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The University’s Renowned Faculty Train the Literary Stars of Tomorrow

Affordability, Diversity, and Excellence are Trademarks of CUNY’s Approach

Helen Phillips

Back in 2005, Helen Phillips was a young writer living in New York City, working odd jobs, writing a novel and hoping to get into a Masters of Fine Arts program. Then one day the phone rang and her life changed.

It was Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham, then the director of Brooklyn College’s MFA program, calling to say she had been accepted.

“That was a life-changing day for me and I certainly didn’t know just how life-changing a day it was, or that I might be spending the rest of my life and career at Brooklyn College,” said Phillips, who went on to publish four acclaimed works of fiction and now serves on the faculty at her alma mater. “Brooklyn College has been the foundation of my creative life in so many ways.”

Phillips’ 2019 novel, The Need, was long-listed for a National Book Award and in 2020 she won a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her success, while both hard-earned and richly deserved, is hardly unique, however, among City University of New York alumni.

Robert Jones, Jr.

Among numerous other CUNY alums heralded for their literary work are Robert Jones, Jr., whose debut novel, The Prophets, garnered a Page One critique in The New York Times Book Review; Ocean Vuong, a prominent poet whose debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, has won or been nominated for two dozen literary awards; Phil Klay, who followed his National Book Award-winning debut short story collection, Redeployment (2014), with a much-praised novel, MissionariesKaitlyn Greenidge, who just won a Guggenheim Fellowship and published her second novel, LibertieTracy O’Neill, who was named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree in 2015 and published a second novel, Quotients, last year; and Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers (2017), which was a National Book Award finalist and winner of a PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

Ocean Vuong

“The City University of New York is proud of its remarkable track record for producing a diverse group of acclaimed writers trained by our committed and supportive faculty, who over the decades have been celebrated as great artists in their own right,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “Now more than ever, these creative writing programs serve a critical function. We need engaged storytellers to help us communicate what we have collectively been through this past year, as we strive to listen to one another with open ears and empathetic hearts and create a post-COVID future that is more just and fair for all.”

These writers and their celebrated achievements are part of a long-standing literary tradition at CUNY. Throughout its 60-year history, the University has nurtured novelists, poets and playwrights thanks to its faculty, which has boasted winners of the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize, Booker Prize, MacArthur Fellowships, Whiting and PEN American Awards, U.S Poet Laureate and New York State Poet Laureate, in addition to a host of other awards, grants and honors.

A Community of Writers

Carmen Boullosa

CUNY’s faculty has counted many great poets through the years — they include two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins (Lehman College); pioneering poet and essayist Audre Lorde (Hunter); Grace Schulman (Baruch), who in 2019 was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; Pulitzer Prize winners Gregory Pardlo (Medgar Evers/John Jay); Tyehimba Jess (the College of Staten Island); and Carmen Boullosa (Macaulay), a Mexican-born poet, as well as playwright and novelist. And now, thanks to the University’s highly regarded MFA programs at Brooklyn, Hunter, Queens and City Colleges, the University and its faculty are home to a growing list of noted prose writers, as well.

Phil Klay

And while there is no shortage of noted graduate programs in the New York Metropolitan area, CUNY’s MFA programs stand out for their affordability ­— with tuition that is a fraction of those of private schools — as well as the diversity of their students and world-class faculty.

“I went to Brooklyn College because of the faculty and as a Caribbean writer, I was interested in attending a program with a diverse student body, hoping that I would encounter other Caribbean writers and immigrant writers as well,” said Maisy Card, whose debut novel These Ghosts Are Family won a 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.

Card was accepted at a prestigious MFA program at a private Manhattan-based university but chose Brooklyn instead. “I was more interested in their faculty and it was a lot more affordable,” she said. Card cites Joshua Henkin, whose new novel, Morningside Heightswas just published, as a professor who impacted her writing.

CUNY’s diversity also attracts the kind of faculty that has become a hallmark of the University. “It’s a really wonderful community because the instructors are as diverse and as committed to the craft of writing and the world of literature as the students are,” said Maaza Mengiste, the assistant director of Queens College’s MFA in Creative Writing and Literary Translation, whose 2019 novel, The Shadow King, was a Booker Prize Finalist. “We come with so many different experiences and yet we are all part of a community that is looking to push the ways that we discuss literature, that is invigorating and exciting.”

It’s only fitting that Queens College, located in one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the country, should be home to one of the only MFA programs in the nation specializing in Literary Translation. In the last few years, Queens alumni translated acclaimed international writers into English, including: Anne Posten, a Fulbright winner whose translation of Anja Kampmann’s High as the Waters Rise was a National Book Award Finalist; Eric M. B. Becker, the editor of the literary journal Words Without Borders, which focuses on global literature; and Mike Fu, the first translator to render into English Stories from the Sahara, by 20th Century Chinese writer Sanmao.

Proud Tradition

CUNY’S tradition of writing programs dates back at least 50 years, when famed authors like Grace Paley, Susan Sontag, Gwendolyn Brooks, Donald Barthelme, Kurt Vonnegut, Edna O’Brien and Frederic Tuten all taught at the City College of New York. Tuten was also an alumnus.

“It’s a unique program in the CUNY system, we’re very open and diverse in terms of race, culture and age,” said Michelle Valladares, a poet and director of CCNY’s MFA in Creative Writing program, which this past spring admitted its largest cohort — 140 students — in the history of the 174-year-old college. “It’s such an incredible experience to witness and observe the stories that are coming out of the students in the program.”

CCNY storied alumni include Oscar Hijuelos, whose 1989 novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, won a Pulitzer Prize; Ernesto Quiñonez, author of Bodega Dreams; and Walter Mosley, who last year earned the National Book Foundation’s 2020 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for a prolific career in which he has published over 60 books, including novels, plays and works of nonfiction.

