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Investiture of CCNY President Vincent Boudreau

Investiture of CCNY President Vincent Boudreau


Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time. Thank you. We’re so pleased that you’re here to celebrate
the Investiture of Vincent G. Boudreau as the 13th President of The City College of
New York. Yeah. Definitely. I’m Rob Barron, I’m the Chair of the Department
of Theatre and Speech. It is my great pleasure to serve as today’s
master of ceremony. For those of you who didn’t run to your dictionary,
an investiture is defined as the formal ceremony of conferring the authority and symbols of
high office. It is an academic ceremony, which has symbolized
the pursuit of knowledge since the middle ages. Today, universities around the world view
investitures as opportunities to welcome a new era, and celebrate as a community, so we’re grateful for your participation today. [Fanfare] Ladies and gentlemen, I would now like to
welcome the university directors and deans who are entering the Great Hall. The directors and deans are followed by presidents
of The City University of New York: Dr. José Luis Cruz of Lehman College, Dr. David Gomez
of Hostos Community College, and Dr. Thomas A. Isekenegbe of Bronx Community College. Now entering are the members of the President’s
Cabinet of City College. These members include the deans, the vice
presidents, and the directors of the college. [Fanfare] All right, now, entering the Great Hall are
the members of the Platform Party. The City College of New York’s Executive Vice
Chair of the Graduate Student Council, Cyrille Njikeng, and the Executive … yeah. And the Executive Vice President of the Undergraduate
Student Government, Taimoor Arif, are leading in the President of the Alumni Association,
The City University of New York’s Vice Chancellors and members of the University’s Board of Trustees. We are also honored to have the president
of the Faculty Senate, David Jeruzalmi, leading the Chancellor of the City University of New
York, James B. Milliken. Following him is Adriano Espaillat, Congressman from the 13th
District of New York City. Next in our procession are two of our favorite
alumni, retired General Colin L. Powell from the class of 1958, and the acting President
of the Higher Education Services Corporation, Guillermo Linares, class of 1975, who brings
greetings on behalf of New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo. We’re also honored to have The City College
Interim Provost, Tony Liss, leading in the chair of the Foundation for City College,
Martin Cohen, followed by another distinguished alumnus, Brad Walrond, from the class of 2006. I also would like to welcome, from the Board
of Trustees, Barry F. Schwartz, Vice Chairperson of the CUNY Board of Trustees. As you can see, we’ve come to the end of the
procession, as we welcome Chief Marshal Janet Steele, who has carried in The City College
Mace, and who has led in President Vince Boudreau. [Applause.] Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
we are pleased to commence the investiture ceremony of The City College of New York’s
13th President. Please, welcome Miss Annika Lüdke, who will
sign the National Anthem. Miss Ludke graduated last year from City College
with a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Colin Powell School for Civic and
Global Leadership. All, please rise. Oh, say! Can you see by the dawn’s early light what
so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming; Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
through the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting
in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there: Oh, say! Does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er
the land of the free and the home of the brave? [Applause.] Please be seated. It is our honor to welcome James B. Milliken,
Chancellor of the City University of New York, who will bring greetings on behalf of the
University. Chancellor Milliken. Thank you. Welcome, everyone, I’ve been looking forward
to this for some time. Thank you for joining us at this special celebration,
it carries great meaning for this university, and for our city. The Investiture of Vince Boudreau as the 13th
President of City College of New York is not only a great day for one of our country’s
most storied institutions of higher education, it’s a wonderful affirmation that the extraordinary,
democratic experiment that started 170 years ago, offering a high-quality educational institution,
open to anyone with the will, the talent, and the desire to fulfill their dreams, no
matter their background. It’s as robust and vital as ever. Today, with a new President, that experiment
is recharged, and reinvigorated yet again. If anything, it’s more important today than
it’s ever been. City College traces its lineage to that original
school, The Free Academy, and with each generation, it has added to its remarkable legacy by producing
the ideas, and the leaders, who’ve helped make our nation a global leader in an array
of fields. City College has produced 10 Nobel Prize winners,
as well as people whose careers and achievements had a deep impact on our country. From Oscar Hijuelos to Bernard Baruch, there
was Andy Grove, an immigrant, and the founder of one of the greatest chip makers, Intel,
and with us today. The former General and Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell, born a few blocks from here, in Harlem. City College was much more than an interesting
experiment, though. It was founded on a farsighted gamble, but it was a gamble all the same,
that investing in the education of students from lower income, and underrepresented groups,
and immigrants would pay off. I’m proud to be here today to tell you that
it has proven over and over again to be one of the wisest bets and soundest investments
that our city and state has ever made. President Boudreau has distinguished himself
for more than two decades with his dedication to that vision. His leadership ensures that City College will
continue to deliver on that vital promise. Today, we acknowledge the commitment, the
passion, the foresight, and the innovative spirit that Vince Boudreau brings to City
College and to its outstanding students. I guarantee that we will have many more occasions
to celebrate the triumph of our democratic values, and the remarkable achievements of
The City College of New York well into the future. Today I say congratulations to President Boudreau,
and congratulations to The City College of New York. Thank you. [Applause.] Thank you, Chancellor. Now, Mr. Brad Walrond, City College alumnus
class of 2006, will bring greetings. Mr. Walrond. [Applause.] World had not used us well / Laid us askance.
