News

Queensborough Community College is One of Six Community Colleges in the Country to Receive NEH Challenge Grant

August 09, 2011

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded Queensborough Community College, a College of The City University of New York (CUNY), a $500,000 Challenge Grant to help raise an endowment to support interdisciplinary programs at The Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives (KHRCA). The College’s fundraising goal is to add $1,000,000 to the KHRCA endowment which will be matched up to $500,000 by the NEH Challenge Grant.

Queensborough was one of only six community colleges in the United States to receive the competitive grant. There are approximately 1,200 community colleges which serve over 12 million students on an annual basis.

The funding marks the first grant awards offered through a new NEH Special Initiative for Two-Year Colleges which aim to strengthen humanities programs at community colleges; encourage the development of model humanities programs and curricula; and broaden the base of financial support for humanities on two-year college campuses. QCC offers a variety of courses in the humanities in the departments of Art & Design, English, History, Foreign Languages & Literatures and Music as well as in disciplines within Social Sciences. The humanities at QCC have been strengthened over the past decade, in part, via faculty-driven efforts to reform the General Education core curriculum.

“The Kupferberg Holocaust Center is a mosaic of courageous and sometimes heartbreaking stories,” said Dr. Arthur Flug, Executive Director since 2005 and NEH Challenge Grant Project Director. “The NEH Challenge Grant will showcase the work of our distinguished faculty as well as allow us to bring in guest scholars who will offer insight and social value to the events of the Holocaust. The results will enrich the humanities content knowledge and civic engagement of QCC students, deepen the engagement of our faculty with both the international scholarly community and our local community, and create models of teaching and learning for institutions nationwide. These efforts will last, in perpetuity, so our community and world will never fall silent again.”

“This is an unparalleled opportunity to address—through this national award—the cultural, educational and civic needs of our diverse community,” said Dr. Diane B. Call, Interim President of Queensborough Community College. “I am delighted that the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives at Queensborough Community College has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities for its unique potential to serve as a national model of excellence for faculty-led efforts to integrate a community college’s cultural offerings and its humanities programs.”

In 2009, the KHRCA was moved from a small room that was hidden in the basement of the campus library to a magnificent 9,000 square-foot building that is prominently located at the entrance to the College. Housed within its glass and steel walls, reminiscent of Kristallnacht, are several permanent exhibits on the Holocaust and related genocides. The Center offers thousands of visitors access to unique exhibits; original documents and photographs; a vast library collection and audio tapes preserving the testimony of local Holocaust survivors.

The Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Family made an historic gift to Queensborough Community College in 2007 to bestow the Kupferberg name on the Holocaust Resource Center and Archives to ensure that its programs will operate in perpetuity and achieve the mission of educating current and future generations about the ramifications of unbridled prejudice, racism and stereotyping. Among the KHRCA’s treasured artifacts are the New York Times articles of Auschwitz survivor Lee Potasinskis’ chronicle of the Holocaust; a Holocaust Torah; and an extensive art collection.

In 2008, the Hate Crimes Program was launched by the Kupferberg Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Flug, to reach out to the larger community with lessons on prejudice and racism. This initiative is in partnership with the New York State Division of Human Rights; New York City Department of Education; New York Police Department; Office of the Queens District Attorney and Office of the Borough President of Queens.

Queensborough—located in one of the most diverse counties in the United States—serves students from more than 135 countries of which half speak a language other than English at home. Because so many cultures interact with one another on the College campus, it is imperative to support the Kupferberg Center’s mission to educate younger generations of the ramifications of prejudice, racism and stereotyping. This makes the KHRCA’s potential as a learning laboratory particularly meaningful. Queensborough provides a rich educational core, with the College’s highest degree program enrollment in the A.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Queensborough is characterized by superior academic programs as well as a high level of faculty scholarship and innovation. Nearly 60% --three times the national average for community colleges—have received their doctoral degree. The members of the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives (KHRCA) Advisory Board are: Martin Seinfeld, J.D., Chair, Partner, Pearlman, Apat, Futterman, Sirotkin & Seinfeld, LLP; Harbachan Singh, Esq., Vice-Chair, United Nations Attorney and a leader in the Sikh community; Diane Cohen, Secretary-Treasurer, (Retired) former Manager of Community Board Eight; Dr. Diane B. Call, Interim President of Queensborough Community College; Joseph Sciame, Immediate Past Chair, Vice President for Community Relations, St. John’s University; Dr. Abe Dyzenhaus, D.D.S.; Dr. Owen Bernstein, (Retired) former Psychologist for the New York City Board of Education; Roseanne Darche, Chair, Constitution Committee, Director of Education, Queens Borough President’s Office; Manfred Korman, (Retired) former Vice-Chair of the New York City Principals’ Union and a survivor and leader in the New York City Department of Education community; David Widawsky, (Retired) former Urban Planner; and leader of the Second Generation survivors community and organizer of a Second Generation group for the KHRCA; Don Hochler, Attorney and community activist who is working with the KHRCA in developing relationships within the assisted living residences and nursing home communities; Jan Fenster, former President, Queens Jewish Community Council; Jack P. Friedman, Executive Vice President, Queens Chamber of Commerce; Jeff Gottlieb, Queens Jewish Historical Society; Hanne Liebmann, KHRCA volunteer and survivor; Janine Regosin, Executive Director, Medical Society, County of Queens; Ruth Schlossman; Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, CUNY Board of Trustees; Steven Wimpfheimer, Esq.; Ellen Zin and Janet Cohen.

Additionally, the NEH Challenge Grant Advisory Committee that was established to guide the development of Queensborough’s plans throughout the past 2 years will play a continuing role by reviewing yearly colloquia plans and recommending resources and speakers. The distinguished advisory committee of external scholars are: Dr. Eduardo J. Martí, CUNY Vice-Chancellor for Community Colleges; Dr. Robert Melson, professor emeritus of political science and member of the Jewish Studies program at Purdue University, President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (2003-2005), and the Cathy Cohen-Lasry Distinguished Professor in the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University (2006 and 2007); Dr. Michael Berenbaum, former director of the United States Holocaust Museum Research Institute, and President of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation; Dr. David Altshuler, President of The Trust for Jewish Philanthropy; and Rabbi Isidoro Aizenberg.

The interest in and commitment of QCC’s faculty to the KHRCA are demonstrated by those who played an active role in the development of the Challenge Grant proposal. Dr. Emily Tai, associate professor of history; Dr. Susan Jacobowitz, associate professor of English; and Dr. Sarah Danielsson, assistant professor of history, were instrumental in the College’s efforts to win this grant.”

The KHRCA’s first major exhibit to open in the fall of 2011 is “The Albanian Rescue of Jews During World War II.” The exhibit will present a compelling record of the courageous rescue of Jews in Albania beginning in 1938 and until the end of the war.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.

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Alice Doyle
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ADoyle@qcc.cuny.edu
718-281-5591