As of June 1, Vita Rabinowitz began serving as interim CUNY chancellor – while a search committee looks for a permanent replacement for James B. Milliken. The PSC has been communicating with Rabinowitz directly on pressing CUNY matters such as contract negotiations and implementing the teaching load reduction.
Vita Rabinowitz will serve as interim chancellor until a permanent chancellor is appointed.
Before being tapped as CUNY’s temporary chancellor, Rabinowitz served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Hunter College in addition to serving as a CUNY-wide provost. She is also a former faculty member and department chair of Hunter’s psychology department.
“She was a great colleague – enthusiastic, supportive and just a really solid colleague. When she became the provost, I found her to be absolutely delightful to deal with,” said Tami Gold, an alternate delegate from Hunter College and a former PSC chapter chair. “When there were difficulties, if I negotiated with Vita, there was always a good chance at a positive resolution.”
In terms of what to expect as an interim chancellor, Gold said of Rabinowitz, “I feel optimistic. Vita has always been a supporter of public higher education and appreciates the nuance of what that means.”
Mike Fabricant, who until recently served as the union’s first vice president and is a professor of social work at Hunter College, said that Rabinowitz had showed admirable tenacity by staying on as an administrator under Hunter College President Jennifer Raab during a time of high turnover among administrators. “She was the one person who kind of endured over a decade,” he said.
Fabricant added that while she has a record of being “congenial” and “respectful” toward faculty and staff, the real question remains whether CUNY will ultimately end up with a strong and independent permanent chancellor – he noted that Rabinowitz is not under consideration by the search committee, which includes two faculty members, for the permanent position.
“We have an interim chancellor. I feel like the university has been more or less rudderless for about six months, because Milliken was a lame duck chancellor,” Fabricant said. “They have moved Rabinowitz into that role, but fundamentally the university has no stability in its leadership roles. That really is damaging. So, the hope is they find a permanent chancellor who is given the autonomy and the discretion to move the university forward.”
Upon her appointment, CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson William C. Thompson said of Rabinowitz, “Her distinguished scholarly accomplishments, commitment to student success and tireless devotion to the university make her ideally suited to provide the direction and stability the system needs until a new chancellor assumes office.”