It has been a privilege beyond measure to lead this exceptional institution for the past 22 years, in effect, through the entire 21st century. But the time has come to announce I will be leaving the presidency of our beloved Hunter College at the end of June 2023.
This decision is a bittersweet one, but it has been made easier by my complete confidence that Hunter is securely set to remain what the Princeton Review calls the crown jewel of CUNY.
Since 2001 — a period that coincides with the tenures of five governors and four mayors — we have accomplished so much together that it poses a challenge merely to list the many high points. Surely among them are the new schools and spaces we have built for our extraordinary students: the Silberman School of Social Work in a new East Harlem campus, and the creation of transformative new main campus spaces like the Leon and Toby Cooperman Library and the Larry and Klara Silverstein Student Success Center. We moved closer to our vision of making Hunter the public school of the arts by acquiring the Baker Theater Building on 67th Street and the Tribeca art studios and galleries. This physical growth came as we added MFAs in Film, Dance, and Theatre and burnished our storied Creative Writing, Art, and Music Master’s degrees.
I am so proud that we invested in our outstanding scientists by purchasing a research floor in the Weill Cornell Belfer Center and partnering with the East Side medical institutions on translational science grants.
I point with particular pride to the remarkable restoration and transformation of the landmark Roosevelt House into a Public Policy Institute offering certificates in public policy and human rights that, together with outstanding community programs, reflect Hunter’s strong commitment to civic engagement.
Most recently, we have celebrated the record-shattering $52 million gift from Leonard Lauder, whose extraordinary generosity establishes an endowment to train future health-care professionals at our acclaimed nursing school.
Together, utilizing the more than $500 million raised from donors since 2001, we have created or modernized many other facilities and programs that will continue to serve our Hunter community well into the future, and invested millions in scholarships and internship support to level the playing field for our extraordinary immigrant and first-generation college students.
We have proudly nurtured emerging college students at our Manhattan Hunter Science High School, a nationally ranked early college high school we created in 2003, and at my beloved Hunter College Elementary School and High School, of which I am a proud alumna.
For me, it has always been about all things Hunter. It has been one of my life’s great joys to build on its glorious past and create an even more remarkable future.
Anyone who knows me, knows I bleed Hunter purple. For 22 years, my daily focus has been on supporting our talented professors and industrious students. What a delight it has been to help build a faculty of top-notch researchers, educators, and artists. I revel in their accomplishments as winners of MacArthur, Guggenheim, and Carnegie fellowships; the $1 billion they secured during my tenure in research support; and the impact their scholarship and mentorship have had on our students.
But above all, it is hard to find words to describe my passion and love for our Hunter students. With our incredible Student Services team, we have invested in their success both in the classroom and in extracurricular programs. It is moving — but not surprising, given the talent and tenacity of these future leaders — that this investment has yielded spectacular results including two Rhodes Scholars, a Marshall, five Schwarzman, and many Luce, Fulbright, Truman, and Soros fellowships, and large numbers of acceptances at the nation’s leading graduate, medical, and law schools.
Given the popularity and success of our oversubscribed Macaulay Honors program, we created six additional freshman merit scholarship programs in the humanities and sciences.
Each and every day, we demonstrate it is indeed possible to work, teach, and study in an environment that stimulates inquiry, cherishes diversity, and respects the rights of all. Our students come from 100 countries and speak 150 languages but share a commitment to learning and growing together at Hunter.
It has been thrilling to watch class after graduating class emerge as success stories in their own right, then give back to Hunter as board members and mentors, and contribute to the city as civic and business leaders, public officials, and philanthropists. Hunter alumni have made me proud and grateful for their devotion to the College’s motto of caring for the future. And I have loved being invited to their weddings and hugging their babies!
Hunter’s enrollment is gratifyingly high and our graduation rates are strong, with academic standards that set us apart among public colleges. It was the indomitable spirit of our community that kept us connected and directed toward keeping our commitment to our students during the challenging online pandemic years. I will forever cherish what we accomplished under the most demanding circumstances, and I am delighted that we have emerged, back in person, a bustling campus with our students as hungry as ever to learn and grow. Let us never forget how we overcame this adversity together and thrived in its wake!
Clearly, these accomplishments would not have been possible without the phenomenal Hunter team, and I want to express my profound thanks to everyone with whom I have had the honor to work over the past two decades. Together, we have made a difference in the lives of each other and, most importantly, in the lives of our students. We helped them pursue and achieve the American dream that Hunter College has made attainable for so many generations of students. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to work with you on this most-crucial mission.
Over the next six months, I plan to express my appreciation to each of you personally. For now, I want to extend my sincere thanks to the faculty, students, professional and support staff, donors, board members, and alumni who join me in bleeding Hunter purple. And I want to express my gratitude to Chancellor Matos Rodríguez, the Central Office team, and the CUNY Trustees for their support.
In the Spring semester, I will focus on completing our 2023 goals, including plans for the next phase of our library renovation, redesigning our career center, and launching our online social work master’s. As I embark on my next professional adventure, I will always keep Hunter in my heart and continue to live and breathe the college motto — mihi cura futuri : the care of the future is mine.
With gratitude for the opportunity to serve the extraordinary Hunter community,