Queens College President James Muyskens announced today that he would retire on Dec. 31 after almost 12 years of exemplary service as the leader of the highly regarded 20,000-student senior college at The City University of New York. Muyskens, a philosopher, intends to resume teaching during the 2014-2015 academic year.
At the recommendation of Interim Chancellor William P. Kelly, the Board named Dr. Evangelos Gizis as interim president. A biochemist with a specialty in food science, Gizis has previously served as interim president of Hunter College, Hostos Community College and Borough of Manhattan Community College and as provost of Queens College.
The board authorized a national search for Muyskens’ successor, with the goal of selecting a new president to start in Fall 2014. Board Vice Chairperson Philip A. Berry, a Queens College alumnus, will lead the search committee, which also includes trustees, a CUNY college president, faculty, students, alumni and others.
CUNY Board Chairperson Benno Schmidt said: “The University is profoundly grateful to President Muyskens, who has reshaped the college by hiring more than 300 full-time professors, who have brought both breadth and depth to instruction and research. At the same time, he has increased access to the college, significantly elevating Queens College’s status in the higher education marketplace.”
Interim Chancellor Kelly stated: “President Muyskens has led Queens College with grace and skill throughout his 12-year tenure. He has been a leader of the first rank, an inspirational guide for the college and its students. Queens College and The City University of New York are much in his debt.”
Under Muyskens’ tenure, Queens College’s stature rose. Washington Monthly ranked the college second in the nation, after Amherst, as the “Best Bang for the Buck.” The Princeton Review’s Best 378 Colleges book ranked Queens second in the “Lots of Race/Class Interaction” category, reflecting how frequently and easily students from different class and ethnic backgrounds mix with one another.
In addition, a 2011 analysis of 1,200 four-year colleges by Education Trust, a research and advocacy group, commended Queens College as one of five colleges that excel in serving low-income students. The others were CUNY’s Baruch College; the Fullerton and Long Beach campuses of California State University; and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Muyskens undertook an updating of the college’s undergraduate general education curriculum and introduced new programs including business administration, neuroscience, graphic design and bioinformatics. He expanded the Education Abroad Program. He also introduced the “Year Of” initiative to expand students’ awareness of the world’s diversity; the campus spends a year examining the history, art and culture of a different country; it began with China in 2010 and progressed through Turkey, India and, this year, Brazil. Under his aegis, the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding has become a forum that students praise for addressing difficult issues through dialogue and interaction.
Among improvements to the physical plant under his administration are construction of The Summit student residence, a $67 million public-private partnership built without public funds that won LEED Gold certification; the $65 million renovation of Powdermaker Hall, the main classroom and laboratory building, to provide state-of-the-art technology; a $42 million renovation and expansion of Remsen Hall, which now houses new chemistry laboratories; and extensive renovations of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts.
Muyskens, a graduate of Central College in Iowa, earned a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Michigan. He began his career at Hunter College, rising from assistant professor to professor of philosophy. He served as chair of Hunter’s Department of Philosophy and as associate provost and acting provost. He spent seven years as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas before serving as senior vice chancellor for academic affairs of the 34-campus University System of Georgia. His publications include two books, The Sufficiency of Hope and Moral Problems in Nursing: A Philosophical Investigation, as well as many articles about the philosophy of religion and ethics.
About The City University of New York:
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health. The University serves more than 270,000 degree-credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. Nearly 3 million unique visitors and 10 million page views are served each month via www.cuny.edu, the University’s website.
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