MSM student “Talking Circles” rooted in Native American tradition


Report by Rosalind Zhang

Earlier this month, 16 MSM students attended the first annual Talking Circles Retreat hosted by the Department of Student Affairs at the YMCA Greenkill Retreat Center in Huguenot, New York.

The gathering is rooted in the Native American tradition — specifically that of the Mi’kmaq people of Canada — who used the Talking Circle as a method for solving interpersonal problems (more photos below).

During their time at the retreat, the MSM students took part in various activities to generate dialogue and leadership on issues such as diversity and social justice.


For the Department of Student Affairs, the Talking Circles Retreat gives MSM students an opportunity to advance their communication and social interaction skills, and become even more effective at connecting with students from other cultures and backgrounds.


The group enjoyed views of Lake Marling during hikes, made s’mores in the fireplace and slept in Kleinstuber Lodge.

Huguenot, New York is about two hours northwest of New York City in Orange County, not far from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey borders.










At the end of their Talking Circle journey, the students shared their belief that they’d acquired a new family at MSM!


It was incredibly inspiring for me. The giant quilt weaved by our individual stories made me realize I am part of this wonderful group of human beings — Rosalind Zhang

I hope everyone got to take something away from this eye-opening and overall lovely experience, because I know I will never forget it and I will always hold you gorgeous angels in a very special place in my heart — Melanie Dubil

This was thus far the most heartwarming, life-changing experience that I will never forget. Trust the process and challenge by choice #MSMTalk360 — Veronica Mak

The retreat was led by four MSM staff facilitators: Jim Love, Director of Residence Life; Melanie Dorsey, Director of Student Engagement; Crystal Wilson, Coordinator of Student Engagement; and Min-Jung Kim, Graduate Hall Coordinator of Residence Life.


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Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York celebrates Union’s Black Alumni/ae Trailblazers

Join us as we celebrate Union’s Black Alumni/ae Trailblazers who have come before us.
Incorporating the Rev. Dr. Henry H. Mitchell ’44
Thursday, February 2, 7:00 p.m.: “Black Worship as Resistance,” worship service organized by the Black Women’s Caucus, Black Caucus, and Fierce/Black Queer Caucus
From the call of the iman, to the rock of the ringshout, the grit of salt to the sweet wash of water, Black worship has long been a foundation on which resistance is built. Join us for a celebration of Black resilience through praise, imagination, and Divine collaboration.
Wednesday, February 15, 6:30 p.m.:  “Black Joy in Times of Crisis,” 6:30 p.m. panel and reception
Panelists include:
Michael W. Elam ’07, Lecturer and educator on SGL Theology
Rev. Dr. Renee Hill ’90 & ’96, Columbia University Community Scholar Researching Religion in Harlem
Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Holmes, Former President of United Theological Seminary of Twin Cities and author of “Joy UnSpeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church”
Jamall Calloway ’14, Union Ph.D. Candidate
Monday, February 27, 12 noon:  Trailblazers worship service, led by the Union Alumni/ae Council’s Trailblazers working group; Rev. Kymberly McNair ’08, ’09 preaching
All events will be held in James Memorial Chaple
Union Theological Seminary
3041 Broadway (at 121st Street)
New York, New York 10027
All events are free, but you must RSVP below. 


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Join us this summer for CAMP MSM! Applications now available: Due January 9, 2017


Looking for an immersive music camp experience in New York City in voice or instrumental ?

Applications are now being accepted for musicians ages 8-17 at CAMP MSM at Manhattan School of Music in July 2017 — a program that’s unique in New York City.

Set on a college campus in the heart of NYC, Camp MSM is residential camp (with a day camp option)  that provides intensive musical instruction in musical theater and instrumental music.

For more detailed information about dates and fees, please visit the CAMP MSM webpage or email us at: summercamp@msmnyc.edu


Campers develop their musical skills and join a community of young musicians through a wide variety of musical and social activities. All Camp MSM faculty are experienced educators and active performers, and many of our faculty are Manhattan School of Music alumni.







Please enjoy these videos to see what it’s like to attend CAMP MSM —  we hope to see you in Summer 2017!

