May 2024

Frankly Speaking Banner

Is it me, or did spring break take place later than usual? It feels as though classes just resumed and now the semester is almost over.

This month, as usual, there is no shortage of rewarding events and activities. Interwoven: Artistic Expressions of the Italian American Experience, the new installation at the Queens College Art Center (QCAC), combines visual and musical elements. The opening reception on May 2 featured Italian food, too. I encourage everyone to visit the QCAC, on the sixth floor of Rosenthal Library, before Interwoven closes on June 4.

I spoke at the Interwoven exhibition opening reception.

Dean Anthony Tamburri of QCs John D. Calandra Italian American Institute addressed attendees.

After renovations to multiple theater systems—both Congresswoman Grace Meng and Assemblymember Nily Rozic allocated funds for improvements—Colden Auditorium reopened ahead of schedule on Saturday, May 4, with Viva El Cinco de Mayo. The program of Mexican music and dance was presented with promotional support from the Consulate General of Mexico in New York and El Diario.

Mexican musicians and dancers participating in the Viva El Cinco de Mayo performance on May 4, which reopened the renovated Colden Auditorium

From left: Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and University Provost Wendy Hensel, Consul General of Mexico in New York Jorge Islas López, Queens College School of Arts Associate Dean Julia Del Palacio

In Bayside, the Garage Art Center The Garage Art Center, the innovative gallery founded and run by Godwin-Ternbach staffer Stephanie Lee, opened Vermicular Calligraphy. This fascinating solo show by Cui Fei explores organic shapes that resemble the characters of Chinese writing.

I’d like to congratulate both our men’s and women’s tennis teams who recently qualified for the NCAA Tournament! The men’s team won the East Coast Conference (ECC) title a week ago and then defeated Central Athletic Collegiate Conference Champion Thomas Jefferson University to earn an automatic bid. The tournament is set to begin on May 13. The women were voted into the tournament by the NCAA Selection Committee. The pairings for the opening round will be available on the Knights’ athletic website.

Our baseball team is also hoping to head back to the NCAA tournament and defend their ECC championship this week. The Knights wrapped up the regular season last weekend and will be the #3 seed in this week’s ECC Championship. They will take on Molloy University in the opening round of the double elimination tournament on Thursday, May 9 at 12 pm at the Mitchel Field Athletic Complex in Uniondale.

You can get all the latest playoff updates at

I wish all our teams the best of luck!

On Monday, May 6, Middle States Vice President for Institutional Field Relations Ryan Hartnett visited campus in his capacity as liaison to Queens College for the current Middle States cycle. He had a productive meeting with people from QC, including Interim Provost Patricia Price, and me, and representing CUNY, Interim Senior University Dean of Graduate and Undergraduate Programming Anne Lopes.  

President Wu, Ryan Hartnett and Patricia Price.

Over the years, QC’s programming for Yom HaShoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day—has ranged from lectures to a conversation with Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Tonight, technically a day after Yom HaShoah, Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos, museum director of Kehila Kedosha Janina Museum and Synagogue in Lower Manhattan and president of the Association of Friends of Greek Jewry, will talk about the destruction of Greece’s Jewish community in World War II. Greece lost 87% of its Jews, the largest percentage of any officially occupied country. (As some of you may remember, photographer Vincent Giordano documented the Janina community in New York and in its mother city in Greece. After his death, his family donated his materials to Queens College; Rosenthal Library’s Special Collections and Archives used them to create the virtual exhibition Romaniote Memories, a Jewish Journey from Ioannina, Greece to Manhattan.) Ikonomopoulos will speak at 7 pm on Zoom; to attend, register here to attend.

I always greatly look forward to the Queens College Gala, which celebrates accomplished alumni, showcases talented students, and raises funds for scholarships. Our 33rd gala, taking place tonight at 583 Park Avenue in Manhattan, will honor Frank Fan Yu ’94 and Lee Fensterstock ’68. Frank is the founding chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Ally Bridge Group, an investment group dedicated to global life science; Lee is chair and CEO of Fensterstock Associates, a firm that invests in real estate, financial services, and technology companies, and serves as chair of the Queens College Foundation. Both men are wonderful role models not only for their professional attainments but also for their good works and support of educational opportunities for Queens College students. 

