Spring 2021 News Magazine

 A (FINAL) Message from the Dean

R. Karl Rethemeyer, PhD

This is a bittersweet moment: this will be my last message as Dean of Rockefeller College. As many of you know, I will be leaving UAlbany for a new adventure on June 30, 2021. And while I am excited about the new challenge, Rockefeller has been my professional and intellectual home for my entire career.

I arrived in 2002 with a newly minted degree…and a great deal to learn. Through the last 19 years the students, staff, and faculty have taught me so much about being a scholar, a professional, and a good human being. Throughout I have been extraordinarily proud to be affiliated with Rockefeller College, first as a faculty member and then as Interim Dean and Dean. That pride has roots deep in what makes Rockefeller and UAlbany such a unique institution. At our core, Rockefeller and UAlbany embrace the best parts of what it means to be a public university. In the last 15 years we have become one of the most diverse research intensive (“R1” as we say in the business) universities in the country. We provide students from every walk of life and background an opportunity to build a ladder up for themselves and their loved ones. We’re not perfect: we still struggle to provide our students with the support they need to graduate free of heavy debt – though we have made strides thanks to the generosity of our alums – and to build a faculty as diverse as our students. Nevertheless, at graduation last month (and what a celebration it turned out to be!) I was struck by the fact that our graduates reflect the diversity of New York State, the US, and the world: our graduates look like the State and nation we are becoming even before we have arrived. Our mission to provide opportunity for all is one that I believe every member of the Rockefeller family fully embraces. I am so proud to have been here as UAlbany and Rockefeller has transformed.

And during that transformation the College has continued its tradition of excellence, which was further enhanced by bringing the School of Criminal Justice into the Rockefeller family a year ago. There are many ways to measure excellence – from external rankings, to publishing in respected journals, to growth in enrollments, to our success seeking external grants, to recognition for our teaching and experiential learning. Across all these markers of quality, the College has excelled. Despite the pandemic, Rockefeller had one of it very best years ever in terms of graduate and undergraduate enrollment, federal grant seeking, and research productivity. Our colleagues have recognized our leadership by awarding editorship of some of the most prominent journals in our fields – most notably, American Political Science ReviewCriminology, and Voluntas – to our faculty. Rockefeller faculty also supported one another to offer outstanding experiences online and in the classroom during the pandemic, including through the New York State Leadership Institute, where we are preparing the next generation of New York State’s senior public executives. And we have hired such incredible young scholars and staff professionals! My heart aches that I will have to watch their continued development from afar.

As I pack up the last boxes, there are so many people to whom I owe a debt of gratitude – more than I can list here. But let me recognize a few. First, to my colleagues in the Department of Public Administration and Policy: you helped to shape me into the scholar and administrator I became. I will never forget that my senior colleagues supported me every step of the way when I had to retreat from my responsibilities in 2004 to have open heart surgery. To the staff of Rockefeller College: Thank you for your support over the last six years, but most especially during the pandemic. I have valued your wisdom, dedication, spirit, and flexibility. We made an outstanding team! To my faculty colleagues from Political Science and the School of Criminal Justice: I have profited enormously from your willingness to both challenge me when you thought I had made a mistake and your good spirit when I couldn’t always make a decision with which you agreed. To the amazing Advisory Board and alumni of the College: the staff, faculty, and most directly the students of the College are in your debt for your enthusiasm, guidance, and support for our mission. You are a key part of the team that is sustaining the College’s world-class research and educational programs. Finally, I want to send a special thanks to my former students. I think students always underestimate the extent to which they inspire and motivate the faculty with whom they work. Some of the very finest work of my career was the product of partnerships with my incredibly intelligent, creative, and accomplished students.

While sad to leave, I am heartened to see the College pass to the leadership of Interim Dean Julie Novkov. Julie is a world-class scholar and academic leader who is already sprinting ahead with ideas and approaches to the College’s challenges. Julie: I wish you all the best. This is a great, great organization to lead!

It has been my very great honor to serve as Dean of Rockefeller College. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, I look forward to seeing the mountains that Rockefeller moves next. And if you are in Amherst, please stop by…believe it or not, my new office is in the other Draper Hall.

R. Karl Rethemeyer, Dean
Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy



Julie Novkov Appointed Interim Dean

Effective July 1, 2021, Professor Julie Novkov will serve as Interim Dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy. Dr. Novkov will take the helm following Dean R. Karl Rethemeyer’s departure who accepted an opportunity to join the University of Massachusetts at Amherst this summer. 


