New Provost: Job Is Opportunity of a Lifetime

May 4, 2015 | CUNY Matters, The University

Dr. Vita Carulli Rabinowitz, a distinguished and highly regarded Hunter College educator, administrator and scholar, has been named CUNY’s Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and University Provost, an appointment she called “the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Dr. Vita Carulli Rabinowitz

Dr. Vita Carulli Rabinowitz

Rabinowitz, Hunter’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs since 2007, was appointed by the Executive Commit-tee of the Board of Trustees on April 6.

Chancellor James B. Milliken, who recommended her after a national search, said, “Doctor Rabinowitz’ exemplary administrative experience, together with her distinguished scholarly accomplishments, a strong commitment to students and a deep belief in the mission of CUNY, make her an outstanding choice as the University’s chief academic officer.”

“We’ve been very fortunate to find the best candidate from within the University,” Milliken said at the April 6 board meeting. “I am impressed by her ideas, sophistication and enthusiasm. I’m confident she will be an outstanding partner in the academic leadership of the University.”

Describing herself as “humbled and honored” by the appointment, Rabinowitz told the gathering, “Everything I love about Hunter — the inspiring mission, the striving students and the faculty and administrators who are attracted to that mission and those students — is what I love about CUNY.

“CUNY’s reach, impact and prospects are unparalleled,” she said. “The opportunity to set the academic vision. . . and to be the academic voice of the indispensable institution of the greatest city in the world is the opportunity of a lifetime for any academic leader anywhere, and the fact that you found me just a few subway stops away is thrilling. This will surely be the pinnacle of my life’s work.”

A distinguished social psychologist and author whose scholarship has focused on women and achievement; gender and health; theoretical and methodological issues in the study of gender; and dilemmas of helping and coping with adverse outcomes, Rabinowitz has been a member of Hunter’s psychology department, which she chaired from 1999 to 2005, since 1978, and of the doctoral program in psychology at the Graduate Center since 1989.

Her appointment is effective July 1. She succeeds Dr. Julia Wrigley, who served as Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost since 2014. Milliken expressed appreciation to Wrigley for her outstanding service.

As Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost, Rabinowitz will lead the planning, development and implementation of University policies and initiatives regarding academic programs, research, instructional technology, global engagement, student development and enrollment management. She will report to Milliken, provide strategic academic leadership for CUNY and work with the executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer to develop operating and capital budgets that reflect CUNY’s academic priorities.

Rabinowitz will also be engaged in budget planning, resource development and assessment of student learning. The Office of Academic Affairs oversees University policies governing the academic programs of CUNY’s colleges and more than 100 research centers.

Rabinowitz received her master’s and doctoral degrees in social psychology from Northwestern University. After serving as a research assistant at Princeton University, she began her academic career on the faculty of Hunter’s Department of Psychology in 1978.

But, she noted at the executive committee meeting, her family’s connection to CUNY goes back to a much earlier time.

“My father, Vito Carulli, was admitted to City College in 1940,” she said, yet “the opportunity costs of even a free education at one of the nation’s finest colleges proved too great for his struggling family, and he left within a year. But for the remainder of his life, he was proud of having had the chance to go to the great City College.”

As Hunter’s longest-serving provost, Rabinowitz’ priorities included re-envisioning the general education program; building a culture of assessment of student learning; enhancing graduate and professional education; strengthening Hunter’s research infrastructure; and supporting Hunter’s faculty. She has promoted gender equity in the workplace, including academia, and has researched why women have not progressed to the top levels of science, academia and the professions and has helped advance women in these areas.

She led institutional efforts for college-wide accreditation and performance management reviews in consultation with Hunter colleagues and emphasized strong academic leadership at all levels.

Her initiatives included creation of collaborative scholarly opportunities via Arts Across the Curriculum; at Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute; in the Clinical Translation Science Center in which Hunter partners with Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; and Hunter’s Academic Center for Excellence in Research and Teaching, which supports innovations in pedagogy and student assessment.

Since June 2002, Rabinowitz has co-directed Hunter’s Gender Equity Project (GEP), which seeks to advance women faculty in the natural and social sciences and to promote excellence and equity throughout the sciences. The GEP has been partially funded by $4.5 million in National Science Foundation awards.

Rabinowitz is a social psychologist who has published many influential papers and articles relating to the study of women and achievement, theoretical and methodological issues in the study of gender, and dilemmas of helping and coping.

Her co-authored textbook, Engendering Psychology, Women and Gender Revisited, is in its second edition. She has received a number of prestigious grants and awards from major funding agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and her academic and professional honors include the Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Award for Outstanding Italian American Women in Higher Education in New York State, and the Kurt Lewin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Social Psychology from the New York State Psychological Association.

Before being appointed Hunter’s acting provost in 2005 and named provost in 2007, Rabinowitz was acting program head of CUNY’s Social/Personality doctoral subprogram, chairperson of the Department of Psychology and acting associate provost. Before becoming an administrator, Rabinowitz taught and mentored thousands of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students in psychology and was undergraduate adviser for psychology majors for nearly 10 years.

Hunter College President Jennifer Raab said: “Vita Rabinowitz’ leadership has been integral to the great success of Hunter College over the past decade. Her commitment to high academic standards, faculty well-being and student success, as well as her integrity and tireless devotion to our institution, made her a remarkable partner. While I — and all of Hunter — will deeply miss Vita, we celebrate CUNY’s good fortune in gaining a dynamic provost with an extraordinary passion for CUNY’s mission.”