Walter Mosley

Like many CUNY students, Mosley was a nontraditional student — a 35-year-old computer programmer looking for a fresh start. Being accepted to CCNY “was a really great moment for me,” said Mosley. At CCNY he met legendary Irish writer Edna O’Brien, who encouraged him to write a novel. He did — in six weeks. “It was a really very supportive program situation,” said Mosley. “And unlike most of these crazy places, it didn’t cost you your future 15 years to pay off or something.”

Mosley felt so indebted to the college that he launched the CCNY Publisher’s Certificate Program “to integrate the New York publishing industry,” he said.

Teaching as “An Act of Empathy”

Peter Carey

When renowned Australian novelist Peter Carey first came to Hunter College in 2003, he did so with the intention of creating the best MFA program possible. Hunter today boasts one of the most competitive programs in the nation. The program has counted among its faculty the likes of Claire Messud and Chris Adrian, and currently boasts ZZ Packer, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh and Mychal Denzel Smith, as well as poets Donna Masini and Tom Sleigh.

“If you look at the people who have taught (at Hunter), the one thing that is consistent is the quality of the faculty,” said Carey, who is one of just four people to have won the Booker Prize twice. “From my personal point of view, teaching is an act of empathy,” Carey added. “And it’s an act of not trying to get the students to do what you want to do, but figuring out what it is that they want to do and then helping them figuring out how to do that.”

Carey’s pride is evident as he rattles off the names of some recent novels by Hunter alumni: A Burning by Megha Majumdar; Little Gods by Meng Jin; Long Bright River by Liz Moore. “These are all people who I know personally and our faculty have taught, and that’s just lovely to see,” he said. “And there are more of course.”

Thanks to CUNY’s devoted faculty, there is more, and will be, it seems, for some time to come.

“I just read a thesis that needs to published as soon as possible,” said Mengiste. “That’s CUNY. It’s really exciting.”

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is a critical component of the lifeblood of New York City. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving 500,000 students of all ages and awarding 55,000 degrees each year. CUNY’s mix of quality and affordability propels almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League colleges combined. More than 80 percent of the University’s graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural life and diversifying the city’s workforce in every sector. CUNY’s graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur “Genius” Grants. The University’s historic mission continues to this day: provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background.

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Event recognized graduates’ resiliency throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,
and featured speeches from two local pandemic heroes

Collage of different graduation pictures
Long Island City, NY—virtual commencement celebration was held earlier today for the more than 3,300 members of the LaGuardia Community College Class of 2021.

“On behalf of LaGuardia Community College, I commend the more than 3,300 members of the Class of 2021 for sticking with their studies despite the difficulties and uncertainties of this past year—most had to complete the majority of their degree online,” said President Kenneth Adams. “The knowledge and skills they gained at LaGuardia, along with their life experiences, are needed now more than ever to effect positive change and help revitalize our communities. Congratulations to the graduates and their loved ones!”

Click here for more about the Class of 2021.

“This past year showed us that individuals can make a big impact towards lifting up our communities in times of struggle,” continued President Adams. “We were honored to have two pandemic heroes speak to our Class of 2021. Sofia Moncayo has led efforts to help families and businesses in Western Queens stay afloat during the pandemic, and LaGuardia grad Kristy Guzman, R.N. treated Covid-19 patients as an ICU nurse at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.”

Keynote speaker Sofia Moncayo has been spearheading initiatives in her community to help families and local businesses devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic. She leads a food distribution program through the Mosaic Community Center that gives out more than 2,000 boxes of food each week to families living in Sunnyside, Woodside and nearby communities. She also helped start 25 for Sunnyside & Woodside, a Facebook group that encourages neighborhood residents to patronize local restaurants and businesses. The group is credited with helping local restaurants recover from the financial crisis and rehire employees.

Moncayo encouraged the graduates to help others in need whenever possible, “When you see people in need, use the skills and knowledge you gained at LaGuardia to step up. Stand up for the marginalized, and do not be silent in the face of injustice. Give back to your community and they will give back to you.”

Brooklyn-native Kristy L. Guzman, RN graduated from LaGuardia in 2019 with an associate degree in nursing. Like many who come to LaGuardia for a second chance, Kristy had earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish before a serious health scare sparked an interest in the medical field.

She started working as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Bellevue Hospital just a few months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit New York City. “Because of LaGuardia, I felt fully equipped for my nursing job at Bellevue, where patients with the most difficult cases are often transferred from other city hospitals. We have to be ready for anything,” said Guzman.

She encouraged the graduates to remember making it through a global pandemic, when challenges arise for them in the future. “You have been in crisis mode before, and you persevered. You can do it again,” she said.

The LaGuardia Class of 2021 was represented by Diana Athena, a Russian-native graduating with an associate degree in creative writing. Unable to work during the pandemic, Athena applied for a scholarship from the LaGuardia Community College Foundation and was the first-ever recipient of the Dr. Susan Young Scholarship—named in honor of the late English Professor Susan Young. Athena plans to earn a bachelor’s in writing and psychology, preparing her for a career combining her interests in wellness, yoga, and literature. “I want to keep sharing my story so that other nontraditional students know they are not alone in their journey.”

Congratulatory messages were given by CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, New York State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, and New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

About the LaGuardia Community College 49th Graduating Class

LaGuardia’s newest associate degree-holders reflect the college’s tradition of serving low-income students, immigrants, and those seeking a second chance through higher education. More than half (51 percent) are Pell recipients and 34 percent are TAP recipients. Nearly one in four (23 percent) received both Pell and TAP. They come from 113 countries, and their average age is 27 years old. Many are the first in their family to earn a college degree.

Forty-five percent of the graduates self-identify as Hispanic or Latinx, reflecting recent data showing that LaGuardia is among the top five colleges and universities statewide for enrolling and graduating the most Hispanic and Latinx students.

