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Ivan Seidenberg Gives A Call to Arms At CUNY Reception

February 19, 2010 | Partners and Supporters

I think I speak for all of us here in saying that we’re proud to be associated with an institution that has meant so much to the cultural and intellectual fabric of New York City. One-third of college-educated New Yorkers are CUNY graduates, myself included. CUNY has produced more top corporate executives than any other university in the country. Your alumni run the gamut from Jonas Salk to Colin Powell to Jerry Seinfeld – truly reflecting the diversity and dynamism of our city and our country.

We can all thank Chancellor Goldstein for leading one of the most successful capital campaigns ever by a public urban university. He’s done a great job of challenging all of us to become true partners in creating CUNY’s future. Now it’s time for us to challenge ourselves to use this partnership for something that’s even bigger than the future of this great university … and that’s the future of our city.

New York has always been a symbol of the boundless opportunities of America. But if you look closely at the statistics over the past decade or so, you see that the base that’s holding up that ladder has gotten way too narrow. We haven’t built a broad-based economy that can sustain middle-class jobs and stable neighborhoods.

In particular, we haven’t done a very good job of creating the technology-driven jobs that are the main drivers of growth in the economy.

Without a homegrown base of science- and engineering-based businesses, we will continue to lose our human capital and cede economic growth to other regions in the U.S. and around the world. We need to go “back to the future” and reinvent our economy around technology-based growth.

CUNY has made a good start by investing in growth fields like photonics, biotech and environmental science … and stepping up efforts to commercialize research.

Great cities need great corporations and great universities. Let’s pledge ourselves to using our partnership to rev up the “dream machine” for CUNY and jump-start the economic engine for New York City.

Ivan G. Seidenberg is Chairman of the Board and CEO of Verizon Communications and a Lehman College alumnus.