4 of Queens’ 5 CUNYs are searching for new presidents

From left to right, York College President Marcia Keizs, CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez and LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow. Photos courtesy of CUNY.

From left to right, York College President Marcia Keizs, CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez and LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow. Photos courtesy of CUNY.

By Victoria Merlino

Big leadership changes are coming to Queens CUNYs.

York College on Monday became the fourth Queens CUNY school seeking a new president, after current President Marcia Keizs announced that she will step down from the post in August after 14 years of service. Four other CUNY schools elsewhere in the city are also searching for new presidents.

York joins Queens College, Queensborough Community College and LaGuardia Community College in their searches for new leadership. The university system continues to undergo major changes since the recent appointment of a new CUNY chancellor, and presidential searches at four other colleges.

“I want to thank President Marcia V. Keizs for her many years of honorable and prodigious service to the City University of New York, starting in 1971,” said Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez in a statement. “President Keizs has been a champion and role model to students and teachers at York College, greatly strengthening the school’s academic programs, increasing enrollment and expanding its national profile.”

Since her tenure as president began in 2005, Keiz has seen enrollment increase by 25 percent, expanded undergraduate majors from 46 to 66, and expanded undergraduate research, honors programs and study abroad programs.

She said she plans to return to the classroom and become a professor at Bronx Community College following her retirement from York.

Matos Rodríguez himself stepped down from his post as president of Queens College on May 1 in order to take on the role of CUNY chancellor, the university system’s top position. He was chosen for the role after the last chancellor, James Milliken, left the in 2018 to become chancellor of the University of Texas system. Matos Rodríguez is the first Latino individual to lead the university.

“It is not easy for me to share this news with the QC community who has so generously embraced me and my family during the past five years. I thank each and every one of you for your friendship and collegiality,” Matos Rodríguez wrote to Queens College staff and students in a statement back in February.

Matos Rodríguez appointed interim Queens College President William Tramontano on the first day he took up the office of the chancellor in May. Tramontano previously served as senior advisor to the president for student success and strategic initiatives at Hunter College.

LaGuardia Community College President Gail Mellow announced in February that she would be stepping down this August.

“I love LaGuardia. After almost 20 years as president, I continue to be amazed at what our community accomplishes. We are an astonishing institution and it starts with our formidable students, with their extraordinary passion for learning and determination to overcome obstacles and thrive,” Mellow said in a statement in February. “Our leadership team has never been stronger and I know that LaGuardia will continue to improve the lives of students, their families and our community for decades to come.”

Mellow said at the time that she had no fixed plans for what could come next in her career.

Former Queensborough Community College president Diane Call retired from her role in August 2018 after 47 years working at the college. Queensborough did not provide comment on the current status of their presidential search.

Queens colleges won’t be the only ones in the CUNY system to undergo leadership changes in the next year.

Matos Rodríguez appointed current Lehman College President José Luis Cruz to become executive vice chancellor and university provost effective July 1, vacating his Lehman position if he is confirmed by the CUNY Board of Trustees.

CUNY Graduate Center’s Interim President Joy Connolly announced in January that she would be leaving the university to become president of American Council of Learned Societies on July 1.

James Muyskens, a former president of Queens College and a professor at the Graduate Center, was appointed Matos Rodríguez in May to be the next interim president.

Borough of Manhattan Community College currently has an interim president, Karrin Wilks, and Baruch College’s President Mitchell Wallerstein also announced that he will be stepping down to become a professor at the university.