CPS Celebrates New Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiatives

Dean Katia Passerini, middle, said entrepreneurship is an important part of St. John’s.


Dean Katia Passerini, middle, said entrepreneurship is an important part of St. John’s.

Beverly Danquah, Features Editor

On Friday, College of Professional Studies administration, advisors, faculty, graduate assistants and students gathered to celebrate the naming of the Steve Farella Innovation Lab and the Joseph and Ellen Tufano Lab. There was also the presentation of the Prof. Sumitra Janokar Shah Memoir Scholarship.

The innovation lab was dedicated in the name of Steve Farella, a ‘77 St. John’s alum and an influential entrepreneur in the media agency space. Principal of VFL Investment & Advisory, Chair of the CPS Advisory Board and CPS Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award recipient, Farella was the founding CEO of MPG Media, now known as Havas Media.

“Innovation is the key to many things. It will differentiate you, not just your business, and differentiate your team,” Farella said upon receipt of the honor. “[Innovation] will give you a sense of ownership and pride, it will help you make a mark in the world and can help you succeed.”

The St. John’s University CPS Lab Control Office was dedicated to SJU alum Ellen Tufano, a CPS Faculty member since 1998, and her husband Joseph Tufano, who joined the University in 2012 as Vice President and CIO.

Dr. Ellen Tufano is a former associate dean and associate professor in the Division of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Science. She is currently an adjunct professor of computer science. During Joseph Tufano’s tenure, St. John’s was ranked in Intel’s Top 10 Unwired colleges.

“These spaces are such a wonderful addition to the college and provide outstanding learning opportunities for our students,” Ellen Tufano said. “My personal bonds with the college remain strong and I intend to keep them that way. I hope to find ways to give back to the University.”

Father Michael Cummings blessed the centers before the ribbon cutting ceremony led by Dean Passerini.

“These innovation labs are showing that the university is really investing in innovation and entrepreneurship,” Dean Passerini said. “With the Tobin College of Business, we are also working on a masters program for entrepreneurship and innovation. It’s the start really of a focus on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship at St. John’s”

Dean Passerini said the new labs will serve as a space for collaboration for students and that some courses which focus on design thinking and innovation can use the space for research purposes and to assemble.

“[This space] is for many different majors from sports management to entrepreneurship and mass communications,” she said. “We have an opportunity to integrate design thinking and innovation inside the curriculum to different majors.”

Dean Passerini said she’s looking forward to seeing students make use of the space and to seeing all of the ideas that are produced as a result of the new resources available.

“At the end of the day, innovation and entrepreneurship are about generating new ideas and solving new problems,” she said.

Late Prof. Sumitra Janorkar Shah’s husband, Shashi K. Shah, presented the eponymous scholarship to senior student Chelsea Coote. A Communication Arts major with a concentration in Advertising and a minor in Business Administration, Coote was a finalist of last year’s Pitch Johnny contest. Her pitch, a subscription box called Unibox, has placed her on an entrepreneurial quest to make a positive social impact.

“Unibox is a subscription box for college students, personalized for each student,” Coote said. “There are subscription boxes for cooking, clothing, perfume, accessories, but none geared toward college students and their needs.”

Coote is looking forward to participating in this year’s Pitch Johnny contest.