Binghamton University alumni were led on a tour that spanned more than five centuries of Islamic art history by William Voelkle '61, whose fond memories of Harpur College remain vivid five decades later.
On Nov. 17, Voelkle hosted alumni at the Morgan Library on Madison Avenue in Manhattan for a personal tour of the current exhibit he curated, called "Treasures of Islamic Manuscript Painting from the Morgan." For this exhibition, Voelkle selected and wrote about 24 of the Morgan Library's 48 remarkable Islamic manuscripts dating from the late middle ages to the 19th century. This was the fourth time invited Binghamton University alumni to the Morgan Library to a tour of an exhibit he had curated.
Voelkle began with an overview of The Morgan Library & Museum, a complex of buildings spanning the entire block between 36th and 37th streets on Madison Avenue. Its founder was J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), a financier who gathered an outstanding collection of illuminated, literary and historical manuscripts, early printed books, and old master drawings and prints.
The group ascended to the upper floor for the Islamic manuscript exhibit. Upon entering through the double glass doors of the spacious room painted a mystical violet, viewers immediately become listeners. The Islamic Call for Prayer resounded as they gazed at the ancient and ornately decorated Qur'ans near the entrance, surrounded by the 24 colorful treasures of Islamic manuscript paintings. This exhibit marked the first time the Morgan gathered these spectacular volumes together in a single exhibition which includes such treasures as a 13th-century treatise on animals, single illuminated pages and an illustrated treatise on astrology, wonders of the world, demonology and divination.
Making these remarkable works of art accessible to the public is central to the library's mission and Voelkle's passion. In 1924, J.P. Morgan, Jr. (1867–1943) fulfilled his father's dream by making the library and its ever-growing collection more accessible by donating and turning it into a public institution. Voelkle notes, "Morgan, who studied in Germany and Switzerland, established these collections so Americans could have first-hand experience with them. Now that we are putting them online, the entire collection is in a way being democratized." The ease of accessing the online collection worldwide has enabled J.P. Morgan to honor his father's wishes in a way that no one during their time could realistically have imagined.
Currently, 30,000 digital images from the collection can be searched for by subject, viewed instantaneously and read about in detail. All images are available 24/7 and free of charge on Corsair, the Library's online catalog, a revolutionary and major milestone in the advancement of art history and research. For instance, even if one attended Voelkle's current exhibit featuring the Islamic illuminated manuscripts, a visitor to http://www.themorgan.org not only can zoom in to see the minutest details of the 24 manuscripts that are on display, but also the 24 additional ones from the Morgan collection that aren't. Recent, present and future exhibits at the Morgan will be online in a similar manner indefinitely. The Museum has high-resolution photographs of an additional 70,000 digital images and is currently formatting data for display on its website. When these images are ready and uploaded, the Corsair will be the Morgan Library and Museum's definitive, comprehensive catalog.
As a curator, scholar, and writer, Voelkle appreciates the advantages of an online catalog. "Because it's electronic, one can update, make corrections, and constantly add to bibliographies. The viewer also can download all the descriptions and images, again free of charge," he says. Yet technology has its limits, as the 25 Binghamton University affiliates who attended Voelkle's recent tour can attest. A virtual visit does not afford the full sensory experience of a real one - especially a tour guided by Voelkle, whose knowledge about and passion for the art brings it to life.
William Voelkle '61
A native of Endicott, N.Y., Voelkle entered Harpur College in 1956 and pursued a degree in mathematics. He was set to graduate in 1960, until he took Professor Kenneth Lindsay's Survey of Art History course as a mandatory elective to fulfill his requirement in humanities. With a newfound interest, Voelkle took Lindsay's class on the Hidden Symbolism in Northern Renaissance Painting
"That class really hooked me," Voelkle says. "Ken really convinced me I wanted to get a second major in art history even though it required me to take more courses and graduate a year later."
After acquiring a double major in mathematics and art history from Harpur College in 1961, Voelkle became the school's director of visual resources and taught two art history courses as an intern. He worked on the art slide collection in the Visual Resources Room for a couple of years full time before moving to New York to earn a master's degree in fine arts from Columbia University. In 1967, while working on his doctorate at Columbia, Voelkle was offered a curatorial position at the Morgan Library & Museum. At that time, he was still returning to Harpur College every summer to work in its Visual Resources Room. Feeling indebted to Harpur for his education and training in the slide library, Voelkle wrestled with making a decision between staying and advancing his career. He recalls Lindsay saying in a warm but probably serious manner, "If you think you're going to decline that job, we'll kick you out of here and down to the city."
Needless to say, Voelkle never needed such prodding. Today, he regards the offer to work at the Morgan Library as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "The Morgan houses this country's and one of the world's most pre-eminent collections of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, so the other full-time curators – and there are only two – have been nearly as greedy as me maintaining their positions. I've worked here for 44 years and still enjoy its challenges." Voelkle was appointed curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at The Morgan Library & Museum in 1983, and became department head in 1999.