Stroked our jewels / Took them for granted Left us thirsty, begging / For something like
God– / for any moment that might / could give a Life its meaning. Poverty ain’t never been ’bout money; / Can’t
be the repose we suppose / Can’t afford the time spent & not saved. / Spent & not saved. Surgeons left note for our next of kin / and
Advised: “if we polish too quick / too careless / brilliance is fleeting.” Obliged these teachers offered to train us /
Off the beaten track; / Prune our overcast thoughts into vision. Ignorance ain’t never felt nothin’ like bliss.
Enrolled us off the street half-dead near blind from living. working class studies in still art / sat stone
cold as Survival by anesthetic Opioids pop like multivitamins / Past lives
pack into a stupor / Our futures had slipped into neutral’s noose / & fell madly in love with forgetting. These operations then, perform best cold-turkey Recovery will require a victim’s memory / Thinking
is torture– / aims to extract that which is useful. / Note said, these physicians expert
in addiction & trauma / Syllabi make manifest their tools to treat it. / But this Westside
City clinic / Smelled of nothing but pages and pages; Papyrus, I know now, mere fodder for the fire / What if some perish from the smoke? Embers at the risk of too much pressure / Might just rain down diamonds! Doctor’s deep tissue massage / Pressed down hard
as third-degree burns / In hot pursuit of bone– / Something at last to hold on to. / Yes! Just enough friction might could make the wildest dreams As palpable and magnificent
as bonfire. Ideas have always been accelerants / handled with care. A Master teacher’s friction set them ablaze. / Nursed only the hungriest back to health Left no mark on those of us / Thought themselves /
Too full / Too fortunate. When we caught fire we were as necessary / And unremarkable as tinder. That’s why we won’t never forget / Can’t never
forget / They caught us a Spark / God damn and we took it in / Like a breath / Survived
it / Like a breath / Singed salted / & thirsty for another. [Applause] The Senior Advisor to the President, and Interim
Executive Director for the Combined Foundations for City College, Ms. Dee Dee Mozeleski will now bring greetings. Ms. Mozeleski. [Applause.] Hi everyone. I normally don’t do this, and by this, I mean
speak at large gatherings in the Great Hall. Normally I’d be over there by the piano, I’d
be making sure things run smoothly, but when my boss asks me to do something, I say no
a few times, and then he insists that I do it. I met Vince in July of 2012. He was starting
a search for a new fundraiser to work with him at the Colin Powell Center and to help
him build what would become, in collaboration with the Division of Social Sciences, the
Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. I remember everything about our first meeting. He set aside traditional interview formats,
and he wanted to just talk, he wanted to hear about what I’d been doing, and he wanted
to hear what I thought of higher education. What I wanted to hear was about City College
and why he loved it so much, because even from that first interaction, it was clear
that his love for this place had no limits. A month later, after meeting with General
Powell, Vince met me at a small cafe in Virginia, and asked if I wanted the job. What he didn’t tell me, and what he probably
didn’t know, was that it wasn’t just a job we were taking on, it was the great job. It was the great job of building a school. I stand here today remembering that I then
thought, May 2nd, 2013, the founding of the Colin Powell School, was the best day I would
ever have here, and I was wrong. Lots of people will tell you things about
Vince, for those of you who’ve worked here for 26 years or more, you’ll have almost three
decades of stories to share. For those of you in the audience who’ve been
his students, you will have memories of him in the classroom, as an advisor, as a mentor,
or you’ll have known him as the Dean of the Colin Powell School. Some of you may remember that you’ve often
said to me you consider Vince your dean, even as you graduated from other schools on campus,
but I promise, I won’t name names. I’ll tell you that the Vince I know has chosen
to support the success of our students on this campus over almost anything else. He will tell you that he loves this place,
he will remind us that he’s never leaving City College, and I’d like to tell you a little
bit about why. I didn’t understand his love for City as clearly
as I did one afternoon before he was Dean. We were walking out of the NAC, and students
outside were protesting a decision they didn’t understand. I started to ask him, as a member
of the faculty, if he was allowed to be with them, but before I finished my sentence, he
was already moving away from me. He turned around and said “Don’t wait for
me, I need to be here with them.” He wanted to be where he thought he’d be the
most useful, which was answering the students’ questions, their whys. Nothing has changed, I assume he’s always
been this person, and I know he’s always been this person for our campus. During the search process for our new president,
I asked the question, “What do we think we deserve in a president?” I thought we deserved someone who would ask
us to not just be ambassadors for the college, I thought our new president should demand
that we become its warriors. I thought we deserved someone who would remind
us that when society asks, “Who belongs?” We would insist that we do. I also thought we deserved someone who would
ask us to look carefully at what we do each day, and then ask if there’s a better way
to do it. And more importantly, I thought we deserved someone
who would be right there beside us as we did it, building upon 170 years of the College’s
history. I’m sure many people will tell you what they
think it means to be president of a college. I will tell you that I’m grateful we have
