Broadway Legend Chita Rivera Receives CCNY Alumni Finley Award

Chita Rivera, the legendary Broadway star and two-time Tony Award-winner, will receive the John H. Finley Award from The Alumni Association of The City College of New York, November 7. Photo credit: Laura Marie Duncan.

Townsend Harris Medals Presented to Seven at November 7 Annual Dinner

Legendary Broadway star and two-time Tony Award-winning actress Chita Rivera will receive the 66th John H. Finley Award from The Alumni Association of The City College of New York at the association’s 133rd Annual Dinner, Thursday, November 7, at The New York Hilton. In addition, seven City College alumni with receive the Townsend Harris Medal at the dinner.

About Chita Rivera
Actress Chita Rivera has appeared in some of the most iconic productions on Broadway, beginning with her debut in “Call me Madam” at age 17. She rose to stardom with her electric performance as the fearless Anita in the Broadway premiere of “West Side Story” in 1957. Later, she burnished her reputation with starring roles in the original productions of  “Chicago,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “The Rink,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and more.

Along the way, she picked up Tony Awards for her performances in “The Rink” (1984) and “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1992). In 2002, she became the first Latina to receive a lifetime achievement award from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 2009, President Obama awarded Ms. Rivera the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The accolades continue. Earlier this month, the stars came out on Broadway to honor Ms. Rivera. The event, “Chita: A Legendary Celebration” at the August Wilson Theatre, raised more than $400,000 for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Named for CCNY’s third president, the award honors deserving New Yorkers for exemplary service to the city. Ms. Rivera joins a list of Finley Award honorees that includes: actor and activist Harry Belafonte (2002); playwright Terrence McNally (2006); actress, writer and activist Ruby Dee (2007); television journalist Barbara Walters (2008), and actors F. Murray Abraham (2009), Eli Wallach and Marian Seldes (both in 2010).

The Townsend Harris Medal, named for City College’s founder, recognizes outstanding postgraduate achievements. This year’s Medalists are:

  • Anita Altman, ’67 Social entrepreneur and city planner who has championed programs for the disadvantaged. She mobilized a Jewish response to family violence and developed a broad array of services for people with disabilities, among other causes.
  • Maurice Bluestein, ’62ME Renowned university professor and co-developer of the wind chill temperature chart used by the U.S. and Canadian weather services. He also authored a noted thermodynamics textbook for engineering technology students.
  • Sid Davidoff, ’60 As special assistant to Mayor Lindsay, he handled everything from student riots to community issues. He is a founding partner of the law and lobbying firm now known as Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron.
  • Gerald Eskenazi, ’59 Acclaimed sportswriter who generated more than 8,000 bylines in a distinguished 47-year career at “The New York Times.” He has written 16 books, taught journalism at St. John’s and Adelphi universities and lectures widely on the media.
  • Albert Macovski, ’50EE Recipient of approximately 160 U.S. patents, primarily in diverse fields of imaging. His research made color television commercially available and contributed to advances in ultrasonic imaging, computerized tomography, radiography and magnetic resonance imaging.
  • Fred Schwartz, ’53 Retired founder of The Fur Vault Inc., now engaged in social entrepreneurship. He founded the Auschwitz Jewish Center Synagogue in Poland and initiated the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation to train government officials worldwide in genocide prevention.
  • Jonathan Woodson, ’77 assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and director, TRICARE Management Activity. He serves as principal advisor to the secretary of defense for health issues and is responsible for administering the Military Health System budget, which exceeds $50 billion.

Lillias White, ’78, award-winning actress and singer, and a 1999 Harris Medal recipient, will present the Townsend Harris medals. Anne M. Mancuso, ’75, president of the Alumni Association, will emcee the event. City College President Lisa S. Coico will be the guest speaker. In addition, the Alumni Association will present more than 60 scholarships and cash awards to deserving CCNY students.

Tickets for the dinner, which cost $178 per person, are available through the
Alumni Association office at (212) 234-3000. The New York Hilton is located at 54th Street and Avenue of the Americas, Manhattan.

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin L. Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership.

Set on a striking, 35-acre hilltop campus in upper Manhattan, CCNY has produced more Nobel laureates than any other public institution in the United States. The College has been touted as one of America’s Top Colleges by Forbes, one of the Best Colleges in the United States as well as one of the Best Value Colleges by the Princeton Review, and ranks among U.S. News’ top regional universities.


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