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Home » Clarion » 2020 » May 2020 » New CUNY campus presidents

New CUNY campus presidents


Starting this summer

Robin Garrell, Graduate Center (Photo Credit: Courtesy of CUNY)

In March, the CUNY Board of Trustees appointed three new college presidents: Robin L. Garrell at the Graduate Center, Frank H. Wu at Queens College and, on an interim basis, Daisy Cocco De Filippis at Hostos Community College. The Board had also appointed S. David Wu at Baruch College in February.

Garrell, a chemist and bioengineer, is vice provost for graduate education and graduate division dean at the University of California, Los Angeles, and will start at the Graduate Center on August 1. “We hope and expect that Dr. Garrell will be a public champion for full CUNY funding,” said Luke Elliott-Negri, PSC chapter chair at the Graduate Center. “New state investment at the Graduate Center would enable us to address the gross inequality among doctoral student employees, to recover the many faculty and HEO lines that remain unfilled and to deepen the ability of our institution to conduct cutting-edge research.”


Elliott-Negri also noted that in a recent letter to UCLA faculty, Garrell referred to graduate students at UC Santa Cruz who were striking and demanding a cost-of-living adjustment because of high rents as engaging in “an unauthorized strike.”

“The recent teacher and support staff strikes in West Virginia were also unauthorized, not to mention the sit down strikes of the 1930s,” Elliott-Negri said. “UCSC strikers should be lauded for their fight, not dismissed.”

Frank H. Wu, who will take office at Queens College beginning July 1, is currently a distinguished professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, where he also served as chancellor. He began working there in 2010. Prior to that, he spent a decade, from 2000-2010, as a trustee and a vice chair of the board at Gallaudet University, which offers higher education to the deaf and hearing-impaired. The board, according to Wu’s CV, is an active, working board, and during his time as a trustee, he also was a visiting professor at law schools in Michigan and in the Washington DC area. While he was trustee, campus protests brought the school to a standstill over a controversial presidential appointment that was later rescinded, according to the Washington Post. Wu later sought to assure faculty, staff and students that the new search would be characterized by “better communication and more inclusiveness.”

“We hope that President Wu provides more public leadership on campus, and that [he will bring] a collaborative leadership style,” said David Gerwin, PSC chapter chair at Queens College.

Gerwin, who participated in the final round of faculty interviews for the new president, said that Queens College faces constant fiscal challenges, including the merging of the bursar’s and registrar’s office over the past couple of years and ongoing turnover in the position of QC registrar.

Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Hostos (Photo Credit: Courtesy of CUNY)

The newly appointed interim president at Hostos Community College, Daisy Cocco De Filippis, is a CUNY alumna, a former provost at Hostos and a former faculty member focusing on Dominican women’s studies at York College. She will be the first Dominican woman to serve as president of a CUNY college when she begins on August 1. She is currently president of Naugatuck Valley Community College in Connecticut.

“We welcome Dr. Cocco De Filippis back to Hostos, along with her passion and commitment to excellence that characterized her during her years as a provost,” said Lizette Colón, PSC chapter chair at Hostos. “On the other hand, we urge her to address the lack of transparency, leadership and the incredibly low morale that we are confronting at Hostos, [and] restore effective communication between the different divisions of the college.”


Baruch’s recently appointed president, Dr. S. David Wu, a scholar in systems engineering and operations research, is currently the provost and executive vice president of George Mason University. Under his leadership, George Mason earned a Carnegie tier-one research designation. He was also dean of the college of engineering at Lehigh University, and he is a current board member of Dartmouth College’s Thayer School. He will assume office on July 1.

“The decisions made by administrators have more consequences than ever, and the union’s input and perspective are essential to wise governance, especially concerning health and safety issues, which have been a priority of the Baruch chapter,” said Vince DiGirolamo, PSC chapter chair at Baruch College. “We have also been vigilant about protecting scholars from the undue influence of government agencies and corporate donors. As elected representatives of the faculty and staff we have an ongoing moral obligation to make sure that our voices are heard and our vision of academic excellence is realized.”

In addition to these presidential appointments under CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez’s leadership, there are several interim presidents appointed in the past year still serving – at Lehman College, York College, Borough of Manhattan Community College, LaGuardia Community College and Queensborough Community College.

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