The 2019 edition of the Annual Celebration of Individuals with Disabilities in Film took place at Pace University on Thursday, April 5, 2019. This was the seventh year the festival has taken place, and it proved to be an evening no less compelling than in previous years.
“[The] festival is important as a forum in learning about a marginalized population of society . . . that desires recognition and respect like those without disabilities,” said Dr. James Lawler, Seidenberg professor and the chair and organizer of the event.
Dr. Lawler explained that visibility is unfortunately still a big issue for people with disabilities: “Most students in the school and in the university do not know of the issues of those with disabilities in society and their struggles to be like those without disabilities. Those with disabilities, developmental or non-developmental, are a ‘hidden’ minority in society.”
The event opened with a cocktail hour as guests arrived, and before long the Bianco Room (one of Pace University’s largest event spaces) was completely filled with almost 200 guests. Seidenberg alumna, Tabitha Haly, was back to perform original songs before the keynote presentation by the Honorable Angelo Santabarbara with his son Michael.
Dean for Students Marijo Russel O’Grady then gave her remarks and introduced the distinguished expert panelists: Victor Calise, Allan B. Goldstein, Tabithy Haly, Maria Hodermarska, Betsy Lynam, and the Honorable Angelo Santabarbara. After each film, the panel would discuss what they had seen, each person providing their own unique insights.
It was time for the movie marathon. During the event, the films that were screened where:
JMAXX AND THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE by Ryan Mayers
KILL OFF by Genevieve Clay-Smith
SOPHIE from Pace University – College of Health Professions
FIGHTER by Bugsy Steel
ARETHA from New York University – Tandon School of Engineering
SURREALITY by Meg Vatterott, Huong Troung, Marta Payne, and Olivia Liu
BEING SEEN by Paul Zehrer
“The genesis of the 7th Annual Celebration of People With Disabilities in Film goes back more than seven years. It has its roots in Pace University’s commitment to Service Learning; it takes its inspired use of technology from its home in the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems,” said Dr. Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School at Pace University. “Most importantly, it gets its passion from the work of Dr. Jim Lawler of the Seidenberg School and his partners at AHRC, as well as the many non-profits that help to meet the needs of the disabled in our community by helping them to meet their challenges and celebrate their triumphs.”
Many of these films and more are available online at Sproutflix, and if you missed the event this year don’t worry – the 8th Annual Celebration will be taking place in 2020 at Pace University once more.
On April 24, 209, the Seidenberg Innovation Awards took place at Pace University’s New York City campus. The event was a celebration of innovation in the tech community and a chance for friends and supporters of the School to get together and share the Seidenberg love.
The evening consisted of a cocktail reception where guests mingled over drinks and appetizers, followed by the awards presentations in Pace University’s beautiful Schimmel Theater. After the awards, dessert and coffee was served in the lobby while guests discussed the event.
Alumni of recent years and some from a little further back turned out in force – the reception lounge was packed and it was fantastic seeing so many familiar faces returning to Pace University to support their alma mater. Many of these students also benefited from scholarships and support provided by our community and took the opportunity to pay it forward to the next generation.
Plenty of Seidenberg School faculty and staff were also present, and Pace President Marvin Krislov and Provost Vanya Quiñones made the most of some excellent photo ops with current and past students.
Special guest Peter Fleischut gave a few remarks, saying that “the role that Pace University is playing in training the workforce of the future is critical.”
After an hour and a half of socializing and catching up (we had to start early – guests couldn’t wait to come in!), it was time for the main event, the awards portion! This was the first year the Seidenberg School had tried out this format: previously known as the Leadership and Service in Technology (LST) Awards, former iterations of the event honored a single individual for their contributions to the field. This time, in homage to the Seidenberg School’s 35th anniversary, we updated the event title and went a tad more Hollywood with our delivery. We had three honorees this time, all of whom have had significant impact and who we couldn’t wait to recognize, and we also had the glamor of the Schimmel Theater, which lent itself perfectly to the nature of the event.
Dean Jonathan Hill took to the stage first to give his welcoming remarks and kick off the evening. He introduced President Krislov, who spoke about his experiences with the Seidenberg School.
