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80th Anniversary

Eighty Years of Building Futures


On April 6 the Board of Higher Education creates Queens College, “a college of liberal arts and sciences,” with 16 departments. On May 25 the Board elects Paul Klapper, Dean of the School of Education at City College, president of Queens College. Delayed by a painters’ strike, classes begin on October 11 with 400 full-time students consisting about equally of men and women, mostly from Queens County, on a 52-acre site in Flushing with nine buildings. A teaching and administrative staff of 40 men and women was selected. Dedication Day on October 26 included a procession of the entire student body around the administration building (now Jefferson Hall). Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia spoke at the ceremony, advising the assembled crowåd to “Keep your buildings low . . . and your ideals high. And keep away from politicians.” A testimonial dinner was held on October 30 in the grand ballroom of the Hotel Astor for Dr. Klapper. Governor Herbert H. Lehman and Mayor LaGuardia were featured speakers at the event, attended by more than 1000 guests. At Dr. Klapper’s request, proceeds raised for his portrait were instead used to start a student aid fund at the college.


’40: College introduces a summer session, an evening program, and radio classes. On April 26 Roger Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, speaks at a Peace Day Rally on campus. Class of ’44 starts “a scant three months after the fall of France” (’44 Silhouette yearbook). In October the first Queens College Scholars are named, the college’s highest graduation honor. ’41: Queens College is fully accredited by the New York State Department of Education. On June 16 the first Commencement is held in the rain in a tent on the quadrangle. Queens is known by then as “The People’s College.” On December 8 students gathered around radios in the auditorium and elsewhere to hear FDR declare war. The next day a false air-raid alarm interrupted a civilian defense rally on campus and everyone is sent home. More than 1,100 male and 22 female students will serve in the armed forces during the war. ’42: Students hold War Bond drives, collect over a ton of scrap metal, use their own paper for exams, and observe Meatless Tuesdays. ’43: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt appears on campus at the first Spring Victory Lecture. In August the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) establishes a unit on campus to study engineering and foreign languages. (A Victory Fleet tanker is later named Queens Victory in appreciation of the college’s role in the ASTP.) ’46: QC Orchestral Society formed. ’48: The college’s graduate division opens. ’49: John J. Theobald becomes college’s second president. College graduates win Fulbright Awards for the first time.  
Constructive growth: Remsen Hall, the first of the permanent new buildings erected on campus, , is named for a chemist who served as president of Johns Hopkins University.
’50: Ira Remsen Hall, the first major new building on campus, opens. Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa is installed at the college. Martin Lorin ’51 writes “Blue and Silver,” which becomes the official college song. Eleanor Roosevelt comes to campus to talk about the importance of education in the modern world. Vera Shlakman (Economics), is fired for not testifying if she were ever part of the Communist Party. Same will happen to Oscar Shaftel (English) the next year. (In 1982 a number of these blacklisted professors would receive pension restitution.) ’53: Ford Foundation finds Queens College second in the nation in preparing students in the humanities and tenth in the social sciences. On TV, President theobald argues for the expulsion of all Communist teachers. ’55: Paul Klapper Library opens. ’57: Art Collection begins, which will evolve into the GodwinTernbach Museum. ’58: Harold W. Stoke named third president. Maurice FitzGerald Gymnasium opens, named for late borough president who strongly supported it.  

