Featured are recent news from the press and community relations of our membership of academic, cultural, health, and religious institutions.


Toy Donation Drive

The Interchurch Center will collect children’s toys for the holiday season.
We are accepting donations until Wednesday, December 20, 2017.
Please bring your new, unwrapped toys to Suite 240 on weekdays during normal business hours.
For more information, call: 212-870-2200
View 2017 Toy Drive Flyer
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Encore Transition Program: Accepting Applications for Spring 2018

Dear Friends,

The Encore Transition Program is now a “fixture” here at Union, with the second cohort set to finish on December 12, 2017. This fall, fifteen new participants between the ages of 54-74 spent four months engaged in a bi-weekly process of discernment about their “encore” – or “second” – stage of life. In addition to discussions about aging, transition, creativity, and spirituality, the program provides participants the opportunity for networking, mentoring, and field observation in areas of personal interest.


The Encore Transition Program is designed and facilitated by Ruth Wooden, M.A. ’16. Ruth attended Union as part of her own “encore” after a communications and nonprofit management career that spanned more than 40 years.


Personally, I was delighted to attend a session that met Tuesday evening, October 10, 2017, when the group held an impassioned discussion of the book Falling Upward by Fr. Richard Rohr. I was inspired listening to “fellow travelers” exploring spirituality in the second half of life, and the particular challenges of doing so in our current political climate. If you are wrestling with similar hard but invigorating questions about your encore vocation, I can’t recommend the program highly enough!


To this end, we are excited to announce a new Encore Transition Program to be offered this coming Spring Semester, beginning January 30, 2018. The Program description and application for the third cohort is available online.





The semester fee for the Program is $3000, and a sliding scale is available for some participants.


Union Theological Seminary is thrilled to welcome the Encore Transition Program to our community for a third semester. We look forward to supporting a new cohort of fellow travelers seeking better ways to be active social justice advocates and caring practitioners.




Serene Jones


P.S. For further inspiration, do take time to read the April 2017 New York Times article about the Encore Transition Program.


Barnard College Appoints Lisa Yeh as VP of Development

NEW YORK, Dec. 4, 2017 — Barnard College has appointed Lisa Yeh as vice president for development, effective Jan. 22, 2018. Yeh comes to the College from Columbia Business School, where she has worked since 2002, and served for the past 11 years as vice dean of external relations and development. In this role, she has been a principal gifts fundraiser and has overseen a department of 66 full-time professionals, including teams focused on major gifts; annual and corporate fundraising; alumni relations; advancement services, and strategic communications. Under Yeh’s leadership, the School exceeded its goal of $600 million for its 2004 to 2013 capital campaign, and has increased average annual fundraising from $21 million to $72 million.

At Barnard, Yeh will lead the development team and work closely with senior staff to advance the College’s strategic goals. In a letter to Barnard College’s faculty and staff, President Sian Leah Beilock said, “[Lisa] will be engaged in the vital task of building on Barnard’s fundraising efforts, including our ongoing capital campaign [The Bold Standard], which has raised over $320 million to date, while exploring ways to achieve even greater levels of success and support for our academic programs and initiatives.”

Prior to her career at Columbia University, Yeh worked in event planning and fundraising, as well as in the investment management and insurance industries. She has also given time to many boards and associations, including the All Souls School Board of Trustees where she served for 14 years as a member and as board president from 2010 to 2014. Yeh is also a volunteer on the Barnard Parents’ Council—her daughter is a member of the Barnard Class of 2019.

Founded in 1889, Barnard was the only college in New York City, and one of the few in the nation, where women could receive the same rigorous and challenging education available to men. Today, as the world-renowned liberal arts college for women at Columbia University, Barnard remains devoted to empowering extraordinary women to become even more exceptional. For more information on the College or Lisa Yeh’s appointment, contact Barnard Media Relations at 212-854-2037 or mediarelations@barnard.edu.



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Barnard College Affiliates with the Worker Rights Consortium

activism President Sian Beilock announced that Barnard College will join more than 190 other colleges and universities nationwide as an affiliate of the Worker Rights Consortium. The WRC is an independent organization devoted to helping colleges and universities improve the conditions of workers around the globe who produce their apparel. The affiliation will assist Barnard in implementing a manufacturing code of conduct, with which apparel vendors contracting with Barnard will be asked to comply.

