Clivner=Field Plaza officially opens with ribbon-cutting ceremony

Plaza+Ceremony

Kamilla Sharipova | The Ticker

Emanuela Gallo, News Editor

The official opening of the Clivner=Field Plaza took place at a ribboncutting ceremony on Oct. 13, with donors, CUNY and Baruch College leaders, alumni and city and state government officials in attendance.

Undergraduate Student Government President Alison Lee, who served as the event’s emcee, gave the opening remarks.

She discussed the plaza’s use for a voter registration tabling event and a depression screening with the Counseling Center.

USG hopes to use the plaza for its annual homecoming.

“Rest assured, the plaza will be filled with light and laughter very soon,” she said. “I hope this plaza is the start of giving the feeling of sense of community back to our community.”

Baruch President S. David Wu then spoke, characterizing the plaza’s opening as a “landmark moment.”

He introduced and welcomed many of the New York City, CUNY and Baruch officials present at the ceremony.

“Ours is an institution that is willing to dream big, work hard, meet challenges head-on and go the extra mile to create transformative change,” he said. “We do this every day in our classrooms, the laboratories, the performing spaces and in our career centers.”

Wu spoke about the untouched “century-old pipes, rocks and earth” that were discovered when construction began.

He also quoted a few of the 1,400 messages by alumni engraved on benches, pavers and walkways.

“To be surrounded by so much gratitude and so many stories of personal success, it also reminds all of us that we are part of something that’s larger than ourselves,” he said. “We are part of the strong and lasting community that spans generations, stretch around the world and will go on into the future.”

New York State Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin expressed his excitement for the plaza to be a model for the future of New York City.

“I know how difficult it is for community boards to make good decisions and this was a great one,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of green spaces for mental health, along with calling for adequate public space for all New Yorkers, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Public space, in my view, makes communities happier,” he said.

Benjamin cited financing general infrastructure as something he and New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul have discussed as necessary for the state’s recovery.

Benjamin thanked Baruch for “stepping up, leading the way, getting the community acclimated and involved” through the creation of the plaza.

Council Member Carlina Rivera, who represents District 2, spoke about how the plaza made Baruch feel like a campus.

“This space right here is, to me, a symbol of what New York City is and could be,” she said.

While the plaza took 10 years to complete, Rivera believes it was worth the wait.

“Sometimes, really great things take a little time,” she said. “If you invest and you’re patient, and you know it will be worth all the skepticism, all of the time, all of the construction, you will get to enjoy something as incredible as the official completion of this pedestrian plaza.”

Jamie TorresSpringer, the commissioner at NYC Department of Design and Construction, discussed the public-private partnership used for the $12.4 million project.

The plaza spans 27,000 square feet, replacing a street that once saw 20,000 mid-block crossings per day and 300 vehicles per hour, according to Springer.

It features new lighting, a green wall, new seating and 12 green areas that will absorb storm water runoff. Over 3,000 bulbs will be planted this month so that they bloom in spring.

Torres-Springer said the process was long and complex because of underground sewer reconstruction work needed to fix the aging infrastructure. They also added new catch basins to bring storm water to sewers and seven fire hydrants.

“We’ve made a big contribution to water service reliability for all of the city with the replacement of 700 feet of water mains,” he said.

Jennifer Ines, the Manhattan deputy borough commissioner at the NYC Department of Transportation, spoke next.

Years ago, the DOT evaluated the block as a prime location for a public space. The street was permanently closed after seeing the benefit for students and pedestrians, according to Ines.

“This project is a great example of potential of what can be done when we all work together to reimagine and repurpose our city streets,” she said.

State Senator Liz Krueger then gave a speech emphasizing the importance of green spaces.

“The only thing the people in my district, as far as I can tell, have ever taken to the streets about in 20 years are fights over open space,” she said.

She also said she believes that there will be a new commitment to CUNY under Hochul.

CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor Hector Batista spoke on behalf of Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez.

“What this represents for us at CUNY is the continued investment in making sure our schools move forward,” he said.

Helen Mills, the president of the Baruch College Fund, thanked many of its trustees who contributed to the plaza. Their names are on the wall.

Former Baruch President Mitchel Wallerstein, whose leadership made the plaza possible, then gave a speech about the challenges faced during his presidency.

The plaza’s leading donors — and for whom it was named — are Daniel Clivner, class of 1985, and Lawrence Field, class of 1952, who died before its completion. His daughters Lisa and Robyn Field, along with Clivner, were present and spoke about their commitment to Baruch.

“Creating a campus at Baruch seemed like a great idea –– a dream –– but it hadn’t been done in 100 years,” Clivner said. “Larry Field and my friends in Los Angeles challenged me to make

Clivner=Field Plaza a reality for the next 100 years … More than the street itself, it represents for me living proof that with the support and inspiration of others, and the lessons being learned in the surrounding buildings, you too can turn great ideas into reality.”

After a final speech by Wu, attendees directed their attention to the plaza wall. With large, gold scissors in hand, 13 of the speakers cut the blue ribbon they stood behind.

“It was great meeting everybody,” USG Executive Vice President Richard Reyes said about the ceremony. “A lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff isn’t really recognized … it really came together, thanks to them.”

Lee expressed appreciation for the renovated plaza and the speakers’ openness toward the student perspective.

“I loved hearing about all of these amazing people come together and truly care about the Baruch students and wanting to make a difference in our lives, in our community by giving us this gorgeous space,” she told The Ticker in an interview.