Vigils, Bells, Art, Eloquence—and Silence: All Campuses Observe September 11

An alma mater that lost students and alumni, and relatives of faculty, staff and students last September 11, CUNY marked the tragedy’s first anniversary with memorials, conferences, an art installation, music, candlelight vigils and moments of silence.

At Queensborough Community College

“As a University community, we share a deep sense of grief and sorrow over the loss of loved ones and all those who perished. As New Yorkers and Americans, we join with the citizenry in seeking to cope with the profound distress attributable to the impact of terrorism,” said Chancellor Matthew Goldstein.

Responding to a request from Governor Pataki, the Central Office and every University campus marked the solemn occasion. At Borough of Manhattan Community College, the CUNY campus most devastatingly affected by the terrorist attacks, a solemn afternoon ceremony included the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and the singing of “God Bless America.” Baruch College’s Mishkin Gallery, at 125 East 22nd Street, opened “In Memory: The Art of Afterward,” an exhibition of work by artists from 16 countries. The installation offers a cross-cultural study of the themes of global violence, genocide, and the aftermath of trauma in a 9/11 context.

Bronx Community College’s commemoration on its campus quadrangle included poetry readings, music and meditation. A special art exhibit featuring contributions from students, faculty and staff was also displayed. During Brooklyn College’s rites, participants were asked to bring flowers for the campus’s Wall of Remembrance.

At Bronx Community College.

A weeklong series of activities at the College of Staten Island was high-lighted by the dedication of a Meditation Garden and a candlelight vigil. City College convened a "Call to Remember" at 9:15 a.m. in Lewisohn Plaza to the sound of bells ringing and verse read by the poet Cornelius Eady.

The Graduate Center presented a two-day conference, “Death, Bereavement and Mourning: What We Have Learned a Year After 9/11.” Notable was the eminent psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, speaking on “Death and Human Continuity: 9/11 and Beyond.” (Continuing its work is the Graduate School’s permanent Digital Archive of first-hand accounts of the attacks and the aftermath.) Hostos Community College’s observation featured a moment of remembrance and of healing, readings, messages, and reflections by the campus community on September 10 in the College’s Atrium.

A highlight of the plenary gathering at Hunter College was a reading by English Professor Jenefer Shute from her contribution to 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11, a new book just published by NYU Press (all proceeds designated for 9/11 survivors). The audience also heard words from columnist Pete Hamill. September 11 became “A Day For Reflection” at John Jay College, and special events included an original play based on dozens of oral histories that was mounted by John Jay students, faculty, and staff.

On the eve before, a candle-light gathering took place on the Kingsborough Community College waterfront, with student leaders holding flags representing the countries which lost citizens. Day-long observances on the 11th included a serenity room and the display in the Art Gallery of a scroll of poetic reflections. The rubric for LaGuardia Community College’s ceremonies was “A Changed World: A Global Community Reflects” and included a tree dedication moderated by a student who was a rescue volunteer at Ground Zero.

The Lehman College community unveiled a permanent plaque in front of a memorial tree, amid inspirational poems and song, while the campus Art Gallery offered “Missing” an installation by Barbara Siegal. It was inspired by the posters placed by hopeful relatives near her apartment, which was just eight blocks from the Twin Towers. “I was always struck and deeply moved by the combination of ineffable sadness and irrepressible optimism which they represented,” Siegal said.

"A Time for Reflection" unfolded at Medgar Evers College to the sounds of the Imani singers.

Queens College held a memorial service and candlelight service on its Quad, and on Alumni Day (Oct. 5) a memorial plaque will be dedicated. At its ceremony, Queensborough Community College presented certificates of honor to more than 30 College faculty, students and staff who contributed to the 9/11 recovery efforts, and honored local policemen and firefighters.

Just before September 11, another important CUNY salute to those it has lost came a step closer to reality. Five finalists were chosen from a field of fifty proposals to compete for the grand $10,000 prize in the “9/11 Memorial Competition” for the best website design reflecting on the terrorist attacks and the aftermath. A panel of distinguished judges will announce the winner in December.

At a moving gathering in the Kibbee Conference Room at the CUNY Central Office, just before the observation of a moment of silence, Chancellor Goldstein said, "As I reflect on the University, I search for ways for it to participate in ways that universities do best. We don't fully understand this event, in part because our thinking is very much clouded by the depth of our emotions, which are still very raw."

The Chancellor then observed, "But this is what universities do: they are places of open exchange of ideas. They are places for people with knowledge, with experience, people who can set an event like this in a historical context and shed light on the incomprehensible. This University and others stood tall and sought not only to give comfort but also to help people understand and participate in a developing sense of clarity about what happened."


Contents October 2002

From High School Dropout to Surgeon General – Thanks to BCC

Extending the Lifespan of Learning

The Bronx: A Thriving River Runs Through It

Chancellor's Message: Celebrating CUNY Poets

Two Bills for CUNY Signed by Governor

Colleges Set Out Welcome Mats For First “CUNY Week” Outreach

New Technology: Two Conferences

Celebrating the Pleasures of Literature

The Public and Private Lives of Eleanor Roosevelt

Capturing the Life of a Complex General

TV Boot Camp Gives Students Taste of “60 Minutes” Magic

Big Cats' Novels Change America

Imagining Hopper

New Stars in Faculty Firmament

John Jay Law Enforcement News Honored for Articles on 9/11

Preserving the History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora

Vigils, Bells, Art, Eloquence—and Silence: Campuses Observe September 11

Three WTC Workers from City Tech Receive Scholarships

Future Holds New Home, New Master’s for CUNY’s School of Architecture

N.J. State Human Resources Executive Comes to CUNY

Hostos Goes Electronic on the Grand Concourse

New Shuttle Service Eases Lehman Commute

Leap in Fall Enrollment

CUNY Board Adopts State Early Retirement Plan