country. She has spoken at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. Among her many honors, Bernstein received a faculty research award in 1981. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the Albany Institute of History and Art. 
     Before coming to the University, Bernstein taught at Barnard College and  Columbia University. She received her Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University.
    The award bears the name of Evan R. Collins, who was president of the University from 1949 to 1969 and who provided outstanding leadership in Albany’s transition from a college to a university. Each fellow receives an advancement in salary and a distinctive medal. In addition, their portraits will be hung in the President’s Reading Room in the library.

Alba Wins Guggenheim Fellowship
By Greta Petry

    Sociologist Richard D. Alba has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to study second generations in immigration societies, for the academic year beginning in September.
The prestigious one-year fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation carries a stipend of $34,000.
     Glenna Spitze, chair of the Department of Sociology, said, “We are extremely proud of our colleague, Richard Alba, who is one of only two sociologists in the country to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship for the coming year, as well as being vice president-elect of the American Sociological Association. He has a distinguished international reputation for his work on race/ethnicity and migration.”
     Alba said, “Half of the year I will be associate research director at the Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, where I will be working with Dr. Roxanne Silberman, who does work on the children of immigrants in France.” Alba joined the faculty of the Department of Sociology in 1980. In 1981 he became founding director of the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis, and in 1985, he was named a professor in the Department of Public Affairs and Policy.
     Alba will be examining how the children of immigrants fare in different countries that have received a great deal of immigration since 1950. The countries will include the U.S., Canada, Australia, France, Germany (where Alba had two previous Fulbright fellowships), and the United Kingdom. Alba notes that he has made good use of language instruction at the University, studying advanced German with professor Silke VanNess, and also improving his French with faculty member Cynthia Fox. 
    “One motivation for the project is that Americans have been very focused on immigration for a long time, but we only think about immigration in American society. We assume the U.S. is unique in its capacity to absorb immigrants,” said Alba, who earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University. “I plan to test this assumption of exceptionalism by looking at how the children of immigrants do in other countries. Immigration is a worldwide phenomenon and we can learn from the experience of other countries.”
     This idea that the degree of integration of immigrants is unique in the U.S. stops us from looking further.
     “Thus, we are unable to fix with any certainty the ways in which integration in other societies may resemble or vary from that in the U.S. . . .Without a wide-ranging comparative analysis, it is impossible to imagine that we can fully grasp the prospects for, and the conditions supporting, a persistent and fluent bilingualism,” Alba  notes in his proposal.
     Indeed, Alba believes that tremendous gains can be made by moving away from country-specific studies, and studying trends within a common analytical framework.
    “Realizing these gains is all the more pressing because very large questions hover over the trajectories of the second generations in contemporary immigration societies,” Alba notes in his proposal.
    Some of the questions he is asking include the following:

  • Is assimilation, once prevalent among the children of past immigrants to the U.S. and France, still applicable to contemporary immigrations? And does assimilation occur mainly in countries which have national ideologies to actively promote it?
  • Will transnational connections on a scale never before seen in human history forestall assimilation and engender ethnic pluralism to a new extent?
  • Finally, does the phenomenon of  ‘segmented’ assimilation, or assimilation into disadvantaged-minority status, only occur among certain groups deemed black by North American standards, or does this occur on a broader scale, for example, to North African groups in France?
     Alba plans to examine several key dimensions, including language as a way to measure how well the mainstream culture has been absorbed;  socioeconomic positioning, or, how second generation children fare economically as compared with their parents and with natives of the society; and the social integration of second generations through intermarriage.
    By the end of the year, Alba expects to complete a comparative paper on bilingualism and language assimilation, and at least two others on aspects of socioeconomic incorporation. 

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