Over the past 40 years, he has overseen all aspects of the collection, including its research, acquisition, conservation, storage, publication and accessibility. He has been involved with many important exhibitions: The Spanish Forger (catalog, 1978), The Stavelot Triptych (catalog, 1980), The Bernard H. Breslauer Collection of Manuscript Illuminations (catalog, 1991) and more recently, Apocalypse Then (2007), Illuminating the Medieval Hunt (2008), Pages of Gold (2009) and the current Treasures of Islamic Painting from the Morgan (2011). Voelkle has also written numerous articles and books, such as an extensive commentary for a facsimile of the library's celebrated Farnese Hours, the last great Italian illuminated manuscript.
18th Reeves-Ellington Case Competition
By Steve Seepersaud
Brightcove, the company at the center of the Harvard Business School case, is a web-based provider of video content, founded in 2004 and re-launched two years later. Just weeks before this re-launch, however, Google agreed to buy YouTube, making Brightcove's prime competitor an even stronger force to contend with.
BROWM Consulting – with team members Janine Bautista, Sean Muir, Kaitlyn Orr, Taylor Roth and Christine Warkenthien – earned first prize in the competition, calling for a reorganization of the company based on its two classes of products: personal and professional. The team argued that Brightcove should pursue rapid expansion into Western Europe and Japan, entering both markets within the span of 12 months.
"The changes that are occurring right now are putting pressure on Brightcove to adapt," Muir said. "We want to make sure the firm will stay viable in the next year."
Cline Consulting – with members Brian Cohen, Diana Karotseris, Brian Kenny, Allison Xie and Anthony Schianodicola – said Brightcove should allocate the private capital infusion toward improving its user platform, aggressively advertising, and expanding into Europe and Asia. The team members said Brightcove's unique selling point is that it would be more attractive to television networks looking to distribute content than a site such as YouTube, which is constantly removing pirated videos.
"[Networks] would be more likely to choose a company like Brightcove, which has high quality and a high level of professionalism," Karotseris said.
The finalist team composed of Cathryn Cardillo, Julia Castaldi, Daniel Saber and Laura Siciliano said Brightcove should outsource the task of developing a user-friendly platform. Like the other teams, this one recommended global growth; however, this team went in a different direction, focusing first on making entries into Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
"It would be easier and more cost-effective to set up in countries where you don't have to change the interface because of a different language," Siciliano said.
Members of all three finalist teams will get their team photo displayed in the SOM lobby and a notation placed on their academic transcripts. Robert Cline, lecturer of strategic management, coordinated the competition. Judges were Katherine Fitzgerald, partner with Binghamton-based law firm Hinman, Howard and Kattell; John Fitzsimmons, former CEO of Mang Insurance in Norwich, N.Y.; Steven Johnson '86, managing partner for Riger Advertising in Binghamton; and Arthur Ventura '93, senior vice president of integrated media sales for MSG Media in New York.
Faculty share information on medical devices
By Ashley Smith
Nearly 30 faculty, staff and students came together last month for a healthcare devices workshop organized by the Watson Dean's Office as part of the Division of Research's campus-wide focus on innovations in healthcare.
Researchers across campus have been active in this area for years and the workshop served as an opportunity to share information and foster potential collaborations.
"One of my jobs," explained Ron Miles, distinguished professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean of research for the Watson School, "is to read every proposal. I noticed that people were doing similar work but probably weren't aware of what others were doing."
In June 2010, Miles organized a similar healthcare workshop, and has now continued the initiative under the innovations in healthcare umbrella.
Faculty – including many new faces – from each department in the Watson School, as well as Assistant Professor of Physics Stephen Levy, were invited to give brief presentations on their research. Topics included gene mapping, DNA sorting, cancer detection, drug testing and computing system accuracy. Attendees discussed and asked questions following each presentation.
In his presentation, Zhanpeng Jin, an assistant professor new to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, introduced his research in bioinspired recovery for medical hardware that makes computing systems more accurate, adaptive and available.
Gretchen Mahler, a new assistant professor in bioengineering, shared her research in cell culture modeling of organs and tissues. Her models can be used to examine drug toxicity and to better understand how cells behave in a diseased environment.
"As a new faculty member on campus, it was a terrific opportunity to get a brief overview of what others are doing," Mahler said.
"Healthcare is an area within engineering research that's an irresistible force," Miles said. "Funding agencies are interested in it, and engineers can contribute a lot to it. It's a natural place for us to work."
New tool for nurses: Psychiatric mental health training is in demand
By Brian Crawford
Anxiety and anorexia. Depression and attention deficit disorders. Stress and schizophrenia. These and other mental illnesses affect more than 57 million Americans each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. For those who suffer from it, the consequences of mental illness can be devastating, increasing the risk of unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness and suicide.
"There is a great need for mental healthcare workers," says Decker School Clinical Assistant Professor Linda K. Tuyn '97. "Worldwide, depression is second only to heart disease as a public health problem. And in the United States, the causes of mental illness seem to keep increasing."
Helping to address this need, the Decker School of Nursing three years ago established its graduate-level Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program. In May, the program graduated its first two students. In addition, three other students received post-master's certification as psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. Following professional certification, all will be qualified to assess, diagnose and treat patients with mental illness.