“One of the things that I’ve always noticed when I walk the halls of Seidenberg is that there’s just this sense of support and care . . . and that’s before I even get to the hugging point!” President Krislov remarked, referring to the stickers placed around Seidenberg that reflect our Design Factory way of thinking. “It’s just really extraordinary and I can’t imagine there are too many schools like that,” he said, adding to Dean Hill, “We owe a lot to you and your leadership.”
Following President Krislov, Dean Hill returned to the stage to talk about what was special about the Seidenberg School. “We are unique because we are high tech and high touch,” he said. “Our students learn from their faculty and from each other in small classes of 24 rather than massive lectures of 200 . . . we are special because we teach technology as a team sport and as a global enterprise: as a student here, your lab partner is as likely to be in Sao Paulo or Helsinki or Singapore as to be in the seat next to you. However, that person in the seat next to you will be your friend and resource for life.”
He continued: “Our students have been called smart, ambitious, scrappy, entrepreneurial and highly motivated to succeed. They come from every economic, racial and geographic background and they are 29 per cent female – and growing. Some of them come from prep school backgrounds some from the most underserved of public high schools, but all of them are here to fulfil their potential. They are the technology work force of 2025, the management layer of 2030 and the founders and C-level executives of 2040.”
Dean Hill then introduced one such student, Allan Krasner, a junior computer science student who became the President of Pace Computing Society in his freshman year and who now runs Seidenberg Creative Labs as Product Manager.
“Coming from a robotics background, I knew that I had an interest in computer science,” Allan told the audience. “So when it came time to search for colleges, it was a fairly simple choice. Pace was one of the few universities in the nation to have a whole school dedicated to computer science.”
Allan went on to recount his remarkable experience as a Seidenberg student, detailing what made it all possible: “I’m here at Pace because of donors like you . . . your support has empowered me to achieve the goals I set for myself when I came to Pace, and I can confidently say that this is an education that I would not be able to get at any other school.”
He concluded: “I’m just one of the many students here at Pace, each of whom is accomplishing something special and changing the world in their own way. My story nor that of my friends and colleagues . . . would not be possible without help from the amazing Pace staff, Pace faculty, and most importantly supporters and alumni like yourselves.”
It was time for the awards.
First up was Lesley Ma, the Global Chief Information Officer at Cadillac, who was presented with the Innovative Leadership award. This wasn’t Lesley’s first time at Seidenberg – she was one of our esteemed speakers at our Tech Leadership Series where she shared tips and advice with our students. On this evening, Lesley brought with her one of Cadillac’s virtual reality experiences, which was set up right outside the SIA reception space! Guests got to explore Cadillac vehicles in the virtual space and take them for a test drive (so to speak).
Thank you Lesley and Cadillac for all you have done for the Seidenberg School!
The second award was for Innovation in Fintech, and our honoree was Hank Hyatt, the Co-Chief Information Officer MS&Co. Global Head Fixed Income & Equity Electronic Trading IT at Morgan Stanley. As a Pace alum, Hank was already connected to what makes this University so special, and it was wonderful to have him back on campus to meet with the smart and ambitious students that his leadership has an impact on. Hank also coordinated additional sponsorship from consulting company MThree, which was fantastic. Thank you Hank!
Finally, we were delighted to honor NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital with the Innovation in Healthcare IT award. CIO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Daniel Barchi, was there to accept the award and share some of the exciting things that are taking place at one of the most innovative healthcare providers in the world. Like Lesley, this was not Daniel’s first time talking tech with the Seidenberg School: he was also on campus for the Tech Leadership Series and we also recently published an interview with him regarding NewYork-Presbyterian’s mission to revolutionize the healthcare IT industry.
Pace University PhD in Computer Science candidate Sukun “Luna” Li was awarded “Best Presenter” at the 2019 International Conference on Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Systems, which took place March 22-24 in Shanghai, China.
This conference discussed artificial intelligence, pattern recognition, and deep learning. Comprised of two sections – oral presentations and a poster session – the conference brings experts from around the world to present their research and share their discoveries. Luna was invited to give an oral presentation of her PhD research paper, titled “Feature Extraction Method of EEG based Biometrics”, and after giving an excellent presentation, was given the best presenter award.
