Chancellor James B. Milliken and Chairperson William C. Thompson, Jr. announced today that the Board of Trustees has appointed Loretta P. Martinez to serve as General Counsel and Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs for The City University of New York.

Ms. Martinez, a graduate of the Harvard Law School and Yale University, has held leadership positions in higher education for more than 18 years and has been an important voice for creating opportunities for students from underrepresented groups and for broad access to higher education. She has served as the general counsel at a variety of public and private institutions, including, most recently, Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she also serves as secretary to the board of trustees. Previously, she served as general counsel at Colorado College, a private college, the Colorado State University System and in the office of the general counsel at Harvard University.

“Loretta Martinez brings wide legal experience to this important position and has demonstrated knowledge in all areas of the law affecting higher education,” said James B. Milliken, CUNY’s Chancellor. “Like all of us at CUNY, she has fought for creating opportunity, especially for underrepresented groups, and we will benefit from her experience and her legal skills. I am delighted that she will be joining the CUNY family.”

Loretta Martinez

In her efforts to expand workplace opportunities for students, Ms. Martinez has been instrumental in creating public-private partnerships across a variety of industry sectors for improved experiential learning and she co-founded a coalition of Latino educators focused on improving recruitment, retention and graduation rates for Latino students. These objectives are also important elements of CUNY’s new strategic framework.

Chairperson of the Board of Trustees William C. Thompson, Jr. commented, “We are delighted to be welcoming someone who has not only been a leader in higher education legal issues but who has a real appreciation for our history and our very special mandate at CUNY. Loretta Martinez will be a great asset not just to CUNY but also to New York City.”

“I have devoted my career to supporting excellent institutions of higher education and improving opportunity for all, and I’m delighted to be pursuing those aims at an even broader level at CUNY, an extraordinary university with a very special mission,” said Ms. Martinez. “I look forward to getting to know the university and embracing all the excitement of and becoming a part of New York City.”

The Chancellor and William C. Thompson, Jr., Chairman of the board of trustees, expressed their deep gratitude to Trustee Lorraine A. Cortés-Vázquez, who chaired the search committee, and the other members of the committee for their excellent work.

“We were fortunate that we had an outstanding pool of applicants and that we were able to recommend four excellent finalists to the Chancellor and the Chairperson for consideration,” said Trustee Cortés-Vázquez. “This will strengthen CUNY and support our legal responsibilities.”

Ms. Martinez is a native of Colorado and has long served in leadership positions in higher education in the state. She was appointed in 2013 by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to serve as one of three commissioners from the state on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE) and currently serves on the executive committee.  She also was appointed by former Colorado Governor Bill Owens to serve on the Board of the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority (CECFA) for three terms and was Chair of the Board.  She is frequently invited to speak on a variety of topics nationally, including public-private partnerships, Title IX, undocumented students and legal issues in higher education.

In her career, Ms. Martinez has served as general counsel of a number of institutions, including Colorado College, a private college, and large public systems like the Colorado State University System and the Metropolitan State University of Denver.  Among other initiatives, she helped create an affordable non-resident tuition rate for undocumented students at MSU Denver and helped craft Colorado’s Dream Act bill, which supports undocumented students and was passed by the state legislature in 2013. She has been a strong advocate for the transformative power of education, particularly for students from lower income and underrepresented groups.

Martinez also devotes volunteer time to local and national boards and associations in the legal and education fields.  She is President of the Latin American Education Foundation and was appointed in 2013 to serve on the national board of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.  She also serves on the board of the ACLU of Colorado and is a longtime member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the Association of Governing Boards.

“What is clear from her background is that Loretta deeply understands the many communities and constituencies that CUNY serves and that make the extraordinary diversity of CUNY such a source of creativity, energy and strength,” said Chancellor Milliken. “As we implement our new strategic vision for making the university even more accessible and effective, I know that Loretta will play an important role in helping us achieve success on behalf of our students.”

Ms. Martinez received her juris doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1991 and her bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University in 1988.  Prior to her work in higher education, Ms. Martinez clerked for the United States District Court of Colorado and worked in private practice, specializing in employment law, public law, and commercial and products liability litigation.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded 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 Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students.  College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 400 high schools throughout the five boroughs. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.