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Faculty Fellow Premieres New York Tech Live’s March Debut

January 9, 2020

Jonathan Goldman

Jonathan Goldman

Nader Vossoughian

Nader Vossoughian

The recipient of New York Institute of Technology’s first faculty fellowship,Jonathan Goldman, Ph.D., associate professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, will see the culmination of his fellowship come to life in the form of two events scheduled in March at 16 W. 61st St., 11th floor auditorium.

The Faculty Fellows Program, introduced in 2018 by Junius Gonzales, M.D., M.B.A., provost and vice president for academic affairs, provides full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members with leadership and administrative opportunities. Goldman was selected for the fellowship based on his proposal to develop a unique series of high-profile interdisciplinary multimedia events that bring together multiple speakers including faculty, students, and speakers outside the New York Tech community.

“Think of New York Tech Live! as taking the idea of TED Talks and adapting it to a more dynamic and interdisciplinary approach,” Goldman explains. “The series contributes to my goal of bringing academic scholarship to wider audiences. In my own work, I have done this through public lectures, non-academic publishing, and through performing and recording music. Now, my role will be to facilitate as our scholars introduce their work to our neighbors and to an online audience. I have always believed that universities should prioritize community engagement, should tell the community what they’re doing and why it matters.”

The first two New York Tech Live events inspired by that vision include:

  • West Side Story: How It Speaks to Us Now on March 11, 2020, 3 – 6 p.m.
    An interactive event featuring Esmeralda Santiago (author of When I Was Puerto Rican and Almost a Woman), Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Mike Wallace, and Grammy-nominated musician Bobby Sanabria, all of whom will discuss the monumental impact of the film on their lives and work, set in the context of New York City and urban planning for the Upper West Side. Organized and produced by Associate Professor Jonathan Goldman.
  • Cityskates: Skateboarding Culture & Urban Space on March 31, 2020, 5 – 8 p.m.
    New York City skateboarder and skate park designer Steve Rodriguez, English architectural historian and urban commentator Iain Borden, and Olympic skateboarding hopeful and architect Alexis Sablone will share unique points of view on how the skateboarding culture of the late 20th and early 21st centuries resonates in urban spaces and design around the world. Organized and produced by Associate Professor Nader Vossoughian, Ph.D.

Goldman recently spoke with The Box about how these events came about.

How did the topics of the first two events come about? How do they meet the goals you established for New York Tech Live?
I sent out a call for proposals to the entire faculty and formed a committee to review them. Numerous interesting ideas came our way, but Nader’s proposal on skateboarding, street art, and urban space jumped out. It really nails the philosophy behind the series—the idea that at New York Tech we are uniquely positioned to address issues that have academic and non-academic appeal, and incorporate a variety of approaches.

The West Side Story event ... Well, between the Broadway revival of the play and Steven Spielberg’s movie remake in the works, West Side Story is simply inescapable at the moment. That said, since its stage debut in 1957, it has never been out of the public consciousness. It has tremendous relevance, particularly in relation to immigrants and Latinx communities. Plus, the story is set, and the film was shot, right here in our backyard, Hell’s Kitchen, on the cusp of gentrification, as tenements were being razed to make room for Lincoln Center. It’s a no-brainer that we should tackle it. (By the way, in the movie, you can see buildings that were reduced to rubble and empty lots. In fact, the producers asked the New York City government to hold off on rebuilding the neighborhood while West Side Story was being filmed.)

How did you secure such an impressive roster of speakers and presenters?
A great deal of cold calling and some charm! I was delighted by the kind responses I got from important figures such as Esmeralda Santiago and Mike Wallace. Bobby Sanabria, too, though he’s something of a friend as I worked with him in the past and anticipated his interest in participating. I know Nader did some real wrangling, too, but our presenters are so passionate about their respective subject matter and were very receptive to being part of this.

How did others, like Associate Professor Vossoughian, at New York Tech come on board?
Nader saw the opportunity to do something different from the typical academic speaker/conference. He has exciting plans for the March 31 event. The West Side Story event will also include Sean Khorsandi, M.Arch. [adjunct instructor of architecture], who is an expert on West Side history, as well as two students, Gabriella Pinder and Quiana Dudley-Vegelante, who have done relevant research.

Why should people attend? Are there any key takeaways they can look forward to?
I think both events will be fascinating intellectually and, well, as entertainment. This is New York Tech putting its best foot forward, and I believe participating will be rewarding for students, faculty, and staff, as well as our neighbors. If nothing else, I guarantee that hearing Bobby speak is worth anyone’s time as he is one of New York’s great raconteurs.

How will New York Tech Live live on after these inaugural events? Will you still be involved?
I hope so! I think this is just the beginning, and we can build the series into a popular brand. I hope to have the chance to solicit more proposals from my colleagues, and I have my own ideas percolating.