The Dyson Story Continues: Dyson Legacy Dinner Celebrates 35 Years

Thirty-five years ago, at a Board of Trustees meeting held on October 8, 1974, Dr. Edward J. Mortola, President of Pace, discussed the traditional practice of using the term “College” for Arts and Sciences and School for graduate and professional areas: “The basis of this distinction lies in the fundamental nature of the Arts and Sciences as being the foundation of all academic and professional programs.”

The Board unanimously agreed and the School of Arts and Sciences was renamed the Charles H. Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, after one of the most successful and engaged Pace graduates and members of the board. This year in October, Charles Dyson’s son, Robert Dyson, joined President Stephen J. Friedman, Provost Geoffrey Brackett, Dean Nira Herrmann and Dyson College faculty, staff, students, alumni and alumnae, and friends to celebrate the continuing successes of the College and its graduates.

Andrea Stewart Cousins  
  New York Democratic State Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins spoke about the transformative effect her education at Pace University had on her life.  

A Familiar Story
Speaker Andrea Stewart Cousins, a Dyson College double alumna (BS/MPA), related her experiences at Pace, a story similar to that of many Pace students: She found a way to go to college while working and raising a family, and was proud to be the first in her family to earn a bachelors degree. Her story has striking similarities to Charles Dyson’s as well, an audience of nearly 200 learned at the Dyson Legacy Dinner on October 8, 2009 at the Ritz-Carlton Westchester.

Despite being told by a high school guidance counselor that she “just wasn’t college material,” Senator Cousins has gone on to make her alma mater proud. Today she is the New York Democratic State Senator for the 35th district representing Yonkers, Dobbs Ferry, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, Elmsford, Irvington, Ardsley, Hastings-on-Hudson and Pleasantville, home of her alma mater. Prior to being elected to the New York State Senate, she was a Westchester County Legislator and special assistant to the Mayor of Yonkers. She was the first African American County Legislator from Yonkers.

She received her B.S. in Liberal studies from Pace and recalled that as a student journalist, she was able to interview Geraldine Ferraro when she was making history as the first woman to run for national public office as the vice presidential candidate. Senator Cousins remembered the confidence she gained getting her first newspaper byline and meeting Ms. Ferraro, who continues to be one of her “sheroes” and a role model for public service.

Married and with a family and a career well underway, but undaunted by the challenge of further studies, Senator Cousins returned to Pace taking night classes and earned her Master’s in Public Administration in 2008.

An Education That Opens Doors
Senator Cousins epitomizes the transformative effect of a Pace education in opening doors and making students see the broad range of possible careers and contributions each can make. Over her career, the senator had the opportunity to work in private industry, to work in the public sector and to run for office.

Senator Cousins makes a point of giving back to her constituencies and to Pace. She has appeared on campus numerous times, serving as an active role model and encouraging students to pursue their education and use it to fulfill their dreams as contributing members of society.

“I have nothing but the deepest respect for what you do,” she told the packed room. “If not for Pace I could have fallen away.”

Charlie’s Vision Continues
Charles Dyson would have been proud, his son Rob Dyson told the audience. “Charlie” as he was fondly referred to, attended Pace’s night school as well, taking the subway to downtown Manhattan for accounting classes. Mr. Dyson always had a love of the liberal arts, and in 1974 the college was renamed in his honor.

Pace University President Stephen J. Friedman touched on his personal acquaintance with Mr. Dyson, whom he met when they both served on the board of the American Ballet Theater. President Friedman expressed his appreciation of the commitment of Mr. Dyson and the leadership position he took, even in his 80s, to sustain the ABT when they faced serious fiscal problems.

Mr. Dyson’s vision of the college of arts and sciences continues today. Pace Provost Geoffrey Brackett and Dyson College Dean Nira Herrmann spoke about some of the recent successes including growing enrollments and new degree programs. Dean Herrmann introduced two faculty-student teams which epitomize the types of scholarly research projects which are a hallmark of a Dyson education that expose graduate and undergraduate students to the creation and development of new knowledge.

Student-Faculty Collaborations Create New Knowledge
Dr. Rostyslaw (Ross) Robak, Chair of the Psychology Department in Pleasantville, and current graduate student, Poonam Nagda, and recent graduate, alumna Sara Juncaj, M.S., spoke on the impact of a course on “Death and Dying” that the department offers, to see if our students respond consistently with the current literature to this intense subject.

  Student-Faculty Research Collaborations
    From left, Dr. JaimeLee Rizzo, Professor of Chemistry; Dr. Nira Herrmann, Dean of Dyson College; Dr. Rostyslaw (Ross) Robak, Chair of the Psychology Department in Pleasantville; Dr. Geoffrey Brackett, Provost; graduate student Poonam Nagda; recent alumna Sara Juncaj, M.S., and Timothy Muckell discussed faculty-research collaborations.

Dr. JaimeLee Rizzo, Professor of Chemistry, and her student, Timothy Muckell, spoke about their work exploring innovative ways of attaching anti-bacterial and anti-fungal products to surfaces such as fabrics (clothing, blankets, and bandages) and other materials. These applications can help fight bacterial and fungal infections in applications such as uniforms for military and health professionals and others whose work may result in high levels of exposure.

A Look Back
The formal program ended with a special video montage on “A Liberal Arts Education at Pace” prepared by Ellen Sowchek, the University Archivist, using Pace archival material to trace the origins of support for the liberal arts back to Homer St. Clair Pace, one of the founding Pace brothers, and forward to the unique partnership between President Edward Mortola and Charles Dyson. The montage included a Faculty Album with photos of past and current faculty members from the archives, eliciting much attention from the audience as photos of past colleagues flashed by together with photos of current faculty from years ago.

The Dyson Foundation awarded a grant to Pace University in the amount of $40,000, towards The Dyson Legacy Dinner. Proceeds from the event benefit the Dyson College Faculty and Student Opportunities Fund which supports research, scholarly and creative collaborations between faculty and students.