Addressing issues: Robert Kennedy (far r.), New York State’s new junior senator, speaks at Commencement 1965.
’60: Dress code imposed on women students: no shorts, slacks, or “similar attire.” (It will be rescinded in 1967.) Smoking no longer permitted in classrooms. ’61: Dedicatory concert for Colden Center performed by the New York Philhamonic. The City University of New York is founded. ’62: College celebrates 25th anniversary; enrollment now 14,075 students with 454 fulltime faculty. ’64: Students demonstrate for civil rights at New York’s World’s Fair. The nation is stunned in June by news of the murders of QC student Andrew Goodman and fellow civil rights workers James Chaney and Michael Schwerner in Mississippi. ’65: Joseph P. McMurray becomes college’s fourth president. Martin Luther King, Jr. is first speaker in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Lecture Series. Robert F. Kennedy is commencement speaker. Team of QC students competes on TV’s “College Bowl.” ’66: SEEK Program begins. ’69: The spring semester sees several student demonstrations on campus over issues related to the Vietnam War and campus administration policy. On April 1 39 are arrested for holding a sit-in. in the Social Sciences Building. Jailed faculty member and students serve 15 days on Rikers Island. A Counter-Commencement is held with Dr. Benjamin Spock as speaker.  

’70: Students react to the killings at Kent State with a demonstration that stops traffic on the Long Island Expressway. CUNY institutes open admissions policy. Joseph S. Murphy named college’s fifth president. ’71: College holds Feminist Movement Conference with Betty Friedan as keynote speaker. Commencement speaker Rev. Jesse Jackson sees nation in midst of a “civilization crisis.” ’72: Gloria Steinem and Graced Paley are Commencement speakers.Open Door Program is instituted to recruit minority students. ’73: Students demonstrate for and against having military recruiters on campus. QC hosts Women’s National Basketball Association Tournament, and the Knightees (as they were then known)make it to the finals. Student enrollment peaks at 31,413. ’75: Enrollment begins reflecting demographic changes with rise in Korean, Chinese, Latin American, and African American populations. QC experiences effects of New York City fiscal crisis with cutbacks in several programs and loss of staff and adjunct faculty positions. ’76: In May the fiscal crisis closes CUNY for two weeks. Undergraduate tuition charged for first time in the fall semester. ’78: Saul B. Cohen named sixth president of college. ’79: Graduate School of Library and Information Studies is established. President Jimmy Carter holds a Town Hall Meeting at Colden Center. The college begins affiliation with Louis Armstrong Intermediate School, which later receives National Excellence Award from U.S. Department of Education.  
Sax educator: Jimmy Heath

’80: New York State assumes full responsibility for the budgets of QC and other CUNY senior colleges. Luciano Pavarotti sings at a special concert celebrating Colden Center’s twentieth anniversary season. ’81: School of Education is established. Godwin-Ternbach Museum opens. Aaron Copland School of Music is founded; Copland is awarded an honorary degree at Commencement. Environmentalist Barry Commoner moves his Center for the Biology of Natural Systems to QC. ’82: Raymond Paretzky becomes the first CUNY student to receive a Rhodes Scholarship. ’84: Townsend Harris High School, once one of the city’s most prestigious institutions but forced to close in 1942 due to budget restraints, reopens at and affiliates with QC. ’85: Shirley Strum Kenny named college’s seventh president. Renowned musician Jimmy Heath is named head of QC’s jazz program. ’86 Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation gives Satchmo’s house in Corona to the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and arranges for QC to administer the house and its contents under a long-term license agreement. Science Building is dedicated. ’87: College celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with a convocation at which honorary degrees are conferred on medical researcher John J. Burns ’42, CEO of Dow Jones & Company Warren H. Phillips ’47, and award-winnng musician Marvin Hamlisch ’68. '89: QC becomes a member of the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship (today Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship) program created to encourage more minority students to pursue PhDs with the ultimate objective of becoming tenured college faculty members. To date, 23 QC Mellon fellows have received their PhDs.  
Banding together: In photo at top, Senator Chuck Schumer (2nd from l.) and First Lady Hillary Clinton (far r.) back efforts to preserve the archives and home of Louis Armstrong (above).