one who believes that this is the biggest job he will ever have at the greatest institution
in the world. It’s possible you don’t know this, so I’ll let
you in on a secret. Each year, at the end of May, my boss says to me, “We’ll never work
again this hard.” He’s lying. Each year gets harder, but I think it’s supposed
to. Vince will never allow himself to become complacent
about this campus. He will ask that we do the same. I think it’s why I’m most thankful he’s our
college’s president, I’m so grateful to be part of this college at this moment in time. So, to our faculty I say, I’m honored to work
with you, and I’m honored to see the impact you have on the campus and the world. And to our staff, you’re my friends, you’re my
peers, you’re my colleagues, it’s an honor to steward the legacy of this space. And to our students, you’re all the reason we
come here each day. To Vince, it’s a tremendous honor to work
for you. It’s a tremendous honor to work beside you,
and to congratulate you on this very important day. So on behalf of the combined Foundations for
the College, we look forward to working with you, and we look forward to stewarding the
college’s future. Thank you. [Applause] And now, retired General Colin L. Powell, who
is a City College graduate, class of 1958, will bring greetings. General Powell. I love this place. I love this hall. I love the building in which it is located. I love the campus as it is now, I love the
campus as it was when I first walked on campus some 64 years ago. But it is not the facilities that really make
this a special place, it’s the spirit that moves through the campus. It’s the spirit of Townsend Harris, and Dr.
Webster, and Dr. Webb, and all the others who’ve come before who have made this such
a remarkable place. My favorite place on campus, when I come on
campus, is across the street, on the little low wall that you’ll see. I sit on that wall when I’m up here, and wait
for people to come by, and stop, and talk. Students, and teachers, and the maintenance
people, and the gardeners, and everybody else who takes care of this wonderful place. I’m having trouble with students lately, though
however, increasingly they walk by me without even noticing me because they’re wearing $400
earphones, and they’re texting. I simply say “Hey, you! Get over here.” It’s good to be a general, they always turn
around and come over. They tell me their stories, and they tell
me what they’re doing, and they tell me the most remarkable things. A group of engineering students, who have
married up what they’ve learned in engineering at the Grove School with actually working
on a bridge in New Jersey, and criticizing, or commenting on the engineers who had designed
that bridge, and are working on that bridge. I’ll come up here and sit there, and four
students will come by, and one was from Egypt, one is from Russia, another one is from Lebanon,
another one from Iran. Who else do you want me to mention? But, this place, I really mean I love, because
it has meant so much to me. Not just City College of New York, but the
whole public school system of the New York City. PS20, PS 39, Junior High School 52, and then
Morris High School, I couldn’t get into, that’s a new one. I tried to get into Stuyvesant, and the Bronx
High School of Science, but the guidance counselor in junior high school said, “No, don’t even
think about it, you won’t make it.” And somehow, I got into CCNY, my grades didn’t
qualify me for it, but somebody took a chance. And I came here. In the first few months, I’m sure that person
thought, “Oh, that was not a chance well taken.” But then, I found ROTC, and I found something
that I did well, that I loved doing. In ROTC I found another family, in the Pershing
Rifles, the fraternity in ROTC. I learned structure, I learned how to apply
myself. The military did not stand for C averages,
it had to be A. And so they squared me away, they straightened me out, and at the age of 21,
in 1958, I was able to graduate from this place, get my commission, go into the United States Army. Without that public school education, I don’t
know what would’ve happened. As I rose in the ranks through the army, people
would ask me, especially when I became a general, and when I became a four-star general, the
questions became more intense. “When did you graduate from West Point?” “I didn’t go to West Point.” “Did you go to the Virginia Military Institute
or The Citadel in South Carolina?” I said “No, they wouldn’t let a black guy
in then.” And they’re stunned. “So where did you go?” “City College of New York.” “City College of New York? What’s that about?” I said “It’s a free academy.” I got an education from PS20 through the City
College of New York that prepared me for what the army was going to ask of me, and for 35
years in the army, and four years as Secretary of State. “How much did it cost you?” I said “I just told you, it’s a free academy.” It cost my parents nothing, not a nickel,
for all those years, and the question usually comes back, “Well, how was that affordable?” I said, “The citizens of the city of New York,
and the state of New York know that they have nothing more important to do, or invest in,
than the future of the city, and the state, and that comes through education.” One of the other familiar questions I always
would get is, “When you were a kid, growing up, did you dream you could become Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Armed Forces of the United States?” And I smile and say, “Yeah, there I was. I believe I was about 10 years old, I was
standing on the corner of 163rd Street, and Kelly Street in the Bronx. I said to myself,
‘Self, you’re going to grow up and become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for
the Armed Forces of the United States.'” It was unthinkable, it was unachievable, can’t
be done. We still had segregation, we still had Jim
Crow, public school education, it can’t be done. But, the answer is it can be done, it could
