March 13, 2009
St. John’s students taking a class on leadership had an
unexpected chance to speak with one of America’s top leaders – the
Mayor of New York City himself.
The students met Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg while touring City Hall
as part of a leadership-building component of Discover New
York – a unique freshman course at St. John’s University that
uses New York City as a living classroom to explore the arts,
business, history and culture.
The winter tour was an opportunity for students to see the offices
of some of New York City’s most prominent leaders and learn the
history of one of the city’s greatest landmarks. The students also
had a chance to sit in on a City Council meeting during their
“Mayor Bloomberg welcomed St. John’s students to City Hall with
open arms,” said Eric Finkelstein, Associate Director of Residence
Life and professor of the Discover New York class. “He made it a
point to come over and engage in a short conversation with the
Professor Finkelstein said the experience overall was a great
lesson in leadership: “Trips like these really make the connection
between what students learn in the classroom and what happens in
the real world. Our guide told us it is unusual for a tour to get
to see the City Council in progress and having the opportunity to
speak to the Mayor is exceptional.”
Out-of-classroom experiences, like the visit to City Hall, are made
possible with the help of the University’s Learning
Communities (LC) program. Seeking to heighten the engagement
between students and faculty, the LC program coordinates trips
relevant to course content when requested by University
“Learning Communities are a resource for faculty members who want
to connect with students through outside the classroom experiences.
We assist faculty with the planning of trips that offer students
real-life examples of what they’re learning in class. The trip to
City Hall is a perfect example of students living what they learn,”
said Jacqueline Grogan, Director of the Learning Communities.
The students' visit to City Hall and encounter with Mayor Bloomberg
underscore the University's partnership with the Mayor's office.
The University recently earned praise from Mayor Bloomberg for its
leadership role in the
PLANYC 2030 Challenge – the mayor’s plan to reduce greenhouse
emissions by 30 percent in 10 years – which St. John’s accepted in
June 2007. The Mayor met with James P. Pellow Ed.D., Executive Vice
President and Chief Operating Officer of St. John’s, and other
local academic leaders on October 24, 2008, to bestow on St. John’s
the “gold star” for being the first city school to implement
strategic initiatives for greenhouse gas reduction.
The University’s relationship to city government is further
exemplified by its partnership with the New York City Department of
Homeless Services (DHS). St. John’s collaborated with DHS, an
independent Mayoral agency devoted to the reduction of chronic
homelessness in New York City, on several projects including the
Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) campaign,
Leadership and Career Academy and the newest initiative,
Advantage Academy at St. John’s.
The innovative Advantage Academy will provide education
and support services to individuals from homeless families and
equip them with the skills and confidence necessary to escape
To learn more about how St. John’s and New York City are working
together, please visit the Sustainability
Initiative and Discover New
York web pages.