In nearly 20 years leading Hofstra University, Stuart Rabinowitz has expanded its academic breadth, creating new programs and increasing the school’s endowment. The former dean of Hofstra Law School is regional co–chairman of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and a member of the Nassau County Commission on Government Revision, and served on the governor’s casino selection board. The school also set a mark by hosting a presidential debate three cycles in a row.
Higher Education Power 50 continued
Higher Education Power 50 continued
Along with being one of the nation's highest-paid college presidents, Shirley Ann Jackson is credited with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s explosive growth over the last 20 years. In 2001, she oversaw an anonymous donation of $360 million to the school, and since then her Rensselaer Plan has received north of $1.25 billion in invested funds. The business-savvy Jackson also still serves in various leadership roles at companies including FedEx and IBM.
Puerto Rico-born Havidán Rodríguez had more than 25 years of experience as a leader in higher education – including at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the University of Delaware and the University of Puerto Rico – when he took over as president of SUNY Albany in 2017. A key figure in efforts to revitalize and attract high-tech investors to the capital region, Rodriguez is also regional co-chair of the Capital Region Council for Economic Development.
Under the leadership of Samuel Stanley Jr., Stony Brook University ushered in a “new era” of economic development on April 1 when it consolidated its offices of research and economic development in an effort to align economic development efforts with research priorities. A respected biomedical researcher, Stanley serves on the Long Island REDC and the board of directors of the Long Island Association. Stony Brook reportedly generates $4.7 billion for the region every year.
Harvey Stenger arrived at Binghamton University in 2012 with serious ambitions. It wasn’t enough to preside over one of the SUNY system’s best schools – Stenger had a bigger vision: to grow the university’s faculty and student enrollment. Fast forward seven years, and the school now boasts a total enrollment of 17,342 and has brought on more than 180 new faculty members. Stenger is also the co-chair of the Southern Tier REDC.
Since Jennifer Raab was appointed president of Hunter College in 2001, she has led the school’s transformation from an open admissions college to a highly ranked institution described by The Princeton Review as the “crown jewel of the CUNY system.” Under Raab’s leadership, standards have been raised, enrollment is booming and so are philanthropic donations – allowing her to expand the school’s infrastructure and academic offerings. A Harvard Law School graduate, Raab previously worked as a litigator.
The first female president in the college’s 193-year history, Virginia “Ginny” Horvath joined SUNY Fredonia in 2005 as vice president for academic affairs before taking over as president in 2012. A native of the region, Horvath has shown she’s serious about giving back to the surrounding area. Along with being co-chair of the Western New York REDC, she regularly participates in community projects, including co-chairing a committee on the redevelopment of a local hospital campus.
Appointed in 2017 after his predecessor resigned in an expense-account scandal, Vincent Boudreau has made it his mission to help City College students achieve social mobility. He raised $60 million for the Colin L. Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, where he previously served as dean and renewed the school’s historic focus on educating students from underserved backgrounds. He has raised an additional $35 million since taking office as interim and now permanent president.
A former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Donald Christian is working to strengthen New Paltz’s visibility in the region and step up fundraising efforts. He is co-chair of the Mid-Hudson REDC, playing an important role in the region’s economic renewal. Christian reinforced his commitment to inclusivity recently as he led SUNY New Paltz’s move to rename several campus buildings whose names were associated with slave owners.
Grace Wang stepped into an enviable position last July as interim president of a college that has become a pivotal leader in the effort to drive high-tech investment in the capital region. SUNY Polytechnic will receive part of the $325 million designated for technology and economic development in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2020 Capital Program and Financing Plan. Meanwhile, longtime tenant IBM plans to establish its AI Hardware Center at Poly.
A lifelong educator credited with developing a series of successful strategies for education reform throughout a career spanning more than 30 years, Rudolph “Rudy” Crew was among several candidates in the running for CUNY chancellor. The former New York City Public Schools chancellor introduced the Pipeline program at Medgar Evers College – which offers additional training to K-12 students from underserved communities and has successfully reduced the number of college freshmen in need of remedial classes.
