We can expect no more of a college president than the contributions made by Jim Muyskens to Queens College. During his tenure, he has led the college to make great strides forward in many areas. I want to pay tribute to him for his leadership role in building the profile, impact and sustainability of the arts both for students and for the community at large. His commitment was such that my wife, Selma, and I agreed to make a contribution to help Jim and the arts leaders on campus realize their vision and build a strong foundation so that long after he leaves his position as president, the arts will maintain their position as a vital component of the college. The entire Kupferberg family salutes Jim for all his contributions, his leadership and his warm and welcoming way of sharing opportunities for us all to contribute to the success of this important public college.
Max Kupferberg, along with his late wife, Selma, gave a sizeable donation to Queens College in 2006, allowing for the renovations to the Colden Auditorium, LeFrak Concert Hall, Goldstein Theatre and Godwin-Ternbach Museum, collectively known now as the Kupferberg Center.
As an alumnus and enthusiastic supporter of Queens College, I am very proud to hear that Dr. James Muyskens is being chosen as the Queens Tribune “Person of the Year,” after his many years of service as president. His dedication to the students and alumni of Queens College has been unmatched. In his 12 years, he has accomplished many things that benefited our school, such as increasing alumni involvement and developing the campus facilities. The college has been praised by many national publications for these and other achievements. As stated in the New York Times, under his leadership, Queens College has become one of the best values in American education. Queens continues to attract some of the finest students worldwide and has some of the best faculty and administrators in the country.
I have had the privilege of meeting President Muyskens on many occasions and being a guest in his home during alumni receptions for the Dead End Boys Fraternity. His efforts to reach out to the alumni of influential organizations have motivated many to reconnect with the college. This simple step has reminded us what a great school Queens College is and how far it has come. Dr. Muyskens has done a wonderful job utilizing the alumni and allowing them to continue to be a vital part of our Alma Mater. President Muyskens is leaving Queens College a very fine institution from which we have all benefited tremendously from. I look forward to seeing Queens College provide opportunities to a whole new generation of students from around the world. It has been a great privilege and pleasure to know and assist President Muyskens and I wish him the best of luck in his retirement.
President James Muyskens has always appreciated the cultural and linguistic richness of Queens College, and during his time at the college, his support for the study of language and culture has been unwavering. He recognizes their intrinsic value, the role they play in cross-cultural understanding, and the way that they connect the college and the Borough. Fortunately for us, this appreciation has been reflected not only in words, but in actions and funding. The president has supported the creation of new academic programs in, for example, Chinese and Middle Eastern Studies. He has supported the creation of research centers and institutes, including the Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding. He has worked personally to develop connections with education and cultural institutions on six continents. The college and, indeed the Borough, have been fortunate to have a leader who is truly engaged with the study of so much of the world, and one who also recognizes that so much of the world is right in our neighborhood. In my 17 years at the college, no president has done more to take advantage of where and who we are than James Muyskens.
William McClure is the Dean of Arts and Humanities at Queens College. His area of expertise is Japanese language and linguistics.
From the day he started as Queens College President, Dr. Jim Muyskens reflected a natural leadership quality. His tall stance and engaging demeanor subtly commanded attention. But as if he could figuratively grow taller, his vision for the school captured attention. He strengthened relations in the business community, built student residences and developed an entrepreneurial center where world-renowned business leaders became mentors. He embraced, studied and celebrated the ethnic diversity of the student body, alumni and the community. Queens College is not just an incredible CUNY school, but an international institution because of Dr. Muyskens’ foresight.
Carol Conslato is the director of Public Affairs for Con Edison and is responsible for community and government relations in Queens.
When James Muyskens officially steps down as president of Queens College of The City University of New York at the end of December, he will leave behind a legacy of accomplishment and performance to be appreciated, admired, and applauded. As a proud QC alumnus (Class of 1976, Bachelor’s degree; Class of 1986, Master’s degree), I am grateful to Jim for all that he did in the past dozen years to bring much added value to the degrees earned by our proud graduates.
Jim will be long remembered for working to increase the ranks of full-time faculty while enhancing student services at every possible level. As the late former Chancellor and former Queens College President Joseph S. Murphy said, “The true quality of a higher education institution is the quality of its faculty.” The recruitment and retention of great teacher/scholars were very much priorities of President Muyskens.
As an administrator with the CUNY system, I was afforded many opportunities to work closely with and observe Jim at work on behalf of the well-being of Queens College. Here are a few examples. From the very beginning of Jim’s presidency, he was eager to establish a residence hall on campus. Part of positioning Queens College to enhance its ability to compete for the best and brightest students anywhere meant providing some appropriate student housing capacity. This required careful consultation and communication with elected officials and community leaders.
Together with CUNY Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning and Management Iris Weinshall, we made key rounds together, supporting and building on the work of Jim and his senior administrative team in developing plans for a facility consistent with the campus needs. Today, “The Summit” residence hall serves students with distinction and purpose, enhancing campus life and permanently strengthening the college’s image in the higher education marketplace.