Professor Bruce Miroff Retires from Rockefeller After 43 Years

When Bruce Miroff first arrived at the University at Albany, it was a bitterly cold February day. A thick layer of clouds overhead gave the city of Albany a bleak backdrop as he stepped off the plane from Austin, Texas into a blanket of snow. However, when he arrived on UAlbany’s campus that day for an interview in 1978, he was greeted with a warm welcome from his future colleagues in Rockefeller College’s Political Science Department. In search of like-minded faculty and supportive senior administrators, as well as a positive social environment to raise his one-year-old son, Miroff saw the potential in making Albany his home. That summer, Miroff moved his family to the Capital Region, and 43 years later, has never regretted it.


Faculty Promotions, Appointments, and News

Rockefeller College announces faculty tenure and promotions, faculty leadership positions, new editorial board members, retirements, and select awards and publication news.


City & State 2021 Higher Education Power 100

Rockefeller College Dean R. Karl Rethemeyer has been named to City & State’s 2021 Higher Education Power 100. In addition, University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez; UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity Dean Robert Griffin as well as Rockefeller College alumni SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras; United University Professions President Frederick Kowal; and SUNY Student Assembly President Bradley Hershenson were also honored on the list.


Rockefeller Ranked Again Among Nation’s Top 25

The University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy and the School of Criminal Justice have once again been recognized among the nation’s top graduate programs. Announced by U.S. News & World Report, Rockefeller is ranked 25th overall for best graduate program in public affairs and 5th nationally for best doctoral program in criminal justice.



Rockefeller’s Ryan DeNardo Named Global All-Star in 2021 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition 

Winning the regional section of the 2021 NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition, Rockefeller College MPA student Ryan DeNardo advanced to the Global All-Star Round and finished as the third-runner up in the international competition.


Spring ’21 Philanthropy Students Award Nearly $5,000 To Nonprofits

Professor Susan Appe’s Spring 2021 Philanthropy and Civil Society graduate students researched, debated, and ultimately, selected and awarded $1,665 each to three deserving nonprofit organizations: The MoonCatcher Project, Homeless and Travelers Aid Society (HATAS), and The Connect Center. 


UAlbany’s Rackmyer part of SUNY Student Advocate First Class

Taryn Rackmyer, '20, has been named by SUNY Chancellor James Malatras to the inaugural class of the SUNY Student Advocate Fellowship Program.


Juneteenth Scholarship Recipients Honor Parents, Grandparents Through Education

Rising seniors Jordan Ozley and Nicholas Chin have been selected to receive the Juneteenth Scholarship, honoring their achievement while promoting values of diversity and inclusion.


Semester in Washington Spring 2021 Placements

Despite the uncertainty of the past year due to COVID-19, 12 University at Albany students were able to actively participate in the Semester in Washington Program and live, learn, and intern in the nation’s capital during the Spring 2021 semester. Established in 1997, Rockefeller College’s Semester in Washington Program has served as a gateway into careers in government, the private sector, news media, nonprofits, and nongovernment organizations.


Inside the Capitol Lockdown

On January 6, 2021, Rockefeller College BA/MPA student Tanner McCracken was in the first week of his Semester in Washington internship with U.S. Senator Tim Scott’s Office (R-SC). Here, Tanner tells his story of that infamous day in American history from his own perspective.


Finishing on a High Note: Seniors Take Top Awards

Hundreds of seniors were recognized for academic achievement and service to the University in awards ceremonies this month.


Valedictorian: Julianna Caruso, BA '21

Criminal justice major Julianna Caruso, BA '21 earned the Donald J. Newman Award for Outstanding Achievement and is the School of Criminal Justice's 2021 Valedictorian.


Valedictorian: Sydney Coddington, BA '21

A member of UAlbany's cross country and track teams, political science major Sydney Coddington is Rockefeller College's 2021 Valedictorian.


Messages to My Graduating Class

Selected class speakers Mashaal Bhatti, BA '21; Julianna Caruso, BA '21; Imara Smith, BA '21; Geraldine Humbert, MPA '20; and Jeanee Miller, PhD '21 share these messages with their fellow graduating classmates.



From the Top

Featured in the Spring 2021 UAlbany Magazine, Jim Malatras, SUNY chancellor and three-time UAlbany alumnus, thinks higher education can learn from jazz.


Brabham, Rangel Join Dean’s Advisory Board

During the 2020-2021 academic year, the Rockefeller College Dean’s Advisory Board enthusiastically welcomed two new members: Lola Brabham BA ’95, MPA ’00 and Nic Rangel BA ’06, MPA ’11.


