Benno Schmidt Elevated to Chair of Trustees

Calling him “a great intellect, an outstanding educator, and a great leader for our City University,” Governor George E. Pataki has appointed Benno C. Schmidt, Jr. to lead CUNY’s Board of Trustees. “As Vice Chair of the Board and through his important work on the Mayor’s Advisory Task Force, Benno not only provided a road map to success for CUNY, but he also showed the drive and determination necessary to make that success a reality,” Pataki said.

The mayoral Task Force led by Chair Schmidt issued its report, “The City University of New York: An Institution Adrift,” in 1999. This report, widely praised as a blueprint for reform, provided the foundation for a collaboration among the Governor, the Mayor’s Office, the CUNY Board of Trustees, and Chancellor Matthew Goldstein aimed at revitalizing the University.

Responding to the announcement, Chair Schmidt said he was “deeply honored” by the appointment. “The revitalization at CUNY during the past four years is truly one of the most remarkable success stories in all of higher education. I am humbled to be a part of this historic turnaround.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, “Benno Schmidt is one of our nation’s preeminent educators, and we are fortunate he has agreed to serve as CUNY Trustee Chair. I look forward to working with him as he continues to improve our City University system.”

Welcoming the appointment, Chancellor Goldstein acknowledged Schmidt’s “brilliant leadership” and praised his enduring commitment to standards and opportunity as “crucial to our continued success.”

Sy Sternberg, Chairman of the CUNY Business Leadership Council and Chairman and CEO of New York Life Insurance Company, said, “As an alumnus of City College, I am profoundly appreciative of Chairman Schmidt’s leadership in raising academic standards while maintaining CUNY’s rich student diversity.” Sternberg also praised Schmidt for helping to bring “business and industry leaders back into the University’s orbit to help support invaluable educational programs on behalf of our City and State.”

Since 1992 Schmidt has held his current post as Chairman of Edison Schools, Inc., a private company that enters into partnerships with public education authorities. Before this, Schmidt was president of Yale University, where he enjoyed particular success as a fund- raiser, launched one of the largest building programs in the University’s history, and fashioned a model town-and-gown partnership with New Haven. During his presidency, Yale’s endowment grew from $1.7 billion to $3 billion, the highest rate of growth during that time.

Schmidt was previously the Harlan Fiske Stone Professor of Constitutional Law and Dean of Columbia University Law School. Early in his career Schmidt clerked for Chief Justice Earl Warren, and went on to become a leading scholar of Constitutional history, the history of the Supreme Court, the law of freedom of expression, and the history of race relations in America.

Benno Schmidt Elevated to Chair of Trustees

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