Baruch welcomes next president with reception

Courtesy+of+Baruch+College

Courtesy of Baruch College

Amanda Salazar

Baruch College welcomed Dr. S. David Wu as the school’s next president at an hour-long reception on Feb. 24 in the Newman Vertical Campus’s 14th floor conference room.

Wu is slated to take over the role of college president on July 1, after current President Mitchel Wallerstein steps down following commencement in June.

Wallerstein first announced that he would be retiring from his position as president in October 2018 through an email sent out to faculty, staff and students.

When David Christy, who was at the time the provost and vice president of academic affairs, announced that he, too, would be retiring at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, Wallerstein announced that he would push back his retirement for a year.

The plan became that Christy would step down at the end of last school year and an interim provost and vice president of academic affairs would step up for around two years, though his tenure here could last longer or shorter, as he serves at the will of the president.

This interim became James McCarthy, who is currently in this role and said that he expects to be giving the position over to the next permanent provost and vice president of academic affairs by the Spring semester of next school year.

Wallerstein would stay on, as part of this transitional plan, until the end of this school year, to give the school more time to look for his own replacement, now settled on Wu, and in the process to find the next provost and vice president of academic affairs. 

Now that CUNY has decided on Wu to be Baruch’s eighth college president and CUNY’s first Asian American college president, it’s just left to finding a new provost, which will likely fall onto Wu and not Wallerstein.

The welcoming event started out with a photography session, where Wu took photos with his family, who were in attendance, Wallerstein and CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez.

Wu’s wife, Sheau-Ping Wu, daughter and son-in-law Allison Wu Troianos and Andrew Troianos, and son and his fiancée, Brian Wu and Mei Parnes, all attended the reception, posing for photos with Wu and shaking hands with the various Baruch officials and faculty members who came to support the administration.

After the photo-op, there was a series of speakers, starting with Wallerstein, who spoke kindly about his successor.

“David Wu and I already established a strong and cordial working relationship and I am confident that we will continue to communicate frequently during the coming months and that will lead to a smooth and seamless hand off of leadership duties on the first of July,” Wallerstein said.

Matos Rodríguez spoke more than once at the podium, also having nothing but nice things to say about Wu and Baruch.

“This is a great moment for the CUNY family, for the Baruch family. Very, very excited about introducing Dr. Wu to the Baruch community,” Matos Rodríguez said.

The reception had a relaxed feel to it, with the chancellor and Wu making jokes in their speeches, drawing out laughter from the audience. Wu at one point teased Matos Rodríguez about being the chancellor’s first college president appointment, saying, “Remember, I’m your first.”

Baruch’s Undergraduate Student Government President Dakshatha Daggala spoke at the event as well, not only as a representative of the campus’s student body but also as a member of the presidential search committee that had been formed to find and recommend a short list of candidates to the chancellor.

“While I was part of the presidential search committee, he stood out amongst a pool of candidates as someone who had initiative to familiarize himself with Baruch and his future constituents,” Daggala said. 

Finally, Wu himself spoke at the event, honoring his predecessor for helping to make Baruch one of the top CUNY’s in the city and a highly recognized college.

“As a start, I want to express my gratitude to Mitch Wallerstein and his truly exceptional leadership,” Wu said. “He has really helped Baruch to become…one of the best public universities in the world.”

He also spoke more generally about what being an educator means to him. “Sometimes, the furthest distance in the world can be from how it is to how we want it to be,” Wu said. 

“College is where we help our students understand how it is so that they can help themselves and help the rest of the world imagine how we want it to be,” he said.

“And it is a pleasure to get up in the morning and come to work knowing that you play a part in making hundreds of thousands of dreams come true and if we do it right, we may even help make the world a little bit better.”