May 1, 2007 | News from the Chancellor, Speeches and Testimony
I am very pleased to welcome you all to this gala celebration. And we have a lot to celebrate.
First, we mark the conclusion of CUNY’s 4th Annual Disability Awareness Month, which featured 41 events across 19 campuses. As you know, The City University of New York is very proud of the historic role it has played in creating access and opportunities for students with disabilities in higher education.
Let me share with you a few facts about CUNY’s students with disabilities:
We take pride in several CUNY programs that are nationally recognized for their achievements in postsecondary disability services. They include:
We also take great pride in the members of CUNY’s world-class faculty who conduct cutting-edge research that dramatically improves the quality of life for people with disabilities. And we note as well that CUNY’s alumni with disabilities have distinguished themselves through their extraordinary professional accomplishments and community leadership; their stories, too, testify to the power of a CUNY education to transform lives.
It’s our job as educators to help make those stories unfold, to provide the academic and professional training that enables each and every CUNY student to maximize his or her potential and contribute to the lives of their families, neighbors, and fellow citizens. And that’s what leads me to another cause for celebration today.
For three decades, CUNY and VESID (Vocational and Educational Services) of the New York State Education Department have informally collaborated to promote higher education and employment opportunities for CUNY students with disabilities. And we’ve made a very good team.
Today, we are delighted to announce that our partnership will take a more structured identity. Our more formal relationship will bring $7.8 million to CUNY over the next three years, with the purpose of enhancing career development and job placement for CUNY students with disabilities. These funds will:
I want to emphasize how significant this agreement is, for the University and its students and for all New Yorkers. It’s a true cause for celebration. On behalf of CUNY, I thank everyone who has worked to make it possible, as well as everyone who has inspired it.
With us today to tell us more about this remarkable opportunity is an outstanding advocate for the rights of students with disabilities, and a great friend to CUNY. She is Dr. Rebecca Cort, Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education. Becky, welcome. It’s an honor to have you with us here this morning.
We are equally delighted to have with us this morning Regent Merryl Tisch. Merryl was appointed to the New York State Board of Regents in 1996, and re-elected to two five-year terms. Her extraordinary leadership was recognized by her colleagues on the Board, who elected her Vice Chancellor on April 1st of this year.
Regent Tisch brings to her appointment many years of leadership in the fields of education, community service, and philanthropy. She was appointed co-chair of the Board of Regents Committee on Continuing Education/Vocational & Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities and in this capacity, and has served as a staunch advocate for higher education opportunities for students with disabilities in New York State. Indeed, under her leadership, the Regents created the Task Force on Postsecondary Education and Disabilities, whose groundbreaking report has served as a blueprint for public policy and best practices for the expansion of higher education opportunities for students with disabilities in New York State.
While she scrupulously guards the rights and opportunities of students across our State, she has always had a special place in her heart for CUNY students with disabilities. One example: In 2003, a tip on a funding opportunity that Merryl passed on to CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor Allan Dobrin resulted in CUNY’s receipt of a five-year, multi-million grant from the Social Security Administration for a Youth Demonstration Project, through which Hostos Community and Lehman College provide crucial transitional services to disabled youth in the Bronx.
For her remarkable scholarship, leadership, and advocacy on behalf of educational opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities, CUNY is proud to honor Merryl Tisch with its Lifetime Achievement Award.