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December 2001

An Integrated City University Responds to the WTC Crisis

Bold, High-Tech TV Magazine Invites "Study with the Best"
NYC Past in Full Array At Inaugural History Festival
CUNY Community Colleges: Vital to City Economy
Arthur Miller Drops Back In for Finley Award at CCNY Dinner
Archaeologists Research Vikings
Faculty Experts Join Collaboration on World Trade Center Future
New Research Foundation Head
Asthma Initiative at BCC Registers Major Success
Oysters Reintroduced to Bay
York Grad Makes Naval History
Managing the 9/11 Crisis at BMCC
Hunter Cartographers Prepare Vital Ground Zero Maps For Rescue
CCNY’s Rosenberg/Humphrey Interns Continue Public Service Tradition
City Tech Prof Sheds Light on Titanic
New Device for Medical Diagnonis
Mina Rees, Pioneering Military Scientist
Annual Perspectives Nears 25th Anniversary
University to HIV Children: “Toys (and Lots Else) Are Us”
 
 
Arthur Miller Drops Back In
For Finley Award at CCNY Dinner


Award Recipient
Miller with Alumni Association President Hon. Richard Goldberg, left, and President Gregory Williams. Photo, Kelly Irwin

The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds come home to roost, "Arthur Miller once observed—a highly appropriate image for the gala 121st Annual Dinner of the City College Alumni Association on October 3 at the Marriott Marquis in Midtown.

The image applies particularly to the seven CCNY graduates who were returning to their campus home to enter the ranks of the Association's Townsend Harris Medalists, but also to Miller himself, who was present to receive the Association's prestigious John H. Finley Award. For it so happens that the nation's most distinguished living playwright was a bird of extremely hasty passage at City College back in 1932, about which he reminisced poignantly in his acceptance remarks.

The Finley Award, which has been given annually for more than fifty years, honors CCNY's third president (1903-1913), who vigorously encouraged service to the community as the first principle of good citizenship. The Award is made to an individual or individuals for exemplary service to the City of New York. The first recipients in 1948 were the Rockefeller family, and in succeeding years it has been conferred on such figures as Robert Moses, Roy Wilkins, Philip Johnson, Abe Beame, Beverly Sills, and the real estate magnates Lewis and Jack Rudin. Miller was introduced by Eli Wallach, a frequent actor in his plays and the holder of a City College Masters in Education (°38). "Once, during the intermission of his play, All My Sons, I couldn't get out of my seat I was so moved," Wallach recalled.""He repeated that trick at the greatest play I have seen, Death of a Salesman. . . .We are proud that so many of your works took root in your home town, New York City." When Miller reached the podium, he offered the following fond memory of his severely abbreviated college career (he later attended Michigan University):

My connection with City College was remarkably brief! It was 1932, I believe. They wrote and told me that I was going to be taking physics, chemistry, and mathematics—none of which I ever had a prayer of learning. At the time I was working at a warehouse on 68th Street, near where Lincoln Center is now, and I was living way at the other end of Brooklyn. So, by the time I got to my classes I was sleeping. This lasted three weeks.

But I do have great regard for City College, especially in the library where I sat—or rather I tried to sit but never did get a seat. Along the wall, students—night school students, by the way—were standing as if they were in the subway, holding their books in one hand and with the other taking notes. That eagerness for learning impressed me, even though I myself couldn't participate for more than three weeks. I really envied those people with the determination I just didn't have.

Still, it was a beautiful time of my life, and much later, in the 70s, I went up to City College to view a production of mine called A View from the Bridge, which was being done by a group of students. The Eddie Carbone character was played by a Korean; his wife was Jewish; the young people were all Chinese. The cast was terrific—and not one resembled the other! I thought it was inspiring.
So I am particularly touched by this award, which comes from a unique institution. I don't think anything like it exists anywhere else, and I hope it will continue for a long time introducing students to higher learning.