The decision to affiliate with the WRC arises from semester-long conversations with Barnard’s Student Government Association and the student organization Student Worker Solidarity. Chief Operating Officer Rob Goldberg, who will oversee implementation efforts, has worked with students since September to discuss the benefits of joining WRC and how best to enforce fair labor standards as part of Barnard’s vendor agreements.

“Joining the WRC is consistent with Barnard’s commitment to the ethical purchasing of goods and services,” Goldberg said. “We appreciate students’ willingness to work with us on this important issue.” Barnard’s vendor code of conduct is nearly final.

Once complete, it will be integrated into The Barnard Store’s apparel practices, as well as shared with any group planning to purchase Barnard apparel.

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Don’t Tax Students’ Thirst for Knowledge

Dear friends and colleagues,
Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York joins the many voices of higher education students and leaders across the nation who are vigorously protesting the proposed Senate tax bill.  If passed, its impact on higher education would be disastrous for generations of students to come and, as result, devastating for our institutions and our nation as a whole. Of primary concern is a proposed change to consider tuition waivers as taxable income, which would put significant financial strain on the thousands of students who depend on scholarships to fund their education. If passed, the bill would financially lock-out low-income students from graduate school in every field, exacerbating already present inequalities and functionally restrict Masters and Ph.D. programs to the wealthy.
As anyone in present-day graduate programs knows, the system already suffers from dramatic racial and economic disparities. Instead of addressing these issues, the present tax bill would worsen them. This should deeply concern any who care about the quality of academic work done in our institutions. Racial and economic inequality in academia is not a minor qualm; it is fundamentally unjust, and it destroys any pretense of academic excellence professed by higher education.
All scholarship is, to some degree, subjective. We enter into our work carrying our own biases, prejudices and blind spots. The history of every discipline reveals that when low-income voices and voices of color are excluded from the academic table, the quality of academic work suffers.  Bright and eager minds are silenced. Creative ideas


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Angela Moscheo Benson M.A. ’06, ’10

What do you do?
After teaching for the past decade, I accepted a job earlier this year at Cumberland Heights, an internationally renowned drug and alcohol treatment facility. In addition to leading inter-religious services, I also teach group classes on Twelve Step spirituality and religion, guilt and shame, anger and resentment, and loss and grief. I also am the Pastoral Care Director, so I regularly counsel individuals and families in issues surrounding spirituality and religion and other recovery needs.
How did Union prepare you for this?
At Union I was able to have rigorous discourse with people from a variety of faith traditions, an opportunity that regularly inform my work today. I also took advantage of the opportunity to attend classes at Columbia’s Teachers College. Those courses related directly to my professional goal of becoming a chaplain and teacher of religion, a goal I have reached with my current position.
What is the best thing about your job?
I get paid to have in depth theological and philosophical conversations every day. In turn, I have the honor of ministering to the spiritually wounded.
How have stayed connected to Union?
I return to Union at least once a year to attend a chapel service, participate in a seminar or even sit in on a class. The Landmark guest rooms are a great way to be on campus and in the city I love where I can meet up with old friends and classmates. I also stay in touch with a number of my classmates and a few of


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December Information Session: Live Stream

Join the Admissions Team at Union Theological Seminary for our December Information Session.
Tune in on Saturday, December 2 at 2:00 pm to hear from faculty, current students and members of the administration about life at Union, as well as our academic programs and application procedures.

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Prof. Séverine Autesserre Wins Red Cross Award, Testifies Before Congress on Innovative Peacekeeping Research

africaelectionspolitics Sevérine Autesserre, Professor of Political Science, is the recipient of the French Red Cross Fund’s Special Jury Prize award, which is bestowed—along with €5,000—annually to “young researchers presenting an innovative or daring humanitarian perspective,” and has testified before Congress about the political and humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Autesserre, also a Carnegie Fellow, specializes in international relations and is an expert on civil wars, peacekeeping, and humanitarian aid. She has written extensively and spoken frequently about improving peacekeeping efforts around the world. Her book Peaceland, which won the International Studies Association’s “Best Book of the Year” award in 2016, makes the case for involving the people of a troubled region in all aspects of peacekeeping efforts, thereby preventing foreign actors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from assuming they are better equipped to heal a region than its citizens.

