PSC CUNY DAY, MARCH 21, 2002

The PSC Leadership and elected officials gathered to celebrate CUNY Day on March 21, 2002. More than 100 people attended the CUNY Day Reception at Baruch College, including City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and City Council Higher Education Committee Chair Charles Barron and City Council member Margarita Lopez. State Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Ed Sullivan and state Senator Seymour P. Lachman also attended. The PSC Legislative Committee organized the event. CUNY Day was an opportunity to welcome the new city administration, including the Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller and City Council. Honored at the reception were Dr. Mary Burgan of the American Association of University Professors, Dr. Julius Edelstein of Friends of CUNY, and the students, faculty and staff of the Borough of Manhattan Community College and the Brooklyn and City College Centers for Worker Education.

The citations:

CUNY day awards:  Mary Burgan, Julius Edelstein, BMCC,
Center for Worker Ed, Brooklyn, Center for Worker Ed, CCNY

 


Mary Burgan
,
General Secretary of the American Association of University Professors, respected scholar of nineteenth-century literature, fast writer, firebrand speaker, fierce defender of academic freedom, you have proven yourself a true friend of CUNY. The union’s new leadership had barely met you when we called on you, with one day’s notice, to join us in testifying against the University’s Master Plan. You stunned us with a speech that cut through to the heart of the Plan and challenged its refusal to engage in the true consultative process that should define an academic community. A year later you leapt to our defense again, this time when the stakes were even higher. In a tough and elegant statement, you skewered the CUNY Administration and Board of Trustees for their capitulation to scandal-mongering in the press when they failed to defend academic freedom in forums about the September 11th attacks. And all of this you have done as part of your second career. Author of a major work on Katherine Mansfield, as well as studies of children’s literature and social history, you received your doctorate in English from the University of Illinois and went on to teach at Indiana University. In thirty years at Indiana you built an impressive dossier as academic and faculty advocate: first as professor, then as Department Chair, Associate Dean, and finally leader of the Bloomington and University Faculty Councils. For most people, that might be enough, but in 1994 you accepted the appointment as General Secretary of the AAUP and took up a national agenda. Under your leadership, the AAUP has added to its longstanding commitment to academic freedom and faculty governance an openness to academic unionism, a recognition of graduate students and part-time faculty, a willingness to hold teach-ins and protests. You are clearly a friend to many faculty and staff organizations, but we like to think you are a special friend of ours. In recognition of your clarity, responsiveness and backbone, we present you with this Friend of CUNY award.

 

 

Julius Edelstein, adviser to Presidents and Senators, expert on urban policy, former Vice-Chancellor of CUNY, defender of Open Admissions, founding member of the advocacy group Friends of CUNY, and the man who refuses to retire, you are CUNY’s official Friend. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin and a veteran of the Pacific Combat Fleet in World War II, you went from the Navy to a major career in government service. Adviser to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, you also contributed extensively to government in New York, serving as Executive Assistant to New York City’s Mayor Robert Wagner and consultant to Governors Carey and Harriman. Mayor Wagner’s long term of office from 1953 to 1965 was a period of remarkable urban transformation, and you were one of its sources. In those days of investment rather than starvation of cities, you designed innovative policies on housing, urban planning and alternatives to poverty and were able to put them into practice. An earlier CUNY, one that saw itself firmly oriented toward public urban life, appointed you to a professorship of Urban Studies at Hunter, and later to the marvelously titled position Vice-Chancellor for Urban Affairs. Here you solidified a life-long commitment to democratic access to higher education, becoming a leading voice for Open Admissions and one of the architects of the SEEK program. You founded the Committee for Public Higher Education, and many years later its offshoot, the Friends of CUNY, which continues that Great Society commitment to openness and access. A vigorous proponent of maintaining remedial courses at CUNY’s senior colleges and of protecting its founding vision of access, you continue in your tireless advocacy for a truly public university. Although you retired in 1984, you are one of the least retiring people we know, still to be found almost every day at your office at Hunter College. In honor of a lifetime of unwavering commitment to the institution’s highest goals, we present you with this Friend of CUNY award.