For more info visit the CAMP MSM webpage or email us at: summercamp@msmnyc.edu

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Union Announces Two New Chairs

Message from Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary. 

I am pleased to share two historic and joyous announcements as we approach the holidays.
The Union Board has voted to name Rev. Dr. James H. Cone as the inaugural professor holding the Bill and Judith Moyers Chair, recently established through a generous $3 million gift by Union Board member, Chang K. Park. Dr. Cone is a renowned scholar whose formidable and influential writing, teaching, and public presence honors the legacy of the public and prophetic witness of Judith and Bill Moyers.
“I consider Bill Moyers to be a prophetic voice of our generation, and I am very pleased to have his legacy perpetuated at Union. Judith Davidson Moyers, unseen by many, off camera while Bill was on, has been a critically important contributor behind his citizen-journalism, the creative spark for his truth-telling, and the business acumen that powered his prophetic voice,” said Chang Park
Through their pace-setting work in media, community advocacy, public health, and education, Bill and Judith Moyers have invigorated the moral commitments of people around the world. Between the two of them, Bill and Judith hold over 30 Emmys, a dozen Peabody Awards, and numerous honorary degrees. For over four decades, they have elevated the stories of people whose voices might otherwise have gone unheard, and posed questions of ultimate meaning in the public square. Longstanding friends of Union, they are tireless champions of journalistic integrity and creative leadership with a legacy of unwavering advocacy, all of which are


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It’s moving day at MSM!

Moving day

Big news at Manhattan School of Music — this week we’re clearing out dozens of administration offices to make way for new practice rooms, rehearsal spaces, teaching studios, and classrooms at 120 Claremont Avenue. Many of our admin staff is moving to office space on the 4th floor of Andersen Hall next door.

Work is also underway to build 28 new practice rooms in Andersen Hall — the space will also include restrooms and a lounge area. AND, in the basement of Andersen Hall, a dividable acting and dance studio is being built to meet the needs of the new Musical Theatre program.

You can follow the progress of the construction in Andersen Hall on an information board located in the student lounge near the security desk where photos are being put up on a time line (photo below).



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Fall 2016 Concert Highlights at Manhattan School of Music


Here’s a selection of more than a dozen special performances taking place at Manhattan School of Music this Fall

During the academic year at Manhattan School of Music at 122nd and Broadway in New York City, more than 600 concerts showcase the talents of its current students, alumni and faculty members, often performing with visiting conductors, soloists and musicians from around the globe.

Nearly all concerts are free of charge to the public

The jazz, opera, classical music, musical theater performances and master classes take place in four of MSM’s halls and auditoriums: Neidorff-Karpati Hall (formerly Borden Auditorium), Greenfield Hall, Ades Performance Space and Miller Auditorium.

This season, featured concerts with MSM students will also take place at the performance space National Sawdust in Brooklyn and at Lincoln Center.

Read our full 2016-17 season concert performance calendar here

Listed below  our short-list for the fall. For complete listings and concert details, please read our 2016-17 program online, or drop by MSM to pick up a paper copy at the reception desk. Any changes in programming will appear in our daily updated listing.

See you at MSM!


MSM Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra: “The Complete Bird With Strings” – a tribute to Charlie Parker’s orchestral recordings

OCT 7-8

MSM Chamber Orchestra at National Sawdust in Brooklyn: “The House Taken Over”; a co-production of MSM and the festival of Aix-en-Provence

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OCT 24-28

The 1st Annual Manhattan School of Music/ Detroit Symphony Orchestra Conductor’s Project: Leonard Slatkin, distinguished visiting artist in conducting and orchestral studies

OCT 28

MSM Symphony Orchestra: Leonard Slatkin conducting; works by Brahms, Copland and Shostakovich

NOV 9 & 12

MSM Symphonic Chorus and Chamber Choir with the New York Philharmonic: “Daphnis et Chloe” at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center

NOV 10

MSM Philharmonia Orchestra: Perry So, Conductor; works by Shostakovich and Mussorgsky

NOV 11

MSM Jazz Orchestra: “Miles Ahead” – a tribute to Miles Davis featuring MSM artist-in-residence Dave Liebman, soprano saxophone

NOV 18 & 20

MSM Opera Theatre “Opera Scenes”: “Desire, Delight and Deception”

DEC 8-11

MSM Opera Theatre: “La Clemenza di Tito” Tickets: $30 adults; $15 seniors and students

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Orientation Week 2016 begins at MSM with Move-In Day

Manhattan School of MusicWednesday morning was a busy day at Manhattan School of Music  — hundreds of new MSM students settled into their residences in Andersen Hall during “Move-In Day.”

