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University remembers Sept. 11 by helping with recovery

By Jennifer Greenstein Altmann
Last December, Princeton announced a set of programs designed to help people affected by Sept. 11 and to support New York City's renewal and recovery.

As the one-year anniversary of the tragedy approaches, those initiatives have resulted in the awarding of 10 scholarships at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, grants for Princeton faculty and students to study issues related to the events of Sept. 11, a program this fall at Blairstown for the families of victims and a project that has exposed more than 10,000 youngsters to the arts. The University committed a total of $1 million to the programs.

John Jay scholarships

Princeton founded a scholarship program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City to honor the memory of the 67 public service heroes of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center who received academic training at the college. Ten students were selected during the summer as the first recipients of the Justice Scholarship.

Each scholarship winner will enroll in two courses specifically designed to prepare them for an independent research study related to the criminal justice/public service field. Student research will be published in a journal produced by John Jay College.

Winners were selected for their academic achievement and their documented interest in public service. They will receive a $2,000 scholarship annually that is renewable each academic year. The funds are to be applied to educational expenses and to support undergraduate research. In addition, students who complete independent research that is approved by the faculty during their senior year will be awarded an additional $1,000 toward graduate school.

John Jay offers baccalaureate degrees in fields ranging from criminal justice, international criminal justice and police studies to fire science, forensic science and security management. It also offers several master's programs and a doctoral program in criminal justice. Undergraduate tuition for in-state students is $1,600 per semester. While its students may qualify for federal and state aid programs, John Jay has very few scholarship funds of its own.

Five scholarships were awarded to members of the incoming class and another five to currently enrolled students. The recipients were selected by a committee made up of John Jay College faculty members and administrators. (For a complete list of recipients, see the news release.)

Support for expertise and research

A second program was set up to provide funds to support faculty and staff who can contribute special expertise to New York's renewal, rebuilding and recovery, and to support graduate and undergraduate research related to the attacks.

Two faculty members Erik VanMarcke, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Guy Nordenson, associate professor of architecture have received funds to undertake a study of design concepts and parameters affecting the resistance of tall structures to extreme conditions such as wind storms, earthquakes, fires and accidental or terrorist blasts. Assisting them is Mark Dobossy, a graduate student in the civil and environmental engineering department, who is helping create the computer models being used in the study.

"After the attacks of Sept. 11, the question of buildings' resistance to extreme natural, accidental and other hazards is of increased importance," the two faculty members wrote in their research proposal. "Though it is clear that no building can be expected to withstand the magnitude of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers, there are important lessons to be learned from both their resistance to the enormous impact loads they were subjected to, and their collapse due to fire damage to the structure."

The team is studying the Deutsche Bank building, located near the World Trade Center, which was damaged but not destroyed by the terrorist attack. Explained Nordenson, "Working from my experience at the World Trade Center site looking at damaged buildings and VanMarcke's work with probability and statistics, we are trying to find a way of generalizing about structural loading on buildings."

The research will be completed in the fall of 2002, and the faculty members will produce a report on their findings next January.

Laura Kurgan, assistant professor of architecture, received a contribution from the University last winter to help fund the production of a memorial map for the area around Ground Zero. The map, created with the help of two recent graduates and a current student in conjunction with several community groups in lower Manhattan, was designed to orient visitors and to provide basic information about the site to facilitate reflection and remembrance.

Arts Alive

More than 10,000 youngsters from schools affected by the attacks attended Broadway shows such as "The Phantom of the Opera," "Aida" and "The Lion King," took in performances by the American Ballet Theatre and Blue Man Group, and visited museums that included the Rose Center Planetarium, The Museum for African Art and The American Museum of the Moving Image as part of the Arts Alive program.

In all, students from 82 schools in every borough of New York City took part in nearly 200 live arts and cultural experiences last spring, along with Princeton students who volunteered to join the youngsters.

Kate Schlesinger '04, who helped organize the volunteers, said the students that she met were thrilled because many had never seen a performance on Broadway before. "It was really rewarding to know that you were doing something that got them so excited," she said.

Schlesinger was one of the nearly 200 Princeton students who accompanied the school children. Student participation was coordinated through the class of 2004 and the student Performing Arts Council, which represents a broad range of student performing groups at Princeton.

Before attending Broadway shows or other live performances, the students went to one of the 32 educational workshops developed by the Princeton students to get them acquainted with the themes of the pieces they were seeing. Students with tickets for the opera "Carmen," which was sung in French, talked about how to appreciate an artistic performance in another language. The youngsters were given the assignment of acting out a scene without using language, and their peers had to guess what was going on by reading their body language and facial expressions.

Those students seeing "Into the Woods," a re-interpretation of traditional fairy tales, had to create their own fairy tales from a unique perspective, such as retelling the story of Goldilocks from the perspective of one of the bears.

"The students loved interacting with the Princeton students," said Laura Tichler, program coordinator for HAI, a New York City-based not-for-profit organization that implemented the Arts Alive program with Princeton. "The workshops really served to enhance their experience of the performance itself."

Enough funds remain from the University's $1 million commitment to permit continuation of the Arts Alive program during the upcoming fall semester. This year's program will involve students from schools in New Jersey as well as New York City, and New Jersey performing arts venues such as the Newark Museum, Liberty Science Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center are likely to be included. Student volunteering will continue to be coordinated by the class of 2004, which will make a strong effort to involve members of the freshman class.

Princeton-Blairstown Center

The University is sponsoring a program at the Princeton-Blairstown Center this fall for families directly affected by the Sept. 11 attacks. The program, to be held Sept. 12 and 13, will work with family members on coping techniques and family communication skills as well as offering grief and trauma counseling.

Between 10 and 15 families will be invited to stay overnight at the center, where they will participate in hiking excursions, canoeing and wilderness challenges. "We teach through experiential learning," explained Angelique Grant, director of development at the center. "For instance, if there's something you're afraid of, maybe you'll talk about it in a group setting or during a high ropes course."

The outdoor experiences help participants figure out their skills and abilities and teach them to work with a group, said Hendricks Davis, the center's executive director. "If you take people out of their urban environment and put them in a natural setting in the wilderness, they strip away the routines of life and get to the essential things," he said. "I've seen a lot of healing and transformation occur in young people and adults when they come out here and tap into something that's very natural."

The program also will set aside part of the time as a period of remembrance. And the families will be invited to return in the spring for another two-day program so counselors can follow up with them and provide additional support.


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