Nominees for the French Red Cross Fund’s research awards are selected by recommendation from members of the International Scientific Council and the Fund’s board of directors; the committee focuses on the impact of the nominees’ work in the fields of humanitarian action, development policies, or international charity. The award ceremony was held in Beirut on November 17. A French-language video portrait of Autesserre discussing the award and her work is found here.

In her testimony before Congress on November 9, Autesserre stressed the necessity of integrating local forces into international peacekeeping endeavors. The global development news site Devex noted in an article about the hearing that Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, has exacerbated political tensions by refusing to step down—his term ended in 2016—and postponing the democratic elections process. Autesserre acknowledged these tensions, but noted that other abuses in Congo, including repression of political speech and widespread violence instigated by both military forces and rebel militias, are also of urgent concern. Rather than calling on foreign NGOs to step in, she urged Congress to fund and bolster “bottom-up” peacekeeping efforts, run by Congolese citizens “who have the right knowledge, capacity, and skills to better address the challenges than international actors.”

Autesserre has also been an advocate for more diversity among peacekeepers on the ground. An interview in the South African news outlet The Daily Vox highlights her research showing that only five percent of UN peacekeepers (and only two percent of peacekeepers in Congo) are women. She argues that deploying more female peacekeepers would help advance gender equality in the regions they serve.

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Sandy Smolnicky, M.A. ’85

What do you do?
As a newly appointed Grants Officer for our county, I review and track all potential and incoming operating grants and grant agreements county-wide. With the Finance and Budget Offices, I maintain a database of grants sought by and awarded to county departments and offices. I offer seminars in grants management best practices, monitor the county’s compliance with grant agreements terms and conditions required by grantors, including those who have sub-recipients; and, identifies strategic un-funded needs of the county.
How did Union prepare you for this?
In order to do justice, we must take action, preferably in a political arena. The struggle is real. We show others hope and fight for solutions, no matter what.
What is the best thing about your job?
I have a direct impact on real human needs every day on by making systemic change in the way funding is managed in our departments and offices.
How have stayed connected to Union?
I have stayed connected through social media and occasional meetings with former alum.
What would you say to someone considering going to Union?
Union is the best Choice!
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Force of Nature: 35 Years of Environmental Science

climate changeenvironmental sciencenew york citySTEMsustainability Barnard’s Department of Environmental Science was founded 35 years ago. Its origins, however, reach as far back as Barnard’s first year, 1889, when students studied geology, geography, and mineralogy with Columbia University professors. Below we share the history of the department as it grew from one course to a department that is leading innovation in environmental research and education.

The Rise of Environmental Science

On November 14, 2017, the Barnard community will celebrate the anniversary with a day-long event that honors its environmental leadership and innovation. Keynote Speaker Annie Leonard ’86, executive director of Greenpeace USA, will discuss, “The State of the Environment: How to Get to a Better Future?” The day will also include workshops on creative approaches to advocacy, education, outreach, research, and technology. Panel discussions, featuring faculty and students from the department, will range from our global ecology to hydrofracking.


1889: Barnard students interested in geology, geography, and mineralogy study with Columbia University professors.
1902: Barnard brings geology to its own campus with the hiring of Ida H. Ogilvie—who heads the department from 1911-1941—to teach the first course on the subject. The first summer field course is offered in 1905.
1911: The Department of Geology becomes official. In 1913, New York City is used as a classroom for the first time when “The Local Geology of New York” is taught.
1944: “Natural Resources” first appears as a course.
1953: The New York Times writes, “Nine [Barnard graduates] are employed in scientific laboratories” from a class of 234.
Department Beginnings

1961: When the shift from studying Earth’s resources to studying humankind’s dependence on natural resource occurs, students now major in Conservation of Natural Resources.
1968: Environmental Science is taught for the first time under the Geology, Geography, and Botany departments.
1970: The Conservation of Natural Resources major becomes Environmental Conservation and Management—one of the nation’s early Environmental majors—with a focus on issues crucial to human survival.
The First Decade

1982: The Department of Geography dissolves. Environmental Science, led by adjunct assistant professor Richard Bopp, is created and offers both a major and a minor in Environmental Science. The department has no full-time faculty.
1984: The department graduates its first two students.
1987: Professor Peter Bower becomes the department’s first full-time lecturer. The following year, with Bower as chair, students flock to register for the Environmental Case Studies class, which enrolls 45, compared to just 12 the year before.
The Second Decade