be done, and it was done in my case. Why? Because of the education system of New York
and especially because of The City College of New York. Without you, I never would’ve made it. Without this place that I adore, this place
that I love, wouldn’t have made it. When I left the State Department in 2005,
looking around for things to do, and I knew that a small center had been created up here
by the Rudin family in my name. Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies, something
like that. I wasn’t sure what had been going on, it’d
been about four or five years old then, and I know that Dean Vince Boudreau was heading
it, so I decided to go up and take look, to see what it would do to me. And I sat in the President’s conference room with
about 12 students from that center, Powell Fellows. I looked at these wonderful young people,
every hue, every color was represented, the languages had accents as they went around
the room. Every story they told me was moving. They were the first ones in their families
to go to college, and they were proud of it, and they knew they were changing the history
of their family by going to college. When they went around the room, and each one
told me their story, it came back to me, and the only emotion, the only thing I could think
of was, “My God, these are me 50 years ago.” I came up the same path. That immigrant path, that path of low income,
but a path that was set me on by parents who cared about me. Parents who made it clear that we came to
this country for a new life, for economy, and to raise children. And we have every expectation of you to go to
school and get some kind of education, be a bus driver, a lawyer, a doctor, whatever
it is, but get an education and meet our expectations. I did that, as did all of my cousins. But, after I saw these 12 wonderful people
in that room that day, I said to myself, “I’ve got to get involved more deeply with this.” And I did. And it was on that day that Vince Boudreau and I
formed a partnership, a partnership that said “Let’s expand, Let’s see what else we need
to do just besides giving them an education.” Vince and I had a vision that it should include
teaching young students in the class what it means to serve others. So let’s get the word “service” into our title. And then over time, it developed even more, service and
leadership. And so we started to persuade members of the faculty,
“As you teach them, give them something in that discipline that they can take down to
Harlem, or somewhere else in the city, or somewhere else in the world or the country,
and apply it, and then use it as part of their grade, use it as part of their education.” Time passed, and this took off. Under Vince’s leadership, it became more and
more important to the whole college. Under his leadership, we reached out to other
colleges, and a consortium was formed that would let all of the colleges talk to each
other. And I’m so proud of how the faculty responded
to that. It was something that Vince and I came up
with, it was our vision, but a vision is nothing, unless it’s executed well. And that’s what this gentleman, who is now the President of this College, did so well. He executed well. He knew how to get things done, he had the
right kind of personality to reach out to people, to convince them that this was the
right way to have an educational process be successful. He did all of those things. And then, about five and a half years ago, it
was noted that this was going so well, that perhaps it should be expanded. It was a vision that Vince had, and he gave
it to President Coico, and she bought it, we took it to the board, and they approved
the creation of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. Some, almost 25% of the student body, I talk about
it everywhere I go, and I talk about my students here. I’m sometimes criticized for the words
I use, but I call them my Ellis Island kids, these are my Ellis Island kids, these are
my immigrant kids, these are my favorite people on Earth. Young people who are minorities, 90% minorities,
80% said they were born in another country. If that’s not the soul of America, I don’t
know what is. [Applause] So many people worked on this project as we
brought it to fruition, and we had our first graduation, which was a very moving moment for
all of us who worked on it. I want to thank Vince again for all the years
that we have been working together, for all he has done. I hated to lose him as the dean, but in the
military, you know, you’ve got to let good people move up. I know he will do for City College, what he
did for the Powell School. And I want to thank Dee Dee Mozeleski for the
amazing work she has performed working for my dear friend Vince. Also, my assistant, Peggy Cifrino, who has
worked closely with Dee Dee and with Vince over these years. And so, my friends, this is a marvelous day. This is a day to remember again what the history
of this college is, the Free Academy of New York, open to all. Let the children of the
rich sit with the children of the poor, and the only measure will be their quality, and
how they take care of one another. And I can think of no one better able, in my judgment,
in my experience, to take on the responsibilities of President of The City College of New York
than the man who is now President, and is now about to be invested, President Vince Boudreau. Thank you. [Applause] Thank you, General Powell. Now, United States Representative for New
York’s 13th Congressional District, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, who is a Queens College
Alumnus, class of 1978, will bring greetings. Congressman Espaillat. Good evening, everybody. I bring you greetings from the 13th Congressional
District. A very diverse district that captures the
energy of people from all over the world. It includes East Harlem, with its historic