Luna attributes her achievement to good advice and plenty of practice: “I think the reason I received the award because my research advisor, Dr. Sung-Hyuk Cha, told me a PhD student should not only be good at writing a paper, but also should spend more time on presentation. One of his requirements for me is presenting my research paper with passion and appeal, and I practice as much as I can,” she said.
Luna’s paper will go on to be published in the Conference Proceeding, which will be indexed by databases including Thomson Reuters, Inspec, El Compendex, and more.
“I am a very shy person on public speaking, especially for English (my second language),” Luna added. “But our school, Seidenberg, gave me a lot of chances to speak in public places, like the Finland and Austria trips for NYC design factory.”
Dr. Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University, said: “Luna’s achievement is testament to her talent and dedication as a student of Computer Science and a practitioner of Design Thinking. Her research work is incredibly detailed and she has developed truly stellar presentation skills with which to describe her work. Luna is a hard worker and is always willing to go the extra mile. She is a fine representative of the Seidenberg School and one we are very proud of having in our PhD program.”
Well, we at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University wanted to let you know that we have seats available for you! While it’s true that our “little” School has been growing steadily over the past five years, we have gone to lengths to ensure that there are classes at decent times, with great faculty, and in the hottest topics in tech, for our students to take.
In fact, one of the best things about the growth of the Seidenberg School, of our student body, and of the range of classes we offer – like our brand new Design Thinking and Innovation Class, our UX/IX classes, our cybersecurity courses, our algorithms and database courses, and much more – is that we are training more students than ever to enter an ever-growing workforce. Alongside the NYT’s article on a growing need for technology education are plenty of others about the increasing need for tech workers – for example, the November 14, 2018, article by Steve Lohr entitled “New York Is a Genuine Tech Hub (and That Was Before Amazon)” – and what does that mean? The more students we educate, the more we can address that need together.
So while many other universities across the USA may be at capacity, the Seidenberg School continues to welcome new students for our undergraduate degree programs in computer science and information systems, our master’s degree programs (with new programs in Data Science, Cybersecurity, and UX coming soon), and our prestigious PhD in Computer Science that continues to boost our research and innovation in cutting edge technology.
We welcome students from Manhattan to Mumbai, from Stamford to Senegal, from Tarrytown to Texas, and from California to Canada. Our students are smart, ambitious, scrappy, and entrepreneurial – and they will always have a place to call home at Pace University.
The fall semester may be coming to an end but the Seidenberg Tech Leadership Series is showing no sign of slowing down! Events are already being scheduled for the spring, but for the tail end of the fall semester we had a fantastic guest: Daniel Barchi, SEM, SVP, and CIO of Newyork-Presbyterian.
Testament to Daniel’s career and expertise was a great turnout of students who came to the Seidenberg School’s NYC campus the day before finals week. Despite escalating stress levels, around a hundred students stopped by to learn from our guest.
As with previous events, Daniel spent around an hour talking tech and leadership in conversation with Seidenberg Dean Jonathan Hill. Dean Hill quizzed the CIO about various aspects of his work, including the importance of technology in the healthcare industry, strategy, telemedicine and remote healthcare, and more.
One of the interesting remarks Daniel had was about technology’s importance regarding running a business. He said that he believed that running Newyork-Presbyterian – and other industries – successfully was built from a blend of “80% people, 15% process, 5% technology.”
“That 5% technology is important,” Daniel added, telling a story of how just that morning there had been a tech blackout in one of the locations his department serves. Despite technology just being a small part of the entire ecosystem, if that 5% goes down, the whole system fails – which is why Daniel and his staff work hard to get everything back up and running as quickly as possible. The people and process enable responses like that to happen.
“Technology is like an iceberg,” Daniel continued. “There’s only a tiny bit of an iceberg poking up out of the surface . . . as a technologist I need to make sure that bottom part is working well, out of sight and out of mind.”
As users, we tend to just care about the parts we interact with. “Everybody is focused on that 5% that’s above the surface,” Daniel said. Maintaining the larger 95% is what allows users to interact with systems without worry.
Dean Hill then asked about Daniel’s technology strategy.