Sixty-seven percent of the Class of 2021 live in Queens. The most popular majors were Business Administration, Liberal Arts: Math and Science, and Criminal Justice.

Many graduates are transferring to CUNY four-year colleges to pursue their bachelor’s degrees. Additional schools the graduates will be attending this fall include Boston University, Columbia University, Fordham University, NYU, Rochester Institute of Technology, Smith College, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Stonybrook, Syracuse, and the University of Michigan.

Total number of graduates: 3,300+

Associate in Science (AS) 52%
Associate in Applied Science (AAS) 27%
Associate in Arts (AA) 19%
Certificate 2%

Race/Ethnicity

Hispanic 45%
Asian/Pacific Islander 27%
Black 16%
White 11%
Native American 1%

 

Average Age: 27

22 or younger 32%
23 – 24 16%
25 – 29 27%
30 – 39 19%
40 + 7%

 

Gender

Female 62%
Male 38%
Unknown or not reported <1%

 

Most popular majors

Business Administration 11%
Liberal Arts: Math and Science 8%
Criminal Justice 8%
Psychology 7%
Computer Science 6%
Accounting 5%
Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities 4%

 

Residency

NYC 97%
Queens 67%
Brooklyn 16%
Bronx 7%
Manhattan 7%
Staten Island <1%
Other New York State 2%
Other 1%

 

Total Countries: 113
Top five countries (Other than the U.S.)*

China 5%
Ecuador 4%
Bangladesh 4%
Dominican Republic 3%
Nepal 3%
US 56%
* % based on students with known country information

 

Financial Aid

Pell recipients 51%
TAP recipients 34%
LaGuardia Community College Foundation Scholarships 14%
LaGuardia Community College Foundation Emergency Funds 9%
Excelsior Scholarships <1%

 

Click here for Fast Facts on LaGuardia’s student population.

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LaGuardia Community College, located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. Our guiding principle Dare To Do More reflects our belief in the transformative power of education—not just for individuals, but for our community and our country—creating pathways for achievement and safeguarding the middle class. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high-quality, affordable college education. We invite you to join us in imagining what our students, our community, and our country can become.

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Central Brooklyn Institution Recognized for Educating Students from Historically Underserved Communities

Grant also includes $30 Million in Additional Funding for CUNY Programs

Brooklyn, NY – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a $20 million commitment to CUNY’s Medgar Evers College (MEC), the single largest allocation in the history of the Central Brooklyn institution. The grant is part of the NYC Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan, which seeks to build generational wealth and confront the persistently growing racial wealth gap in the United States.

The NYC Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan includes scholarships for CUNY students and a comprehensive Brooklyn Recovery Corps program to aid the borough most-impacted by the pandemic.

The CUNY Scholarship Fund provides over 2,800 four-year CUNY ACE-model scholarships for Black and low-income students. Valued at $4,000 per year, this $45 million investment will help cover gaps in financial aid, books, transportation, and advising for eligible students. The program will serve 1,000 students at Medgar Evers College and 1,800 low-income students in New York City neighborhoods hit hardest by the pandemic.

In addition, Medgar Evers College will launch the Brooklyn Recovery Corps to provide over 200 students per year with the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing economic recovery of Brooklyn, focusing on experiences that integrate science, business, public health, or the green economy. Specifically for MEC students, this program includes paid internships, work experience, and career preparation for over 200 students per year. The $900,000 annual investments ($4.5 million over 5 years) will allow participating students to learn technical skills, earn academic credit or paid internships, gain work experience and career preparation support while engaging with the community.

“We are exceedingly grateful to be named as a beneficiary of funds delineated in Mayor de Blasio’s Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan. As we celebrate Juneteenth, it is fitting that our College named for Medgar Wiley Evers, the civil rights icon who gave his life for the rights and freedoms of others, would be the recipient of this historic and far-reaching investment in education. The founders of our College recognized that higher education is the one of the most effective paths for underserved populations and those from challenged socioeconomic backgrounds to gain social mobility and acquire wealth.

“Early on in the pandemic, neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn suffered disproportionately when compared with others across the City. Over a year later, the pandemic has revealed and exacerbated the disparities across New York City’s communities of color, especially in terms of unemployment, financial instability, and in turn, housing and food insecurity. As part of this funding, our students will be better equipped to intentionally prepare for their futures and realize their dreams while contributing to the economic recovery of Brooklyn and New York City. We look forward to working with the New York City Mayor’s Office, our CUNY partners, and our other supporters to continue this important work,” said Dr. Patricia Ramsey, president of Medgar Evers College.

“This grant will ensure that current and future students of Medgar Evers College will continue to have access to a quality education without the worry of having to disrupt their education due to lack of financial resources. It also underscores the City’s commitment to recognizing and correcting the unique challenges that Blacks face as a result of historical systemic injustices that still impact our communities today,” said Brooke Smith, student at Medgar Evers College.

The NYC Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan also provides universal 529 savings accounts to every public-school child beginning in kindergarten this upcoming school year. Known as “Universal NYC Baby Bonds,” this initiative will both open accounts and deposit a minimum of $100 into every account.

Other efforts to build generational wealth include employee ownership, a pathway for employees to build success with their employers; new requirements for women and minority-owned business enterprises (M/WBE); equitable ownership, requiring at least 25% M/WBE and/or non-profit ownership in affordable housing projects; and the NYC Acquisition Fund, a $210M loan fund for M/WBEs and non-profit developers.

For more information, and to read the official press release from the Office of the Mayor, visit this page.

About Medgar Evers College
Located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Medgar Evers College is a growing institution with nearly 7,000 students that offers both associate and baccalaureate degrees. A senior college within the City University of New York (CUNY) system, Medgar Evers College was established in 1970 with a mandate to meet the educational and social needs of the Central Brooklyn community. In its commitment to providing students with a sound academic foundation as well as an opportunity for personal development, Medgar Evers College seeks to provide high quality, professional, career-oriented undergraduate degree programs in the context of a liberal arts education. For more information, visit www.mec.cuny.edu.

