I am deeply honored that the Board of Trustees has asked me to serve as Interim Chancellor of The City University of New York, beginning on June 1. This issue of CUNY Matters, highlighting the winners of some of the most important academic awards in the country, underlines one of the main reasons I am proud to serve: CUNY opens doors to the future for our students.
I will approach this new role in the way I have tried to approach all my roles at CUNY, to put the good of the institution first always.
My goals for this role stem from that and are straightforward:
- Leading with our mission and values of excellence, integrity, transparency and commitment to serving our students, constituents, the city and state.
- Ensuring the key strategic priorities of the University move forward.
- Laying the groundwork for the new Chancellor by working with CUNY leaders to provide focused analyses of some of the challenges and opportunities facing CUNY at this time.
- Maintaining clear and regular communications with you, and with the college Presidents and Deans, the Board of Trustees and the CUNY community.
- Creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect so that people can do their best work.
As this special edition of CUNY Matters shows, 2017-18 has been a very good year for students in the fierce competition for prestigious awards: Seventeen student Fulbright Fellowships. Nine National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. Eight Critical Language Fellowships. A Rhodes. A Marshall. A Soros. A Boren. And many more.
There’s no question that these students are stars, but if you read through their stories, you’ll find they typify our general student body. Hard-working. Smart. Altruistic. Idealistic. Inspired and inspiring.
Some are immigrants, first-generation college students, students who most often do not come from wealth. One was homeless. All of them – like most of our students – are dedicated people to whom we can comfortably entrust our future as individuals and as a society.
Many have told us they wouldn’t have gone anywhere without the curiosity, idealism, inspiration and dedication of our faculty. While their stories often mention a professor who opened her or his laboratory or offered advice, I can assure you that these are not isolated incidents but what happens every day across The City University of New York.
CUNY’s talented, dedicated and brilliant faculty members power scholarship and achievement in our city. They care deeply about their students. They routinely go beyond what’s required, giving of themselves and their time as a matter of course.
If you’d like external validation, look no further than The Chronicle of Higher Education. Last fall it named seven CUNY senior colleges to its top 10 list of baccalaureate institutions with the greatest success in moving low-income students into the middle class. Five CUNY schools made the companion top 10 list of community colleges.
I’m thrilled to serve against this background of achievement. I won’t minimize the significant challenges that CUNY faces. But we start from a position of enormous strength and external respect. With our exceptional faculty and a student body that’s capable of such remarkable achievement, there is no question that this University will continue as the pathway to success for New York City’s residents.
Vita C. Rabinowitz