“My job as the CIO is not about talking about the bits and bytes . . . it’s the strategy side of it . . . where do we invest our dollars, our resources, and our people.”
Part of the strategy is also developing new tech advancements. Daniel spoke at length about the cool things Newyork-Presbyterian was doing for medical staff and patients alike, including telemedicine initiatives like having physicians interact with patients over video calls and asking questions that got them to self-diagnose and allow the doctor to give treatment without being there in person.
Through this technology, Daniel revealed that physicians had “diagnosed three instances of appendicitis this month alone.”
Did he think computers would replace the need for human doctors entirely? “We think that the physician or nurse PLUS the computer is better.” Although artificial intelligence is getting to the stage where using computers to diagnose and treat medical issues is becoming more and more possible, the nuance of the human mind is a crucial aspect to identifying and understanding the small distinctions that differentiate between similarly presenting issues.
AI is a field with plenty of potential, not just in terms of technologically and career-wise, but financially too. “Artificial intelligence right now is like the gold rush in California was in 1849,” Daniel said. The key was to position oneself in the best place to capitalize from the technology. “Who made the money in the gold rush? The people who sold the picks and shovels.”
“What should these students be doing to prepare themselves for a career in this area,” Dean Hill asked.
“I’m a fan of people moving in their careers,” Daniel said. “If you think about your professors here who might have had a career in business and moved on to come here – people who have had training in one area can use their skills to move into another area.”
At the Seidenberg School and at Pace University, we always encourage our students to diversify what they learn. Knowing more than one area, and learning how to apply skills from one field into another, is what helps get jobs across different areas. Daniel affirmed that this was key to working in the tech sector today.
One area that is expected to remain current for the foreseeable future is cybersecurity.
“I’m always concerned about information security,” Daniel said. “We have about 8.5 million patient records . . . we have to keep it safe. There are always people that are trying to hack into our networks. You know better than most audiences that while we’ve been talking here we’ve probably had three penetration attempts into our systems.”
Daniel revealed that on the past weekend he had been in a long phone call when a hacker had attempted to penetrate their system with a version of the Wannacry virus – seven attempts in all – but the team managed to take care of it.
One of the last things Dr. Hill asked Daniel about was also related to security, but along a different vein. “Is privacy possible?” Dean Hill asked, “Or is the way the internet was built so open that perfect security is a pipe dream?”
Daniel replied with insights that many Pace students and internet users should pay attention to. “People make choices about what they put online . . . if going on vacation and posting where I am and pictures of myself is one end of the spectrum . . . banking online . . . is another end of the spectrum too.”
As users, we choose what we put online, whether it’s vacation location tagging on social media (that indicates our homes are currently empty) or our personal information on banking websites, investment accounts, and more.
“We can all make choices to make ourselves safer,” Daniel remarked.
But the truth is that the more we engage with the internet the more we put ourselves at risk.
The conversation closed up with a few final thoughts from Daniel. He encouraged students to go into careers doing things they loved, but if they could find ways to apply those passions to other areas, they could potentially excel. “If you love coding . . . for those of you who want to use it as a platform to do other things, I would encourage you to push the boundaries.”
Sharing one of his favorite quotes, Daniel illustrated his point.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage
We’d like to thank Daniel Barchi for his stellar appearance at the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Pace University. The Seidenberg Tech Leadership series is one of our top event series that puts our students in front of exceptional leaders in the industry, and Daniel’s genial presence was perfect for bringing calm before the end of the semester.
This year marks 35 years of the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems being an independent school at Pace University. Originally called the School of Computer Science and Information Systems, the school gained the Seidenberg name in 2005, when Ivan Seidenberg made a record-breaking donation to Pace University in support of his strong belief that all students should receive a tech education.
It’s only natural that, now, whenever Mr. Seidenberg stops by his namesake school, there’s a hint of celebrity in the air. As a top executive for much of his career, Ivan already cuts an impressive figure. However, his 2005 gift to Pace University has been hugely significant for many of our students, enabling them to attend the Seidenberg School as part of the Seidenberg Scholars program – so there is also a sense of gratitude among the excited whispers that there’s a famous celeb at Pace.