On hand from 8am to 1pm were dozens of MSM staff, faculty and volunteers — including MSM President James Gandre —  greeting students and families,  helping people unload cars and taxis,  carrying boxes, musical instruments, coffee makers, pillows and other prized personal possessions.

Our official team of volunteers– current MSM students – were easy to spot in their yellow T-shirts created by the volunteer team with the MSM Design Office.

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Manhattan School of MusicMSM President James Gandre helps out on Claremont Avenue 

Students from 37 countries and 31 States

This week Manhattan School of Music is welcoming 455 new students coming from 37 countries and 31 states across the US – all chosen out of 2,700 applicants. We are proud to be a worldwide, international family.

Breaking the numbers down even more, of the 455 arrivals joining us we have:

  • 159 freshmen
  • 15 undergraduate transfers
  • 217 Masters students
  • 48 Professional Studies students
  • 14 new doctoral students
  • 2 Artist Diploma Students

Manhattan School of Music

Move-In day kicks off a busy week: In addition to placement exams and auditions, information sessions and music performances, there are also trips all around the city to Broadway shows, The Bronx Zoo, the Highline, touring the Steinway piano factory, an evening at the classic Apollo Theatre in Harlem and a sunset cruise in the waters around Manhattan.

For a full schedule of the week’s events, please visit our Orientation page.

Everyone at MSM wishes our new students a big welcome!

Manhattan School of Music

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MSM Inaugural Benefit Concert MUSIC FOR A BETTER WORLD on Thursday Oct 13, 2016


Concert organized by MSM student Adam Goldstein supports suicide prevention and The Jed Foundation

“The idea came to me at the end of first semester last year, when I couldn’t get to sleep,” recalls MSM sophomore Adam Goldstein with a laugh, thinking about the path he’s taken over the past year to help launch and organize Manhattan School of Music’s first benefit concert MUSIC FOR A BETTER WORLD — that he and MSM hope will become an annual event.


Adam Goldstein and MSM student volunteers shopping for the concert reception

Ever since the voice major approached MSM faculty and staff about the idea, he’s had full support, starting from the Student Engagement Office to

MSM’s Provost and Senior Vice-President Marjorie Merryman through to MSM performers and faculty, who are donating their time and talents to the event.

  • The inaugural concert on October 13th in Neidorff-Karpati Hall (formerly Borden Auditorium) raises awareness for suicide prevention and supports The Jed Foundation (JED), which helps protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. All proceeds go to the foundation’s efforts. 

It’s an evening showcasing a range of MSM talent: Opera, choral, and orchestral music performed by Manhattan School of Music student ensembles with works by Kurt Weill, George Gershwin, Samuel Barber, and others. Guest speakers include JED’s CEO, John MacPhee (see full concert program below).

Adam — who founded a student organization dedicated to mental health awareness at MSM called “Strike a Chord” — has put together a small army of MSM student volunteers who joined the Music For A Better World organization. They are working on everything from putting up posters and advertising  to organizing the music and running the event.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do: use the thing that I love – music – to help people,” explains Adam Goldstein. “I want people to understand that music can be used to help people, that it can do more than just lift spirits but can be a concrete force for good.”

“Suicide is a bigger issue than most people understand,” adds Goldstein. “Mental illness is not easy to throw off. The stigma attached to it just makes things worse. This is something I want to help change. It starts with helping people realize there are resources and places they can turn to for help.”

“We’re thrilled that Adam had the initiative to come up with this idea, and we are hoping that the event will lead to more MSM Music for A Better World benefit concerts,” says the student organization’s advisor, Nolan Robertson, MSM’s Dean of Performance Operations.