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Media Contact: Giulia Prestia | gprestia@mec.cuny.edu | 718.270.5075

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy had set a deadline to fully inoculate 4.7 million adult residents with the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30, and, like his colleague across the river, it appears he has achieved that benchmark earlier than expected. The Democrat said 4,649,450 New Jerseyans were fully vaccinated as of Thursday. though the latest CDC data shows the state...

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Felix Rodriguez, BPL technology specialist, installs an energy monitoring device in a CCNY facility.

The City College of New York-based CUNY Institute for Urban Systems Building Performance Lab (CUIS BPL) is the winner of a 2021 Energy to Lead Award from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The Energy to Lead Competition supports colleges and universities that strive to meet their financial, environmental, academic, and community goals through clean energy solutions.

The $1.4 million award will aid the BPL in developing control based systematic processes for facilities staff and building operators to increase their ability to effectively manage and properly commission major energy consuming systems on campus.

CUIS BPL was founded in 2006 by energy engineer Michael Bobker, who currently serves as the lab’s executive director.

“Our lab was created with a grant from NYSERDA. The Energy to Lead award will allow us to continue to expose City College engineering students to hands-on work in improving energy performance in buildings. We have a steady stream of students who end up in careers in environmental engineering because of what we can do at the Building Performance Lab,” said Bobker.

The Energy to Lead award funded a pilot program that formally began in February 2021. Its target is to reduce energy consumption on the CCNY campus by 15-20%.

CCNY President Vincent Boudreau said: “This project is designed to educate energy users on data-based efficiencies. Energy efficiency is among the highest priorities we have for developing a sustainable future and City College is excited to share its expertise in this field.”

Buildings are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas em issions in New York State, and CUNY is on the forefront of advancing the state’s goals to realize a carbon neutral building stock, inspire the next generation of climate leaders, and provide robust opportunities for student engagement.

Combined, the projects recognized by NYSERDA are expected to save 4,604 metric tons of carbon annually, the equivalent to removing almost 4,000 cars from the road each year.

CUNY joins New York Medical College, Syracuse University, and Vassar College in this honor.

About the City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.8% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.
Laura Baisas/Jay Mwamba
p: 212.650.7580
e: jmwamba@ccny.cuny.edu
View CCNY Media Kit.

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South Bronx Institution Recognized for its Success in Educating Students from ‘Chronically Underserved’ Communities

Largest Donation in School’s History Follows Scott’s $60 Million in Gifts to CUNY’s Lehman, BMCC in 2020

Author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott today announced a $15 million gift to CUNY’s Hostos Community College, the largest donation in the history of the Bronx school. Hostos was one of 30 colleges and universities identified for support by Scott, her husband Dan Jewett and a team of researchers. Announcing the gifts in an essay on Medium, Scott wrote that higher education is a “proven pathway to opportunity,” adding that her team was supporting “2- and 4-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved.”

The gift to Hostos follows Scott’s historic donations in December 2020 to two CUNY colleges, Lehman College and the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). Both schools received $30 million, each gift among the largest in the University’s history.

In her essay, titled “Seeding by Ceding,” Scott described an evaluation process launched by her team earlier this year to identify “high-impact” groups and institutions in “categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.” They settled on 286 recipient institutions and groups that were awarded a total of $2.7 billion.

“We are humbled once again by Ms. Scott’s incredible generosity as well as the enlightened principles governing her philanthropy,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, who served as Hostos president from 2009-2014. “The belief system she outlined in her powerful and incisive essay — that the march toward social equality can only be driven by individuals and institutions working from within communities — aligns with CUNY’s core values and the transformational work of our 25 colleges across the five boroughs. We are deeply grateful once again for this affirmation of the University as an engine for social mobility, academic excellence, affordability and social justice.”

“This is a day to mark and remember at Hostos,” said Interim President Daisy Cocco De Filippis. “We are thrilled and delighted by this most beneficent gift, and it will be used to further the goals of the College’s founders. Thanks to Ms. Scott’s astounding gift, we will be able to better serve the men and women of the South Bronx who seek the myriad benefits of higher education. This gift will have a transformative impact on the College and it comes to Hostos because for over 50 years, Hostos has been a beacon of hope, a life-transforming institution, living up to the highest ideals of democratic values, equity, inclusion and diversity.  Hostos is a home for all who come through our doors in need of the life-changing opportunities brought by quality education delivered with care, hope and understanding.”

Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change, transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. In Fall 2019 it served about 7,100 full-time and part-time students. Hostos serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, and a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique “student success coach” program, which partners students with individualized guidance, is emblematic of the premier emphasis on student support and services.

According to an economic analysis released June 8 by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Bronx harder than any other borough by several measures and reversed pre-COVID gains in economic and population growth.

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is a critical component of the lifeblood of New York City. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving 500,000 students of all ages and awarding 55,000 degrees each year. CUNY’s mix of quality and affordability propels almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League colleges combined. More than 80 percent of the University’s graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural life and diversifying the city’s workforce in every sector. CUNY’s graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur “Genius” Grants. The University’s historic mission continues to this day: provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background.

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The University’s Renowned Faculty Train the Literary Stars of Tomorrow

Affordability, Diversity, and Excellence are Trademarks of CUNY’s Approach

Helen Phillips

Back in 2005, Helen Phillips was a young writer living in New York City, working odd jobs, writing a novel and hoping to get into a Masters of Fine Arts program. Then one day the phone rang and her life changed.

It was Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham, then the director of Brooklyn College’s MFA program, calling to say she had been accepted.

