A Message from the Interim President: An Honor to Serve You

July 28, 2020

It has been my true honor to serve as interim president of The Graduate Center.


Dear Colleagues,
It has been my true honor to serve as interim president of The Graduate Center. When I accepted the invitation to return to CUNY to lead this remarkable institution, I had no idea of the year that was ahead. None of us did.

We faced unprecedented challenges, and the ways we responded underscore the agility and heart of this community.

We ensured that The Graduate Center stayed true to its mission: to advance the public good through research and education. One measure of that is, despite all the challenges this spring, our master’s enrollment for the fall is up!

My long affiliation with and affection for The Graduate Center began at the start of my career when I became a consortial faculty member of the philosophy program (as an assistant professor at Hunter College). Forty-nine years later, I feel privileged to have joined you again.

This is an institution where intellectual ideas merge with commitment to public issues. We are a community that generates social change using the ideas developed at The Graduate Center. I think of faculty, including Frances Fox Piven (Emerita, Political Science), Ruth Wilson Gilmore (Earth and Environmental Sciences), Michelle Fine (Psychology, Urban Education), and alumnus Brett Stoudt (Psychology, Social Welfare). We have alumni like Patricia Chapple Wright (Ph.D. ’85, Anthropology), the late Sister Georgianna Glose (Ph.D. ’95, Social Welfare), Perry Halkitis (Ph.D. ’95, Educational Psychology), and Jan Haldipur (Ph.D. ’15, Sociology). Clearly only part of a very long list!

I think also of the members of our community who supported New Yorkers as frontline workers and donated critical PPE to our hospitals. We are all part of that legacy that reaffirms our historic mission.

Both the pandemic and Black Lives Matter frame our mission today and going forward, from the researchers at the ASRC working to combat the coronavirus to our doctoral students who touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of CUNY undergraduates and pursue careers in education, public policy, science, technology, the arts, and environmental and social justice.

I have had the pleasure to work with so many dedicated and talented people during this past year. I want to thank our essential workers who have kept everything running as well as our exceptional faculty, doctoral and master’s students, and staff.

I had the great benefit to work with an extraordinary senior staff and I offer them special thanks.

I want to acknowledge the other CUNY presidents and the deans of the schools that make up the Graduate School and University Center with whom I worked throughout the year.

I, of course, owe thanks to Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez for the opportunity to serve here.

Approaching its 60th anniversary, The Graduate Center looks to the future with a new president, Robin Garrell. I have had the chance to talk with her over the past few weeks as she helped to guide UCLA through the pandemic. I have come to know her as a leader who ably and compassionately champions the interests of faculty and students, and I can assure you that she brings that same spirit here. She is eager to meet you and get started.

Her belief in public graduate education and diversity, her dedication to intellectual excellence and the public good are the values we share. I am optimistic about the great things that The Graduate Center will accomplish over its next 60 years.

With warmest regards,

James Muyskens