“Adam and his team of volunteers — and MSM Staff and Faculty — have worked very hard at putting this together and getting the word out, so we’re hoping for a good turnout,” adds Monica Christensen, MSM’s Dean of Students.

If you can’t make it to the concert, you are able to contribute to the cause by donating here.


WHAT: MSM’s inaugural Music for a Better World benefit concert showcasing MSM student ensembles. This year’s event supports JED which exists to help protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults.

WHEN: Thursday, October 13 at 7:30 PM

WHERE: Manhattan School of Music, Neidorff-Karpati Hall (formerly John C. Borden Auditorium)
120 Claremont Avenue, NY, NY 10027
Entrance on 122nd Street and Broadway
Tel: 212.749.2802

RSVP: Purchase tickets in advance online or in person, day-of at the door

PRICING: Suggested $25 General Admission
$75 VIP Prime Seating
Student Rate: Students can make a donation at any level that is comfortable.

All proceeds will go to JED

CHARLES GRIFFES Evening Song (1884–1920)  Brittany Nickell, soprano Danny Zelibor, piano

KURT WEILL Lonely House (1900–1950) Chris Lilley, tenor Danny Zelibor, piano

GEORGE GERSHWINSummertime (1898–1937) Alaysha Fox, soprano Danny Zelibor, piano

SHULAMIT RANMirage (b. 1949) Francesca Ferrara, flute(s) Ford Fourqurean, clarinet, Julia Suh, violin Thea Mesirow, cello,  Humay Gasimzade, piano

TOMAS LUIS DE VICTORIAO quam Gloriosum (1548–1611); SAMUEL BARBERMary Hynes (1910–1981) MSM Lab Chorus , Jie Yi, Conductor

IGOR STRAVINSKYSymphony in Three Movements (1882–1971)I.Overture; AllegrMSM Chamber Sinfonia, George Manahan, Conductor


JED is a national nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programs and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We’re encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health.

Learn more at jedfoundation.org. Check out our programs including: JED Campus (jedcampus.org), ULifeline (ulifeline.org), Half of Us (halfofus.com), Love is Louder (loveislouder.com) and Set to Go (settogo.org).

Connect with JED on social media:

Twitter: twitter.com/jedfoundation
Facebook: facebook.com/jedfoundation
Instagram: instagram.com/jedfoundation
YouTube: youtube.com/jedfoundation
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/the-jed-foundation

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November 3-6 is MSM Friends & Family Weekend!

MSM Welcome

Friends and Family weekend is a fun time for the loved ones of our students to experience all that Manhattan School of Music and NYC have to offer.

From classes and lectures to receptions and recitals, we want to showcase the vast and talented community that is MSM. We hope you will join us! See the full schedule below!

For more information please contact the Office of Student Engagement at 917-493-4525 or cwilson@msmnyc.edu.

Friends and Family Weekend Calendar
Annotated Schedule
Event Sign-Up Sheet

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PANEL DISCUSSION at Manhattan School of Music on October 25 “Orchestras: Today and Beyond”


A Featured Event of the 1st Annual Manhattan School of Music / Detroit Symphony Orchestra CONDUCTORS’ PROJECT

A panel discussion on Tuesday Oct 25 at MSM with leaders and members of several US orchestras will look at the orchestral world today, and where things could be heading tomorrow.

During the event – hosted by MSM’s Center for Music Entrepreneurship (CME) and part of the 1st annual Manhattan School of Music / Detroit Symphony Orchestra CONDUCTORS’ PROJECT —  the panelists will share thoughts on the evolving roles and expectations of musicians and administrators working in professional music organizations.

“Over the nearly fifty years I’ve been in the orchestral world, I’ve seen significant changes in the way musicians and administrators approach their jobs,” comments panel participant Detroit Symphony Music Director Leonard Slatkin who is also MSM’s recently appointed Distinguished Visiting Artist in Conducting and Orchestral Studies.