Jim also assiduously focused on assuring Queens College’s place in competing for national distinction. During his tenure, Queens College consistently improved its market position in external rankings, the most recent of which was featured in a front page fall 2013 New York Times story (above the fold) in which it was reported that Queens College was ranked second in the nation in the 2013 “Best Bang for the Buck” All Schools category published by Washington Monthly. This should not come as a surprise to those familiar with a college that has produced five Goldwater Scholars, six National Science Foundation Fellows, seven Fulbright Scholars, and four New York City Urban Fellows during the past 10 years.
I worked especially closely with Jim in support of obtaining funding from several sources to augment the great work of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, administered by Queens College. We made many rounds to piece together support from City, State, federal and private partners. Plans are now being realized to establish a new education center.
In addition, Jim has put in place the seeds for the first Louis Armstrong International Music Festival — just one example of many in considering the enormous contribution that the college continues to make through creative and vibrant cultural initiatives.
Jim’s record is longer and wider and deeper than the examples of achievement I cited. The great news is that he will continue to teach within the CUNY system. Thank you, Jim, for all you have done to further enhance the value of a Queens College degree for all alumni everywhere.
Jay Hershenson is CUNY’s Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary, Board of Trustees, Queens College Class of ’76 and ’86.
I have had the privilege of working with James Muyskens throughout his tenure at Queens College, first as a department chair, then as a dean and now as provost. Under his presidency, the college hired hundreds of new faculty members and admissions standards were raised significantly. The funds he raised are making student scholarships and expansion of our honors programs possible. He changed the face of the campus through building projects, including the college’s first residence hall, the Summit Apartments at Queens College. He increased Queens College’s global presence through expanded study abroad, exchange agreements with international universities, and the college’s “Year of…” program, featuring academic and cultural programming on China, Turkey, India and Brazil to date. Under his leadership, Washington Monthly now ranks Queens College No. 1 among public universities in the United States for “Best Bang for the Buck.”
But when I think about why we will miss him, I think first not about those accomplishments, but about the qualities that I admire in him. He served as mentor and role model for me and for others who have gone on to leadership positions including university presidencies. As a colleague said, President Muyskens is a good and decent man and that informed every moment of his presidency. As a true academic, he kept the academic enterprise in mind in everything he did. His actions were always guided by the college’s mission, and by concern for faculty, students and staff. That translated into his love for Queens College and the excitement about what we could accomplish together. This was apparent when he spoke about the college, whether with students, faculty, alumni, or just this past week when signing a partnership with the president of a Japanese university. These qualities made him a great president and made those accomplishments possible.
Provost Elizabeth Hendry
I extend my congratulations to James Muyskens on his retirement after 12 years of extraordinary service as president of my alma mater, Queens College. I had the pleasure of working with President Muyskens throughout my tenure in the New York State Assembly. His leadership elevated Queens College to new heights in so many ways and created an inclusive, welcoming environment for students, faculty and community members alike.
President Muyskens took pride in expanding the academic curriculum that Queens College provides to its students. In 12 years, he brought many new programs to the college, in such areas as business administration, neuroscience, graphic design and bioinformatics.
Moreover, President Muyskens’ vision of expansion and elevation transcended the classroom. The Princeton Review recognized Queens College for “how frequently and easily students from different class and ethnic backgrounds mix with one another.” A 2011 study conducted by Education Trust found Queens College to be one of “the five most affordable and accesible institutions with high graduation rates,” a testament to President Muyskens’ efforts to make Queens College a stellar academic institution and a place that fosters a sense of community out of such tremendous diversity.
Rory Lancman is the incoming City Councilman for District 24 and is a Queens College alum.
What does one do when President Muyskens challenges you to write a cultural vision statement to determine how “Queens College can be the best arts center for Queens?” One does it, but not alone. I assembled a team of arts and community advocates both on-campus and off, and we prepared that vision statement for him, though our vision was one that would truly stretch the capacity of the college to fulfill. And, I wasn’t the least bit surprised that President Muyskens would accept the challenge and pave a path for us to achieve the goal.
The vision statement is for Queens College to “lead a cultural Renaissance in the Borough of Queens through collaborations with sister arts organizations, community, civic and other non-profits as well as faith-based organizations which would allow every resident to be engaged in cultural programs and activities.” President Muyskens valued the broad impact this could have in terms of Queens College providing programs not only on its campus – the largest cultural complex in the Borough of Queens, but also in the multitude of neighborhoods in Queens where our students and their families live and work.
President Muyskens is a leader. He appreciates that leadership means putting oneself in a challenging position and engaging folks to meet the challenge to provide benefits and opportunities to constituents by doing so.
Every day we look at how we can be the “best arts center for Queens,” and know that by aspiring to this goal, we come one step closer to fulfilling the college’s motto, and one President Muyskens embraces with passion, commitment and integrity, “we learn so as to serve.”
Jeffrey Rosenstock is the assistant vice president, external and governmental relations, at Queens College.