1991: Professor Joe Liddicoat joins the department (through 2006) to co-teach and co-direct Intro to Environmental Science Labs, and to teach in the Harlem Education Activities Fun program and the Pre-College Summer Program (Brownfield Action).
1992: Environmental Science majors and Professor Bower (now also Mayor of Teaneck, NJ), with support from President Ellen Futter and other faculty, create a tenure track line which gives the department equal standing with the other science departments.
1993: Stephanie Pfirman, Professor of Environmental Science and the Alena Wels Hirschorn ’58 and Martin Hirschorn Professor of Environmental and Applied Sciences, becomes chair of the department.
1995: In collaboration with Columbia’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Professor Stephanie Pfirman


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Introduction of the Interchurch Center Forum

The Interchurch Center website now has a forum! The forum is available to all tenant employees within TIC.
Tenants may post job openings, furniture or office equipment sales/giveaways, events, and donation drives.
All posts require approval by TIC Administration.
To access the forum, you must be logged into the website.
The forum page is on the Members tab of the navigation, or can be accessed by clicking here.
If you are not currently signed up to our website, click here to register.
Please allow 1-2 business days for your post or website registration to be approved.
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Lay Leader Joins Episcopal Divinity School @ Union As Director of Anglican Studies

NEW YORK– Miguel Escobar, an Episcopal Church leader experienced in developing educational programs for lay and clergy, has been appointed director of Anglican Studies at Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary (EDS@Union).
“I am delighted that Miguel has accepted my invitation to be part of what we are building at EDS@Union,” said the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean. “His ability to develop innovative initiatives with measurable results and his connections across the Episcopal Church make him the ideal person to create rich programming that will complement our strong academic core and foster our communications across the church. Miguel’s gifts will help prepare our students not simply to serve in a church, but to be the church.”
Escobar is currently managing program director for leadership, communications and external affairs at the Episcopal Church Foundation. He earned a master of divinity degree from Union in 2007 and served as communications assistant to then-Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from 2007 to 2010. Escobar is a member of the board of directors of Forward Movement and serves on the advisory council of Duke Divinity School’s Leadership programs and Episcopal Relief and Development’s church engagement committee.
He grew up in the Texas hill country and attended Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas, where he studied the Roman Catholic social justice tradition, Latin American liberation theologies, and minored in Spanish. He joined the Episcopal Church through St. Mary’s, West Harlem, drawn by​ the congregation’s diversity and commitment to social justice, and is now a member of


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From The Ground Up: The Centennial of Barnard Hall

architecturecolumbiaconstructiondesignhistory Barnard Hall Through The Years

One hundred years ago, in November of 1917, Barnard Hall officially opened its doors. At first known as Students’ Hall, it was renamed in 1926 in honor of Frederick A. P. Barnard, Columbia University’s tenth president (1864-1889), who had fought unsuccessfully to admit women to Columbia and after whom the College is also named.

In the early days, when Barnard College was founded in 1889, it was located in a rented brownstone at 343 Madison Avenue, with a faculty of six and a student body of fewer than 40. In the 1890s, Barnard followed Columbia College to Morningside Heights, purchasing an acre of land on Broadway between 119th and 120th Streets, with donations from Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, Mary Brinckerhoff, and Martha Fiske. In 1897, Milbank and Brinckerhoff Halls were completed, with the Ella Weed Reading Room and its core collection of 120 books located on the second floor of Millbank Hall. Fiske Hall was constructed a year later, completing the initial Barnard campus. In 1903, the College extended the campus south to 116th Street, and in 1907, Brooks Hall was completed.

Barnard Hall was conceived in 1915 as the College grew beyond what the Milbank Hall complex could accommodate. Jacob H. Schiff, the College’s first treasurer and one of its original trustees, gifted $500,000 to create the Hall to house “all physical and social activities of students,” according to an October 6, 1915 article in The New York Times. “This building has been most urgently needed” because of overcrowding with “the greatly increased enrollment of students.” When the final brick was laid and trimmed in limestone, it housed a lunchroom, classrooms, gymnasium with swimming pool, and parlor.

The gymnasium, which doubled as a public lecture hall, hosted hundreds of historical figures over the decades, including Democratic Senator Herbert H. Lehman in debate with Republican Congressman Jacob K. Javits—along with former First Lady, and then United Nations spokesperson, Eleanor Roosevelt (1954); Malcolm X delivering his final public speech (1965); and authors Isabel Allende (1989) and Amy Tan (1994).