He’ll be joined by Matthew VanBesien, President of the New York Philharmonic;  Howard Herring, President and CEO of the New World Symphony (MM ’78) and Carl Schiebler, Orchestra Personnel Manager at the New York Philharmonic —  as well as MSM alumni Loretta O’Sullivan (BM ’75, cello),Yoobin Son (PS ’10 OP Flute/AD ’11 Flute) and Colin Williams (’97, trombone).

The CME is presenting the panel in the Carla Bossi-Comelli Studio on Tuesday Oct 25 from 4 PM to 5:30 PM as part of its “Setting the Stage” workshop series for MSM students. The event is free of charge and open to the public.


Leonard Slatkin and (small photos) Kyle Ritenauer and Earl Lee

The week-long CONDUCTORS’ PROJECT conducting initiative at MSM with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, is led by Leonard Slatkin and also includes open rehearsals with the Manhattan School of Music Symphony from Oct 24-28 and a final performance in Neidorff-Karpati Hall on Friday October 28 at 7:30 PM.

In this “podium partnership,” two recent MSM conducting graduates will work with Slatkin, the MSM Symphony Orchestra, and the DSO in a two-week educational exchange.

Read more

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Multiple Grammy Nominee Stefon Harris Named Director of MSM’s Prestigious Jazz Arts Program



Stefon Harris,  One of the Most Important Artists in Jazz today, will Join Manhattan School of Music  in July 2017

November 14, 2016 (NEW YORK, NY) – Manhattan School of Music President James Gandre announced today that four-time Grammy Award nominee and eight-time Jazz Journalist award-winner Stefon Harris – himself a distinguished alumnus of the School – will join MSM in July 2017 as Associate Dean and Director of the Jazz Arts program.

“We are thrilled to announce that Stefon Harris, who earned both a Bachelor of Music in 1995 and a Master of Music in 1997, will formally return to MSM next year to lead our renowned Jazz Arts program,” says President Gandre. “As the music world already knows, Stefon is an endlessly talented musician and composer, but he is also an extremely accomplished educator with an impressive track record in and passion for jazz education. We know that he will bring that depth of experience to bear on his work leading MSM’s Jazz Arts program, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome him home.”

In addition to making a name for himself as “one of the most important artists in jazz” (Los Angeles Times) on the vibraphone and marimba and as a composer, Mr. Harris has taught in person at universities throughout the world and virtually via his Distance Learning Lab. He is the co-founder of the Melodic Progression Institute, which released its first product – the revolutionary ear-training app, Harmony Cloud™ – in 2016.

He led curriculum development at the Brubeck Institute, served as Artistic Director of Jazz Education at New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Visiting Professor at Rutgers University, and has been on the faculty at New York University for the past decade.

Mr. Harris will assume leadership of the MSM Jazz Arts Program from Justin DiCioccio, who will leave his position at the end of the year as leader of Jazz Arts. After a long and distinguished career at MSM, during which he led the jazz program to both artistic excellence and international distinction over the past 15 years, Mr. DiCioccio – also an acclaimed jazz musician and pedagogue – feels his mission at MSM is “accomplished and completed” and plans to take his career in exciting new artistic directions.

Mr. DiCioccio began his many years of service to MSM as a Precollege faculty member in 1971, just one year after the first official jazz ensemble – the Manhattan Stage Band – was introduced at the School. He joined the college faculty in 1984, the first year that the School offered what was then considered a pioneering college degree program in jazz. Mr. DiCioccio was appointed to lead Jazz Arts in 2002.  During his years of leadership, he restructured the jazz curriculum, established a jazz DMA program, and broadly increased institutional awareness and participation in Jazz Arts performances and outreach activities. He developed international ties and brought many renowned musicians to MSM as faculty members and guest artists.

“Although we will miss Justin a great deal, the enormous contributions he made to MSM over the years will provide a firm foundation upon which Stefon can build, evolving the jazz program to even bigger and better things, and propelling us into our second century,” says President Gandre. Mr. Harris will join MSM in July 2017, a year before the School launches its centennial celebrations in fall 2018.

“Stefon earned his first degree at MSM as a classical musician and then studied jazz performance for his graduate degree,” says Marjorie Merryman, MSM’s Provost and Senior Vice President. “That versatility underpins what is so special about this brilliant musician. He is equal parts performer, composer, and teacher, and his multiple musical points of view suggest yet-untapped depths. We are very pleased to announce his new role here.”