“That was a life-changing day for me and I certainly didn’t know just how life-changing a day it was, or that I might be spending the rest of my life and career at Brooklyn College,” said Phillips, who went on to publish four acclaimed works of fiction and now serves on the faculty at her alma mater. “Brooklyn College has been the foundation of my creative life in so many ways.”

Phillips’ 2019 novel, The Need, was long-listed for a National Book Award and in 2020 she won a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her success, while both hard-earned and richly deserved, is hardly unique, however, among City University of New York alumni.

Robert Jones, Jr.

Among numerous other CUNY alums heralded for their literary work are Robert Jones, Jr., whose debut novel, The Prophets, garnered a Page One critique in The New York Times Book Review; Ocean Vuong, a prominent poet whose debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, has won or been nominated for two dozen literary awards; Phil Klay, who followed his National Book Award-winning debut short story collection, Redeployment (2014), with a much-praised novel, MissionariesKaitlyn Greenidge, who just won a Guggenheim Fellowship and published her second novel, LibertieTracy O’Neill, who was named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree in 2015 and published a second novel, Quotients, last year; and Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers (2017), which was a National Book Award finalist and winner of a PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

Ocean Vuong

“The City University of New York is proud of its remarkable track record for producing a diverse group of acclaimed writers trained by our committed and supportive faculty, who over the decades have been celebrated as great artists in their own right,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “Now more than ever, these creative writing programs serve a critical function. We need engaged storytellers to help us communicate what we have collectively been through this past year, as we strive to listen to one another with open ears and empathetic hearts and create a post-COVID future that is more just and fair for all.”

These writers and their celebrated achievements are part of a long-standing literary tradition at CUNY. Throughout its 60-year history, the University has nurtured novelists, poets and playwrights thanks to its faculty, which has boasted winners of the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize, Booker Prize, MacArthur Fellowships, Whiting and PEN American Awards, U.S Poet Laureate and New York State Poet Laureate, in addition to a host of other awards, grants and honors.

A Community of Writers

Carmen Boullosa

CUNY’s faculty has counted many great poets through the years — they include two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins (Lehman College); pioneering poet and essayist Audre Lorde (Hunter); Grace Schulman (Baruch), who in 2019 was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; Pulitzer Prize winners Gregory Pardlo (Medgar Evers/John Jay); Tyehimba Jess (the College of Staten Island); and Carmen Boullosa (Macaulay), a Mexican-born poet, as well as playwright and novelist. And now, thanks to the University’s highly regarded MFA programs at Brooklyn, Hunter, Queens and City Colleges, the University and its faculty are home to a growing list of noted prose writers, as well.

Phil Klay

And while there is no shortage of noted graduate programs in the New York Metropolitan area, CUNY’s MFA programs stand out for their affordability ­— with tuition that is a fraction of those of private schools — as well as the diversity of their students and world-class faculty.

“I went to Brooklyn College because of the faculty and as a Caribbean writer, I was interested in attending a program with a diverse student body, hoping that I would encounter other Caribbean writers and immigrant writers as well,” said Maisy Card, whose debut novel These Ghosts Are Family won a 2021 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.

Card was accepted at a prestigious MFA program at a private Manhattan-based university but chose Brooklyn instead. “I was more interested in their faculty and it was a lot more affordable,” she said. Card cites Joshua Henkin, whose new novel, Morningside Heightswas just published, as a professor who impacted her writing.

CUNY’s diversity also attracts the kind of faculty that has become a hallmark of the University. “It’s a really wonderful community because the instructors are as diverse and as committed to the craft of writing and the world of literature as the students are,” said Maaza Mengiste, the assistant director of Queens College’s MFA in Creative Writing and Literary Translation, whose 2019 novel, The Shadow King, was a Booker Prize Finalist. “We come with so many different experiences and yet we are all part of a community that is looking to push the ways that we discuss literature, that is invigorating and exciting.”

It’s only fitting that Queens College, located in one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the country, should be home to one of the only MFA programs in the nation specializing in Literary Translation. In the last few years, Queens alumni translated acclaimed international writers into English, including: Anne Posten, a Fulbright winner whose translation of Anja Kampmann’s High as the Waters Rise was a National Book Award Finalist; Eric M. B. Becker, the editor of the literary journal Words Without Borders, which focuses on global literature; and Mike Fu, the first translator to render into English Stories from the Sahara, by 20th Century Chinese writer Sanmao.

Proud Tradition

CUNY’S tradition of writing programs dates back at least 50 years, when famed authors like Grace Paley, Susan Sontag, Gwendolyn Brooks, Donald Barthelme, Kurt Vonnegut, Edna O’Brien and Frederic Tuten all taught at the City College of New York. Tuten was also an alumnus.

“It’s a unique program in the CUNY system, we’re very open and diverse in terms of race, culture and age,” said Michelle Valladares, a poet and director of CCNY’s MFA in Creative Writing program, which this past spring admitted its largest cohort — 140 students — in the history of the 174-year-old college. “It’s such an incredible experience to witness and observe the stories that are coming out of the students in the program.”

CCNY storied alumni include Oscar Hijuelos, whose 1989 novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, won a Pulitzer Prize; Ernesto Quiñonez, author of Bodega Dreams; and Walter Mosley, who last year earned the National Book Foundation’s 2020 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for a prolific career in which he has published over 60 books, including novels, plays and works of nonfiction.

Walter Mosley

Like many CUNY students, Mosley was a nontraditional student — a 35-year-old computer programmer looking for a fresh start. Being accepted to CCNY “was a really great moment for me,” said Mosley. At CCNY he met legendary Irish writer Edna O’Brien, who encouraged him to write a novel. He did — in six weeks. “It was a really very supportive program situation,” said Mosley. “And unlike most of these crazy places, it didn’t cost you your future 15 years to pay off or something.”

