On July 6th, the CUNY Board of Trustees convened their monthly meeting, their first in-person since February of last year. The board members marked the occasion with a hearty round of applause, and the proceedings began.
The Board unanimously approved a resolution to mandate proof of COVID vaccination for any student wishing to register for in-person classes. The text of the resolution acknowledges that Governor Cuomo, on May 10th, authorized the Board to resort to such measures. Provisions are laid out for “medical and religious exemptions and limitations of licensure as set forth in a University statement of policy…”
Notably, the resolution also gives CUNY Chancellor Felix V. Matos Rodriguez the power to modify the vaccination mandate as he sees fit, so long as such modifications ”… take into account and comply with any subsequent change in federal, state and/or municipal laws, regulations, or executive orders, as such relate to the… public health emergency.” The Chancellor will not be required to consult the Board before making any changes, as the resolution expressly states that no “further action of the University Board of Trustees” needs be taken.
There were several points of pride for Queens College at the board meeting. Dr. Cecilia M. Gonzalez-Mchugh of the Environmental Sciences Department was designated a Distinguished Professor at Queens College, a merit which entitles her to a yearly monetary award in addition to her regular salary. The resolution commends Gonzalez-Mchugh for her “long and internationally renowned career in her field” as a “world-leading authority in submarine paleoseismology, earthquake geology, marine geology and biogenic sedimentation.”
Doctor Mary Theresa Kiely and Professor Maaza Mengiste were also on the agenda, as both were granted early tenure by the Board. The honor, conferred upon those individuals whose services an organization wishes to retain, was awarded to Kiely and Mengiste in recognition of their exceptional track record at QC. Dr. Kiely’s work in Special Education has been published in academic journals and she has given presentations at national conferences such as the Council of Exceptional Children. As for Mengiste, a member of the faculty for the MFA in Creative Writing, her work has also been nationally published, appearing in no less than The New Yorker and Rolling Stone. Mengiste was also instrumental in the introduction of the Writing Minor at QC.
Other colleges in CUNY saw changes to their academics. After a wave of interest, the resolution to introduce an Astrophysics MS at the Graduate Center was unanimously approved. The resolution touted the “coding and problem-solving experience” available to prospective Masters candidates. Brooklyn College, meanwhile, formally said goodbye via resolution to its Kinesiology Department, which had been contending with poor enrollment numbers and a shrinking faculty pool. A separate resolution provided for the transfer of the Kinesiology faculty to “the Departments of Biology, Health and Nutrition Services, and Secondary Education.”