Mr. Harris has recorded and performed with many of the jazz world’s biggest names and toured worldwide with his genre-bending band, Blackout, and as a member of the acclaimed SFJAZZ Collective. His artistry, stage presence, and virtuosity have propelled him to the forefront of the current jazz scene. His interest in blazing new trails in contemporary jazz is matched only by his commitment to exploring the rich potential of music education.

“I am truly honored to assume the position of Associate Dean and Director of the Jazz program at Manhattan School of Music,” says Mr. Harris.  “For nearly a century, MSM has been at the vanguard of arts education and has consistently provided an invaluable service to young artists. It is a community of educators and dreamers, which nurtures some of the world’s most brilliant young minds.  As a former student, I spent the most important and transformative years of my artistic life at MSM.  It was during my time at MSM that I acquired the musical skills necessary to articulate my story in organized sound.  I look forward to contributing to this great legacy of social empowerment through arts education.  As an educator, I am greatly inspired to have the opportunity to play a role in helping to articulate and amplify the voices of the next generation of great artists.”

His most recent involvement with the School includes earning a 2015 MSM Distinguished Alumni Award, conducting master classes, and performing as a member of the MSM All Stars, a remarkable ensemble of alumni who appeared at MSM’s Spring 2016 Gala at New York’s iconic Rainbow Room.

“This newest phase of the relationship between MSM and one of its most distinguished jazz alumni represents the continuation of a beautiful friendship,” says President Gandre. “All of us at the School – the Board of Trustees, the faculty, administration, and students – eagerly anticipate Stefon’s arrival.”

For more information, please contact:

Jeff Breithaupt | Vice President of Media and Communications

917.493.4702 / jbreithaupt@msmnyc.edu

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Watch Live: Union on the Hill

Watch live on Friday, December 9th, beginning at 9:30 a.m. when Union Theological Seminary will host a convening of faith leaders at the National Press Club to discuss an LGBTQ public policy agenda for the new Administration and incoming Congress. This gathering will highlight several pro-LGBTQ public policy issues proposed by religious leaders and people of faith around the country who support the LGBTQ community because of their faith, and not in spite of it.


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Union Faculty React to the Election of Donald Trump

Dear UTS Friends,
We, the undersigned faculty of Union Theological Seminary, believe it is crucial to express our deep concerns about the results of the November 8, 2016 election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. In his campaign, President-elect Trump has blasphemed the most fundamental values of our community and our nation. His campaign relied on misinformation, fear, and racial and ethnic hatred. His election is of grave concern to us all.
The diplomatic, financial, and cultural consequences of this election are inestimable. The strengthening of public education seems a dream of the past, as do Obamacare and Dodd-Frank. Labor seems destined to continue its uphill struggle. Our work to expand voting rights and end mass incarceration has been seriously wounded. The devastation of climate change has been ignored. Our standing in the world, even with our longtime allies, has been undermined.
And most unacceptable and outrageous, our highest elected leader has used rhetoric that demeans the dignity of women, people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQIA+ community, and Muslims. We strongly protest all such hate speech and racist rhetoric and their dangerous consequences. The worst sins of our brutally racist American past must not now become an unfettered reality in our American present and future.
In the face of this devastating reality, we, the faculty of Union, write this letter to our students, alumni/ae and friends to publicly reaffirm the values that hold us together. We commit ourselves to standing together against these forces of harm and to working together for


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Faith in America: The Aging of America, A New Workforce for Social Justice

Stream, Faith in America: The Aging of America, A New Workforce for Social Justice, live on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at 6:30 PM.
Welcome and Introductions
Rev. Dr. Serene Jones
President, Union Theological Seminary
Ruth Wooden
Former President of Public Agenda, and M.A. Graduate at Union Theological Seminary
Ellen Goodman
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist of the Boston Globe and the founder of the Conversation Project
Lester  Strong
Former nightly news anchor for Boston, MA NBC and current Executive Director of AARP Experience Corps


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