Mosley felt so indebted to the college that he launched the CCNY Publisher’s Certificate Program “to integrate the New York publishing industry,” he said.

Teaching as “An Act of Empathy”

Peter Carey

When renowned Australian novelist Peter Carey first came to Hunter College in 2003, he did so with the intention of creating the best MFA program possible. Hunter today boasts one of the most competitive programs in the nation. The program has counted among its faculty the likes of Claire Messud and Chris Adrian, and currently boasts ZZ Packer, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh and Mychal Denzel Smith, as well as poets Donna Masini and Tom Sleigh.

“If you look at the people who have taught (at Hunter), the one thing that is consistent is the quality of the faculty,” said Carey, who is one of just four people to have won the Booker Prize twice. “From my personal point of view, teaching is an act of empathy,” Carey added. “And it’s an act of not trying to get the students to do what you want to do, but figuring out what it is that they want to do and then helping them figuring out how to do that.”

Carey’s pride is evident as he rattles off the names of some recent novels by Hunter alumni: A Burning by Megha Majumdar; Little Gods by Meng Jin; Long Bright River by Liz Moore. “These are all people who I know personally and our faculty have taught, and that’s just lovely to see,” he said. “And there are more of course.”

Thanks to CUNY’s devoted faculty, there is more, and will be, it seems, for some time to come.

“I just read a thesis that needs to published as soon as possible,” said Mengiste. “That’s CUNY. It’s really exciting.”

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is a critical component of the lifeblood of New York City. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving 500,000 students of all ages and awarding 55,000 degrees each year. CUNY’s mix of quality and affordability propels almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League colleges combined. More than 80 percent of the University’s graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural life and diversifying the city’s workforce in every sector. CUNY’s graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur “Genius” Grants. The University’s historic mission continues to this day: provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background.

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Event recognized graduates’ resiliency throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,
and featured speeches from two local pandemic heroes

Collage of different graduation pictures
Long Island City, NY—virtual commencement celebration was held earlier today for the more than 3,300 members of the LaGuardia Community College Class of 2021.

“On behalf of LaGuardia Community College, I commend the more than 3,300 members of the Class of 2021 for sticking with their studies despite the difficulties and uncertainties of this past year—most had to complete the majority of their degree online,” said President Kenneth Adams. “The knowledge and skills they gained at LaGuardia, along with their life experiences, are needed now more than ever to effect positive change and help revitalize our communities. Congratulations to the graduates and their loved ones!”

Click here for more about the Class of 2021.

“This past year showed us that individuals can make a big impact towards lifting up our communities in times of struggle,” continued President Adams. “We were honored to have two pandemic heroes speak to our Class of 2021. Sofia Moncayo has led efforts to help families and businesses in Western Queens stay afloat during the pandemic, and LaGuardia grad Kristy Guzman, R.N. treated Covid-19 patients as an ICU nurse at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.”

Keynote speaker Sofia Moncayo has been spearheading initiatives in her community to help families and local businesses devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic. She leads a food distribution program through the Mosaic Community Center that gives out more than 2,000 boxes of food each week to families living in Sunnyside, Woodside and nearby communities. She also helped start 25 for Sunnyside & Woodside, a Facebook group that encourages neighborhood residents to patronize local restaurants and businesses. The group is credited with helping local restaurants recover from the financial crisis and rehire employees.

Moncayo encouraged the graduates to help others in need whenever possible, “When you see people in need, use the skills and knowledge you gained at LaGuardia to step up. Stand up for the marginalized, and do not be silent in the face of injustice. Give back to your community and they will give back to you.”

Brooklyn-native Kristy L. Guzman, RN graduated from LaGuardia in 2019 with an associate degree in nursing. Like many who come to LaGuardia for a second chance, Kristy had earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish before a serious health scare sparked an interest in the medical field.

She started working as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Bellevue Hospital just a few months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit New York City. “Because of LaGuardia, I felt fully equipped for my nursing job at Bellevue, where patients with the most difficult cases are often transferred from other city hospitals. We have to be ready for anything,” said Guzman.

She encouraged the graduates to remember making it through a global pandemic, when challenges arise for them in the future. “You have been in crisis mode before, and you persevered. You can do it again,” she said.

The LaGuardia Class of 2021 was represented by Diana Athena, a Russian-native graduating with an associate degree in creative writing. Unable to work during the pandemic, Athena applied for a scholarship from the LaGuardia Community College Foundation and was the first-ever recipient of the Dr. Susan Young Scholarship—named in honor of the late English Professor Susan Young. Athena plans to earn a bachelor’s in writing and psychology, preparing her for a career combining her interests in wellness, yoga, and literature. “I want to keep sharing my story so that other nontraditional students know they are not alone in their journey.”

Congratulatory messages were given by CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, New York State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, and New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

About the LaGuardia Community College 49th Graduating Class

LaGuardia’s newest associate degree-holders reflect the college’s tradition of serving low-income students, immigrants, and those seeking a second chance through higher education. More than half (51 percent) are Pell recipients and 34 percent are TAP recipients. Nearly one in four (23 percent) received both Pell and TAP. They come from 113 countries, and their average age is 27 years old. Many are the first in their family to earn a college degree.

Forty-five percent of the graduates self-identify as Hispanic or Latinx, reflecting recent data showing that LaGuardia is among the top five colleges and universities statewide for enrolling and graduating the most Hispanic and Latinx students.

Sixty-seven percent of the Class of 2021 live in Queens. The most popular majors were Business Administration, Liberal Arts: Math and Science, and Criminal Justice.

Many graduates are transferring to CUNY four-year colleges to pursue their bachelor’s degrees. Additional schools the graduates will be attending this fall include Boston University, Columbia University, Fordham University, NYU, Rochester Institute of Technology, Smith College, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Stonybrook, Syracuse, and the University of Michigan.

