Ode to a D:F/M Legacy

Peter Parisi: Self Anointed Chaperone for the Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism

Peter Parisi

It was several years ago that Colleague Peter Parisi, inspired by a muse yet to be understood or identified – but I have suspicions that it is as old as time itself – emailed our D:F/M Colleagues that he had decided that the WORD, a collaborative creation between me and my students, and a primary teaching tool, awarded several grants from the College, the FORD Foundation and others, with a stellar reputation and track record for helping students with career decisions, was passé and that it was time for the department to support the Hunts Point Express which had been started by Colleague Bernard Stein.

I still have my copy of the Parisi email.


It was  Colleague Peter Parisi who tried to block the appointment of Pulitzer Prize Winning Colleague Bernard Stein to D:F/M a few years before he subsequently wrote his email praising the Hunts Point Express, which was having  problems at the time and still does. With the help of a savvy Colleague, whose name won’t be mentioned here but who can be seen walking his doggie, picture right, Parisi’ effort  was a last second gambit to thwart the finishing touches for Stein’s appointment.

D:F/M Chair Jay Roman, when we were on speaking terms, before the start of the grading and grade appeal ethical morass, directed me to write a letter to the folks on 17th floor of Hunter East to foil – and it did – the Parisi-ian Gambit.

It was a few years earlier (before Stein came on board) that Parisi lied to an audience at an Aronson Awards ceremony in the Lang Auditorium, stating that the WORD was a department project. I was in the audience, and, after considering options, decided not to storm the stage.

Pulitzer Prize Winning Essayist Stein

Bernard Stein

Nor shout colorful expletives expressing contempt for his manhood or his heritage or his lack of academic collegiality let alone academic integrity. Nor hurl items at him on stage as if he was a barbarian making heretical comments to an unsuspecting audience.

Instead, I exited discreetly. And, of course, stop contributing time and effort to his Aronson Awards vanity project that was bumbling and stumbling, in my opinion, in the direction of of ignominy and mediocrity. I was certain of the doomsday prophecy. But I underestimated the power of D:F/M Chimera, which can fuel delusions beyond the imaginations of most mortals.

Here are two pipsqueak anecdotes of the influence of D:F/M Chimera.

One, the Chair said at a faculty meeting this semester that student enrollment was up. Everyone in the room knew that student enrollment was down and that it had been decreasing for years. No one commented on the debauched image of the department because of such public disclosures as the sacking of the D:F/M undergraduate Internet network, the best at the City University of New York, and the abuse of its system administrator.

The Chair was also publicly exposed for coercing staff members to feed the parking meters where he parked his car. And, of course, the issue of the phony Violence in the Workplace Complaints being filed only against African Americans in the department. More about this later.

Two, I once received an email from the Chair saying that members of the Policy and Budget Committee believe that enrollment for the department majors, media studies and film, was down because of the reputation of  my news writing classes for being difficult. I was asked to consider not teaching the introductory writing class that semester. More about this later. Chimera in D:F/M cannot be denied and shouldn’t ever be underestimated as I had done.

At a department meeting a while back, when some Colleagues made clear their consternation over my snaring a Ford Foundation grant to experiment with a multimedia ethnic journalism project, Parisi said that the FORD funding should be used to support his online journalism course. Truly moronic and not untypical for Parisi. More about this later. But, again, I didn’t ravage his mind or his soul and definitely not his body.

I responded in a sober manner that what he was proposing violated the contract agreed upon by the College and the University with FORD. The Chair had signed off after I  ambushed him  in an area I staked out on the fifth floor of Hunter North because he had ignored numerous emails about us getting together so that I could get his signature to finalize the FORD grant as the deadline was closing in. I believe, and told an assistant dean, that I believed he was trying to sabotage my getting the grant.

These Parisi-ian gambits help put light on the department’s depraved, academic descent, and their recounting stimulate recollections of other crazed moments in the Department. This blog post was inspired by comments at the May faculty meeting, the last one of the semester, about Parisi’s shepherding the James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism and how it benefitted the Department. At the same meeting, Colleagues were told that the Department would have to fight for Parisi’s line now that he had retired, that there was the eminent treat that the Administration would take back the full-time position and give it to another department.

And at that meeting, I and several Colleagues learned that the Department had lost another line a while back when Colleague Arnold Gibbons pulled the plug and his line was taken away by the Administration and promised to another department. And there’s more. Promises of funding and special considerations that had been promised by the 17th floor are no more.

More about all of this later.


Send Peter Parisi a message so that James Aronson can stop turning over in his grave.

Send Peter Parisi a message so James Aronson can stop turning over in his grave.


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