Iona University Fosters Open Dialogue Ahead of Midterm Elections

Rob Astorino, Joe Stabile, Dr. Jeanne Zaino and Noam Bramson

From left: Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Joe Stabile, Ph.D., Jeanne Zaino, Ph.D., and New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson.

Iona University recently welcomed New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson and former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino – a Democrat and Republican, respectively – to discuss the biggest political issues ahead of the November elections. “Beyond the Red & Blue Divide,” a forum attended by over 50 students on November 2, also included candid audience questions, fostering open dialogue and civic engagement on campus.

Dr. Jeanne Zaino, an award-winning political science professor and Bloomberg News political contributor, moderated the discussion. As the author of “American Democracy in Crisis: The Case for Rethinking Madisonian Government,” Zaino’s critical understanding of the political and civil unrest within America helped lead the discussion between the two politicians.

Astorino and Bramson deliberated on topics ranging from the media’s influence on the current political landscape to hotly debated issues such as gun control and abortion.

Despite their differences, Bramson emphasized it was important to understand contrasting points of view, saying: “We need to remind each other of the fact that it is a good thing [to have different opinions], and we should go out of our way to be exposed to competing points of view, even if they may make us uncomfortable. Because it's only through challenging your views that you become more confident that you really have the right perspective.”

Astorino said that despite their political disagreements, their relationship serves as a model for respectful discourse. “Noam and I have clashed, but we're friends,” said Astorino, who is also a former candidate for New York governor. “I think when you have an opponent, not an enemy, there's a big difference. If you look at somebody as the enemy, you'll do anything to defeat them. But if it's an opponent, it's treated as respectful.”

Founded in 1940, Iona University is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of more than 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona students enjoy small class sizes, engaged professors and a wide array of academic programs across the School of Arts & Science; LaPenta School of Business; NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences; and Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Iona is widely recognized in prestigious rankings, including The Princeton Review’s 2024 national list of “The Best 389 Colleges” and The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse’s “2024 Best Colleges in America,” which ranked Iona at #66 in the nation overall and #8 in the nation among Catholic schools. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is also accredited by AACSB International, a recognition awarded to just six percent of business schools worldwide. In addition, The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2023.” Iona also offers a fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, which is now principally located on Iona’s Bronxville campus in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian. Connecting to its Irish heritage, the University also recently announced it is expanding abroad with a new campus in County Mayo, Ireland. A school on the rise, Iona officially changed its status from College to University on July 1, 2022, reflecting the growth of its academic programs and the prestige of an Iona education.