CCNY Celebrates Its 170th Anniversary

[Interim President Vincent Boudreau]
City College is the mother of us all, but
it began in 1847 with the Free Academy that became City College.
This is our legacy. [Music] [CUNY Chancellor J.B. Milliken]
City College, which was founded 170 years ago, was one of the first great experiments in this country in terms of
making higher education public, affordable, and accessible to many people
who didn’t have access to it before. It’s made an enormous difference in this city;
it’s really made an enormous difference for this country, and today with 275,000 students at CUNY across five boroughs
and 24 campuses, all began with City College.
[Interim President Vincent Boudreau]
The Free Academy on the corner
of 23rd and Lex was the original building at City College, and it was big,
it was beautiful, it was imposing, and it served the Free Academy and then City
College for over 50 years. It was the place where New York City went to be
educated. As the campus grew, we outgrew the Free Academy and so around the turn of
the century moved up to the current location in Hamilton Heights.
[Music] In that first building, Shepard Hall, it was
conceived of as a neo-Gothic cathedral to public education. There is a sense
inscribed in the architecture of the building that education is sacred.
[CUNY Chancellor J.B. Milliken]
We’ve always known that
City College and CUNY have been places of opportunity for
low-income, underrepresented and immigrant students, have been for 170
years. There is no place in the country that is a better engine of social and
economic mobility than the City College of New York and the City
University of New York.
[City College alumna C. Ellen Golding]
City College has always been the outstanding college of Harlem. One of
our fondest memories was the fact that we were able to meet and hear lectures
from very outstanding people who were movers and shakers of the time.
[City College alumna C. Elaine Golding]
Mrs. Obama said she chose to speak here. She was not invited to speak at the
commencement. She invited herself to be the commencement speaker, and she did it because she said
she did the research that City College was one of the most diverse
campuses of any school.
[Michelle Obama]
City College became a haven for brilliant, motivated students of
every background. Talent and ambition know no distinctions of race,
nationality, wealth or fame.
[Interim President Vincent Boudreau]
It’s always been a place that mirrors internally what’s been
going on outside in the world. Ideas that are hatched at City College for the
first time find their way out into American society.
[City College alumna C. Ellen Golding]
Attending CCNY during the
civil rights era was a very exciting, dynamic time. We used to do
pickets of the F.W. Woolworth store, because you couldn’t eat at a lunch counter in the south. So we used to picket the ones in the north, because you know that
we weren’t going to go to the south to picket, and that was symbolic of what we
were doing. [Interim President Vincent Boudreau]
In an increasingly globalized world,
students can come and sit in a classroom with, you know, four kids from Africa and
seven Latin American residents and people that came from Eastern Europe. And
in the interchange of ideas that happen in that classroom, they get an experience
that they don’t get anyplace else in the country.
[City College alumna Annika Ludke]
When I arrived on campus, I
remember that people told me there’s a lot of diversity, and it’s basically a
cross-section of the entire globe that you can find at City College.
[City College alumna C. Ellen Golding]
What I would hope for
the future of the college, they will continue to reach out to a broad
spectrum of students, because now when you walk on the campus of City, you’re
hearing so many different languages. [Interim President Vincent Boudreau]
Students that come to City College are
getting not just an accessible education but an education from some of the most
accomplished people in their field.
[City College student Chris Lunger]
They are the the oil that makes this machine
run, and they have made my experience and I’m sure the experience of many of my
peers an incredibly positive one, and one in which we can walk away proud to have
[Interim President Vincent Boudreau]
Wherever you’re from, however you got here, whatever you believe,
whatever you look like, there’s a place for you at City College.
[CUNY Chancellor J.B. Milliken]
This means a great deal to New Yorkers, and they have seen the difference that it has made.
They see the promise, they see the Nobel Prize winners that come from City
College, the Rhodes scholars that come from City College–the opportunities that
students who wouldn’t otherwise have them, get to achieve their dreams, get to
fulfill their goals, and we all benefit from it.
[Music] [City College alumna Jamie M. Fine]
I want the students to have hope. I want
them to know that coming from here, they will have opportunities, and they will
have choices. I want them to know that while they are here, they have a million
resources at their disposal.
[City College alumnus Serigne Cheikh
Modou Kara Cisse]
The mark that I want to leave the world can be
condensed in three words: hope, dedication and tolerance. Wherever you come from,
whatever you want to succeed in, if you believe in it, you can make it happen.
[Interim President Vincent Boudreau]
I mean I love this institution, I love it to death. I’m proud of its mission, you know.
I’m proud of the fact that every day in a classroom, you can see a young man or a
young woman realizing that they’re smart. And to see that dawning realization of
potential and capacity that they possess, it’s like no other place in the world.

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