BY LUIS GRONDA
During his 12 years as Queens College president, Dr. James Muyskens has worked with various elected officials in the Borough, including two who played the biggest role in the university.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and State Senator Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) both have worked alongside President Muyskens during their respective political careers.
Marshall has been a vocal advocate for higher education during her time as an elected official. She created the Higher Education committee in the City Council and fought for more funding to be given to CUNY schools, including Queens College. Stavisky is the Chairwoman of the Senate’s Higher Education committee, taking over in 2009. Queens College is also in the Flushing part of her district.
Both elected officials remember working with the outgoing president fondly.
Marshall said he reminds her of another tall president that people may know: Abraham Lincoln.
The Borough President made the comparison to the historic United States president because both are great leaders and both made great strides in growing what they were in charge of. Lincoln helped the country improve during his time as president and Muyskens did the same for the university.
“He’s just a very special man. He took it in the right direction,” she said.
Marshall said so much has changed at the college since she earned her bachelor’s degree from the school. She said Muyskens made many changes to the university during his tenure, including building a dormitory apartment at the school and renovating the Powdermaker Hall, the main classroom on campus.
Stavisky said many of the aforementioned capital projects that occurred under Muyskens will be among the highlights of his reign.
She said that the projects also helped bring in more students and more full-time teachers to the school as well.
“You need to have full-time faculty because a part-time teacher does not always have time to sit down and help students,” Stavisky said.
The State Senator added that Muyskens was a large part of the surrounding community as well as the college, often appearing at functions that were not associated with the college.
Stavisky gave some advice to whoever is the full-time replacement for Muyskens’ position.
“Grab a big note pad, sit down with the faculty, students and the community and just listen to them,” she said.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @luisgronda.