’94: The Louis Armstrong Archives opens in Rosenthal Library, providing a repository for the musician’s papers, private tape recordings, musical manuscripts, photographs, trumpets, and more. It attracts scholars from around world. ’95: Townsend Harris High School students, faculty, and staff march from their temporary quarters to their new, permanent home on campus. Allan Lee Sessoms appointed college’s eighth president. ’96: In honor of Women’s History Month, the Aaron Copland School of Music offered its first concert of compositions by women, including music not heard for over 400 years. ’97: Stephen Stepanchev, Professor Emeritus of English, is named the first poet laureate of the borough of Queens. The college kicks off a year of celebrations for its sixtieth anniversary. ’98 First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton visits campus in support of QC preservation efforts for the Armstrong House and Archives. Groundwater-monitoring wells and a rooftop weather station are installed on campus, to be operated for research and teaching jointly by the School of Earth and Environmental Studies and the U.S. Geological Survey. ’99: Weekend College opens. A formal opening ceremony is held for the Queens College School for Math, Science, and Technology, which will serve grades pre-K through 8. Former Senator George Mitchell, who held an appointment at QC’s Harrington Center, led a conference on Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland.  
Graduation honors: Jerry Mtichell (l) and Leroy Clemons are recognized for work that led to an indictment in the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner.

Found in translation:  Laura and George W. Bush flank Gregory Rabassa..

’00: Russell Hotzler appointed interim president. ’01: CUNY Honors College opens with QC one of five schools participating in an innovative program for top students. College is named a GLOBE partner, under a federal program to train K–12 teachers in environmental science. ’02: James L. Muyskens becomes college’s ninth president. At Ground Zero, QC’s Center for the Biology of Natural Systems takes a leading role in monitoring and advocating for the health of 9/11 workers responsible for the cleanup. ’03: Following a $1.6 million restoration, the Louis Armstrong House opens as a public museum. ’05: Journalist Jerry Mitchell and Leroy Clemons of the Philadelphia Coalition receive President’s Medals at June 2 Commencement, honoring work that led to indictment of former Ku Klux Klansman Edgar Ray Killen for the 1964 murders of civil rights workers Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner. Goodman’s mother, Carolyn, also is honored. ’06: World War II Veterans Memorial Plaza is dedicated on the quad, commemorating over 1,000 students, faculty, and staff who served in the war. Selma and Max Kupferberg Center for the Visual and Performing Arts is dedicated. Distinguished Professor Gregory L. Rabassa, one of the world’s leading translators, is awarded the National Medal of Arts. ’09: College opens the Summit, its first residence hall. A Civil Rights Archive is established at Rosenthal Library, documenting the significant record of work by QC students. and teachers. QC named one of “The 25 Hottest Schools in America” by the 2008 Kaplan/Newsweek How to Get into College Guide.  
10s.pngSense of site: Steven Markowitz, cirector of the Barry Commoner Center, studies the environment and work-related illnesses..

’10: College’s Civil Rights Archive acquires the library of activist James Forman. The QC Psychological Center opens in Razran Hall, offering low-cost and free services to the community. ’11: The American Museum of Natural History agrees to acquire the college’s 5,000-piece mineral collection. ’12: QC turns 75. Campus serves as a shelter for hundreds of people following Hurricane Sandy. College establishes an Athletics Hall of Fame. ’13: A memorial concert celebrates the music of Marvin Hamlisch ’68. College holds conference on Quintessential Queens: Celebrating America’s Fourth Largest City. ’14: Félix V. Matos Rodríguez named tenth president. The first annual Louis Armstrong International Music Festival takes place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Warren Phillips ’47, who rose from copy editor at the Wall Street Journal to chairman and CEO of its corporate parent, donates his archives to QC. ’15: The Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment is awarded $40.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to monitor nuclear-weapons workers to detect work-related illnesses early so that these workers can receive treatment. Seven graduating students receive Fulbright grants to study abroad. Maria Lisella ’09 appointed Poet Laureate of Queens, the first Italian American and second woman to be so honored. ’16: College opens a Tech Incubator for entrepreneurs, first such one in the borough of Queens. ’17: A new study shows that QC ranks among the top 1% of all U.S. college in helping students move from poverty to prosperity. Queens College turns 80 October 11.  




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