July 2022
Frankly Speaking Banner
I had the honor of beginning to serve as president of Queens College, my dream job, on July 1, 2020, during a critical period for our city and our nation. I want to thank everyone—faculty, staff, alumni and students—who helped us steer this remarkable campus through the challenges of the last two years. Today, and most fortunately, the pandemic is ebbing and—with the support and involvement of the community—the college is thriving and moving forward. 
Capping a semester that saw the launch of the Queens College Business School and the Queens College School of Arts, we resumed in-person ceremonies and recognized three distinguished alumni. At Baccalaureate on May 31, I presented former Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Inclusion Initiatives Christopher Rosa ’89 with the President’s Medal, the college’s highest administrative honor. Senator Charles Schumer, Mayor Eric Adams, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and City Council Member James Gennaro—all of them strong allies of public education—were among the speakers at Commencement two days later, when the college awarded honorary doctorates to award-winning actor Danny Burstein ’86, who delivered the Commencement address, and renowned microbiologist and immunologist Arturo Casadevall ’79 MD, PhD, a Cuban émigré who arrived in Queens at age 11. Who knows? Members of the Class of ’22 may be celebrated at a future Queens College Commencement. A Salk Scholarship recipient and two Fulbright winners were among this year’s graduates.
Christopher Rosa accepting the President’s Medal at the Arts and Humanities baccalaureate ceremony
Chris Rosa receiving the President's Medal, QC's highest administrative honor
 City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams
On Thursday, June 9, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and I were honored at the gala marking the 160th birthday of Flushing Town Hall, a cultural treasure and valued college partner. Our institutions have deep connections. The Queens Jazz Orchestra, in residence at Flushing Town Hall, was founded by the late Jimmy Heath, an Aaron Copland School of Music professor. Now the orchestra is led by his protégé, Jazz Studies Director Antonio Hart. In another significant collaboration, Kupferberg Center for the Arts and the Louis Armstrong House Museum are working with Flushing Town Hall to revive and digitize the Queens Jazz Trail Map it commissioned in 1998. I was flattered to share the honor that evening with Speaker Adams, a longtime Queens resident and strong supporter of the college—she has even appeared on stage as a singer at our own Colden Auditorium. The speaker couldn’t attend the gala, because she was working hard on the new city budget. She has so much in common with many of our students: she’s talented, ambitious, a great leader, and a trailblazer—the first African American to serve as City Council speaker.
Speaking of our students, I’m excited to report that during the Flushing Town Hall gala, Frank Macchio of the Flushing Rotary Charitable Trust presented Distinguished Scholar Awards to three of our undergraduates—Noam Beili ’24, Joshua Lee ’23, and Simmi So—to help further their educations. Noam, a guitarist majoring in music performance and music education, is continuing to explore new opportunities as a musician and teacher. Joshua is a drama and theatre major who helped restart the student Theatre Guild after the pandemic. He plans to act in both school productions next year. Simmi, a studio art major, will pursue an MPS in Creative Art Therapy at Pratt Institute. I congratulate these hardworking students, each of whom received $1500.
From left: Noam Belli, Arts and Humanities Dean Bill McClure, President Frank H. Wu, Joshua Lee, and Simmi So
The following day, I proudly joined hundreds of students, staff, and faculty from 25 CUNY campuses—and former Queens City Councilman Daniel Dromm, a leader in the LGBTQ community—at the university’s first in-person Pridefest in two years. Even the weather cooperated, making for a joyful afternoon for all. I’m grateful to Pridefest’s many sponsors, volunteers and supporters, including LaGuardia Community College/CUNY and the New York City Council. Special thanks to JC Carlson of the Office of Student Affairs for his leadership. If you couldn’t be there, you’ll get a sense of what it was like through coverage on NY1 and QNS.
Queens College is a nurturing place in all senses of the word. FNES students tend an organic garden behind Remsen Hall; when I swung by on June 15, I harvested a daikon radish. The FNES team distributes fresh produce to members of the campus community on Wednesday mornings. There’s no charge to recipients, but you do need to bring your own bag.

On that subject, please remember that to enter campus, you now need to use the Cleared4 system. Proxy Click has been phased out; no one will be admitted on the basis of proof of vaccination or a PCR test. Faculty, staff, and students can tap in with their QCard if it’s linked to Cleared4. Campus visitors require valid Cleared4 passes, too. For complete Cleared4 instructions, please see my June mailer on this topic.