When David Munson took the reins at the leading computer science and engineering school in 2017, he promised to promote innovation and diversity on campus and integrate the arts into RIT’s community. One of the country’s top producers of undergraduate degrees in technology, science and engineering, RIT is poised to play a pivotal role in the renaissance high-tech investment promises to bring to the Rochester area. Munson is a member of the Finger Lakes REDC.
Anne Kress is in her 10th year leading Monroe Community College, which recently opened a new campus in downtown Rochester. As co-chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, a trustee of the New York Power Authority and member of numerous Rochester commerce boards, she plays a significant role in the region’s economic development. Yet her leadership has recently come under scrutiny as the SUNY community college grapples with labor disputes and falling enrollment.
In addition to leading a top-ranked university, noted legal scholar Kent Syverud sits on the Department of Homeland Security’s Academic Advisory Council, advising on issues including graduate employment and academic research. As commissioner for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the former dean of Vanderbilt Law School oversees a 100-year-old organization that controls accreditation and promotes accountability in colleges and universities. Syverud is a former co-chair of the Central New York REDC.
Since taking over as head of “the artsy lodestone in the SUNY system” (as described by The Princeton Review), Thomas Schwarz helped the school significantly increase student retention and graduation rates, emphasizing collaboration and interdisciplinary study. The former attorney spearheaded innovative entrepreneurial projects like an on-campus retirement home and an airport shuttle service to generate revenue for the school. Between 1978-1987, he served as mayor of the village of Ocean Beach in Suffolk County.
Since 2016, Puerto Rico-born José Luis Cruz has helped turn the Bronx college into a powerhouse, churning out graduates at an impressive rate. He has committed millions of dollars to hiring more faculty, improving classes and building infrastructure. The former engineering professor, who served as provost of California State University, Fullerton, before joining Lehman College, recently testified before Congress, urging lawmakers to prioritize students as they prepare to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.
Kimberly Cline has helped the once-struggling LIU nearly double its endowment since she took over as president in 2013, and she’s launched new programs including the Global Institute and the Steven S. Hornstein Center for Policy, Polling and Analysis. During her tenure, LIU expanded into flourishing Downtown Brooklyn and became the first private college in the region to join Start-Up NY, which encourages new and expanding businesses to partner with colleges in exchange for tax incentives.
David Van Zandt is leading The New School through its centennial celebration this year as the school remembers a group of educators who challenged the educational norms of the era to create an institution dedicated to robust debate and progressive solutions. A former attorney with Davis Polk & Wardwell and former dean of Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, Van Zandt served as a clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.
Before he was appointed dean of the Rockefeller School in 2018, R. Karl Rethemeyer served for three years as interim dean, restructuring the public policy and political science majors and creating a brand new master’s degree. Now at the helm of one of the nation’s premier public affairs schools, Rethemeyer – a terrorism expert who studies the influence of social networks on politics and policy – is working to align educational priorities with the University at Albany.
Before she became president of John Jay in 2017, Karol Mason had a storied career at the Justice Department, serving as Deputy Associate Attorney General and head of the Office of Justice Programs, where she managed a $4 billion budget for nationwide initiatives. During her first year at the college, Mason presided over the largest graduating class in John Jay’s history, and prepared to graduate the school’s first Prison-to-College-Pipeline student.
Michelle Anderson arrived at Brooklyn College in 2016 in the midst of a fraught situation: An NYPD undercover operation to spy on a Muslim student organization had caused outrage among parts of the student body. The former dean of CUNY’s School of Law navigated these tensions at the college – which has one of the nation’s most diverse campuses – while drawing on her background as an expert in rape law to open dialogues about sexual assault.
Leon Botstein was just 28 years old when he was named president of Bard in 1975. Since then he’s turned Bard into a national model, working with the Department of Education to establish early college high schools and introducing the Bard Prison Initiative, a prison education program that reduced recidivism rates by 46.5 percent for graduates. An accomplished classical musician, Botstein also founded a program designed to make orchestral music accessible to modern audiences.
