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Home » Clarion » 2016 » April 2016 » Trustee nominees: Thompson and Ferrer

Trustee nominees: Thompson and Ferrer


Cuomo selects well-known politicians

Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson and former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer have been nominated to the CUNY Board of Trustees by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the governor’s office announced on April 8. Both must be confirmed by the State Senate, which is expected to act this spring.

Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson nominated for board chair

Thompson was nominated as chair of the board of trustees to replace Benno Schmidt, who has held the post since 2006.

“Bill Thompson and Fernando Ferrer both have long records as advocates for high-quality public education for all New Yorkers,” said PSC President Barbara Bowen. “Bill Thompson, as a former schools chancellor, brings a wealth of experience with education policy in the public sector, and Freddy Ferrer, as former Borough President of the Bronx, has a history of advocacy for working-class and poor New Yorkers. I look forward to working with them in their new roles. Their history of advocacy is exactly what CUNY needs today, as we press for the funding required for a fair contract settlement.”

A graduate of Midwood High School, which is located next to Brooklyn College, Bill Thompson earned his BA from Tufts University in 1974; he is a former Tufts trustee. As deputy borough president of Brooklyn from 1983 to 1992, Thompson was the youngest person to have held that office. From 1996 to 2001 he chaired the New York City Board of Education, to which he was appointed in 1994. Thompson was twice elected as New York City comptroller, serving from 2002 to 2009. He won the Democratic nomination for mayor in 2009, and was again a mayoral candidate in 2013.

Thompson has also worked in private finance and the business world, serving as a director of KeySpan/Brooklyn Union Gas Company and of a small investment bank, the Liati Group. He is currently a partner at Siebert Brandford Shank, an investment banking firm that offers underwriting and financial advisory services to state and local governments.

With Thompson chairing the CUNY trustees, the boards of both CUNY and SUNY would be headed by former comptrollers: Carl McCall, who chairs the SUNY board of trustees, was New York State’s comptroller from 1993 to 2002.

Fernando Ferrer is a CUNY alumnus, having earned his master’s degree in public administration from Baruch College in 2004. Decades earlier, after graduating from Cardinal Spellman High School, he received his BA in 1972 from NYU’s University Heights College of Arts and Sciences in the Bronx, on a campus that later became the home of CUNY’s Bronx Community College. Like Thompson, he has prior experience as a higher education trustee, having served on the board of Metropolitan College of New York.

Ferrer served on the New York City Council from 1982 until 1987, when he was elected Bronx borough president, an office he held for the next 14 years. He ran for mayor in 1997, 2001 and again in 2005, when he won the Democratic nomination; he was the first Latino New Yorker to do so. From 2002 to 2004, Ferrer was president of Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, and today he is a partner and co-chair of Mercury Public Affairs, LLC. He is also vice chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a board member of the Regional Plan Association, and a director of Sterling BanCorp and Sterling National Bank.

Schmidt, the former Yale president and for-profit education entrepreneur who will be replaced by Thompson, had been serving as a holdover on a term of office that expired in 2013. One gubernatorial appointee, Hugo Morales, continues to serve on an expired term, as do two mayoral appointees, Judah Gribetz and Carol Robles-Roman.

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