story about how Latinos, Puerto Ricans, got here to New York City. It includes the iconic Harlem story, which
is, and continues to be, the center of the African diaspora across the world. It includes immigrant Washington Heights,
Hamilton Heights, and Inwood. With the George Washington Bridge, the gateway
to New York City. The West Side, with its liberal and progressive
mind frame, and of course, not too far away, working-class Bronx. This is a great neighborhood,
and this institution is the Harvard, the Yale, of working-class New York. This is a wonderful evening because we have
the ascendancy here tonight of someone that has worked for 26 years in the City University
of New York, and now will take the helm here at City College, and he has a PhD in Political
Science. I studied Political Science when I went to
Queens College. I remember my dad, a working- class guy, hard-nose working class, old-school
guy from the Dominican Republic, telling me “So what is it you’re studying, young man?” I said, “I’m studying Political Science.” He looked me up and down and he says, “So you’re
studying to become a Communist, huh? How is it that you’re going to support your
family?” I said “Dad, it’s a science.” He wouldn’t have it. He would introduce me to his friends and say,
“This is my son, Adriano, who I want to be a lawyer, but he has chosen to study to be
a Communist.” But, of course, when I got elected to the
State Assembly back in 1996, he went out and got a brand-new suit to sit right next to
me when I got sworn in. And I could only think what would he have felt,
what my grandparents, who were factory workers, that came here, kept their head down, probably
never went to a fancy restaurant, or saw a Broadway play, what they would’ve felt when
I ascended to the US Congress. I say this story to you, because this particular
school, and CUNY in general, it’s a factory of dreams, of dreams for people that come
from all over the world. And now, we have a new shop steward, someone that
will organize that dream, and put it into execution, and make it work. He has been here for a long time. He has skin in the game. He has a vested interest to ensure that this
institution that builds dreams for many people, and is part and parcel of the future of America,
that this institution is successful, and continues to be successful. All of you in the front, all of you college
professors, and presidents that are there from CUNY, you are part of that factory. My grandmother worked in the Garment District,
my grandfather worked in the Ray-Ban factory, so we were the only kids in the neighborhood
that had those flip-down baseball glasses, my brother and I, we were the envy of the
neighborhood. But, you guys are running this shop now. You must continue to keep the torch lit, and
the hope alive, for all those young people that, as the General say, may have an accent,
but they’re full of dreams and aspiration, they have so much to offer. You know, I look at the Dreamers, they come and meet
with me in Washington. When I look at their faces, their young faces, I can’t say no to
them. There’s nothing I would not do. I voted down budgets that had great things
for the district, because they did not include the Dream Act. They have been unafraid, they have come forward,
found their voice, and in the process, lifted our voice for them. And so this is very much a part, and a mission of
what this university is about. And I know that your new leader, the new shop
steward in this factory of dreams, Dr. Boudreau, is going to do an excellent job, and he has
asked the Congressman of this District, my full support to continue to work with him
to ensure that City College continues to be an avenue of hope and aspiration for working-class America. Thank you so much. [Applause.] Thank you, Congressman. And now, the Vice Chairperson of the City University
Board of Trustees, Barry F. Schwartz, will bring greetings. Vice Chairperson Schwartz. Thank you, Chief Marshal Steele. Thank you, Chancellor Milliken, thank you,
and it thrills me to say, President Boudreau. Thank you, General Powell. Thank you, Congressman Espaillat. Members of the Platform Party, distinguished
and honored guests, as you heard, my name is Barry Schwartz, and I am the Vice Chairman
of the Board of Trustees of CUNY. And I bring you greetings on behalf of my colleagues,
six others of whom are here today on the platform. And I welcome you to this most important occasion
in your historic hall. This 110-year-old space is both symbol and
site of many turning points, and inspiring moments in the history of City College, and
I might add, of CUNY. It is a hall of great distinction, of academic
achievement, and as it is today, a hall of celebration. Of course, this is the place where we gather
for the investiture of Vince Boudreau as the 13th President of the City College of New
York. I am honored to have come to know Dr. Boudreau
this past year. I’m equally honored to be on this podium today
to conduct his investiture as President of City College. Vince Boudreau has been part of the City College
Community for more than 25 years. As Interim President, and before that as Inaugural
Dean of the Colin Powell School, as an administrator, scholar, teacher, and constant champion of
the college, Dr. Boudreau has exemplified the leadership, and dedication needed by City
College to chart its course ahead. The City College Dr. Boudreau leads, and The
City College Dr. Boudreau envisions is one that will continue and it has begun its mission
in 1847, to continue that historic mission of access, inclusion, and excellence. Vince Boudreau has done much to shape the
goals, and quality of today’s City College. This legendary and iconic institution, which
year after year, nurtures brilliant and ambitious New Yorkers, who graduate well-prepared to
make their mark as leaders, as scholars, as engaged citizens of this great city, this
great state, this great nation. Vince Boudreau is poised to do more, and Dr.
