Former Presidents

 
 

Former Presidents

Mina S. Rees

Mina Rees, Photo: BachrachFounding Dean, 1961–68; Provost, 1968–69; President, 1969–72 (A.B., Hunter College, 1923; A.M., Columbia University, 1925; Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1931)

A distinguished mathematician and the first president of the Graduate Center, Dr. Rees was the architect of the consortial model that pools faculty talent throughout the CUNY system for its doctoral programs. Under her leadership, the Graduate Center became known as a major doctoral-degree-granting institution, expanding from four doctoral programs to twenty-seven. Dr. Rees began her collegiate teaching career at Hunter College in 1925, where she taught intermittently through 1961. During World War II Dr. Rees worked as executive assistant with the Applied Mathematics Panel in the Office of Scientific Research and Development. This panel of mathematicians worked with the military to resolve problems posed by various branches. Following the war, Dr. Rees was recruited by the Navy to head the scientific and mathematical research division of the Office of Naval Research; from 1952 to 1953 she served as its deputy science director. In 1961 Dr. Rees left Hunter College to serve as the first dean of graduate studies in CUNY’s newly established Graduate Center (then called the Graduate Division). Dr. Rees was appointed provost in 1968 and became the first president of the Graduate Center in 1969, a position she held until her retirement in 1972. Dr. Rees also served as the first woman president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The recipient of many honors and awards, Dr. Rees was conferred eighteen honorary degrees, the New York City Public Service Award for Professional Achievement, the City University of New York Chancellor's Medal, the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, and the President's Certificate of Merit for her important contributions during World War II.

Harold M. Proshansky

Harold M. Proshansky, Photo: Frank EnglishDean of Graduate Studies, 1968–70;
Provost, 1970–72; President, 1972–90
(B.S., City College, 1941; M.A., Columbia University, 1942; Ph.D., New York University, 1952)

An environmental psychologist, Dr. Proshansky was a pioneer in his field and instrumental in the establishment of a doctoral branch of study in environmental psychology at the Graduate Center. He was also a major contributor to the first definitive work in this subject, Environmental Psychology: Man and His Physical Setting (1970), and served a term as president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. Dr. Proshansky began his career at the Haskins Laboratories in Connecticut as a research psychologist. In 1952, upon earning a Ph.D. in social psychology at New York University, he was appointed to the Brooklyn College faculty as a lecturer in psychology. In 1963 Dr. Proshansky joined the Graduate Center’s doctoral faculty, becoming executive officer of the doctoral program in psychology in 1966, dean of graduate studies in 1968, provost in 1970, and president of the Graduate Center in 1972. During his eighteen-year tenure as president Dr. Proshansky helped the Graduate Center build a national reputation, attracting many prominent scholars from around the country.

Steven M. Cahn

Steven M. Cahn, Photo: Foster HenryDean of Graduate Studies, 1983–84;
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, 1984–92; Acting President, Spring 1991 (B.A., Columbia College, 1963; Ph.D., Columbia University, 1966)

Currently serving as a professor of philosophy and urban education, Dr. Cahn teaches academic ethics at the Graduate Center, and has written, coauthored, or edited numerous books on philosophy. Having served as dean of graduate studies and provost, he was appointed acting president of the Graduate Center in Spring 1991 upon the death of President Proshansky. Dr. Cahn previously taught at Dartmouth College, Vassar College, the University of Rochester, New York University, and the University of Vermont, where from 1973 to 1980 he headed the department of philosophy. He was also active in foundation work, holding executive positions with the Exxon Education Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the John Dewey Foundation. http://web.gc.cuny.edu/philosophy/faculty/cahn.htm

Frances Degen Horowitz

Frances Degen Horowitz, Photo: Peter HarrisPresident, Fall 1991–June 2005
(B.A., Antioch College, 1954; M.A., Goucher College, 1954; Ph.D., University of Iowa, 1959)

A prominent child psychologist, Dr. Horowitz became president of the Graduate Center in September 1991 after her thirty-year tenure at the University of Kansas–Lawrence, where for thirteen years she was vice chancellor for research, graduate studies, and public service, and dean of the Graduate School. Specializing in developmental psychology, Dr. Horowitz has written widely on infant behavior, early childhood development, developmental theory, and early intervention. She has accumulated a long list of honors and awards for her research and her leadership roles in educational and civic organizations. Dr. Horowitz serves on the boards of, among other institutions, the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute, the Feminist Press, and the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. In 2004, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her awards include the American Psychological Association's Centennial Award for Sustained Contribution to the Science Directorate, a Commendation from the New York City Comptroller's Office, and the New York Women’s Agenda Star Award. Under President Horowitz’s leadership, the Graduate Center moved to a new campus in a redesigned landmark Fifth Avenue building and successfully conducted a $30 million capital campaign, exceeding that goal by almost $3 million. During President Emerita Horowitz’s tenure as university professor (2005–10) she served as Interim Jack F. Skirball Director of the Center for Jewish Studies.

William P. Kelly

Provost and Senior Vice President, 1998-June 2005; President, July 2005-June 2013 (B.A., Princeton University, 1971; M.Phil, Cambridge University, 1975; Ph.D., Indiana University, 1976)
 
Prior to becoming President of the Graduate Center, Dr. Kelly served as the Graduate Center’s provost and senior vice president, a tenure that was marked by the recruitment of a remarkable cadre of internationally renowned scholars to the school’s faculty.

A distinguished American literature scholar and an expert on the works of James Fenimore Cooper, Dr. Kelly is the author of Plotting America’s Past: Fenimore Cooper and the Leatherstocking Tales. His essays and reviews have appeared in a broad range of publications including the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review, and The American Scholar. He is the editor of the Random House edition of The Selected Works of Washington Irving and the Oxford University Press edition of The Pathfinder. He is currently at work on a book about John Jacob Astor.

Dr. Kelly graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1971, where he won the David Bowers Prize in American Studies. He was named Outstanding Graduate Student in English at Indiana University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1976. Dr. Kelly also holds a diploma in intellectual history from Cambridge University and in 1980 received a Fulbright Fellowship to France, where he subsequently became visiting professor at the University of Paris. He was also executive director of the CUNY/Paris Exchange Program and, in 2003, was named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French Ministry of Education in recognition of his contributions to Franco-American educational and cultural relations.

On the faculty of CUNY’s Queens College from 1976 to 1998, he was named Queens College’s Golden Key Honor Society Teacher of the Year in 1994. He was appointed concurrently to the faculty of the Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in English in 1986 and served as the program’s executive officer from 1996 to 1998.

Dr. Kelly is the vice chairman of the CUNY Research Foundation and serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.