Today, Barnard Hall comprises 79,000 square feet and houses classrooms, dance studios, the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW), Public Safety, Facilities, event spaces, departmental and faculty offices, the Lefrak Center, and the Fitness Center. Sulzberger Parlor features portraits of Barnard presidents and founders, period furniture, a 1923 Steinway concert grand piano, harpsichord, and fireplace. The James Room, where commuting students ate lunch for many years, features a grand piano and archival photographs of alumnae.  

In the years since Barnard Hall was completed, construction of new buildings continued with Hewitt Hall (1925) and Reid Hall (1961)—along with Brooks Hall they are known as “The Quad”—Lehman Hall (1958), Plimpton Hall (1968), Altschul Hall (1969), Sulzberger Hall (1988), The Arthur Ross Greenhouse (1998), and The Diana Center (2010). In the fall of 2018, The Cheryl and Philip Milstein Teaching and Learning Center is expected to open as a new academic hub in the heart of the Barnard College campus. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, the 128,000-square-foot building—with a


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Building Maintenance & Alarm System Test

Dear Tenants,
1) On Saturday, November 4th we will be testing the fire alarm system throughout the building. Alarms will sound and elevators will re-call to the lobby throughout the day. If you plan on working on November 4th, we recommend you re-schedule to another day.
2) Due to maintenance in the main switchgear room on Saturday, November 18th, there will be no power to the main fan systems and limited elevator service.
3) On Saturday, December 9th we will be draining and cleaning the cooling tower and the House Tank on the roof. There will be no water available that day to bathrooms above the 5th floor or private kitchens.
Thank you,
TIC Management Office
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BCRW Researcher Andrea Ritchie Examines Police Violence Against Marginalized Women

activismfeminismimmigrationrace and ethnicitywomen As Researcher-in-Residence for the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW), attorney and community organizer Andrea J. Ritchie researches and has developed a framework for the philanthropic community to support new models of activism for the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and criminal justice. She is also part of the first cohort of Barnard’s Social Justice Institute, which launched last year. Ritchie’s expertise on police violence, highlighted in her latest book Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color (Beacon Press, 2017), has been featured in several articles and op-eds. Her research will also be the central focus of the BCRW Invisible No More conference November 3-4, 2017 in the Barnard College Diana Center, Event Oval.

Ritchie—a 2014 Soros Justice Fellow—started the public conversation with a New York Times op-ed (which was later cited by Glamour), pointing out the disproportionate impact that the enforcement of anti-marijuana laws—a recent source of renewed focus by the U.S. Department of Justice—has had on women of color. She recounts the stories of several women subjected to humiliating public searches, protected in even the most shocking cases by warrants, as well as sexual assaults and fatalities.

She writes:

“These encounters do not reduce violence; they contribute to it. Critics of police violence and mass incarceration have rightfully shed light on the pain of families separated by long prison terms, of women torn from partners and children. But women’s suffering isn’t restricted to heartbreak: They have been raped, choked and killed, all in the service of public safety. Sadly, the recommendations of D.O.J.’s task force are likely to be a recipe for more of the same.”

In The Washington Post’s popular newsletter The Lily, Ritchie examines an additional factor affecting women of color caught up in drug enforcement: immigration. She writes that the “dangerous intersection of highly subjective and discriminatory ‘gang policing,’ increased presence of police in schools, and growing collaboration between local police and immigration authorities” places women at risk of “collateral arrests—individuals who came to the attention of immigration officials targeting others.” She cites the case of a 16-year-old girl arrested and held in detention for a month after a casual conversation with a friend suspected of belonging to the MS-13 gang, and notes that immigrant women are also at increased risk of abuse by law enforcement agents. Ritchie later praises the efforts made by municipalities, such as Los Angeles, to decriminalize nonviolent offenses or eliminate policies that affect undocumented populations and other immigrants.

In an interview with Rewire, Ritchie shares her personal experiences as an immigrant woman of color who was harassed and assaulted by police officers. She explains that including these stories in the book isn’t typical—“women who lead movements against police violence, and Black women or women of color researchers and scholars who write on police violence tend to focus on the experiences of Black men and men of color”—but that her book and her story will shed light on these underrepresented groups. She also discusses the complicated process


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