Boudreau, on behalf of the board, and with great admiration for your City College Community,
we wish you great success in the many years ahead. Thank you. Now, an alumnus of the class of 1975, Guillermo
Linares, acting President of the Higher Education Services Corporation, brings greetings on
behalf of Governor Cuomo. President Linares. It is indeed an honor for me to be here once
again as a graduate of 1975 representing Governor Cuomo, who, last year, asked me to join his
cabinet, and this capacity as President of the Higher Education Services Corporation,
which connects me directly with all of the higher education institutions across the state,
including this one, the full institution that I carry in my heart. Sitting next to the General, I realized, before
come in here, how much in common there is with him and I, and so many waves of immigrants,
that have come seeking what we all aspire to give the opportunity for our children to
prepare themselves as leaders. I recall that it was here, when I attend the
City College, that helped shape me what I was to do as the oldest of nine children,
coming from the north coast of the Dominican Republic, a small town, having been raised
in a farm, and trying to put in perspective what was to be for me. It was there that I had the opportunity to
meet the President of City College at the time, when I was involved with the Dominican
Student Association. Their request was one very simple, “Can you
establish the first Dominican Study course to take place here with so many Dominicans
coming in to this college?” Or course, the answer was yes. It was here that I decided that I would go
into the community after being a student activist to be an educator, a bilingual educator, and
to be an activist, and serve the community. Little did I know that in Washington Heights,
as the Congressman mentioned, was the ground zero for the wave of immigrants coming here. I was involved with parents, organizing parents
in the community, and that process of involvement led for the community to ask me to run for
office. In 1991, I became the first Dominican elected
in the United States of America. The connection with … yes. The first accomplishment as member of The
New York City Council was going to sit with the Chancellor in 1992, Chancellor Reynolds,
I remember, and asking her if she would establish an institute that would address the needs,
and the potential of Dominicans across CUNY. Of course, City College was the place where
we would establish back then, the Dominican Studies Institute, which is now part of the
Colin Powell Institute, which is yet another connection. Since, I landed there in the Bronx, fresh
out of the Dominican Republic, and then moved to Jamaica, Queens, those are two places where
our General also wandered. Today, I am here on behalf of the Governor,
and as a proud alumni, to say that the legacy of this institution, as expressed by the general,
and other that have spoken, rings high, particularly now, when we need to really prepare the leadership
that we’ll desperately need in our communities in this city, state, this country, and for
the rest of humanity, I will say. I am also very proud because part of what
we do in our journey of activism, and service, is to hold a torch that so many others held
before us, so that we could have opportunity to be successful. That torch is really what is embrace with
the celebration that we have today. The torch that I’m talking about is being
held now in transition from me to someone who sits here in the platform, my daughter,
Mayra Linares Garcia, who is now a member of the CUNY board here, at the City University. I will say to you, President Boudreau, know
full well, that you not only have those of us who are alumnus of this wonderful institution,
but you also have the backing of people in very high places, because we cannot afford
not to have you succeed to continue the legacy that this institution and The City University
represents for future generations to come. We need that now more than ever. All the best to you. The Investiture of Vince G. Boudreau as the
13th President of The City College of New York will be conducted by Barry F. Schwartz,
Vice Chairperson of The City University of New York Board of Trustees. Vice Chairperson Schwartz. Now, Chancellor Milliken, and President Boudreau,
I invite you to come forward. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the 13th
President of City College, Vince Boudreau. Good luck. I’m overwhelmed to see so many friends, colleagues,
people from CUNY, members of the Board of Trustees, President Linares, Congressman Espaillat,
Chancellor, David Jeruzalmi, the President of the Faculty Senate, General Powell, my
good friend and partner. Faculty that I’ve worked with, students that
I’ve taught, students I hope someday to teach. My big, beautiful family. [Applause] Thank you all. When you become the president of a college,
they make a special robe for you, and I’m wearing mine. It has my new lucky number up here, Congressman,
our lucky number, yeah. It’s made in the City College lavender. And it’s the first time, in 26 years, that I will
wear any academic robe other than the one my father wore in his years at Le Moyne College. I graduated from Le Moyne, and in the very
first class I ever walked into, very first day of school, I walked into an assigned freshman
composition class, and my father was my professor. There were 12 of us, it was a small seminar
room, and he taught the class, mispronounced my name, and then, on his way out the door,
he leaned over and said to me in a voice that everyone could hear, “Stop by my office later,
your mother sent you some cookies.” Then he closed the door, and let me and my
new classmates sort out the news of my relationship with our professor. And I have to say, it was the only time in our
years together at college that I had an awkward moment with my father. I was privileged at a time in my life when
many people are moving away from their families, to find myself drawn more deeply into the
world of my father. I learned what a careful teacher he was, how
deeply he thought and read. I learned how exceptionally he cared about
the lives of his students. I learned from his colleagues, some of whom
were my teachers, some of whom I think are here today, how important it is to cultivate
the respect and trust of your colleagues, as my father had the respect and trust of
his. And I say this to you today, I tell you this story,
because the robes that I’m wearing now are the only robes I would think to put on in
preference to the robes that he gave me. I’m so grateful to be here as your president. I’m so cognizant of the responsibility with
which I’m here today vested. I’m so careful of the legacy of this place,
and hopeful for the stewardship of this mission. When this building was established in 1907,
Mark Twain stood where I’m standing right now. He said to his audience that America needed
a degree in citizenship. He thought that the best place for that degree
to be offered was what he called the College of the City of New York, where even then,
