August 21, 2018 | Speeches and Writings

I extend my sincere congratulations to President Chase F. Robinson on his appointment as the next Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. It is no surprise that when the national museums that focus on Asian and Middle Eastern arts sought to enhance their mission to educate the public, they looked to The City University of New York’s Graduate Center for their next leader.

The author of nine books, President Robinson is a highly regarded scholar of Middle Eastern history and culture and is an outstanding teacher and leader. Over his decade of transformative leadership as provost and president at The Graduate Center, he developed new academic programs, attracted world-class faculty to CUNY—including its first Nobel laureate—exceeded fundraising targets and forged important public-private partnerships for our University system. A few of his impressive accomplishments include:

  • Enhancing long-standing strengths in the humanities, while launching several interdisciplinary initiatives, such as the study of socioeconomic inequality
  • Recruiting students of unprecedented quality, while increasing yield and diversity
  • Strengthening doctoral training by establishing the Office of Career Planning and Professional Development, the Teaching and Learning Center,and a variety of early research opportunities

I’m especially proud that under Chase’s leadership, The Graduate Center worked for the benefit of CUNY as a whole by:

  • Taking the lead in CUNY’s investments in the sciences by heading the Advanced Science Research Centerand hiring leading scientists and researchers
  • Founding the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC), which serves as a research destination and incubator for CUNY faculty and international scholars; since its inception, the ARC has provided residential fellowships to scores of CUNY faculty
  • Making The Graduate Center a national leader in innovative pedagogy, and digital teaching and learning, by establishing the Futures Initiativeand the constellation of labs, centers, programs and degrees that constitute GC Digital Initiatives; every year, GC doctoral students teach nearly 180,000 CUNY undergraduates
  • Creating the Humanities Alliance between The Graduate Center and LaGuardia Community College (LGCC) through a $3.15 million grant by the Mellon Foundation

I will immediately commence the process of consultation with all key constituents regarding the appointment of an interim president and work closely with President Robinson through the Fall 2018 term to ensure a smooth and productive transition in December. In collaboration with the CUNY Board of Trustees and in consultation with the GC faculty and other major stakeholders, a national search for the sixth president of The Graduate Center will soon get underway.

In the arts and cultures of Asia and the Middle East, the Dame Jillian Sackler Directorship is one of the most influential positions in the West. I commend the Smithsonian on its inspired selection and wish Chase my very best in his exciting new position. He will make an extraordinary director and outstanding ambassador for cultural understanding. I know you join me in thanking President Robinson for his decade of service to the GC and CUNY and wish him well in his new role.

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