“A Community of Scholars”
University Celebrates Faculty at Ninth Annual Author Luncheon
Faculty authors from across Touro College gathered to celebrate their accomplishments at the university’s ninth annual author luncheon on November 14. Taking place at the university’s executive offices in Midtown Manhattan, the event was a veritable who’s-who of impressive Touro faculty from across the university’s dozen schools in the New York area.
Each guest was offered a Touro emblazoned metal water bottle along with a dense compendium listing the hundreds of works published by Touro faculty members this year.
Bashe Simon, director of the Touro Libraries, opened the event.
"The library has become the nexus of sharing knowledge and research,” she began. “Since 2009 when the library initiated the Faculty Publications Database, the number of publications has grown tremendously. Presently, all submissions are archived in Touro Scholar, Touro's institutional repository. Touro Scholar provides the world with access to our faculty's research and scholarly achievements. The annual Faculty Publications book is the final product of a year's worth of teamwork, including Sara Tabaei, Library Information Literacy Director, Donneer Missouri, Scholarly Communication Librarian, and Esther Greenfield, Director of Publications. We thank Dr. Alan Kadish for his continuous support of the library and its initiatives.”
Touro College and University System President Dr. Alan Kadish discussed the Jewish tradition of scholarship and the codification of the Jewish oral tradition into the Talmud.
“Those texts have had a profound effect on Jewish history, and, in some cases, world history as well,” Dr. Kadish stated. “No one in this room can say at this moment how what they publish will impact the future. But we know for certain that not recording our scholarly activities is a mistake. Perpetuating and transmitting knowledge on all topics and all subjects is an integral part of the Touro College and University System’s mission.”
Touro College Provost Patricia Salkin spoke about one of her earliest research experiences.
“Still to this day, more than 20 years later, I remember where my research took me,” recalled Provost Salkin. “Touro is not a publish-or-perish institution, yet we know that it is critical to our mission and existence as an institution of higher education to contribute to the body of knowledge so society in all disciplines can advance. You, in this room, are the leaders and you set an example for your colleagues.”
Provost Salkin also spoke about Touro Scholar, the online repository of Touro-authored research. “Our online scholarly archive has been around for three years and has already amassed 5,559 publications. People in 189 countries have downloaded these publications 64,260 times. Further, since the inception of Touro Scholar, 4891 institutions world-wide have accessed our publications. Truly, this shows what Touro has to offer to the academic community at large.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Sonu Sahni, of TouroCOM Harlem, spoke about his success working with students and encouraging them to engage in research and publish their finding. Informally known as Sahni’s gang, the loose collective of Dr. Sahni’s students has published more than 35 abstracts in reputable journals as well as 20 full-length manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals. In addition, students in the group have delivered presentations at conferences throughout the US including at events held by the American Thoracic Society, The American College of Cardiology, the American Osteopathic Associations, and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.
Explaining his strategies, Dr. Sahni elaborated: “You can’t force a student to do research, but you can reach out to them. The most important thing is to create a nurturing environment that makes students comfortable. We have to be approachable to students.”
He recalled an instance where he guided a student who had never done research. The student was interested in cardiology and the two worked to find a suitable topic.
“Each week, we met one-on-one,” he said. “We took baby-steps and I encouraged her each step of the way.” Eventually, the student and Dr. Sahni co-authored an article that was published by the American Journal of Cardiology. “We can’t have our students conform to us,” said Dr. Sahni. “We have to be able to dynamically adapt to what they want.”
Dr. Soloman Amar, Touro’s Provost for Biomedical Research and Chief Biomedical Research Officer of Touro College and University System, concluded the event with a few brief remarks.
“Being an author can seem like a thankless job,” said Dr. Amar. “Most of the time you’re sitting by a computer and you rarely see the reward. But I can tell you there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a student’s name on pub-med.”
After the presentation concluded, the faculty authors mingled with each other and discussed their work.
“Events like this are opportunities for us to meet people,” said TouroCOM Middletown’s Dr. Joyce Brown who spoke to Dr. Sahni about the research her students were performing. “It also creates more opportunities for our students as well.”
“The more we network, the more we see what our colleagues are working on,” said Zvi Kaplan, department chair of history and social studies at Lander College for Women—the Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School and a professor at the Graduate School for Jewish Studies. “It creates a community of scholars.”