people were coming from around the world to this place to learn and to become Americans. When Albert Einstein first came to the United
States, when he first talked to a public audience on this side of the Atlantic about his theory
of relativity, he did it in this room before us. When Colin Powell returned to his alma matter
as the first African American Secretary of State in the history of the United States,
he stood where I’m standing right now, and delivered his address. I think a great deal about this room in relationship
to the responsibility that I’ve been given here at the college. The Great Hall is the sacred center of City
College. Whenever I have the opportunity to introduce
people to the iconography of this room, I seize on that chance. For years now, I’ve been bringing students
into this room, and asking them to tell me what they thought the history of this place
would be. They inevitably tell me what they think it
used to be. They say, for instance, “It used to be a convent.” Because we’re on Convent Avenue, or “It used
to be a church.” Or it used to be some other grand building,
built for grand people, people who weren’t like them. And whatever I say in response to what they’ve
said to me, I make sure that they leave the conversation understanding how wrong they
were. The people who founded City College, and later
the people who built this Great Hall, dreamed that it would be filled, as it is filled today,
with people who look like the world. They built it for people who are new to this
country, or for people who for other reasons come into life with no expectation for their
future, except what they could make of it themselves. And like the students of today, for generation
after generation, they came to the College of the City of New York to remake their future,
to rewrite the history of their families, and to prepare themselves to build this city,
and to build this nation. This building was designed on the framework
of a neo-Gothic cathedral, and that was a gesture to signify the gravity and importance
of the work that we would do here. The rock that the building is made up is New
York schist, and it was quarried from the very ground that we’re standing on right now. And if you look along the sides, along the vault
of this room, these stained-glass windows were all donated by the established colleges that
were extant at the day, in an explicit gesture welcoming City College, and its audacious
educational mission. The rafters were originally hung with flags
donated by the great universities of the world, both the new world, and the old, again, in
a gesture of welcome to City College. If you look up in the wooden rosettes, you
can still see the remnants of the paintings of those flags. And we’re in the process of reproducing them,
and we’ll someday hang them again. Behind me is our treasure. This is a fresco original to the room called
The Graduate, and if you look at this fresco, what you see is this: a young man receiving
his diploma in front of a collection of his peers, and those peers include people with
hammers, and in overalls, members of the working class, and wealthy young people, people from
tradesmen, and the crafts. When this college was founded, it was inconceivable
that a group like that would be a graduating class in an institution of higher education,
but here we are. And he’s receiving his degree under the watchful
eyes of representations, at least representations in 1907, of the highest order of human achievement. You’ll see Shakespeare there, and Sir Francis
Bacon, and Plato, and Aristotle. The people who designed this room, and the
people who decorated it, inscribed our mission into the very architecture that surrounds
us. They imagined a college with its arms flung
wide, embracing everybody, strengthening our society with every soul that crosses the graduation
stage. And they approached the task with reverence and
with optimism, and an abiding sense that by building City College, they were renewing
the spirit of America. And so if the Great Hall is the sacred center of
CCNY, I’ve always thought of CCNY as the sacred center of New York City. So, where do we now stand in light of this founding
vision? We stand, first, at a moment where we can
clearly see the misshapen fruits of a societal retreat from the ideals of public higher education
as a collective good that is vitally important to the fabric of our democracy. Where once we accepted that the whole people
would benefit, when the whole people were educated, where once we were unambiguous in our willingness
to define an educated society as a collective strength, We are now too often called to think about
public education in terms of a discrete benefit for individuals who have acquired or will
acquire a degree in a place like City College. But when a society refuses to see how everyone
benefits when everyone has a path to education, it begins to ask why this student, or why
that student is deserving of special support, or why any of us should agree to allocate
resources to some unnamed other. And when a nation begins to ask such questions,
particularly of its collective goods, and its united strengths, it begins to enter a
dark season. We become smaller, we become more isolated,
we become weaker as a people, for no democracy has ever survived without a robust mechanism
for educating the whole people. When educational opportunities grow more constricted,
or when educational institutions grow weaker, a hollow space opens up in the fabric of our
public lives. And out of that void come all manner of ugly things:
intolerance, superstition, close-mindedness. The void exudes a climate that is rife with
violence, it encourages disaffection, and societal rifts, and governments that lean
towards repression. We have, as a nation, moved in fits and starts
away from repression, and towards a deeper understanding of one another. Not always in every place, or for every one,
or at every time, but steadily in ways that at least bend as the saying goes towards justice. But, the road has never been untroubled, and
we are now working our way through a particularly difficult patch, marked in places by what
seems to be the willful embrace of what is meanest and least generous in our nature. Now I say this now in connection to our City College,
because it puts us, everyone of us, on the front lines of a struggle for the future and
the soul of our nation. What we do every day at City College, and
in places like City College, is this: We set ourselves against the proposition that the
American dream is small, or that is restricted, or that it is ungenerous. We defy the idea that where you come from,
or how you got here, or what you look like, or where you pray, or who you love has any
bearing on your place in our society. We reject the idea that the circumstances
of your birth define the pathways of your life. We work in the understanding that we do not
now live in the world we were meant to inhabit, we build it every day, and we defend what
we build when we must, and I promise you, on this campus, we will make that defense. [Applause] And here, of all places, in this Great Hall, we