"This program has pushed me harder than any coursework I've ever had before," says Kate Slotwinski '07, '08. A two-time graduate of Binghamton University, with degrees in French and nursing, Slotwinski admits to an almost genetic interest in psychiatric nursing. "Both my parents are social workers in Rockland County," she says, "and my mother is a psychiatric nurse in private practice. So when Decker began the psychiatric nursing program three years ago, I was really excited to join."
The program involves classroom and online experiences, as well as 600 hours of clinical experience in hospital or outpatient settings. Students learn individual and group therapy techniques, mental and physiological diagnostics, and advanced health assessment.
There are 11 students in the program. "We want to keep the program relatively small so that we can maintain our attention to students and give them the faculty contact they need," says Mary Muscari, associate professor and director of the O'Connor Office for Rural Studies at the Decker School of Nursing. Nonetheless, she expects the program to double in size in the coming years because psychiatric nurse practitioners are in high demand.
Many of the program's students are already practicing RNs or nurse practitioners. Students say the ability to earn advanced certification online is a strong selling point. "The online program fits my schedule," says Leah Scilingo, a post-master's student who has been a nurse and nurse practitioner for more than 30 years. "While it is more work doing everything on the computer, I feel it is worth it. The good part," she laughs, "is that you can be doing your work and the laundry at the same time."
Apart from the boost to their careers that psychiatric nurse practitioner certification provides, students also are motivated by the personal rewards that come from helping troubled patients. "People with mental illness have to overcome huge challenges — they often have other illnesses, or have problems keeping jobs and have to deal with issues like homelessness. They deserve respect for their efforts," Slotwinski says.
The commitment and dedication of the students is not lost on their professors, Tuyn says. "Those who work with the mentally ill have a deep and abiding respect for people — you have to have compassion and concern to work with people in psychic pain. It is humbling and potentially spiritually broadening and helps you to learn about and be in touch with your real self."
Pioneering an interprofessional educational initiative in aging care
By Paul Gould
Inter-professional practice is quickly emerging as a preferred model in geriatric healthcare. To that end, the Institute for Intergenerational Studies' Southern Tier Center on Aging has built upon relationships among Binghamton University, SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse and United Health Services (UHS) to develop an interdisciplinary teaching environment – the Geriatric Consultation Clinic (GCC). Faculty from social work and medicine – Paul Gould, LCSW and Shawn Berkowitz, MD – teach students to work collaboratively, enhancing direct communication between disciplines, and fostering the development of a holistic view of the patient's health needs through a comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA).
The CGA is a multidisciplinary evaluation process that identifies medical, psychosocial, and functional limitations of an older adult. The complex nature of older adults' health requires evaluation of multiple systems including physical, cognitive, affective, social, financial, environmental, and spiritual factors. This evaluation is used to construct recommendations to maximize health outcomes for older adults.
Students conduct the CGA under the supervision of clinical faculty in two domains – a home visit followed by the medical examination and consultation in the clinic. The Assessment Team is compromised of MSW students in the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education (HPPAE) and fourth-year medical students completing their geriatric rotation. Opportunities exist for nursing students to participate in the experience, as well. Learning objectives are constructed upon specific gero-related assessment and intervention skills identified by the National Gero-Ed Center and AAMC as necessary skills for geriatric specialists in their respective fields, as well as a set of interdisciplinary competencies developed by the Partnership for Health & Aging. Students conduct standardized evaluations and perform screenings for common concerns among older adults, including memory problems, depression, home safety, caregiver support, polypharmacy, abuse or neglect, and behavior changes. The evaluation also includes a review of advanced care planning.
HPPAE Fellow Colette Foster said, "As a student, I was not only learning the role of a social worker, but given the opportunity to appreciate the role of the physician. I was impressed by the detailed attention the physician gave each patient and how the social worker's input was incorporated into the overall treatment plan. Being part of the geriatric team increased my awareness and overall competencies to work with older adults. This inter-professional training also gave me meaningful insight into how a team approach benefits each patient."
The consultation phase is the crux of the inter-professional learning opportunity. In this component of the CGA, students present perspectives based upon discipline-specific training. Subsequently, they are exposed to the interdisciplinary perspectives of the team, and challenged to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations for the patient and family. "One of the most meaningful parts of the consultation was the feeling of having a voice and being indispensable to the collaborative effort. It also afforded me an opportunity to observe the synergy of professional diversity and its benefits," said HPPAE Fellow Layoya Knight.
Earlier this year, the John A. Hartford Foundation granted the Center an award to further develop the inter-professional teaching clinic and evaluate outcomes in student learning and patient care. The results of these two studies will be disseminated nationally through conference presentations and publications.
20th Annual Couper Lecture set for April 27
From staff reports
The guest speaker for this on-campus lecture will be Professor Maris Vinovskis from the University of Michigan. Vinovskis holds academic appointments in both the Department of History and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. His work is in many areas including the history of education, public policy and adolescent pregnancy issues. He has authored 10 books and edited seven others. His most recent book is From a Nation at Risk to No Child Left Behind. He has served in 1978 on the U.S. House Select Committee on Population and was a consultant to the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in the early 1980s. He also worked in the U.S. Department of Education in both the Clinton and Bush (II) administrations.