Total number of graduates: 3,300+

Associate in Science (AS) 52%
Associate in Applied Science (AAS) 27%
Associate in Arts (AA) 19%
Certificate 2%

Race/Ethnicity

Hispanic 45%
Asian/Pacific Islander 27%
Black 16%
White 11%
Native American 1%

 

Average Age: 27

22 or younger 32%
23 – 24 16%
25 – 29 27%
30 – 39 19%
40 + 7%

 

Gender

Female 62%
Male 38%
Unknown or not reported <1%

 

Most popular majors

Business Administration 11%
Liberal Arts: Math and Science 8%
Criminal Justice 8%
Psychology 7%
Computer Science 6%
Accounting 5%
Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities 4%

 

Residency

NYC 97%
Queens 67%
Brooklyn 16%
Bronx 7%
Manhattan 7%
Staten Island <1%
Other New York State 2%
Other 1%

 

Total Countries: 113
Top five countries (Other than the U.S.)*

China 5%
Ecuador 4%
Bangladesh 4%
Dominican Republic 3%
Nepal 3%
US 56%
* % based on students with known country information

 

Financial Aid

Pell recipients 51%
TAP recipients 34%
LaGuardia Community College Foundation Scholarships 14%
LaGuardia Community College Foundation Emergency Funds 9%
Excelsior Scholarships <1%

 

Click here for Fast Facts on LaGuardia’s student population.

• • • •

LaGuardia Community College, located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. Our guiding principle Dare To Do More reflects our belief in the transformative power of education—not just for individuals, but for our community and our country—creating pathways for achievement and safeguarding the middle class. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high-quality, affordable college education. We invite you to join us in imagining what our students, our community, and our country can become.

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Central Brooklyn Institution Recognized for Educating Students from Historically Underserved Communities

Grant also includes $30 Million in Additional Funding for CUNY Programs

Brooklyn, NY – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a $20 million commitment to CUNY’s Medgar Evers College (MEC), the single largest allocation in the history of the Central Brooklyn institution. The grant is part of the NYC Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan, which seeks to build generational wealth and confront the persistently growing racial wealth gap in the United States.

The NYC Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan includes scholarships for CUNY students and a comprehensive Brooklyn Recovery Corps program to aid the borough most-impacted by the pandemic.

The CUNY Scholarship Fund provides over 2,800 four-year CUNY ACE-model scholarships for Black and low-income students. Valued at $4,000 per year, this $45 million investment will help cover gaps in financial aid, books, transportation, and advising for eligible students. The program will serve 1,000 students at Medgar Evers College and 1,800 low-income students in New York City neighborhoods hit hardest by the pandemic.

In addition, Medgar Evers College will launch the Brooklyn Recovery Corps to provide over 200 students per year with the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing economic recovery of Brooklyn, focusing on experiences that integrate science, business, public health, or the green economy. Specifically for MEC students, this program includes paid internships, work experience, and career preparation for over 200 students per year. The $900,000 annual investments ($4.5 million over 5 years) will allow participating students to learn technical skills, earn academic credit or paid internships, gain work experience and career preparation support while engaging with the community.

“We are exceedingly grateful to be named as a beneficiary of funds delineated in Mayor de Blasio’s Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan. As we celebrate Juneteenth, it is fitting that our College named for Medgar Wiley Evers, the civil rights icon who gave his life for the rights and freedoms of others, would be the recipient of this historic and far-reaching investment in education. The founders of our College recognized that higher education is the one of the most effective paths for underserved populations and those from challenged socioeconomic backgrounds to gain social mobility and acquire wealth.

“Early on in the pandemic, neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn suffered disproportionately when compared with others across the City. Over a year later, the pandemic has revealed and exacerbated the disparities across New York City’s communities of color, especially in terms of unemployment, financial instability, and in turn, housing and food insecurity. As part of this funding, our students will be better equipped to intentionally prepare for their futures and realize their dreams while contributing to the economic recovery of Brooklyn and New York City. We look forward to working with the New York City Mayor’s Office, our CUNY partners, and our other supporters to continue this important work,” said Dr. Patricia Ramsey, president of Medgar Evers College.

“This grant will ensure that current and future students of Medgar Evers College will continue to have access to a quality education without the worry of having to disrupt their education due to lack of financial resources. It also underscores the City’s commitment to recognizing and correcting the unique challenges that Blacks face as a result of historical systemic injustices that still impact our communities today,” said Brooke Smith, student at Medgar Evers College.

The NYC Juneteenth Economic Justice Plan also provides universal 529 savings accounts to every public-school child beginning in kindergarten this upcoming school year. Known as “Universal NYC Baby Bonds,” this initiative will both open accounts and deposit a minimum of $100 into every account.

Other efforts to build generational wealth include employee ownership, a pathway for employees to build success with their employers; new requirements for women and minority-owned business enterprises (M/WBE); equitable ownership, requiring at least 25% M/WBE and/or non-profit ownership in affordable housing projects; and the NYC Acquisition Fund, a $210M loan fund for M/WBEs and non-profit developers.

For more information, and to read the official press release from the Office of the Mayor, visit this page.

About Medgar Evers College
Located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Medgar Evers College is a growing institution with nearly 7,000 students that offers both associate and baccalaureate degrees. A senior college within the City University of New York (CUNY) system, Medgar Evers College was established in 1970 with a mandate to meet the educational and social needs of the Central Brooklyn community. In its commitment to providing students with a sound academic foundation as well as an opportunity for personal development, Medgar Evers College seeks to provide high quality, professional, career-oriented undergraduate degree programs in the context of a liberal arts education. For more information, visit www.mec.cuny.edu.

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Media Contact: Giulia Prestia | gprestia@mec.cuny.edu | 718.270.5075

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy had set a deadline to fully inoculate 4.7 million adult residents with the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30, and, like his colleague across the river, it appears he has achieved that benchmark earlier than expected. The Democrat said 4,649,450 New Jerseyans were fully vaccinated as of Thursday. though the latest CDC data shows the state...