are reminded that we must undertake this work generation by generation, in who we teach,
and what knowledge we share, in the opportunities we make possible, and the encouragement we give
those who seek a better future. These are our values, this is our mission,
and in their pursuit we have, each one of us, the opportunity to be extraordinary, the
chance to be beautiful, a chance to make this institution what it always has been, and what
it will be. So here is my vision for City College. We are, as many of you know, virtually unrivaled
in this country in promoting social mobility among our students. We are the second most successful college
in this respect in the entire nation, second only to our sister school, Baruch, and part
of a university system that is leading the nation in this regard. [Applause.] We must rededicate ourselves to the idea of
social mobility and in that re-dedication we must broaden our understanding of what it
means on this campus. We live in a time when social mobility, the
great engine that drove our public life in the middle decades of last century, has dwindled
down to what Joseph Stiglitz now defines as a statistical anomaly. And we cannot allow this condition to persist. We are an institution that is filled with
writers, and researchers, professors who in their different departments, and their different
fields of endeavors, are identifying and attacking the barriers to social mobility. In my years on this campus, I’ve come to know
you well, my good colleagues, and this is what I’ve learned. You’re not working in Harlem
merely because your campus happens to be here. You’ve been drawn with your particular commitments
to justice and equity to this special spot to undertake very specific kinds of work,
and it is that work in this place that keeps you close. And so I say to you now, even if you’re hearing it
for the first time, together we are an institution dedicated to an all-out assault on the barriers
to social mobility, and it’s time we started saying that. [Applause] To the staff of this college, so often the
first to see trouble in a student’s eyes, or the first to prepare this campus in the
dark hours before the rest of us arrive, the planners, and the implementers of our finest
aspirations, you are vital to this mission, too. We must vow here to make this a place that
both prepares our students, and demonstrates what we think their role should be in society,
and sets a standard for the world outside these walls, showing in no uncertain terms
the necessity and the beauty of executing on our charge. My good colleagues, this is what we stand
for. This is how we must be known, and in claiming
this identity, let us now shake off the vestiges of our recent difficulties and be renewed
and reborn. [Applause.] To my friends outside this campus, I ask you,
we must stand together. I’ve had the rare opportunity in these last
months to speak with civic and political leaders in Harlem, northern Manhattan, the South Bronx,
all across New York. And many of those people are here today, both
on the podium and in the audience. So I have this to say to you, if we are the campus
that I describe, if we are a public institution not just in the source of our funding, but
in the content of our commitments, if the issues most vital to the underserved and vulnerable
populations of our city, populations that you represent, and that you serve, and that
you advocate for, if these issues can cluster, as I think they do, around conceptions of
social mobility, around those things that undercut the capacity of an individual to
live a secure and full life, to make a life for themselves, if these are the issues that
matter to you, then we are a united people. I ask you to stand with this campus, and I
promise you that we will stand with you. Where we have seemed maybe closed, we will
be open, and where we have seemed perhaps to talk to ourselves, we will speak with you
to the world. Together, we can do remarkable things, and
I’m so very optimistic of our future. Let us stand together. To the sons and daughters of City College
gathered here, those who have walked this path, and returned to their college, or perhaps
those who see some reason, despite having no early affiliation with this college, to
donate their attention, and their time, and their advocacy, and their treasure to this
institution, I say this, I need you. I need your support and your enthusiasm, and
your commitment, and your advocacy. This mission of ours, the tasks that I have
set for this college, and for my presidency, it’s the right mission for these times, it’s
the right mission for our history, and for our geography, and for our place among the
great institutions in the greatest city in the world. So I ask you, join me, help me advocate for this
institution, fight for it, and fight for everything that it represents. And finally, to my students, I wish for you to
understand something important. We meet you, and we work with you as individuals,
we help you individually map out a future for yourself, and plan a path to success. And we can’t let the unique promise that each
one of you represents fall by the wayside. But I also want you to know that I think
of you as a class, leaving this campus each spring in waves, setting out in groups to
make your impact on the world, provisioned by the knowledge that this institution provides
you. We’ve always been a place that sends new Americans
out into the world, or Americans who are new to a rising sense of their potential place
in our society. Last week, I met the great-great-great-granddaughter
of William Hallett Greene, the first African- American to graduate from City College, class
of 1884. Today, we more often send young people into
the world for whom education is the glue binding them to a new country, and we hope providing
them a more secure place in a country in which they have often not felt secure. And in establishing their position, they are making
a place for others, you students are making a place for others. And so I say to you, social mobility is your mission,
too, not just as it will be reflected in your lives, but in what you’ll stand for, and I
hope how you will advocate a better place in this world for generations to come. And on top of that, I want you, I ask you never
to forget that this place, this Great Hall, this storied institution, was made in the
first instance, and is remade every year for you, exactly and precisely for the people
you are today. I’m as proud as can be to serve as the 13th
President of this great institution. I accept the charge, and the responsibility
given to me today with a glad heart, and a full measure of its weight, and a cup that
is brimming with optimism for our future. Thank you. [Applause] Thank you. [Applause] Thank you, President Boudreau. Will everyone please stand and remain standing
as the Platform Party leaves the auditorium. [Applause] [Fanfare] Ladies and gentlemen, why don’t you join us
in the back of the Great Hall for a celebration? [Music]

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