So it was no surprise that on Thursday, November 8, 2018, the Seidenberg Lounge at 163 William Street was packed. Students, faculty, and staff turned up in force to meet and hear Ivan speak about his fascinating career, his leadership, and his advice for the next generation of technology executives.
Not only was Mr. Seidenberg on campus to share his wisdom with the community, but we had a crate of volumes of his new book, Verizon Untethered: An Insider’s Story of Innovation and Disruption ready to be signed and shared with our students.
Our guest sat down with Jonathan Hill, Dean of the Seidenberg School, for a fascinating conversation before an audience that was bursting at the seams. After the introductions, the pair cut swiftly to the chase with Dean Hill’s first question – what can our students do to succeed in the workplace?
Ivan’s response was refreshingly honest. “When you go out in this world and you’re high maintenance, people will get rid of you,” Mr. Seidenberg said. “If you’re not a good teammate – you’re gone. Be a good teammate, be collaborative, be nice to work with . . . together you can do great things.”
One point our visiting tech leaders often make is the importance of working well with others, and here was Ivan Seidenberg himself iterating the same idea. He continued with a caution about letting one’s ambitions get in the way of relationships: “Even if you have great ambition, your ambition should not dominate those around you,” he said. “Realize that people are watching you all the time.”
He summed everything up with a list of his top three tips:
Know your stuff
Don’t be a pain (you are always being watched)
Don’t be afraid to take risks
“It’s okay to win, and it’s okay to fail,” he added, noting that he had always found that the harder the work was, the more engaged he got and the more engaged the people around him became.
“There’s a transition that folks do early in their career where they’re called upon to lead,” said Dean Hill. “In the book, you make the statement that leadership has less to do with the individual and more to do with the cultural norms . . . what should people do to cultivate leadership?”
Ivan replied: “I have one word that starts the whole process – accountability. When you’re personally accountable, you accept the responsibility of whatever you’re doing. It shows up in your language . . . accountability starts with your personal willingness to take control of the things you can control.”
He continued, listing two other crucial aspects of leadership: “Leadership is all about standards . . . those people who watch you . . . they watch how you do your work. Do you cut corners?” This was followed by the third facet, respect. “Leadership is also about respect – how you treat other people. Do you treat others as equal?”
And even when you’re in a position of power, what you think is right and correct doesn’t always mean it’s right and correct. To earn respect and trust, a good leader performs the job according to the needs of the people around them, rather than their own ideas. “It wasn’t what I thought was a good job, it was what the people around me thought was a good job.”
Leading by serving the needs of others may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s an effective technique.
Dealing with crises
“How do you deal with crises?” was Dean Hill’s next question.
“Never think it’s about you,” Ivan said. “You don’t face any challenges solo. Particularly in business, it’s got to be about partners. If you embrace that, you have the power of four eyes instead of two, four ears instead of two, two brains . . . and especially for you [students], you understand the power of scale.”
One of the keys in dealing with crises is coming at it head on: “It’s never a case of backing away from it, it’s about embracing it.”
Dean Hill brought up the next topic: mentorship. “In the book, you mention a lot of people who mentored you . . . how did you forge these relationships?”
Ivan responded with a story. He explained about how, when he retired in 2011, lots of people told him he should write a book. After thinking about it and deciding he’d like to give it a try, he spent a lot of time talking to people who influenced his life and his career, and listening to their stories. Those stories became the chapters of his book. “It’s an example of how the power of more than one creates a story,” he remarked.
He was then asked to define what a ‘win’ meant for him. “A win wasn’t necessarily more money, it was having a higher purpose,” he said, and continued with an example from his time at Verizon. Verizon wanted to provide unlimited bandwidth to its customers but was constrained by the capabilities at the time. The company still wanted to do something good for its customers, so they shifted perspective and came up with the goal of becoming the ‘best network’. Once they agreed on their higher purpose, they were able to start acting to make it happen.
It was a good time for Dean Hill’s next question: what are you most proud of?
“Beside my family?” Ivan quipped, smiling at his wife in the front row. “I think in business it’s very simple. When I retired, that was the first question I was asked. The most important contribution to me is that I look back at the company now and see that Verizon is stronger, more independent and more in control of its future. And that’s all I could ever ask for.”
