A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorated the official opening of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College last night. Joining Hunter President Jennifer J. Raab in cutting the ribbon was special guest and keynote speaker Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, New York City Councilmember Dan Garodnick, CUNY Vice Chancellor of Facilities Iris Weinshall, and representatives from Ennead Architects, the firm who carried out the Roosevelt House restoration, also helped cut the ribbon.
“Surely, 49 East 65th Street is one of the most important houses of the modern era,” said the Secretary-General. “I am moved to stand where Franklin Roosevelt, Eleanor, and their children lived.”
Secretary-General Ban reminded the audience that FDR’s inspiration for what eventually became the United Nations occurred at Roosevelt House. “It is here that he foresaw a world characterized by ‘the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.’” The Secretary-General also celebrated Eleanor Roosevelt’s own U.N. legacy, including her role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (on the Bronx campus of Hunter College). “Of all the things Eleanor did, perhaps the one that resonates most with me is her deep personal commitment to equal rights for women and men,” he said.
Secretary-General Ban’s complete remarks can be read here: http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocus/sgspeeches/statments_full.asp?statID=1013
President Raab began the evening by calling Roosevelt House, which FDR’s mother built in 1908 as a gift for newlyweds Franklin and Eleanor, “the gift that keeps on giving.” She talked about the history of the House, the challenges of its renovation, and its new role as the home of the Public Policy Institute. Among the guests she thanked for their generous support were two with U.N. connections of their own:
Hunter alumna Rita Hauser, the sponsor of the Institute’s program in human rights, a personal mentee of Eleanor Roosevelt, and a former representative to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and William vanden Heuvel, former ambassador to the U.N. and founder of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. President Raab also thanked Hunter alumna Evelyn Lauder and her husband Leonard for their contribution of original prints of Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” posters to Roosevelt House.
“We at Hunter are so proud that after years of renovation and planning, Roosevelt House is once again an official part of Hunter College. As the new Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, it is a place where students, faculty, and the entire community can gather to learn, study, and discuss the major issues of the day — all in an incomparably beautiful and historic setting.
“The Institute is a tribute to the remarkable legacy of the House’s former occupants, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. The Roosevelts dedicated their lives to the principles of universal equality and opportunity — just as Secretary General of the U.N. Ban Ki-moon does today. We are so grateful to Secretary General Ban for his inspiring words at the ribbon cutting, and for helping us mark this truly historic occasion,” said President Raab.
Representative Maloney and Vice Chancellor Weinshall also spoke at the event, which drew a standing room only crowd of students, faculty, elected officials, other friends and members of the Hunter and CUNY communities, and even one member of the Roosevelt family itself – Georgia Delano, a cousin of FDR.