The national search for the next chancellor of the City University Of New York (CUNY) is almost over. According to a handful of reliable sources in higher education, the top-three finalists are all New Yorkers, and two of them call Queens their home base.
The three top finalists vying to become the eighth CUNY chancellor are LaGuardia Community College President Dr. Gail O. Mellow, Queens College President Dr. Félix “Felo” V. Matos Rodríguez, and President and CEO of the New York Public Library Dr. Anthony William “Tony” Marx.
In extended conversations with sources, the three were identified as the finalists in the process, even though other candidates are still being interviewed.
One source familiar with details of the process said the search began five months ago and confirmed that “it’s down to the three applicants you have.”
Other sources within the central office and CUNY board indicated that “as of right now, there are five persons being looked at and those are the ones that will be interviewed.”
All members of the trio of finalists are amply qualified, but they bring different styles of management to the role, according to sources. The three were also described as bridge builders within their respective institutions, each with a record of working to develop relationships outside academia to strengthen their respective colleges or the public library system.
The final interviews will begin soon, and the information we’ve received is that the decision will be made by mid-August. An announcement is expected shortly after a decision is made.
“The board is looking for an accomplished leader committed to our students’ academic and career success and affording all low- and middle-income New Yorkers access to a high-quality college education tuition-free,” said William C. Thompson Jr., CUNY board of trustees chairperson, in a press release on Feb. 7, at the start of the process.
The statement also said the CUNY board of trustees had appointed members to its Chancellor Search Committee and announced the hiring of a highly regarded national executive-recruiting firm to help the committee identify top-flight candidates to succeed Chancellor James B. Milliken, who had formally announced he would be stepping down in November of last year after a much-reported rumored forced resignation.
Back in February, Thompson had also stated, “The new chancellor will embrace the university’s proud history of helping underrepresented and immigrant students succeed, as well as its unparalleled diversity today, and lead CUNY into the future by setting the standard for quality and access in public higher education in the United States.”
Currently, Vita C. Rabinowitz is the interim chancellor at CUNY—a post she has held since June 1, 2018. Dr. Rabinowitz was executive vice chancellor and university provost for the past three years.
Gerson Borrero is an editor-at-large for Ocean Gold Media, the owners and operators of the Queens Tribune. His weekly email newsletter Bochinche covers exclusive scoops and insider tips about New York politics and government.