Lieutenant Deborah Huggins has been appointed interim director of Public Safety. A Queens native, Deborah came to QC in 1996 as a campus peace officer and has been here ever since. She views herself as a lifelong learner and is currently a candidate for a master’s degree at Queens College. She has initiated a listening tour to help her connect with students, faculty, and staff to better assess and meet the public safety needs of the college community. I encourage you to reach out to Deborah at 718-997-4448 or Deborah.huggins@qc.cuny.edu if you have suggestions or concerns.
There was a good turnout for “Get Started in the Cannabis Industry,” a two-day introductory workshop presented in the Student Union on June 11 and 18 by Queens College and Farmingdale State College. Registration for this inaugural program was limited, and our emphasis in outreach and the content was helping members of communities who were negatively affected by the prior policies on cannabis. We expect to offer this workshop again, especially since we have secured the advantage of being the “first mover” in this space. You can learn a little about it, and the cannabis business in New York State, in this video.
I was privileged to be one of the speakers at the Unity March in Washington, DC, on June 25. The variety of groups in attendance that day reminded me of what we take for granted on the QC campus. Members of the diverse Asian diaspora gathered on the National Mall with people from the LGBTQ, Muslim, disability, Black, Indigenous and Pacific Islander, Latino, and Arab American communities to advocate for full participation in democracy, racial and economic justice, and cultural equity and media representation. NBC filmed and posted much of the event.
Last week, my calendar included a visit on Tuesday, June 28, with New York City Council Member Shekar Krishnan, a lawyer and longtime community activist in his first term serving District 25.
The next day, the college held a ribbon-cutting on the first floor of the Science Building for the Ira Spar Biosciences Laboratory, dedicated to a member of the class of '64—seen with me in the photo above—who has had a distinguished medical career. Jeff Beeler (Psychology) is the inaugural director of this facility, which will advance research and the Queens College mission.
On Thursday, June 30, I met with CUNY Graduate Center President Robin Garrell. She also came to CUNY from a California institution and originally is from Detroit, like me, so I feel we have a bond. She visited with a dozen faculty whom we share with the Graduate Center, so our relationships are extensive. We discussed academic collaborations and strengthening opportunities for QC students.
I’ll close with news about campus personnel. First, I offer a hearty welcome to Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Patricia Price, who just started working this week on campus. She came to QC from Baruch College, where she was associate provost and assistant vice president for academic administration and faculty development. Learn more.

Some familiar QC people have been named to new titles, pending the approval of the CUNY Board of Trustees. Julia del Palacio, previously the director of Strategic Partnerships and Development for Kupferberg Center for the Arts, has been appointed interim associate dean of the School of Arts; Bobbie Kabuto, chair of the Elementary and Early Childhood Education Department since 2019, has been appointed interim dean of the School of Education; and Schiro Withanachchi, director of the Business and Liberal Arts minor since 2021, has been appointed interim associate dean of the Business School. Learn more.
Julia del Palacio
Bobbie Kabuto
Schiro Withanachchi
Soniya Munshi, formerly an associate professor of Ethnic + Race Studies at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, has been appointed interim director of the Asian American/Asian Research Institute (AAARI), pending Board of Trustees approval. She replaces Joyce Moy, who retired earlier this year (QView 124). 
From left: Interim AAARI Director Soniya Munshi, President Frank H. Wu, State Senator John Liu, and Ernabel Demillo of CUNY TV’s "Asian American Life"
At the 20th anniversary AAARI Gala on June 30—when Joyce received an award for her 14 years of leadership—I had the honor of reading a congratulatory message on behalf of Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. CUNY Trustee and NYC Commissioner of Small Business Services Kevin Kim spoke at the gala. State Senator John Liu received deserved recognition at the same event. I’m grateful to Joyce, Trustee Kim, Senator Liu, and all the individuals who so diligently work to enhance the quality of life, on behalf of the diverse New York City community. We have big plans for AAARI. Serving the whole CUNY system, it is housed within Queens College. We have already convened colleagues from throughout CUNY for an initial discussion of how to cooperate on an expansion, and we welcome all to join.
P.S.: QC is teaming up with New York Public Radio (NYPR)—the umbrella organization for WNYC, Gothamist, WNYC Studios, The Greene Space, and WQXR—to offer paid internships that run from fall 2022 through spring 2023. Applications are due by July 20; current students and recent graduates are eligible. For more information, read the FAQ and contact Jason Tougaw (English) or Amy Herzog (Media Studies) Amy.Herzog@qc.cuny.edu
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