Jelena Kovacevic joined NYU Tandon at an exciting time. Since the school affiliated with NYU, its research funding surged and it advanced almost 40 places in U.S. News and World Report rankings. In 2017, Tandon’s Veterans Future Lab – which provides support for veterans starting their own businesses – received $1 million in REDC funding. Kovacevic recently joined other higher education leaders, politicians and CEOs in signing an open letter asking Amazon to return to New York City.
Gillian Lester has made preparing Columbia Law School graduates for a rapidly changing world one of her priorities – expanding the school’s programs and emphasizing networking opportunities. The school recently introduced the Executive Masters of Law in Global Business degree: an accelerated, six-month LL.M. program designed to give foreign lawyers a foundation in U.S. and international business law. Lester previously served as acting dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.
The first African American leader of West Point, Darryl A. Williams is an accomplished military commander, having served in leadership positions in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014 he was appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis in Liberia. As superintendent of the academy, Williams is now confronting sexual assault and harassment in the military, recently ordering a full campus “stand-down” to address the issue.
A constitutional law expert, Trevor Morrison has an extensive legal background, including as a law clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and associate counsel to President Barack Obama. Appointed dean in 2013, Morrison expanded the Loan Repayment Assistance Program to help graduates who choose public service careers manage their student debt. The school also recently opened the Guarini Institute for Global Legal Studies, where students can collaborate with international agencies like the United Nations.
Since 2014, Conrado Gempesaw has put his training as an economist to use managing the expansion of St. John’s University using a data analytics-based approach to increase student retention and success. The first layperson ever appointed to lead the Catholic and Vincentian school, he boosted fundraising from $16 million in 2013 to $22 million in the 2017-18 academic year. In September 2018 St. John’s received a $15 million gift from The Starr Foundation – the largest in the school’s history.
The Bronx-based college has grown steadily since the 1970s, when it was the scene of student and faculty protests after administrators threatened to close it due to financial constraints. A 40-year veteran of the CUNY system and former professor at Kingsborough Community College, David Gomez has been recognized for his commitment to increasing the quality of life in the school’s surrounding communities. Out of more than 7,000 students attending Hostos, more than half are first-generation college students.
As dean of New York’s flagship journalism school, two-time Pulitzer prize winner Steve Coll is working to stay abreast of the latest trends in a rapidly changing industry – recently adding a data journalism master’s program. The school will also launch a center focusing on journalism ethics and digital security through a $10 million donation from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. A staff writer at The New Yorker, Coll is the author of eight books of nonfiction.
Serial entrepreneur David Coleman took over as head of the College Board in 2012, and has since developed its government relations arm, winning a major victory when SAT tests were incorporated into the school day in many states. The very profitable nonprofit is now working with policymakers across New York to expand access to college readiness tools like AP for All. Coleman founded several education companies and helped develop the Common Core curriculum.
Since her appointment as York College president in 2005, the Kingston, Jamaica, native has strengthened the school’s academic programs by securing national accreditations and increasing its full-time faculty by 40 percent while growing student enrollment and raising admissions standards. Marcia Keizs, who serves on the New York REDC, is working to steer the college toward a more tech-aligned future, and its selection to participate in the Start-Up-NY program is an important step toward that goal.
When Peter Cooper founded the highly selective art school in 1859, he wanted to provide a quality education to working class New Yorkers who otherwise could not afford it. Laura Sparks, Cooper Union’s first female president, is working to return the school to its tuition-free roots by ramping up fundraising and restructuring the administration. Last year, the school had an operating cash surplus and began once again offering scholarships that cover the lion’s share of student tuitions.
Sarah Bartlett helped turn the 13-year-old journalism school into a powerhouse, preparing a generation of journalists to leverage their digital and entrepreneurial skills across the media landscape. Her efforts were reinforced last year when the school received a $20 million donation from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark. Bartlett, who has worked at Fortune and The New York Times, launched two new subject concentrations at the school and helped establish its Center for Community and Ethnic Media.
An expert on the intersection of media, politics and policy, David Birdsell weighs in frequently on issues ranging from the special election for New York City Public Advocate to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s rumored 2020 presidential bid. Birdsell has been instrumental in the development of The Marxe School, helping its master of public administration program earn the No. 1 spot among New York City institutions ranked by U.S. News and World Report.