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Felix Rodriguez, BPL technology specialist, installs an energy monitoring device in a CCNY facility.

The City College of New York-based CUNY Institute for Urban Systems Building Performance Lab (CUIS BPL) is the winner of a 2021 Energy to Lead Award from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The Energy to Lead Competition supports colleges and universities that strive to meet their financial, environmental, academic, and community goals through clean energy solutions.

The $1.4 million award will aid the BPL in developing control based systematic processes for facilities staff and building operators to increase their ability to effectively manage and properly commission major energy consuming systems on campus.

CUIS BPL was founded in 2006 by energy engineer Michael Bobker, who currently serves as the lab’s executive director.

“Our lab was created with a grant from NYSERDA. The Energy to Lead award will allow us to continue to expose City College engineering students to hands-on work in improving energy performance in buildings. We have a steady stream of students who end up in careers in environmental engineering because of what we can do at the Building Performance Lab,” said Bobker.

The Energy to Lead award funded a pilot program that formally began in February 2021. Its target is to reduce energy consumption on the CCNY campus by 15-20%.

CCNY President Vincent Boudreau said: “This project is designed to educate energy users on data-based efficiencies. Energy efficiency is among the highest priorities we have for developing a sustainable future and City College is excited to share its expertise in this field.”

Buildings are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas em issions in New York State, and CUNY is on the forefront of advancing the state’s goals to realize a carbon neutral building stock, inspire the next generation of climate leaders, and provide robust opportunities for student engagement.

Combined, the projects recognized by NYSERDA are expected to save 4,604 metric tons of carbon annually, the equivalent to removing almost 4,000 cars from the road each year.

CUNY joins New York Medical College, Syracuse University, and Vassar College in this honor.

About the City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.8% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.
Laura Baisas/Jay Mwamba
p: 212.650.7580
e: jmwamba@ccny.cuny.edu
View CCNY Media Kit.

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A 10-year-old girl awoke in the middle of the night over the weekend to a stranger rubbing his genitals on her feet in her own bedroom — and the NYPD is asking for the public’s help finding the individual responsible. According to police, the girl was sleeping in her home, in the area of Broadway and Bond Street, when she...

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South Bronx Institution Recognized for its Success in Educating Students from ‘Chronically Underserved’ Communities

Largest Donation in School’s History Follows Scott’s $60 Million in Gifts to CUNY’s Lehman, BMCC in 2020

Author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott today announced a $15 million gift to CUNY’s Hostos Community College, the largest donation in the history of the Bronx school. Hostos was one of 30 colleges and universities identified for support by Scott, her husband Dan Jewett and a team of researchers. Announcing the gifts in an essay on Medium, Scott wrote that higher education is a “proven pathway to opportunity,” adding that her team was supporting “2- and 4-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved.”

The gift to Hostos follows Scott’s historic donations in December 2020 to two CUNY colleges, Lehman College and the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC). Both schools received $30 million, each gift among the largest in the University’s history.

In her essay, titled “Seeding by Ceding,” Scott described an evaluation process launched by her team earlier this year to identify “high-impact” groups and institutions in “categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.” They settled on 286 recipient institutions and groups that were awarded a total of $2.7 billion.

“We are humbled once again by Ms. Scott’s incredible generosity as well as the enlightened principles governing her philanthropy,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, who served as Hostos president from 2009-2014. “The belief system she outlined in her powerful and incisive essay — that the march toward social equality can only be driven by individuals and institutions working from within communities — aligns with CUNY’s core values and the transformational work of our 25 colleges across the five boroughs. We are deeply grateful once again for this affirmation of the University as an engine for social mobility, academic excellence, affordability and social justice.”

“This is a day to mark and remember at Hostos,” said Interim President Daisy Cocco De Filippis. “We are thrilled and delighted by this most beneficent gift, and it will be used to further the goals of the College’s founders. Thanks to Ms. Scott’s astounding gift, we will be able to better serve the men and women of the South Bronx who seek the myriad benefits of higher education. This gift will have a transformative impact on the College and it comes to Hostos because for over 50 years, Hostos has been a beacon of hope, a life-transforming institution, living up to the highest ideals of democratic values, equity, inclusion and diversity.  Hostos is a home for all who come through our doors in need of the life-changing opportunities brought by quality education delivered with care, hope and understanding.”

Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change, transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. In Fall 2019 it served about 7,100 full-time and part-time students. Hostos serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, and a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique “student success coach” program, which partners students with individualized guidance, is emblematic of the premier emphasis on student support and services.

According to an economic analysis released June 8 by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Bronx harder than any other borough by several measures and reversed pre-COVID gains in economic and population growth.

The City University of New York is the nation’s largest urban public university, a transformative engine of social mobility that is a critical component of the lifeblood of New York City. Founded in 1847 as the nation’s first free public institution of higher education, CUNY today has seven community colleges, 11 senior colleges and seven graduate or professional institutions spread across New York City’s five boroughs, serving 500,000 students of all ages and awarding 55,000 degrees each year. CUNY’s mix of quality and affordability propels almost six times as many low-income students into the middle class and beyond as all the Ivy League colleges combined. More than 80 percent of the University’s graduates stay in New York, contributing to all aspects of the city’s economic, civic and cultural life and diversifying the city’s workforce in every sector. CUNY’s graduates and faculty have received many prestigious honors, including 13 Nobel Prizes and 26 MacArthur “Genius” Grants. The University’s historic mission continues to this day: provide a first-rate public education to all students, regardless of means or background.

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The concert by popular Jewish Orthodox singer Yaakov Shwekey was done in honor of the dozens of Holocaust survivors — the first time they have been allowed to gather in a group in more than a year.