“We Chose CUNY”

June 6, 2014 | The University

In his first week as the head of The City University of New York, Chancellor James B. Milliken addressed graduates at four CUNY commencement exercises, telling them to be true to their principles but open to the changing future.

Chancellor James B. Milliken congratulates a graduate at Hostos Community College commencement exercises on June 3.  Hostos President Felix V. Matos Rodriguez is at left.

Chancellor James B. Milliken congratulates a graduate at Hostos Community College commencement exercises on June 3. Hostos President Felix V. Matos Rodriguez is at left.

On Tuesday, June 3, Chancellor Milliken traveled to Hostos Community College in the South Bronx to attend the morning commencement ceremony honoring the diverse class of graduates that included single mothers, immigrants and veterans. By late afternoon, he was headed to Lincoln Center in Manhattan to attend commencement exercises for master’s and doctoral candidates of the CUNY Graduate Center.

Chancellor James B. Millliken greets students at the Graduate Center’s 50th Commencement at Avery Fisher Hall, June 3.

Chancellor James B. Millliken greets students at the Graduate Center’s 50th Commencement at Avery Fisher Hall, June 3.

The  Chancellor also spoke at commencement ceremonies for LaGuardia Community College on June 5 and Macaulay Honors College on June 6.

At Hostos, which has seen remarkable growth in recent years, Milliken spoke to graduates from a class of nearly 900 students, one of the largest graduating classes in the college’s history. The Chancellor said he and the graduates were a bit like two ships passing, the graduates setting forth just as he was pulling to shore. Yet, he realized that they had one thing in common: “We chose CUNY,” he said .

“So as you leave and I arrive, I say to you, be like the University that confers your degree today,” he said. “Be open to one and all, be willing to change with the times, be true to your principles but open to the changing future.  Do not forget where you came from, but never let your beginning define your end.

“From New York’s streets, CUNY has produced Nobel laureates, leaders of leading companies…Rhodes Scholars,  four-star generals, the speaker of New York’s City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito, actors, musicians, leaders and countless New Yorkers striving to realize their dreams,” the Chancellor said. “So, be a standard bearer for those who follow in your footsteps. Show them what a CUNY degree can do.”

For Delroy Askins, 51, Hostos helped him move past a troubled life to dreams of becoming a social worker. Askins was part of the CUNY Start Program and a member of the Hostos Leadership Academy.

Now that he has received his associate degree in liberal arts, he plans to enroll at Lehman College and eventually earn his master’s.

Chancellor James B. Milliken in conversation with LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow during commencement exercises June 5.

Chancellor James B. Milliken in conversation with LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow during commencement exercises June 5.

“At Hostos, my morale went up and I was encouraged by the advisors and other students,” Askins said. “ I started to see how I could be effective in someone else’s life.”

With the commencement season in full swing across CUNY’s 24 campuses, the new Chancellor attended the events with a dual purpose: to send best wishes to graduates and introduce himself to faculty, staff and students.

At the commencement for the CUNY Graduate Center, held at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, Chancellor Milliken spoke of the challenges being faced in academia and the reach of scholarship in the digital age.

“You are about to embark on an exploration of the next frontier,” he said. “We do not know all that awaits us, but we do know who will lead us there. You have proven yourselves to be at the vanguard in developing new thought, in crafting new ideas, in multiplying scholarship and reconsidering settled ideas. You are empowered to shape what this new age will offer.”

The CUNY Graduate Center awarded honorary degrees to three recipients: scholar and acclaimed essayist Eugene Goodheart; cosmetics magnate and philanthropist Leonard A. Lauder; and biomedical scientist Ján T. Vilček.

 

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.