 

 

Students, Faculty and Staff of the Borough of Manhattan Community College, you are not just Friends of CUNY; you are CUNY itself. Members of the CUNY college closest to the World Trade Center, you were tested by September 11th in ways a college could never have anticipated. Collectively and individually, you rose to the occasion. First, you evacuated the buildings without a single injury, even among those in Fiterman Hall, which was crushed by the fall of World Trade Center Building 7. You who are on the Buildings and Grounds staff saved many of us from contamination by smoke and toxins by acting quickly and immediately closing the air ducts. For that responsiveness alone you deserve the thanks of the entire campus community. But you went on, joining with the College Security staff in round-the-clock shifts during the next three weeks to prepare the campus to reopen. With the help of an energetic Administration, you transformed a lobby and a street into classroom space, undaunted by the difficulties of locating equipment, temporary walls and even buildings in a few weeks. And you, the faculty of BMCC, taught us all something about what a college is: it’s not classrooms and buildings, it’s connections between people who understand that learning is at best a collective project. Unable to meet on campus, you rediscovered the importance of an intellectual community, forming instant email groups to discuss the meaning of the attacks for you as scholars. You volunteered to spend hundreds of hours at phone banks, calling every single BMCC student during the three weeks the campus was closed and reminding each one that it was both safe and important to come back to class. And then you joined the students and the entire college community in mourning the six BMCC students who did not come back—they were working in the World Trade Center that day. All of us join you in celebrating their lives and mourning their loss. Students of BMCC, you amazed us with your determination: returning to campus in October, squeezing into temporary classrooms, living every day with the noise and fumes and sadness of Ground Zero, steps away from your campus. Not only did you not desert your college, you returned in force; this semester BMCC experienced its largest surge ever in spring enrollments. To you, the students, staff and faculty of BMCC, for the small acts of courage it takes every day to work in a place of devastation, for the patience you have shown in working to ensure everyone’s health and safety, for your full-throated spirit at the PSC rally on December 17th, we are delighted to present this Friend of CUNY award.

 

 

Students, Faculty and Staff of the Center for Worker Education Graduate Program, Brooklyn College, you too suffered dislocation during the September 11th attack, as your building is just a few blocks north of BMCC. While the streets of lower Manhattan were locked down to all but residents, you preserved your spirit of community by remaining in constant touch with each other. A small, intensely focused community of 150 students pursuing graduate degrees in public health and urban policy, you took both personal and professional interest in the rapid transformation of urban life. As faculty and staff, you called and emailed your students so that you could remain in conversation with them despite your inability to be together. As students, you supported each other during the return to the building, and showed great flexibility in working with your faculty to recover class time lost during the closing. And then you extended yourselves, collectively, to the faculty and students of BMCC, welcoming them into your classroom space when they had none of their own. For the example you offer to all of us at CUNY of scholarly work in combination with political engagement, for your grace under pressure and desire to continue in your work, for the support you offered each other during this difficult year, we are proud to name you Friends of CUNY.

 

 

Students, Faculty and Staff of the Center for Worker Education Undergraduate Program, City College, you share the downtown Manhattan location with your sisters and brothers in the Brooklyn Worker Ed program, and like them you displayed both courage and grace under strain. An extraordinary community of students who are also workers, and of faculty and staff who support them, you came together in crisis in a way that drew on the deepest traditions of labor and the working class. The intensity of desire for education that characterizes the Center’s one thousand students emerged also among its faculty and staff, binding the community together during the weeks the Center was closed. As students who usually hold full-time jobs and care for children, husbands and parents— in addition to attending college—you knew about multiple demands on your time and the importance of informal networks of support. Perhaps because of your example, similar networks developed among your professors, many of whom met in each other’ s houses to continue the work of the Center when its offices were closed. You, as faculty and staff, also offered support to students, calling every student at home within the first week classes were suspended. As PSC members, you stood firm when asked by the Administration to reopen the Center before the "lock-down" on lower Manhattan had been removed, and then you worked with the Administration to reschedule weekend classes uptown at City College. So strong a community have you developed that 500 students from the Center came to a town meeting at City College to explore the meaning of the terrorist attack. In the spirit of solidarity you made room for BMCC students at your college, and then you joined them in a rally for investment in the people of New York at BMCC in December. For the exemplary community of learning and labor you have developed, for the model you offer of providing a kind of support often ruled out in institutional settings, for your participation in the larger community of the University, we are pleased to name you Friends of CUNY.

 

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