Alumni News & Notes

Rockefeller College’s Thinking Ahead class gives students an opportunity to hear first-hand from professionals working in the field. Drawing on both Rockefeller’s successful alumni network, as well as friends of the College, each class session features a different guest speaker, introducing students to a range of careers that once began in a political science or public administration classroom. The course also provides students an opportunity to practice and fine-tune behaviors linked to success in internships, graduate school, and careers. Thank you to all who took the time to participate in Thinking Ahead during the 2020-21 academic year.



Director Debra Rood Retires From ITSMR, Jerry Miller To Take The Wheel

After four decades at the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), a research center within the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, ITSMR Director Debra Rood has decided to change lanes and take the exit to retirement. Effective July 1st, Gerard “Jerry” Miller will take the wheel, replacing Debra who has been in the driver’s seat for nearly 22 years.


A Lens on Capital Punishment

This spring, the University at Albany’s School of Criminal Justice launched a new National Death Penalty Archive (NDPA) Video Series. Hosted by James Acker, the co-founder of NDPA and distinguished teaching professor emeritus, the video series features a background history and tour of the National Death Penalty Archive, as well as interviews with death penalty experts from across the country.


Remembering Hans Toch

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Hans Toch, founding faculty member of the School of Criminal Justice, died June 18, 2021 at the age of 91. Born April 17, 1930 in Vienna, Austria, Toch escaped the ravages of the holocaust, emigrating initially to Cuba and then to the United States. He earned his B.A. at Brooklyn College in 1952 and his Ph.D. in psychology at Princeton in 1955. He served in the U.S. Navy, and was a Fulbright Fellow in Norway, a visiting Lecturer at Harvard, and a member of the psychology department at Michigan State University before being recruited in 1967 as a founding faculty member of the School of Criminal Justice at the State University of New York at Albany, the first program in the country to confer the Ph.D. degree in criminal justice. 

New York Municipal Clerks Institute July 2021 Program

Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy is hosting online courses for the Certified Municipal Clerks (CMC) and the Master Municipal Clerks (MMC) training programs July 12-16 and July 19-23. Clerks seeking professional certification through the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (IIMC) as well as other municipal officials seeking professional development are welcome to participate. 


Interrogating Abolition 

Increasing recognition of the harms associated with mass incarceration and intensive policing has renewed public interest in the possibilities of abolitionist approaches to responding to crime, including abolition of prisons and police. Still, much of the public is uncertain about the meaning of abolition and its implications for community safety. 


Strategies to Ensure Equitable Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

As COVID-19 vaccination efforts roll out across the nation, how can policymakers balance reducing the complexity of vaccine priority lists with improving the ease of access? Associate Professor Erika Martin and CCHRPP researchers tackle this problem in their recent commentary, “Maintaining a Focus on Health Equity During the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout.”



The Career You Want, The Help You Need

Since March 2020, Rockefeller College’s Office of Career Development has had to get creative and reinvent the way it provides services to the students and alumni of Rockefeller College. Moving from in-person career counseling services, information sessions, and networking events into the virtual world, Director of Internships and Career Services Yalitza Negron-Rivera and Undergraduate Internship and Career Coordinator Joan Marso successfully adapted their resources, so students could access and interact with content remotely.

Rock Your Career: Scott Janke, MPA '21

While completing the MPA program, Scott Janke, MPA '21 worked as a Senior Associate for Government Relations at the New York State Association of Healthcare Providers (NYSHCP) and subsequently as the Director of Governmental Affairs at the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS).

Rock Your Career: Ryan DeNardo, MPA '21

Ryan DeNardo, MPA '21 will be joining Deloitte’s Risk and Financial Advisory practice in August as a Cyber Analyst focused on helping government and public sector clients implement security programs and capabilities so they can better manage cyber risk.

Rock Your Career: Anna Weiskopf, MPA '21

Anna Weiskopf, MPA '21 secured a position as a Research Coordinator at Columbia University upon graduation from Rockefeller College. Learn more about how her internship experiences and coursework prepared her for the next step in her career.



In 2022, we look forward to celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy.

For nearly three quarters of a century, Rockefeller College has been educating the leaders who shape the public policies of the future. Many graduates have made a positive impact on a wide range of fields and left an indelible mark on society. Supporters of the College have provided essential resources that create the educational experience we all value so highly.

Gifts to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence help provide local, national and global opportunities for students to broaden their thinking. It is through these unique experiences that Rockefeller College students develop the leadership skills that foster successful careers and meaningful lives.

The Dean’s Fund for Excellence represents our community making a tangible difference. It is through the generosity of alumni and friends that Rockefeller College has continued to maintain our place among the top public policy colleges in the Nation. Please consider a gift today.