CUNY Chancellor Champions Community Colleges In Keynote Address at LaGuardia Community College Commencement

In his first commencement address since becoming Chancellor of The City University of New York, Dr. Matthew Goldstein used his keynote speech today at LaGuardia Community College’s 27th annual commencement to champion the vital role community colleges play in CUNY’s and the nation’s educational system.

Proclaiming that CUNY is in the “global knowledge business,” Dr.Goldstein challenged students, faculty and administrators to make CUNY a national model for public higher education in the 21st century.

“Community colleges will be a central component in that model,” said Dr. Goldstein, the first-ever CUNY graduate (CCNY ’63) to serve as the University’s Chancellor. “Their mission in the new millennium will be to continue to provide an opportunity at an empowering education at a low cost. Like many CUNY colleges, LaGuardia has been exceptionally successful in doing this.”

Dr. Goldstein, who took the helm of the nation’s largest urban public university on September 1, spoke before a crowd of 4,000 graduates, family members, faculty and staff at The Theater at Madison Square Garden at 11:30 am. After thanking retiring LaGuardia President Raymond C. Bowen for his 10 years of dedicated service to the college, Dr. Goldstein further discussed the role of community colleges in America’s educational life.

In recent interviews, Dr.Goldstein has indicated the University’s need to create academically strong “flagship programs” at several CUNY campuses, find new ways to generate government and corporate funding, and make it easier for community college students to move on to senior colleges.

“This is an area we need to target more closely, especially easing the transition from CUNY’s two-year schools to its four-year schools,” Dr. Goldstein said to the delight of the assembled LaGuardia graduates. “Too many CUNY students have had difficulty in transferring to a CUNY senior college. This must end! The central administration at CUNY must ensure that the University’s policy on articulation is strictly enforced.”

Dr. Goldstein also pointed out that many community college students pursue their education well beyond the Associates’ Degree level.

“Community colleges like LaGuardia prepare students to earn degrees at four-year institutions. They are highly effective in providing such a gateway: students who graduate and go on to baccalaureate programs do just as well as four-year students in occupational status, lifelong earning, job stability and satisfaction, and employment rates.”

Dr. Goldstein ended his keynote remarks by quoting from his own 1963 City College keynote commencement speaker — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children.”