Frank Fan Yu

Lee Fensterstock

Queens College was one of the first CUNY campuses to offer SEEK—the Percy Ellis Sutton Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge Program—and it has changed the lives of too many students to number. On Thursday, May 9, at 4 pm in the Muyskens Flex Space, New York State Assemblymembers Khaleel Anderson ’19 and Sam Berger will present proclamations to retired SEEK Counselor William Modeste and retired SEEK English Professor Cicely Rodway. I congratulate these SEEK icons and thank them for their dedication.

William Modeste

Cicely Rodway

Iridescence, the student choreography showcase, starts that Thursday evening and runs through the weekend in Goldstein Theatre. Performed by students, the program features original choreography by QC dance majors and guest artists, created in collaboration with student lighting and costume designers. With pieces rooted in tap, reggaeton, K-pop, jazz, game structures, dance theater, contemporary dance, and more, Iridescence will treat audiences to examples of multiple genres.

Because May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, I also want to mention “Voices Rising: What's Next for Asian Americans in the Arts?” on Thursday, May 9, from 7 to 8:30 pm, at CUNY’s Elebash Auditorium in NYC. The Asian American / Asian Research Institute (AA/ARI) is among the organizations behind this event, a panel discussion accompanied by performances. Admission is free with registration AAPI Voices Rising Live May 9th | Serica Initiative; first come, first seated. (In connection with AAPI Month, State Senator John Liu and I wrote an opinion column reclaiming “Yellow” as a term for Asian Americans.)

On campus on Saturday, May 11, at 7 pm, LeFrak Concert Hall will be the venue for a live recording of SongWriter, a podcast that turns stories into songs. Joyce Carol Oates will give a reading and Ali Sethi will reply with a song written for the occasion. To get more information or order tickets for what promises to be a phenomenal show, click here.

Headshots of Sethi and Oates
Blood drive graphic

A week from tomorrow—Wednesday, May 15, from 10 am to 6 pm—the college’s Health Service Center, the Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and the New York Blood Center will hold a blood drive in the Faculty/Staff Lounge, Student Union 126. I urge healthy members of our community older than age 17 to think about rolling up their sleeves and participating. To see if you’re eligible to donate a pint, click here.

Of course, the most significant events this month are the many celebrations related to Commencement.

Jubilant QC grads throwing up caps

In keeping with a tradition launched last year at QC, the second annual CUNY Queens Lavender Graduation—for LGBTQIA+ undergraduate and graduate students and their allies at Queens College, York College, Queensborough Community College, LaGuardia Community College and CUNY Law School, and their guests—will be held on Friday, May 24, at the Atrium at York College. To attend, reserve your seat by May 17; graduation registration is required.

High-achieving students will be recognized at Baccalaureate on May 28. Esteemed journalist and broadcaster Mary Murphy ’81 will deliver the keynote; she will receive a presidential medal, the college’s highest administrative honor.


At our 100th Commencement two days later, the college will confer degrees and/or certificates upon close to 4,000 graduating students. Honorary doctorates will be awarded to Carole A. Barham ’66 and Norman Barham ’68 in recognition of their extensive community service and generous support for their alma mater.

Earlier this year, Queens College marked the 60th anniversary of the murder of civil rights activists James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Henry Schwerner with the release of Heroes in Harm’s Way: Dr. King and Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, the latest video in our docuseries Legacy Connection: QC & Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At Commencement, we will present presidential medals to Julia Chaney-Moss, David Goodman, and Stephen Schwerner, who worked to preserve the legacy of their respective siblings. They are dedicated and longstanding civil rights leaders. It’s sure to be a profoundly moving occasion, and I hope to see everyone on the Quad. I especially look forward to thanking our devoted faculty and staff and all the family members in attendance for their outstanding support of our graduates.

Heroes in Harm's Way

Legacy Connection

Stay well and safe.

PS: I never tire of sharing exciting news about Queens College students and alumni. In recent days, I learned that Shaina Davis and Tavia Kaplan took first place in the latest Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurship contest and that Ion Carata ’22 won a prestigious Jonas Salk Scholarship. I know the QC community joins me in congratulating all three on their achievements.

This mail was sent by an automated process. Do not reply to this mail, which cannot accept replies.

At the bottom of this email, you will see Constant Contact language that offers the option of using "SafeUnsubscribe" to remove yourself from the email list. We strongly advise you not to unsubscribe because QCmailers may contain critical, timely information you need, such as CUNYfirst attendance and grading information for faculty; Human Resources announcements for faculty and staff; and announcements from the Registrar or Bursar for students. This information may not be communicated in any other way but through QCmailers.