Mr. Seidenberg went on to explain his belief that Verizon is in the position it’s in today because of the people. When he was CEO there, he made sure to manage and mentor the people who would maintain the quality of work that he believed in, even if they employ different styles. “That is the most important thing: to produce people who can achieve things their way.”
He also shared an anecdote offering an interesting perspective on 9/11. One of the less talked-about consequences of the events on that day included a huge hit to cellular service, which affected not only the stock market but individuals and emergency services who were desperately trying to get in touch with one another. Ivan, alongside his team at Verizon, set to reconnecting the country, working diligently to fix the service problems that were preventing people from finding out if their loved ones were okay and services like the fire service from communicating. “9/11 was one of our greatest services,” he told students, “not just for getting the stock market back up and running, but for getting the country back up and running.”
Looking to the future: it’s all about that 5G
“We’re entering the fourth industrial revolution,” said Dean Hill. “What excites you in technology right now?”
“In our industry, all roads lead to 5G. When you think of 5G from where you sit, it’s very cool – latency (the speed of the network) will soon be 50 times what it is today. 5G, coupled with sharper engineering, systems integration, and with IT capability across institutions, will completely change everything. Whatever component of this industry you’re interested in . . . connectivity, network, software systems, and applications – there’s no component holding back all the others. In the next 40 years, what will happen with all of this technology is that it’ll probably get even faster . . . the ability to make the world smaller and provide utility and good, it’s incomprehensible the kind of things that can be done.”
He added: “And I love where you are, you’re getting the kind of education that’ll put you right there.”
On that note, Dr. Hill asked: “what advice do you have for our students to maximize the opportunity of being in school now?”
“If I were the HR department and I was hiring people, I’d assume you’ll have a degree like everybody else. It’ll be a good degree coming out of Pace, but I’d want to know a few other things . . . I’d like the idea that you’ll have done a few collaboration projects for other people . . . I’d like to know that you fixed some programs for other people – having activity that isn’t part of your program.”
Having extracurricular work on one’s resume, especially that demonstrates hands-on experience, is never a bad thing. “Coming in with a resume of activity that fits what you do – it doesn’t have to be scientific, it can be that you like to work with others, you like to work with the scientific community . . . we love good grades, obviously, but we also like to know that you’re worthy of taking a risk on; someone’s got to invest in you.”
Finally, one should never underestimate the power of a smile, according to Ivan Seidenberg! “I love when you walk in the door and you smile . . . smiling is good, it can disarm people.”
Over to you
As time was trickling away too quickly, the Dean turned to the audience for questions. Here are a few of them with Ivan’s responses.
Q: What do you do now that you’re retired?
A: Lots! I participate on boards, invest in companies – including startups. I like investing in helping people to succeed
Q: If you were a college graduate today, would you pursue the same career or something different?
A: I’m only going tell you this cos you shouldn’t do what I did . . . I ended up leaving day school and going to night school. I ended up in the army because of that. I ended up overseas, somewhere I didn’t want to be, because I dropped out of day school. Then I ended up working at the phone company because I dropped out of day school . . . obviously it worked out! But I realized that over that time that I had to fit in, that I couldn’t be an outcast. I had to realize that the sun and the moon and the starts didn’t revolve around me. Sound familiar? What I would not change is the lessons I learned and how I applied them. But whether they would lead me down the same career could be different.
Q: What big risks did you take?
A: I came home and told my wife “we’re moving to Washington!” . . . that was the hardest sale I’ve ever had to make! The other one was when I chose to give up my job as CEO and become co-CEO. Most of the risks you take are personal. They’re not business risks.
Following the Q&A session, the event moved to the renovated collaboration space where a table had been set up for the book signing. Students lined all the way down the hallway for their chance to meet and shake hands with the Seidenberg School’s benefactor. A small celebration took place as the Seidenberg community thanked Mr. Seidenberg for the visit and for his honesty and depth during the discussion. Pace University President Marvin Krislov and Provost Vanya Quiñones also stopped by to greet our guest, and we were happy to see quite a few alumni return to their old stomping grounds for the occasion.