CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez marked his one-year anniversary with the university on May 1. In an op-ed published in amNY, he reflected on leading CUNY this past year.
“The principled imperative to make sure that no one is left behind has set the framework for CUNY’s decision-making from the moment I assumed the role of Chancellor … I couldn’t be prouder of the work we have done over the last 12 months to honor the founding values of this University,” he said.
He began his message by discussing how the CUNY community has responded to the COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, crisis.
The steps CUNY has taken to navigate this time works in tandem with its mission to support its students, including the communities that have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
Matos Rodríguez wrote about the Chancellor’s Emergency Relief Fund, which was announced on April 8. The program provides grants of $500 to thousands of CUNY students facing financial strain due to the coronavirus.
Launched with $3.25 million from numerous donors, it is the first program offering CUNY-wide student assistance. The fund delivered the first checks during the last week of April.
He also mentioned the university’s efforts to ease the transition to distance learning. With support from New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a $12 million investment by CUNY, thousands of laptops and tablets were given to students who needed them.
Additionally, CUNY is collecting and distributing personal protective equipment and creating face shields from campus 3D printers for health care workers.
Matos Rodríguez also wrote about leaders within the community who were newly appointed in the last year.
Dr. S. David Wu, the incoming Baruch College president, will be the first Asian American president at a CUNY college. The incoming president at Queens College, Frank Wu, will be the second Asian-American president. In addition, Daisy Cocco De Filippis will be interim president of Hostos Community College and the first Dominican-female president.
“I am proud to have built a cabinet of tested leaders representative of the City we serve,” he said.
Matos Rodríguez referenced the video conference he joined celebrating the inaugural graduating class of the CUNY School of Medicine on April 13.
“These newly minted MDs are a perfect match for the moment as they graduate early and embark on their careers at a time of unprecedented demand, a shining embodiment of the University’s mission to safeguard the most vulnerable while creating social mobility for our graduates,” he wrote.
The chancellor ended his op-ed with a heartfelt message to the CUNY community, highlighting a guiding truth that he believed in a year ago still believes today.
“The ground beneath us may shift, but our commitment to the equity, inclusion, and excellence needed to sustain New York City’s standing as a world-class city will never, ever waver,” he said.