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Hoping to move past financial scandal, City College names a new president

December 5, 2017 - 04:56 pm

NEW YORK — The City University of New York on Monday appointed Vincent G. Boudreau as the next president of its flagship, the City College of New York, after addressing the concerns of prominent African-American leaders in Harlem over his relationship with the neighborhood.

Boudreau, a political scientist, had been the college’s interim president for the past year after the abrupt resignation of Lisa S. Coico, whose finances have been under investigation by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District. A 26-year veteran of the college, Boudreau had the backing of Colin L. Powell, the former secretary of state, who is one of the college’s most influential alumni, and had been expected to be offered the permanent post in October.

But the announcement was postponed after a group of 20 elected officials and community leaders, including former Gov. David A. Paterson, former Rep. Charlie Rangel and former Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, complained that their “input, insight and influence” had been ignored.

Adding to the uncertainty, as well, was the surprising decision two weeks ago by James B. Milliken, CUNY’s chancellor, to step down at the end of the academic year, amid concerns over his health and criticism of the university’s governance by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

So in recent weeks, Boudreau, aided by William C. Thompson Jr., president of CUNY’s Board of Trustees, has met with some of those leaders, many of whom have close ties to the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and its president and chief executive, Lloyd Williams. On Friday, the group released a statement, through Paterson, that “fruitful conversations” on issues such as educational standards and workplace diversity would result in a new advisory board so “City College can gain assistance from its neighbors.”

“We will need Dr. Boudreau to be successful as the president of this heralded institution,” the statement said.

Boudreau’s appointment was approved Monday by CUNY’s Board of Trustees. His salary will be $370,000.

Moments after the vote, Boudreau addressed the CUNY board of trustees, saying, “It is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I do it in full cognizance of the fact that the mission has never been more urgent, and never been more necessary, to the fabric of our society.”

In a statement, Milliken said, “My work with Dr. Boudreau over the last year, and the support he received from faculty, students, staff, alumni, and the community provide compelling evidence that he is the right leader to preside at this important time in City College’s history, with a vigorous commitment to its mission, a deep knowledge of its academic and social traditions and a spirit of unwavering integrity.”

The selection of Boudreau, 55, culminates a search process that took longer than anticipated. He succeeds Coico, a microbiologist who was tapped in 2010 as the first CUNY alumna to serve as president of City College. She helped to expand the college’s science offerings, and to continue its recent fundraising success, but she was also a polarizing figure even before she was the subject of a federal inquiry. She remains on the faculty of the medical school.