The New York Times has described Mitchell Moss as a “New Yorkologist.” The transportation expert certainly has the ear of the politically powerful, from serving on the “FIX NYC” advisory group tasked with reducing congestion – to which he was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo – to testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives. His recent report, published by NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management (which he leads), proposes using tax revenue from recreational cannabis to fix the ailing subway system.
Anthony Crowell served as counsel and senior management and policy adviser to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, taking a leading role in implementing landmark reforms as well as overseeing various city agencies, boards and committees. Since 2012, he has led New York Law School through a series of academic shifts, including the launch of the Innovation Center for Law and Technology and The Joe Plumeri Center for Social Justice and Economic Opportunity, which provides community-based legal services.
With its robust internship programs, privately owned Pace University occupies an important place in New York City higher education as it competes with CUNY and SUNY schools. When Marvin Krislov assumed office in August 2017, the former Oberlin College president was charged with revitalizing an unsung workhorse in Manhattan and Westchester. He launched Pace’s New York City Master Plan – including an infrastructure overhaul – and will now turn his focus to raising the school’s graduation rate.
Anthony Collins is not your standard college administrator. The Australia native is an accomplished civil engineer with more than 90 professional publications to his name. He was nominated to serve on the Advisory Board of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation by President Barack Obama and is a member of the panel tasked with advising Gov. Andrew Cuomo on redesigning the state’s airports. Until February, he was also the co-chair of the North Country REDC.
The newest CUNY school is the brainchild of Gregory Mantsios, a former community organizer and elected union officer who devoted his career to enhancing the field of labor studies and creating programs for nontraditional students. Offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees that focus on the challenges faced by working class populations, the school builds on Mantsios’ 34 years of work as founder and director of CUNY’s Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies.
A driving figure behind the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, Daniel Huttenlocher helped establish the school – the brainchild of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg – and develop its entrepreneurial initiatives. But Cornell Tech’s planned partnership with Amazon – where Huttenlocher serves on the board of directors – fell through in February when the company scrapped its plans to move to New York City. Earlier in his career, the MIT graduate developed software for Xerox.
Queens native Joanne Passaro is an accomplished cultural anthropologist with an impressive body of research, much of it centered around New York City’s homeless population. A first-generation college student who graduated from Duke University at age 30 – after attending on a full scholarship – Passaro is a good fit for Metropolitan College, a private institution designed specifically for working adults. She previously held leadership positions at Mercy College and Point Park University in Pittsburgh.
Former Rep. Steve Israel is launching New York’s own version of the Harvard Kennedy School or the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. Cornell’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs will seek to “deepen the understanding of political affairs” at home and abroad, Israel tells City & State. He is sure to draw from his 16 years in Congress, including as a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.
The former Newsday columnist and PBS host is a recognized expert on suburban politics and policy, and helped develop the National Center for Suburban Studies into a respected institution that frequently provides expertise to suburban communities grappling with sustainability, economic revitalization and demographic change. Since joining Hofstra, Lawrence Levy has forged critical research alliances with institutions like Harvard, NYU and Cornell and generated nearly $4 million in grants, gifts and contracts for the school.
Yeshiva’s fifth president became head of the Modern Orthodox Jewish institution in 2017, promising to transform the school, boost enrollment and ramp up fundraising efforts. Ari Berman is working to advance the school’s science and technology programs, helping launch partnerships between Yeshiva and tech companies in Israel, including a startup incubator opening on campus this spring. An ordained rabbi and Yeshiva University alum, Berman previously led the Hechal Shlomo Center of Jewish Heritage in Jerusalem.
It was Robert Grossman’s idea to make NYU’s medical school tuition-free, and it took him about 11 years to bring it to fruition – with an initiative jump-started by a $100 million donation from philanthropist Ken Langone. Last year, Grossman and Langone were named to Time magazine’s list of the 50 most influential health care leaders nationwide. NYU Langone is No.1 in New York among medical schools ranked by U.S. News and World Report.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that City College’s Vincent Boudreau raised almost $2 billion for new science buildings and $5.3 million to support science and mathematics initiatives. That funding predated his tenure and came primarily from city and state capital budgets.